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Achievements of the Class of 2019

The graduates in Rowland Hall’s class of 2019 are a diverse and talented group of young people ready to make their mark on the world.

Lori and Chuck reviewing work.

When Rowland Hall’s youngest students face academic or social-emotional challenges, Lori Miller and Chuck White are there to lift them up.

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At the Intersection of Homelessness, Healthcare, and Humanity

Rowland Hall alumnus Jeff Norris lives his purpose treating and advocating for underserved populations as the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego When Jeff Norris ’03 applied to medical school, the admissions office at the University of Utah called him in for a rare second interview. He had submitted a personal statement focused on the connection between medicine, public health, and social justice, and that intersectional approach raised some eyebrows.
 
Admissions officers asked Jeff if he was sure he wanted to go to medical school, and not study public health or social work. But he assured them: he knew he wanted to be a clinician who worked with, and advocated for, underserved populations.

Jeff credits Rowland Hall with launching his career trajectory. In high school, under the mentorship of then-faculty member Liz Paige, he volunteered with Amnesty International and prepared and served food at local youth groups. The positive experience of serving others and making an impact—and relevant content in history and psychology courses—got the wheels turning in Jeff’s brain: “I started reflecting on my role in the world and how I could try to do something to make a difference for others. What is my purpose for being here?”

Jeff's self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success.

The service and activism Jeff began at Rowland Hall carried through his years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a med student at the University of Utah, and as a Family Medicine resident at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success: in 2016, Jeff became the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages, an award-winning nonprofit that provides integrated services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
 
Jeff’s day-to-day work requires a breadth of skill, knowledge, and tenacity: he estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time treating patients and the other 60 percent engaged in clinic administration, fundraising, and advocacy—including ensuring that state and federal legislation supports nonprofits like his. He serves on a number of boards, including a large network of clinics with over 100,000 patients in the San Diego area. For Jeff, it’s about more than staying connected and representing the interests of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is being present in the community to advocate for the needs of not just those experiencing homelessness, but underserved populations more broadly.”


At the clinic he leads—which serves walk-ins along with residents of Father Joe’s Villages and people receiving assistance from other local agencies—Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health. “The challenges our patients face are pretty unique, compared to most patient populations,” he said. “Their lives are very chaotic, and they have a lot going on medically, psychiatrically, behaviorally, socially…in all senses.” A significant portion of his time is spent managing programs to deliver medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)—drugs such as buprenorphine (suboxone) or naltrexone—and for alcohol abuse. 

At the clinic he leads, Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health.

Among the most recent and cutting-edge programs Jeff and his team at Father Joe’s Villages are running is the Street Health Program, which launched this spring and is already impacting lives for the better. As the name suggests, the initiative involves going out into the streets and providing healthcare directly to people experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve reached a number of people who’ve avoided or been underserved by traditional healthcare. One example: a man who had been using heroin for 30 years and had never before been interested in treatment. Pending a grant, the street health team hopes to treat patients with OUD at the first point of contact. In the meantime, they wrote a prescription for this particular patient because, as Jeff said, “it was the right thing to do.”
 
One of the long-term goals of the Street Health Program is to develop rapport with individuals so that they will visit the clinic for treatment. Additionally, the launch has created quite a buzz throughout San Diego, so Jeff hopes other clinics and treatment centers will consider similar programs (which do already exist in other large metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco). “It can’t just be us,” he said. “There are enough folks experiencing homelessness that we certainly cannot meet the need unilaterally.”
 
Jeff is rightly proud of his advocacy work and the impact his clinic makes on a daily basis, and he speaks passionately of the need for everyone to recognize the homelessness crisis—not just in San Diego, but also in Salt Lake City and urban areas throughout the country. While rising housing costs and relatively stagnant wages are the two primary drivers of the problem, Jeff doesn’t discount the power of the individual to make a difference, whether through volunteering, donating goods, or elevating the dialogue to fight the stigma against those experiencing homelessness.
 
When he’s not working, Jeff stays active outdoors, taking advantage of all that San Diego’s famously temperate climate has to offer. He also prioritizes time with his family: two-year-old daughter Alex keeps Jeff and wife Sonia Ponce—a practicing cardiologist—quite busy.
 
Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is not at all surprised that Jeff is making a difference in the lives of others. He recalled how, as a high school student, Jeff was always highly engaged and motivated to serve, often being the last to leave a volunteer event. “Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion,” Ryan said. “It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare.”
Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion. It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare. —Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education

Just as Jeff credited Rowland Hall for sparking his interest in a life of service to others, Mr. Hoglund credits Jeff for setting an example of genuine student leadership at the school. And, to the student leaders today, Jeff sends these words of encouragement: “Figure out what gives you energy and makes you feel like you're contributing to the world in some positive way, then grab that bull by the horns and don’t let go of it. That’s where you're going to be able to make a difference, to be satisfied with who you are and what you're doing in this world.”

 

All photos courtesy of Father Joe's Villages.

 

Alumni

Girl soccer players walking away with arms around each other.

Rowland Hall won its second-consecutive Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (UIAAA) 2A Directors Cup for excellence across three areas: athletics, academics, and sportsmanship and student leadership.

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic said the prestigious award, announced July 13, demonstrates that Rowland Hall is home to some truly gifted student-athletes. “I am so very proud of our athletes for their efforts in the competitive arena as well as in the classroom,” Kendra said, “and thankful to our coaches who are so supportive of our student-athletes' academic commitments.”

Strong showings at state tournaments—along with high GPAs—helped Rowland Hall secure its second Directors Cup in the award's nine-year history. The UIAAA recognized seven of our teams for having the highest GPAs among their 2A competitors: volleyball, girls basketball, boys cross-country, boys tennis, boys track, and girls and boys soccer. And top-five finishes at state competitions included first place in 2A for girls soccer, second place in 3A for girls swimming, second place in 2A for boys soccer, third place in 2A for boys golf, third place in 2A for boys basketball, third place in 2A for girls golf, and fourth place in 3A for boys tennis.

The description of the Directors Cup, from UIAAA:

The UIAAA Directors Cup is awarded each year to the top school in each class that demonstrates combined excellence in athletic, academic, and sportsmanship and student-leadership [categories]. Each category makes up a percentage toward a school’s total ranking:

  1. Athletic (40%): The place or position a school team finishes in the state tournament.
  2. Academic (40%): Varsity team GPA.
  3. Sportsmanship and student leadership (20%): School’s participation in UHSAA-sponsored sportsmanship and leadership initiatives.

The top-five ranked schools in 2A:

  1. Rowland Hall: 15.26 points
  2. Gunnison: 13.47
  3. Waterford: 12.8
  4. Kanab: 10.12
  5. Layton Christian: 9.65

Rowland Hall's score also amounted to the fourth-highest point total among all classifications in the state.

Read last year's story about our first Directors Cup.

Athletics

Smiling debaters bite their award medals.

The debate season is the longest of any activity in high school—for some Rowland Hall debaters, it didn’t end until late last month. After another fine regular season winning local and regional tournaments, a variety of exceptional debaters set a new standard for competitive excellence in our three postseason tournaments.

State

Rowland Hall “plays up” a division into the 3A classification. Ria Agarwal ’20 won the title in the solo event, known as a Lincoln-Douglas debate. Additionally, two duos—Jacque Park ’21 and Auden Bown ’21; and Ty Lunde ’21 and Maddy Frech ’21—closed out the final round of policy debate, making them co-champions.

National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) Nationals

The NSDA is the largest speech and debate association in the country. The qualifying tournament for Nationals is a special double-elimination competition where everyone in the district (from Logan to Lone Peak) debates each other until only two entries remain. Those two entries qualify to Nationals in June. This year, Peter Chase ’20 and Steven Dotorman ’20 along with Ben Amiel ’20 and Justin Peng ’20 outlasted the competition to control the two Nationals qualifications in policy debate. Cas Mulford ’19 and Zoey Shienberg ’20 qualified in public-forum debate. The outstanding placements, along with other wins from younger debaters, resulted in a district championship for the school.

Debaters stand with third-place trophy at Tournament of Champions.

From left, Sydney Young ’19 and Adrian Gushin ’20 with their third-place trophy at TOC.

The Tournament of Champions (TOC)

The TOC is considered the most prestigious debate tournament, especially for students interested in debating in college. The tournament is held every year in Lexington, Kentucky, and university representatives from around the country attend to scout and recruit talent. Only the top 68 teams in the country are invited to participate. To be eligible, debaters must have placed in at least two different national tournaments during the regular season. This year, six of our students qualified: Celia Davis ’19, Steven Doctorman ’20, Adrian Gushin ’20, Ben McGraw ’19, Sydney Young ’19, and Robin Zeng ’19. This is the second-highest number of students Rowland Hall has ever sent to the TOC. Building on that momentum, students had tremendous success at the tournament. Only six Rowland Hall teams have ever made it to the elimination rounds of the TOC, and all of them lost in the quarter-finals. Sydney and Adrian broke the “quarters curse” and made it to the semifinals, finishing in third place overall. “This performance is legendary,” praised Mike Shackelford, our debate coach since 2007. “It’s the best finish in Rowland Hall history.”

Over their seven-month season, these debaters heard judges give them over 500 decisions, both for and against us. But one decision was unanimous: the Rowland Hall Debate program had another incredible season, thanks to our hardworking students the sage leadership of Coach Shackelford.

Debate

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman Reflects With Gratitude on First Year

Rowland Hall’s Beginning School is a cozy, welcoming place buzzing with the distinctive energy of active, engaged students. “One of my very favorite things is that on any given day in the Beginning School you can almost always count on getting to walk around and see young children working together at something they care deeply about,” said Emma Wellman, who just finished her first year as the division’s principal. “They are experimenting and they are failing. They are problem-solving and working through tension and conflict together, and making a mess, and being too loud—and it’s just the best ever.”

They are experimenting and they are failing. They are problem-solving and working through tension and conflict together, and making a mess, and being too loud—and it’s just the best ever.—Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman

Emma joined Rowland Hall from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, known colloquially as Lab, where she most recently served as interim director of the Extended Day Program. After five years at Lab as both a teacher and an administrator, working with hundreds of children from ages three through 13, she was ready for a more intimate experience in the next chapter of her career. “I wanted to work at a place where I could know all the children and the families,” she explained. “And I wanted to work with professional teachers—people who have chosen it for their life’s work and were really committed and dedicated deep thinkers.”

From day one, Emma has been sure of her choice. “Every day this school year, I have woken up and felt huge gratitude that I get to be part of this community,” she said. “There is a deep respect for young children as people and as learners, and that’s really important to me. The teachers are genuinely interested in who these little people are and what is happening in their minds and in their hearts.”

Emma’s own commitment to students and the wider Rowland Hall community meant that the top item on her first-year agenda was connecting with students, parents, faculty, and staff because those relationships would set the foundation for success. She wanted to know the students, and their families, by name. “An early goal for myself was knowing all of the names of the children—and I did that by Back to School Night,” she said.

She went into Beginning School classrooms to discover each team’s curriculum, learning style, and personality, as well as how faculty members like to be supported. A self-described developmentalist, she also engaged her professional background to help provide age-appropriate activities and lessons. “I believe all people are becoming,” she said, stressing the importance of actively engaging children at their level so they discover how to learn—and enjoy the journey.

Emma has seen this approach working in the Beginning School. She described watching a kindergartener experimenting with how to make a ball roll from one end of a complicated ramp structure to the other. “It was really tricky, this route he had made, with lots of hills and so forth,” she explained. The setup required him to continuously step back to examine the design and to make adjustments, from the height of slopes to the size of the ball.

“It went on for a long, long time—and then he got it to work, and that was amazing. So exciting! Then he got it to work another time, and his comment was, ‘After it works it’s boring,’” she laughed. “And I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope you hold onto that for the rest of your life,’ that the process of figuring it out is the good stuff.”

Moving into her second year at Rowland Hall, Emma wants to build upon the work already underway. She’ll enrich the relationships she built this year and continue to give students developmentally appropriate opportunities. Over the summer, she’ll take what she has learned from students, families, and teachers and map out a community-centered plan for 2019–2020 that will include enhancing outdoor play spaces; strengthening the snack policy that prioritizes healthy, nutritious, whole foods; reflecting on the school’s accreditation self-study; thinking deeply about parent communications; and soaking in knowledge from Alan Sparrow—whom Emma describes as “a wise and wonderful leader”—during his final year as head of school.

Whatever the next year holds, it’s clear that Emma will be fully focused on supporting Rowland Hall’s youngest students as they discover their love of learning and start to think critically, take risks, solve problems, and collaborate with others. “This is the stuff of learning,” she said.

People

Inaugural Camping Trip Rounds Out Fourth Graders' Year of Field Studies

Fourth-grade is the year of the field trip at Rowland Hall. Each year students head out of the classroom and into some of Utah's most remarkable places. They learn about geology, the water cycle, conservation, and state history. For the first time this year they capped their experiences with an overnight in Mapleton Canyon, where they put their newfound knowledge to the test.

"The concept of an overnight field study just made sense as a culminating experience for students to truly immerse themselves in their home state," said Jij de Jesus, Lower School principal. "It also helped them gain a sense of responsibility and independence as the transition to fifth grade approaches."

Thanks to a generous donation by a Rowland Hall supporter, the school partnered with Find Your Path Utah, a company specializing in experiential education. Founder Tyler Fonarow, a former Rowland Hall administrator and current parent, instantly saw all the marvelous possibilities. And he knew one thing: he didn't want these kids to think of this as just another camping trip.

"We kept it as much like school as possible, as far as the schedule," Tyler said. "We wanted to give them a chance to use the outdoor skills they've built up over the course of the year to understand that learning can happen in any place."

This was about getting our students outside with their classmates to help them see the interconnectedness of the natural and human world around them. —Principal Jij de Jesus

Our intrepid students faced fun challenges the moment they stepped off the bus in Mapleton: they found out they'd have to hike to their campsite a mile up the canyon while the bus carried their supplies. And it wasn't just a nice stroll up a paved trail—a creek crossing, for one, required creative problem-solving if they wanted to keep their feet dry.

"It was a neat opportunity to have the kids get out of their comfort zone a little bit," Tyler said. "Some kids chose to be carried, some kids chose to put the water shoes on, some kids chose to walk with garbage bags. It's called challenge by choice. It's about pushing the kids to the level where they are comfortable and still challenged."

After the hike in, fourth graders enjoyed activities centered on discovering a sense of place in their environment, studying water science and macroinvertebrates, leaving no trace, and being present.

“This was about getting our students outside with their classmates to help them see the interconnectedness of the natural and human world around them,” Jij said. "The state legislature's recent Utah's Every Kid Outdoors Initiative supports the idea that kids benefit from getting outside, especially with the incredible experiences locally accessible to us."

The lessons stuck with the students. Fourth grader Meg Hoglund said that from now on, whenever she goes fishing with her dad she'll check fishes' mouths for macroinvertebrates. "I also learned that your little piece of trash can contribute to a big problem for the environment later on," she said. "That's why leave no trace means NO trace at all."

At the end of the overnight, the kids wrote poems about the trip. Verses covered an array of memories—from the importance of protecting the watershed, to getting long hair stuck in a zipper. Fourth-grade teacher Matthew Collins said the poems helped students encapsulate their experiences: "With every line, we saw how much they learned and grew and just how much the experiential-education trips of the last year impacted them."

Experiential Learning

Three people pose outside with an Emmy.

Charismatic Rowland Hall lifer and Emmy winner Jared Ruga ’06 is apparently just as comfortable in the spotlight as he is behind the camera. On May 29, he flexed his storytelling prowess and delivered a speech chock-full of good advice for almost-grads at our annual Alumni Senior Breakfast, a school tradition since 1924.

Jared told his story in three acts: he waxed nostalgic about his time here; dissected his college life as a triple-major at the University of San Diego (USD); and recounted how he won an Emmy for Quiet Heroes, a documentary examining the Utah AIDS epidemic and the one doctor and her team that stepped up to treat thousands of critically ill, socially stigmatized patients.

The 30-year-old alumnus wove seven key insights into his talk.

Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time.

“Hate your work but show it anyway”

By the time Jared reached the Upper School, he knew he wanted to make movies, and he did. For the Distinction program—a now-defunct optional thesis project that, if successfully completed, resulted in graduation honors—he masterminded a feature-length teen thriller. But Jared procrastinated on his work, worrying his Distinction committee members. “I ended up not finishing the film until the night before the premiere,” he said. “And then I watched, beat for beat, in that crowded theater, and caught literal typos on screen, and saw that some of my non-actors’ performances weren’t made any better projected 20 feet high.”

Jared wryly confessed to seniors that the thriller, Sanctuary Disrupted, is not his best work. “But at that point in time, it was,” he added. “Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time with something else. And if you go through that process enough times, eventually you might land on something enough people like.”

As hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.

“Connect deeply with others even when it’s temporary”

Jared and high school best friend Isabel Carpenter ’06 “weren’t the emotional types,” he said, but that changed with their pre-college goodbye that ended in a sob-filled hug. They still talk, only about once a year, but that’s OK: our lives are often transient, Jared posited, and roles such as friend, mentor, partner, etc., may be filled by different people at different times. “It doesn’t cheapen what you had with them in the moments your lives intersected,” he told seniors. “And it shouldn’t dissuade you from connecting deeply with the next round of candidates…Because as hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.”

“Stick with your grit even when it’s hard”

Jared started college with a freshman roommate who wouldn’t talk to him, and mostly boring classes—“Rowland Hall had prepared me so well that I didn’t feel academically challenged until my junior year,” he said. But he trusted that circumstances would improve, and soon hit his stride academically, socially, and extracurricularly—through running the student TV station, participating in student government, and more. Jared earned his share of perfect grades at USD, but said the one he’s most proud of is a C+ in calculus, a required course that he kept dropping. In his last semester, he failed the midterm—but then poured his energy into acing the final. He passed the class and graduated magna cum laude from the honors program. “I didn’t transfer away from USD after a rocky start, and I didn’t drop calculus because I was hellbent on graduating as planned,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but it went my way in the end because I committed to making it happen.”

“Accept the wisdom of life seasons” and “Recharge your souls”

Jared is now openly gay, but didn’t come out until early adulthood. By the time he started law school at 24, he still hadn’t been in a relationship. “While I was so precociously successful by so many other metrics, what I thought was the deepest, most human experience we can have had eluded me,” he said. So he dove into dating, even to the detriment of his usually high grades. “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once,” Jared said. “Life has seasons for a reason.” Make time for the things that feed your soul, he advised. Pursuits such as relationships, hobbies, and volunteering are “just as important as the traditional metrics of success like degrees, accolades, money,” Jared said. “Success only actually feels good when you can celebrate it with others, and when it serves a greater purpose.”

The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.

On winning the Emmy: “Prefer life management over life planning” and “Pick a path and just do the work until it, with luck, catches fire”

Jared first heard the story of Dr. Kristen Ries and physician's assistant Maggie Snyder—the main subjects of Quiet Heroes, pictured with Jared, top—from one of his law professors. “I was deeply touched by what Kristen and Maggie had done, and embarrassed that as a politically active 26-year-old gay man who was born and raised Salt Lake City, I had never heard their story,” Jared said. “The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.”

So Jared’s professor connected him with the two women, and the emotionally draining—but highly rewarding—project began soon after. “Quiet Heroes was a difficult film to make,” Jared admitted. “For nearly a year of the film’s production lifecycle, I wanted to just throw in the towel and focus on something else that wouldn’t cause me so much heartburn.” Driven in part by Salt Lake City’s supportive LGBTQ community, Jared and his team charged forward and ultimately earned a spot at the Sundance Film Festival, then secured distribution deals. A subsequent TV showing qualified Quiet Heroes for a Daytime Emmy, and the documentary won in its category—even edging out an Oprah’s Book Club special. The filmmaking journey wasn’t easy, but it was character building, and it helped Jared get over his “analysis paralysis”: “Sometimes you have to just roll up your sleeves and start doing the work, without any expectation of its success,” he said. “Trusting your instincts will probably nudge you in the right direction.”

Jared closed by telling seniors that no one does anything worth doing without help, and he thanked everyone who aided him along the way. “I continue to be motivated and touched by your faith in me,” he said, “It’s the fuel inside that burns brighter every day.” Echoing his early advice, he encouraged students to be bold. “You’ll fail, probably publicly. You’ll love people who don’t love you back. You’ll say mean things you wish you hadn’t. And you’ll take for granted some of the most important ingredients to your health and success. But know that even though you won’t be perfect, you’re well positioned to make these choices. You have a solid foundation of skills and deep community support behind you.”

Alumni

Carol Frymire

Longtime staff member Carol Frymire to retire after 30 years of stepping in and stepping up at Rowland Hall

It’s not hard to see where Carol Frymire got her work ethic: her mother, Ina Wyman, was a schoolteacher by day, a Murray City Library employee by night, and a devoted wife and mother around the clock. So it makes sense that Carol has worked consistently since she was a teenager, first in jobs at an Arctic Circle restaurant and a drugstore soda fountain, later in customer service for Eastern Airlines, and finally—luckily for Rowland Hall—in several different capacities as a school staff member for the past 30 years.

First hired as a receptionist in the late 1980s, Carol has since held all of the following positions: assistant to Head of School Alan Sparrow; owner’s representative during construction of the McCarthey Campus; early morning and after-school childcare provider; director of alumni relations; student-billing manager; auction director and assistant; calendar coordinator; database manager; and for the past five years, assistant to Director of Technology Patrick Godfrey. In addition, she also wore the hat of school parent for several years—her son Andy was a Rowland Hall student from seventh through eleventh grades, and though he left his senior year to play hockey at Highland High School, he’s considered an honorary alum.
 
While Rowland Hall is known for its supportive culture that encourages professional growth, and many faculty and staff have switched jobs once or twice during their tenure at the school, Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.
 
“She provides awesome customer service,” Patrick Godfrey said. “She’ll jump in to help at Maker Day or get students geared up for skiing and snowboarding—all things that are not in her job description.” In a similarly selfless fashion, when she was alumni director, Carol formed a special bond with Margaret Jackson, an alumna from the class of 1942. “She had rheumatoid arthritis and was in a wheelchair,” Carol recalled. “So I’d pick her up and take her to things. She was my friend.”

Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.

Carol’s caring nature, flexibility, and can-do attitude have served the school community tremendously through the years. According to Alan Sparrow, Carol became his assistant the same day he began his headship, and they grew in their positions side by side. “There were many times we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, laughed, and said, ‘I guess we’re going to learn how to do this together!’” he said. Some issues they tackled in the 1990s included establishing basic human-resources policies and examining faculty salaries and credentials. And even though Carol eventually moved into a new role, he continued to consult her for advice—and relied on her to keep him updated on news and events throughout the school community.
 
Perhaps the most shining example of Carol’s willingness to step up occurred in 2009, when a gas leak near 1500 East and 500 South resulted in a mandatory evacuation of the McCarthey Campus and surrounding areas. As Carol remembers it, Director of Operations Ann Burnett walked down the hallway to her office, threw a set of bus keys on her desk, and told her to go pick up the four-year-old students and take them to the Lincoln Street Campus.
 
Carol—never having driven a bus before, or anything similar—might have been a little nervous, but she never hesitated. She teamed up with then-teacher Linda Strohacker, loaded the bus with children, and headed out to complete her charge.
 
“I drove over probably 15 sprinkler heads when I pulled the bus out of the circle,” Carol laughed. Plus she had inadvertently deployed the stop sign on the side of the bus and couldn’t figure out how to retract it. “All the way down the hill, the sign was vibrating out there…prrr-prrr-prrr,” she mimicked. Nevertheless, she delivered the students safely and was subsequently asked by a police officer to help evacuate very young children—including infants—from the nearby KinderCare facility. And after that, she and her bus were summoned to the local Veterans Affairs hospital in case anyone needed transportation from there as well.
 
Finally, after being released by her police escort, Carol returned to the Lincoln Street Campus to pick up evacuated lower and beginning school faculty, and she drove them home on the bus.
 
While she smiled at the memory of that day, and the certificate of recognition she received for “careening above and beyond the call of duty,” Carol was also quick to shrug off her contributions as anything more than what others would do. “People rise to the occasion,” she said. “It worked out well, and every single one of our kids got down the hill in record time.”

No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture. —Head of School Alan Sparrow

 
Because for Carol, it’s always been about the students at Rowland Hall, and the unexpected daily interactions have kept her amused and engaged in her work. “It’s the happenstance, off-the-cuff things they say each day,” she said. “They just tickle me because they’re so willing to be vulnerable, and funny.” Her peers recognize just how much the students have meant to Carol. “She gets the big picture of what we do here at Rowland Hall and has always been focused on the students,” Patrick Godfrey said.
 
Alan Sparrow added: “No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture.” 
 
Now, after a lifetime of working and the last 30 years of prioritizing students and colleagues at Rowland Hall, Carol will retire this summer and start a new adventure in Southern Utah with her husband, David. She plans to spend much of her time reading, improving her golf game, camping, and visiting with her children and grandchildren. She doesn’t want to plan too much, knowing that retirement is likely to be a major adjustment. “I’ve never not worked since I was 14,” she said.

While she’s definitely earned the right to rest and take things as they come, she will be sorely missed around campus. “Her friendship and loyalty will be hard to replace,” Patrick Godfrey said. 
 

People

Principal chats with students in classroom.

With over two decades of experience as a middle school teacher and administrator, including 19 years at institutions across Asia and Europe, Principal Pam Smith has seen the awkwardness of early adolescence shared across cultures—but she has also seen how educators can play a pivotal role in easing growing pains and creating joy.

“Middle school is about developing the whole person,” Pam said. “Many people don’t have positive memories of middle school, and that’s unfortunate because it should be an opportunity to build relationships, explore interests, and, above all, have fun.”

Educators can support this development in two ways, Pam said: by giving students tools to discover their interests and by teaching skills that help students pursue their passions. Together, these practices empower students to trust themselves and take ownership of their choices.

At the top of Pam's first-year priorities was learning from groups within the school—especially students. She listened to middle schoolers talk about their educational values and ideal experiences, and gave them ownership of assemblies, where they are free to emcee, perform, and present their work.

Pam’s firm belief in this approach to student development was apparent in her first-year priorities. At the top of the list was learning from groups within the school, such as teachers and parents, but especially students. She listened to students talk about their educational values and ideal experiences, and gave them ownership of areas like assemblies, where they are free to emcee, perform, and present their work.

“One of the first things we did this year was ask the student council to come in and speak at our new-student orientation,” she said. Because this was also her first time meeting the group, Pam asked each council member to state their name and grade, and to share something they like about Rowland Hall. “By and large, the students were talking about their teachers,” she remembered. “That comes through loud and clear: they care so much about their teachers.”

Experiences like this are a testament to the positive student-teacher relationships at the Middle School, a Rowland Hall strength that Pam could sense even during the interview process. “This is easily one of the best faculties that I’ve had the experience to work with,” she said. “The teachers really know and care about their kids. They understand what kids at this age are going through.”

This understanding is crucial to earning the trust necessary to guide students in self-discovery, particularly as they experiment with making choices. Pam explained that each student is on a personal journey, which they need to walk in their own way, at their own pace—mistakes and all. While giving them freedom to make mistakes can seem frightening, it is a crucial component of healthy development and essential at Rowland Hall, where there is a focus on teaching ethical decision-making, guiding students to take responsibility for learning, and developing student strengths.

The Middle School provides a safety net, Pam said, that helps catch students as they make mistakes and ultimately develop resilience and perseverance. “They can fall and get maybe a little scratched or bumped and bruised, but they’re going to be OK,” she said. “They’re going to learn.”

And as students become more experienced at healthy decision-making alongside discovering their passions, Pam said, they blossom. They start to understand that they have influence—what she calls their “powers for good”—over their lives and the world around them, and that they can engage their interests, skills, and talents in new ways. “There’s so much that students can do to be creative and to connect,” she said, citing examples of Rowland Hall students engaging those powers for good—from the seventh graders who started a campaign to remove straws from and limit single-use plastics in the cafeteria, to the eighth graders who led a clothing drive for Salt Lake City’s refugee community. She wants to continue to cultivate these opportunities next year to get more students engaged with the wider school and city communities, which can unlock passions they may not have yet discovered.

“School doesn’t have to just take place within the walls of the classroom,” Pam said. “This is a rich city with a lot to offer, so I want our students to be able to take advantage of that.”

Moving forward, Pam will continue to ensure that middle schoolers have the support they need to develop skills that will prepare them for the Upper School, and then college and life beyond.

“Our students really transform over three years,” she said. “By the end of eighth grade, they stand confidently, having found their voice, and are excited to continue learning and pursuing their passions. There’s this feeling that they can take on the world.”

People

Academics

student with teacher at event

After honing her letter-to-the-editor skills in Kody Partridge’s English 11 class, junior Laura Summerfield took that lesson to the next level: she entered and won Westminster College's annual Honors College Statewide Essay Contest. Read her winning essay in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Laura—an aspiring journalist herself—penned the persuasive piece in response to the following prompt: “Write an essay (600 words or less) that explores the role played by media in promoting or impeding civility in our political and civic discourse. In an age of Twitter and ‘fake news,’ what responsibility does the media have to encourage civility?”

My generation may be one of the last that remembers civility in politics unless we do something to reignite it.—Laura Summerfield, Class of 2020

The contest drew 85 entrants from 22 high schools across Utah, according to Westminster Honors College Dean Richard Badenhausen. A distinguished, bipartisan panel of five judges (a former Salt Lake City mayor, an acclaimed author, a lobbyist, a professor, and a Trib reporter) evaluated 13 finalists. Although it was an extremely close contest—Laura won by one point—her essay was the only one that appeared on every judge’s ballot.

Westminster held the contest in conjunction with a March 19 lecture by New York Times Op-Ed Editor James Dao. Laura received her prize, a $2,000 check, that evening, and the Trib published her piece not long after.

“When I received the email telling me I had won, I literally didn't believe it,” Laura said. “Even when my essay was in the Trib, I didn't believe it. I still don't believe it.”

I want students to know that their words matter to me and to others.—Upper School English Teacher Kody Partridge

Incredulous as she may be, there’s no denying that Laura—thanks in part to family discussions and Kody’s class—was well prepared to respond to this year’s prompt. “The topic resonated with me because my family's go-to pre-dinner, dinner, and post-dinner programming is the news and political talk shows, so I knew the state of our political climate,” Laura said. “This topic is important because my generation may be one of the last that remembers civility in politics unless we do something to reignite it.”

Kody attended the March event to support Laura and hear the lecture. Though Laura didn’t write the award-winning essay specifically for Kody’s class, the beloved Upper School teacher of over 16 years has a unit that covers writing letters to the editor, and respectfully and compellingly voicing opinions outside of the classroom. “I want students to know that their words matter to me and to others,” Kody said. The lesson certainly got through to Laura, and Kody is a proud teacher. “Laura is a talented writer and a thoughtful young woman,” she said. “It was a fantastic letter.”

Pictured, top: Laura and Kody at the March 16 event.

Writing

Teacher helping students with a computing activity

Junior Alex Armknecht named Aspirations in Computing Northern Utah Affiliate winner, sophomore Katy Dark and teacher Ben Smith ’89 receive honorable mentions

It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.—Teacher Ben Smith ’89

Computer science teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 has spent the past several years encouraging his students as they apply for—and often place in—the National Center for Women and Information Technology's (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing awards. For the first time this year, NCWIT recognized the teacher alongside his students.

Ben learned in March that he’d been named a 2019 Northern Utah Affiliate Honorable Mention recipient of the NCWIT Educator Award, which goes to teachers who continually encourage young women’s aspirations in computing.

“I have been active with NCWIT for several years now, and it was good to get recognition for those efforts—it was a bit of a surprise,” Ben said. “It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.”

Ben was one of three teachers honored by the regional affiliate, junior Alex Armknecht was one of 16 student winners, and sophomore Katy Dark was one of 30 honorable mentions. Student winners are selected annually "based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education," according to Aspirations in Computing (AiC).

Teacher with students at awards ceremony for women in computing.

From left, sophomore Katy Dark, teacher Ben Smith, and junior Alex Armknecht at the regional awards ceremony in March.

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level.

Alex’s 2019 award follows her honorable mention last year. A Middle School coding seminar first sparked Alex’s interest in the subject—from there, she worked with administrators and faculty to create a computing elective, and even recruited other girls to take the class. Last year in Ben’s AP Computer Science Principles class, Alex made a math app to help kids learn division, and fourth graders in teacher Tyler Stack's class picked her project as their favorite. She plans to keep studying computer science.

Katy also plans to pursue computing. In addition to the AiC award, she recently won a national President's Volunteer Service Award for her work tutoring students and developing a coding club at Dual Immersion Academy, a bilingual Spanish-English charter school she attended during her elementary years.

Ben, Alex, and Katy attended a March 16 ceremony in Provo where they met peer students and teachers, accepted their awards, and left with swag bags—a much-anticipated highlight for Ben. “Every year I see my students getting these killer swag bags and I go home empty handed,” the teacher joked before attending the ceremony. “I might just get one of my own this year.”

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level. The center and its AiC awards have become big names in the computer science world. Women are underrepresented in that field, but the 2004-founded organization is working hard to move the needle and empower women to pursue and succeed in computing.

Related stories

STEM

Student in traditional Islamic dress gestures toward a pot.

On March 20, seventh graders used illustrations, demos, dioramas, and even virtual reality to transport Rowland Hall community members to a different time and place—the Golden Age of Islam that started in the seventh century and stretched from Spain to China.

According to seventh-grade world studies teacher Margot Miller, last week's exhibition was driven by one question: "How can we showcase the Golden Age of Islam in order to educate our community about Islamic inventions and challenge assumptions and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims?"

The middle schoolers used the book 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilizations and conducted additional research to become experts on their topics. For the main attraction, they transformed the Middle School's upstairs art hallway, adjacent staircase, and the band room hallway into a funnel of knowledge—visitors snaked through topical sections dealing with food, fashion, medicine, school, astronomy, architecture, and more. The seventh graders also prepared oral and written presentations, and eagerly enlightened all who passed through the exhibition.

World Studies

students interviewing man sitting on bench

Earlier this school year, sophomores hit iconic Salt Lake City spots to ask friendly strangers how migration has shaped their families’ stories. English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor masterminded the activity for sophomores' annual Beyond the Classroom day, in connection with their reading of Exit West

Before they took to the streets, students received a crash course from an expert folklorist, Thomas Richardson, on how to be an ethnographer and conduct interviews. Then during interviews, sophomores asked these questions:

Immigration heavily affected our way of life because we were the first peoples here.—Darren Parry, Chairman of the Shoshone Nation. See his interview in the top-left square.

  1. What story about your own or your family’s migration or travel can you share?
  2. Tell me about how migration or travel has shaped your story or your family’s story.
  3. Our class is reading a book called Exit West by Mohsin Hamid who said, “We are all migrants. All of us. We move through time and space.” How does that quote relate or not relate to your experience?

Students had a simple goal, Dr. Taylor said: listen and bear witness to the many different experiences of people in our city. 

View an exhibit of subjects’ photos and quotes just outside the Upper School library. A selection of students’ work is below.

Directions: On a desktop, hover over the audio icons to see pull quotes and hear interview audio. On a mobile device, press the audio icons.   

Student Reactions to the Assignment

Lightly edited for style and context.

It was interesting to hear about what people sacrificed and went through to get to the U.S. It makes you better appreciate your country. —Sophomore Cole McCartney

Beyond the Classroom made me realize how diverse Salt Lake City is. I was able to hear about many people’s experiences with migration or travel. I met people from Mexico, El Salvador, and other countries, and they all had very compelling stories. It was interesting to hear about what people sacrificed and went through to get to the U.S. It makes you better appreciate your country. I also found it interesting to hear different opinions on migration; there were some who were strongly for it while others didn't seem to care...I would never have talked to random people about this if it weren't for this project.
—Cole McCartney

It definitely showed me that people are always on the move, and how some don’t have to travel far to experience different things. It gave me more respect for people who do migrate often, or migrate to different countries or places that are vastly different from where they started. I feel more empathetic towards people who are migrating from oppressive countries and are struggling to find a place in this world. Even making the move from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake was difficult and took time, so these people are fighters and deserve happiness in their lives.
—Mary Clancy

At the beginning of the day, I thought it would be really scary because I would be talking with random people I didn't know, something I’ve rarely been comfortable with...I met a woman named Rosa María and asked if I could interview her. She replied, "I don't speak English, only Spanish; I'm on a trip," and I knew it would be a good opportunity to see how immigration had affected people who weren't living in the United States. I conducted the whole interview in Spanish and we laughed and had a good time...Being an immigrant myself, I thought everyone was affected in some way by immigration, but as I interviewed her I knew immigration wasn't all there was. She primarily talked about cross-cultural integration. I knew this was true but it didn't hit me until then: immigration is a big topic all around the world, but you don’t often hear in the media about how it opens people’s minds up to new ideas.
—Mena Zendejas-Portugal

Beyond the Classroom
 

Rowland Hall Home to Highest Number of 2019 Academic All-American Debaters in Utah

Four Rowland Hall debaters won coveted National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) Academic All-American awards—a new school record and the highest number of winners from any Utah school this year.

The award recognizes academic rigor, competitive speech and debate success, and personal excellence, according to the NSDA, and fewer than 1,000 of the association's 141,000 student members earn the distinction each year. That places our four winners—senior Ben McGraw and juniors Ben Amiel, Steven Doctorman, and Adrian Gushin—among the top one-percent of all student members across the country.

Fewer than 1,000 of 141,000 NSDA student members earn this distinction each year. That places our four winners among the top 1%.

"Rowland Hall has a long history of debate and academic excellence and these awards mean a lot to our program," debate coach Mike Shackelford said. "It shows that debate isn't just about competitive excellence at tournaments, it's about using debate to complement and reinforce intellectual growth in the classroom as well."

The Academic All-American award recognizes high schoolers who have earned the degree of Superior Distinction (750 points) in the NSDA Honor Society; completed at least five semesters of high school; demonstrated outstanding character and leadership; and earned a GPA of at least 3.7. Students accumulate points for service and competition: they earn a point for every hour of service, two points for every debate round lost, and six points for every debate round won.

Adrian, Steven, Ben Amiel and Ben McGraw have all competed in over 150 debate rounds, their coach said. "These are the team's top students; they've won local tournaments, earned individual speaker awards, and even placed nationally," Mike said.

It was a great relief to know that my investment in debate paid off.—Senior award-winner Ben McGraw, who transferred to Rowland Hall primarily for debate

They also demonstrate outstanding character and leadership on a daily basis, the coach added. "Ben McGraw is a senior who transferred here for debate at the start of his junior year and so the team views him as a natural leader who puts debate first. Adrian is on our 'top team' and leads by example in his drive and motivation. Ben Amiel is one of our 'affirmative' captains and does more research than anyone. Steven takes pride in working with younger team members and even volunteers to judge and mentor our Middle School debaters."

Ben McGraw said he transferred to Rowland Hall almost exclusively for debate, knowing that the team is second to none in Utah. "It was a great relief to know that my investment in debate paid off," the senior said. "For me, the award signified, along with my recent qualification to the Tournament of Champions, the completion of a goal I have been striving for since my first day of high school."

The winners praised debate for enhancing their research, public-speaking, and critical-thinking skills, and some highlighted a lesser-known benefit—the camaraderie. "The debate community is made up of wonderful people from all different backgrounds, and seeing (and sometimes debating) friends from other states at tournaments is always great," Ben Amiel said.

At least one Rowland Hall student has earned the Academic All-American award in each of the past 10 years, Mike said—seniors Cas Mulford, Sydney Young, and Robin Zeng won the award last year.

Pictured at top: from left, debaters Andres Torres, Steven Doctorman, Ben McGraw, and Ben Amiel—three of the four NSDA Academic All-American award winners.

Debate

Celebrating 150 Years in Our Classrooms

For the sesquicentennial, we asked Rowland Hall's teachers to find ways to incorporate our 150th anniversary into their curriculum. They rose to the challenge, creating fun and instructional opportunities for students, including art installations, math activities, spelling lessons, and service projects related to our school's history and/or the number 150.

Below are a few of the year's highlights. Check out photos and video from all the curricular activities on the Rowland Hall 150 website.

 

Upper School: Studio Art Installation

 

Art teacher Rob Mellor quite literally wove our sesquicentennial into his curriculum. His six-member Studio Art 3 class created a shallow installation of string secured by 150 nails. The 3-D line design incorporates color, pattern, random chance, and a large spiral as a nod to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty artwork at the Great Salt Lake. Students created connections from nail to nail and linked each symbolic year together to create an open tapestry. Mr. Mellor said the project entailed "classic problem solving within a group dynamic. Compromise, trial and error, concept and meaning."

 

Middle School: 150 Rube Goldberg Machine

Middle School students in Ben Smith's class took on the major challenge of creating a SeRuGoMa, also known as the Sesquicentennial Rube Goldberg Machine. They built the machine on three large cardboard numbers (1,5,0) and divided into teams to design and construct seven actions per cardboard number, each of which triggered a subsequent action. They shared their creation with fellow students and visitors on Grandparents Day in November and on Maker Day in May.

 

Lower School: Giving Back, 150-Style

Lower School students in the first and third grades used the sesquicentennial celebration as an opportunity for community service. Third-grade students knitted over 150 hats to donate to the House of Hope, while first-grade students completed 150 acts of kindness over the course of the year. We're especially proud of these big-hearted and generous Winged Lions, who even received a shout-out on KSL's morning news for their good deeds!

 

Beginning School: Birthday Bash

Our Beginning School students participated in a birthday bash on the 150th day of school. They prepared 150 beautiful butterflies as a gift to Rowland Hall, and then celebrated on the quad with singing and dancing.


Sesquicentennial

Achievements of the Class of 2018

Out of 71 seniors in the class of 2018, 29 are lifers—students who have attended Rowland Hall for 12 or more years. Our seniors earned admission to 118 different institutions of higher education and will matriculate to 39 colleges and universities. Five members of the class of 2018 were named National Merit Semifinalists, and 88 percent received at least one offer of merit-based aid.

Rowland Hall's seniors performed at the highest level inside and outside the classroom. They participated in the Science Olympiad and University of Utah's Bench-to-Bedside competition, winning the Best Young Entrepreneur Award. Fifteen students—our largest-ever group of senior debaters—traveled across the country as part of our nationally ranked team and won countless local tournaments. Five qualified to the National Speech and Debate Tournament, four will debate in college, three qualified to the Tournament of Champions, two were named Academic All-Americans, and one was a State champion. Members of the class of 2018 trained as painters, dancers, sculptors, and singers. One is a cellist who performed for two years with the New Hampshire All-State Orchestra, and another is a visual artist who sold her first piece at age six.

Our seniors captured 31 Region and nine State titles as teams, and individuals collected 10 State and Region titles in tennis and golf. Eight were selected to play in the postseason All-Star Games of their respective sports this year.

Our seniors led our athletics program to top-five finishes in the Deseret News 2A All-Sports Awards each year of their high school careers. They captured 31 Region and nine State titles as teams, and individuals collected 10 State and Region titles in tennis and golf. Eight of our seniors were selected to play in the postseason All-Star Games of their respective sports this year. Outside of school, one achieved the highest level of scuba certification and another won championships in the 0.9-meter and 1.0-meter jumping classes of horseback riding. One was named the MVP of an international volleyball tournament, while another was a two-time gold medalist in karate at the Junior Olympics. Of the nine seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, one was named to the U.S. Ski Team, and three are members of Australian National Ski Teams. Their ski-racing successes include three U16 National Championships, three FIS Western Region Junior Championships, two World Cup starts, and a fourth place at this year's World Junior Championships.

Students in the class of 2018 were generous with their time and talents, coaching club soccer teams, singing weekly at the local Veterans Affairs medical center, and running the school's stage crew. Their work benefitted local organizations, from the Salt Lake Peer Court to St. Mark's Hospital to Park City's Mountain Trails Fund. Their service had broader reach as well—one student organized a clothing and toy drive for an elementary school in Kenya, and another volunteered in Turkey helping the Syrian Relief Network translate documents and deliver goods for a year and a half, even though his original plan was to stay two weeks.

The class of 2018 demonstrated leadership in myriad ways: serving on student council, rallying their peers as sports team captains, facilitating advisory conversations in the Middle School, and devoting hours to their religious communities. One senior worked with Sustainable Startups to turn an interest in gardening into a successful urban farm, donating over 1,000 pounds of produce to local organizations such as the Utah Food Bank.

Many of our graduating seniors have a strong commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice. Their service projects grew into passion projects, creating documentaries about high school students in the Navajo Nation, lobbying for the passage of Indigenous People's Day, and advocating for undocumented immigrants. One student received the Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs Excellence in Education Award for his community-building work. Another was interviewed twice on KRCL's RadioActive program for his work with the American Civil Liberties Union and Camp Anytown. Yet another embraced a role as a teen advisor with the United Nations Foundation's Girl Up program and used it as a springboard for activism, committing to co-write a book to enhance girls' education in Utah.

The class of 2018 demonstrated leadership in myriad ways: serving on student council, rallying their peers as sports team captains, facilitating advisory conversations in the Middle School, and devoting hours to their religious communities. One senior worked with Sustainable Startups to turn an interest in gardening into a successful urban farm, donating over 1,000 pounds of produce to local organizations such as the Utah Food Bank.

Our seniors completed internships at the John A. Moran Eye Center, Twig Media Lab, Grand Teton National Park, and the Natural History Museum of Utah, to name a few. One even obtained an internship with Utah Jazz radio personality David Locke and learned how to research, analyze, and write reports on NBA draft prospects. When not studying, volunteering, or participating in co-curricular activities, several of these students go to work as dishwashers, camp counselors, or lifeguards. One senior spent an entire summer working construction 10 hours a day with a group of stonemasons.

These 71 outstanding young adults will continue to make an impact on the world in college and beyond. Please join us in congratulating the class of 2018 and celebrating what they have achieved thus far in their young lives—only some of which we have included here. We cannot wait to see what they do next.

Students

 

Doing What Real Scientists Do: Fifth-Grade Science Share Celebrates Inquiry, Process, and (Sometimes) Failure

Each August when students at Rowland Hall enter fifth grade, they receive a special assignment: write a letter to your teacher introducing yourself and expressing your hopes and fears for the year ahead. According to Sarah Button and Chad Obermark, two Lower School faculty members with a collective 23 years of experience teaching Rowland Hall fifth graders, 75 percent of incoming students are worried about one thing in particular—the science share.

"We talk about the science share from day one," Mr. Obermark said.

The annual spring project, which has been part of the Lower School curriculum for over 20 years, requires students to develop a research question and then execute the scientific method, culminating in a public presentation of their findings. It takes approximately eight weeks for students to complete the entire process: choosing a question, forming a hypothesis, collecting and analyzing data, writing up their results using the claim-evidence-reasoning framework, and creating the presentation board and accompanying Keynote—digital documentation—for the science share.

The annual spring project, which has been part of the Lower School curriculum for over 20 years, requires students to develop a research question and then execute the scientific method, culminating in a public presentation of their findings.

The sustained timeline, coupled with the independent nature of the research, is what contributes to student anxiety about the science share, Mr. Obermark explained. "They've really got to own it," he said, "and for some kids it's daunting."

For some fifth-grade students, identifying their research question is the toughest part of the process. Mackenzie White, whose project explored whether the duration of egg-whipping affected the height of a pound cake, said that finding a genuine question was her biggest challenge.

Ms. Button said that students' initial questions frequently fall into that category: those they already know the answer to. When she pushes them to establish genuine questions, they grow concerned. "They'll worry that their hypothesis might turn out wrong," she said. "So I have to reassure them it's okay if their experiment goes south and they find out something different than what they expected. That's what real scientists do."

At this year's science share on April 26, projects explored a range of questions, such as whether the type of string on a lacrosse stick impacts shot accuracy, or whether listening to music during a math test affects student performance. Faculty, parents, and other Lower School students made their way around the room, examining display boards, listening to presentations about the scientific method, and asking the fifth graders questions about their findings.

Some students were nervous about presenting their work to the community, though many spoke with pride about what they had learned. Will Chin, whose question was "does the temperature of a tennis ball affect how high it bounces?" described the painstaking process of data collection. After filming bouncing tennis balls—some of which had been cooled or heated—he pored over hours of video to extract precise height measurements, often slowing down and rewinding footage multiple times. However, his advice to future students was reassuring. "Once you get past the procedure," he said, "it's really fun."

They'll worry that their hypothesis might turn out wrong. So I have to reassure them it's okay if their experiment goes south and they find out something different than what they expected. That's what real scientists do. —Sarah Button, fifth-grade teacher

Gigi Brown, Jojo Park, and Bea Martin also had good suggestions for next year's fifth-grade class: Make sure you pick a question that really interests you. Choose a project that doesn't involve living subjects. Start early, and don't be afraid to ask your teacher for help.

Even though some students may struggle with the science share, Ms. Button emphasized that the process of engaging with a meaningful question—not the end product on display— is what creates a positive learning outcome. Additionally, the experience can impact the way students approach future projects in the Middle School and beyond. For one of Ms. Button's former students whose science share wasn't particularly successful, that meant helping his brother out when he got to fifth grade. "He didn't want his brother to make the same mistakes he had," Ms. Button said, "and his brother's project ended up being one of the best in his class."

The celebration of scientific inquiry and process, including the occasional failure, presents an opportunity for the community too, according to Mr. Obermark. While many other Lower School performances or events focus on the arts or literacy, the science share offers a critical window into STEM learning. "It's a big deal," he said, "and it's a big deal about science."

STEM

 

Arts

orchestra concert

Winged Lion musicians enjoyed a banner school year dotted with captivating chapel and morning-meeting performances, well-attended concerts, a visit from a Stradivarius-playing concertmaster, and glowing reviews at competitions.

Highlights for the year, according to music teachers Sarah Yoon and Jeremy Innis:

  • On October 16, our Advanced Chamber Ensemble (ACE) performed at Primary Children's Hospital for the third year in a row; read our November 2017 story about ACE and their volunteerism. New this year, the hospital internally televised the concert for all patients to enjoy.

  • On April 23, Pacific Symphony Concertmaster Dennis Kim visited Rowland Hall for a masterclass, brown-bag lunch concert, and Q&A session. Dennis worked with our musicians in small groups, giving them direct, practical pointers—particularly on playing their instruments with passion. He also shared personal anecdotes, including the story of his career and how he acquired a Stradivarius violin, one of the most celebrated and valuable instruments in the world.

  • On May 2, ACE and the Upper School Orchestra performed music from Schindler’s List at the Jewish Community Center for Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It was very powerful to be among Holocaust survivors and family members,” Sarah said.

  • On June 1, choir students performed Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” along with our jazz band and dance company at the Salt Lake City Pride Parade; participation was driven by middle and upper schoolers in LGBTQ+ advocacy and allyship clubs.

Competition Highlights

Sixteen Rowland Hall students competed at Regionals on March 26. From there, one choir and all eight ACE students moved onto the Utah High School Activities Association’s State Solo and Ensemble South Festival held Saturday, April 27, in Provo.

At State, all of our competing students (listed below) received a “superior” rating, the highest on a five-point scale. View a full PDF of all results.

Solos

  • Cora Lopez, contralto singer, La fleur que tu m'avais jetee by Bizet
  • Claire Sanderson, piano, Chopin Nocturne
  • Ziteng Zeng, violin, Mozart Rondo from Serenade in D minor "Haffner"
  • Jake Bleil, string bass, Koussevitzy Valse Miniature
  • Augustus Hickman, violin, Bach Concerto in A minor

Duets

  • Austin Topham and Zach Benton, violin and viola, Handel Halvorsen Passacaglia
  • Patrick McNally and Ziteng Zeng, violin, Vivaldi Concerto in D minor
  • Augustus Hickman and Atticus Hickman, violin, Bach Double Concerto

Music

students performing on stage
Middle and upper school actors, dancers, musicians, and visual artists derived their own absurd, whimsical, haunting, and comedic version of Alice in Wonderland, performed April 11–13 in the Larimer Center for the Performing Arts.

The innovative show featured large-scale murals, traveling props, a costume menagerie, every style of dance, and integrated orchestral, vocal, and jazz music.

theater

dancers on stage

Every arts performance is a collaborative event, and in recent years we’ve had a large contingency of alumni return and contribute their time and talents to our programs. This January’s dance concert, Home: The Monsters We Run From, The Refuge We Seek, featured a film by Oliver Jin ’18 and a piece choreographed by Laja Field ’08. Also assisting: Max Jacquin ’18 worked on the lighting design and Sophia Cutrubus ’18 trained dancers in the Middle School Arts & Ensemble program.

Oliver’s film served as an introduction to the dance concert, framing the themes of migration and departure in scientific terms and providing audience members with a foundation to aid their interpretation of the dancers’ work. “The film is a message that says migration and movement and departure are an integral part of our humanity,” Oliver said. He credited Rowland Hall with showing him how the arts are intertwined. Now in his first year at Sarah Lawrence College studying photography, Oliver frequently attends art installations, dance lectures, and other performances to support and learn from fellow artists.

Laja Field ’08 enjoyed coming back to Rowland Hall and collaborating with the current group of students and artists. She said the school feels like home to her: “The teachers and experiences I had there I hold very close to my heart.”After graduating in 2008, Laja Field earned her bachelor’s degree in modern dance at the University of Utah and went on to dance professionally, eventually founding the physical dance theatre company LAJAMARTIN with her partner, Martin Durov. She said studying dance at Rowland Hall—and the opportunity to complete a distinction in dance—helped her envision a career in the field. Laja was thrilled to return and create a piece on current students, which  was partly inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story.

“I believe that, if we tell more stories, and we’re able to invite another perspective through dance, there’s an opportunity to see something in a new way,” Laja said. She described her piece as a mish-mash of cultural influences, which asks people to consider their roles in any given community. “Who are we? Are we the ones who open our arms? Are we the ones who listen to new stories and open up our perspectives and take them in? Or are we stuck in our ways?”

Rowland Hall’s arts department chair Sofia Gorder celebrated the desire of our alumni to collaborate with other artists and stay engaged with their alma mater: “The school breeds this idea that we come back and we give back. That’s part of the culture.” See clips from the concert and hear more from Laja and Oliver about what giving back to the arts means to them.
 

Alumni

Livia Anderson sitting in front of her mural.

After three years of intermittent painting, junior Livia Anderson in August applied the last strokes on a vibrant mural dominating one wall of eighth-grade American Studies teacher Bill Tatomer’s classroom.

Livia—who received help from assistant artist and twin sister Leonie—started the mural the summer before eighth grade at the request of Mr. Tatomer. Now, her “client” couldn’t be happier with the final product: “I’m so fortunate to have this student-centric, curriculum-specific masterpiece in my classroom,” Mr. Tatomer said. “I’ll treasure it, and my students will get to appreciate it for years and years to come.”

Livia's mural features a famous World War II scene, plus imagery inspired by the westward expansion of the US.

In the following Q&A—lightly edited for length and context—Livia discusses how she made the mural, her productive struggle during the the three-year undertaking, how she persevered, and what she learned.

Why did you volunteer to paint this mural?
Most of the time I use small canvases, so completing an artwork of such magnitude was foreign to me. It was a great opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and experiment with new methods and mediums.

Is this your first mural-painting experience? What was that like? Will you do it again?
This was my first time painting a mural. It was exciting because I experimented with different tools, such as airbrushes, sponges, paint rollers, etc. If I’m ever given the opportunity to paint another mural, I’ll wholeheartedly accept. I’ll say, however, that I was unprepared when it came to time management, so that made it difficult to complete quickly.

It took me far longer than I expected, but I’m glad I completed it...If I’m ever given the opportunity to paint another mural, I’ll wholeheartedly accept. —Junior Livia Andersen, mural artist

How long did it take? Explain the process and timeline.
I began painting the mural in summer 2015, before I started eighth grade, and completed it this summer—so it took about three years. I finished most of the sketching and background painting during the first summer, but the details took me longer. I mostly worked on it when school was out for summer, which allowed for hours of uninterrupted work at a time.

How do you feel about the final product?
I’m quite proud of the mural, to say the least. It took me far longer than I expected, but I’m glad I completed it.

Explain the imagery you used. What inspired you?
I knew Mr. Tatomer wanted me to depict the American flag, but I challenged myself when it came to the other elements. I decided to pay tribute to Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, the famous 1945 photo by Joe Rosenthal. I also included elements of the westward expansion, such as bison and a steam engine, and “We the People” as a nod to the foundation of America.

You've taken several art electives with teacher Rob Mellor. How did your knowledge and skills influence this mural, if at all?
I used quite a bit of the skills I’ve learned. The two main principles I had to take into consideration were perspective and proportion, and I used my knowledge from art classes to do so.

What did you get out of the experience?
Throughout the creation of this mural, I learned so much and improved my artistic skills. I used new tools and mediums and depicted things I don’t work with often, such as the human form and geometric objects.

Visual Arts

Choreographing 'Home'

My Experience Collaboratively Creating the January 17–19 Dance Concert Home: The Monsters We Run From, the Refuge We Seek

By Katie Rose Kimball, Class of 2019

Every dance concert is a culmination of many artistic processes, patched and threaded together into an epic mosaic of experience, ideas, and connections. Each choreographer and dancer can trace their own emotional story through the development of the program, if only because the process takes months to complete.

Above, students run through Home in a dress rehearsal before opening night.

Coming out of the last summer of high school, I found myself thinking about the habits I had formed to structure summer days—drinking morning tea, eating questionable meals, redesigning my room—and my relationship with routines as a whole, whether they were mind-numbing, comforting, or something in between. When I was presented with the tagline of this year's concert—Home: The Monsters We Run From, the Refuge We Seek—I found myself with the perfect avenue to explore my questions about routine.

To create my dance, I settled into a cyclical process of choice, inspiration, and response. For instance, I chose music with layers of repetition to reflect how routines build on top of each other. When I was considering one potential song, another dancer casually commented that it sounded like a morning alarm. That comment propelled me to build the storyline of my dance around morning routines. This choice led to more deliberate decisions like having one dancer make a cup of tea while the rest slept. And so it went until I had filled the whole three minutes of music.

One of the hardest parts of the process was struggling with the vulnerability that comes with asking someone else to perform your art.

One of the hardest parts of the process was struggling with the vulnerability that comes with asking someone else to perform your art. When I teach a dance to another person, it's as if I'm painting a piece on wood and metal and cloth that was intended for a blank canvas. The general strokes of what I'm trying to convey transfer easily, but each individual's performance has different details and a different underlying tone. Yet, this transformation also allows me to see my ideas in a way I never can when they're caught inside my own mind. I'm forced to face that which I was trying to avoid, and I discover comfort in places I'd never thought to look.

I find myself creating a little piece of Home.

Looking around, I see each person in the dance company looking to find this piece of home, whether that's by asking what it means to be a refugee, examining our relationship with technology, exploring a child's imagination, or revealing our underlying dread of deadlines. This year's dance concert brings together a unique collection of voices that are ready to welcome you into their home.

Dance

Band Director Dr. Bret Jackson Named State Music Educator of the Year

Rowland Hall Band Director Dr. Bret Jackson can end 2018 on a high note: the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) this month named him Music Educator of the Year.

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic nominated Bret. She said she's ecstatic UHSAA selected him and the honor is well-earned. "He is truly the consummate professional who loves his students and who loves to bring music into their lives."

It never fails that I see or hear him working with a student or students in the music room every time I walk by. —Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic, Dr. Jackson's nominator

Bret trains students to view music as a creative art that has relevance and potency in their lives, Kendra wrote in her nomination letter, and he's often the first person in the building each morning and the last to leave each night. "It never fails that I see or hear him working with a student or students in the music room every time I walk by," she added. "His dedication and commitment to creating a strong music program at Rowland Hall is incredible."

Through that dedication—plus his musical prowess and unfailingly friendly disposition—Bret has made a big impression on Rowland Hall since his 2005 hiring. He and his students have accumulated numerous awards, including top honors at state and region music festivals and competitions. And his contributions extend beyond the music department: he's always happy to organize a jazz band performance at sports games and other school events, Kendra wrote. "Any time our band is involved with a sporting activity, our fan attendance goes up exponentially because of the festive atmosphere that Dr. Jackson and his jazz band creates in the gym."

I feel lucky to have a career that allows me to help young people develop important life skills and a love for art through nurturing their musical talents.—Band Director Dr. Bret Jackson

Bret loves teaching young musicians in their formative years: he said his own life has been largely defined by the opportunities for growth, achievement, and leadership he had back in high school. "Recognizing this, I feel lucky to have a career that allows me to help young people develop important life skills and a love for art through nurturing their musical talents."

The top teacher added he's grateful for the award and bolstered by the recognition. "If it can help get the word out that there is great music being made at Rowland Hall, then all the better."

Read more about Bret in his biography.

The accolade is part of UHSAA's Distinguished Service Awards, initiated in 1987 to honor individuals for their service and contributions to high school activities. Bret will join 16 other coaches, officials, teachers, and contributors who will be honored at a January luncheon.

Bret is the seventh Rowland Hall employee on record to receive a UHSAA Distinguished Service Award. Full list:

  1. Dr. Bret Jackson, band director and music teacher, 2018 Music Educator of the Year
  2. Bobby Kennedy, girls soccer head coach, 2015 2A Coach of the Year
  3. Mark Oftedal, cross country and track and field coach, 2014 2A Coach of the Year
  4. Kathy Howa, softball and volleyball coach, 2013 Distinguished Contributor of the Year
  5. Shawn MacQueen, former boys basketball and golf coach, 2009 2A Coach of the Year
  6. Ryan Hoglund, former debate coach and current director of ethical education, 2007 Speech Educator of the Year
  7. Kendra Tomsic, director of athletics, 2004 Athletic Director of the Year

Music

Celebrating 150 Years in Our Classrooms

For the sesquicentennial, we asked Rowland Hall's teachers to find ways to incorporate our 150th anniversary into their curriculum. They rose to the challenge, creating fun and instructional opportunities for students, including art installations, math activities, spelling lessons, and service projects related to our school's history and/or the number 150.

Below are a few of the year's highlights. Check out photos and video from all the curricular activities on the Rowland Hall 150 website.

 

Upper School: Studio Art Installation

 

Art teacher Rob Mellor quite literally wove our sesquicentennial into his curriculum. His six-member Studio Art 3 class created a shallow installation of string secured by 150 nails. The 3-D line design incorporates color, pattern, random chance, and a large spiral as a nod to Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty artwork at the Great Salt Lake. Students created connections from nail to nail and linked each symbolic year together to create an open tapestry. Mr. Mellor said the project entailed "classic problem solving within a group dynamic. Compromise, trial and error, concept and meaning."

 

Middle School: 150 Rube Goldberg Machine

Middle School students in Ben Smith's class took on the major challenge of creating a SeRuGoMa, also known as the Sesquicentennial Rube Goldberg Machine. They built the machine on three large cardboard numbers (1,5,0) and divided into teams to design and construct seven actions per cardboard number, each of which triggered a subsequent action. They shared their creation with fellow students and visitors on Grandparents Day in November and on Maker Day in May.

 

Lower School: Giving Back, 150-Style

Lower School students in the first and third grades used the sesquicentennial celebration as an opportunity for community service. Third-grade students knitted over 150 hats to donate to the House of Hope, while first-grade students completed 150 acts of kindness over the course of the year. We're especially proud of these big-hearted and generous Winged Lions, who even received a shout-out on KSL's morning news for their good deeds!

 

Beginning School: Birthday Bash

Our Beginning School students participated in a birthday bash on the 150th day of school. They prepared 150 beautiful butterflies as a gift to Rowland Hall, and then celebrated on the quad with singing and dancing.


Sesquicentennial

Susan Swidnicki Fosters Lifelong Love of Music in Beginning School Students

Professional Oboist Found 'Joy of Her Life' Teaching Children

Susan Swidnicki is a self-proclaimed evangelist for children's music education. On any given day, you can find her at one of six jobs throughout the Salt Lake Valley, most of which involve teaching children ages three through 18 to express themselves through music, song, and movement. Lucky for Rowland Hall, one of her positions is in our Beginning School, where for the past 16 years she's taught our littlest learners to embrace their natural love—and ability—for music.

Every child should receive a high-quality music education, Susan said. "It's super important." In modern-day society, where students are too frequently staring at screens and passive in their learning, Susan sees music education as a tool to help children learn to be more present. She cited the listening skills, self-control, and confidence students learn through music and movement, emphasizing that these foundational skills must be taught in early childhood.

For three-, four-, and five-year-old budding musicians, Rowland Hall's classes typically focus on finding their singing voices, learning rhythm and rhyme, and learning how to move through space un-self-consciously but with awareness of others. Susan also frequently uses games to enhance music lessons, and over the course of the year, introduces students to different instruments.

"You can learn so much faster, and more joyfully and naturally when you're a small child. You're wired to be receptive," Susan said. She added that schools or districts that wait until junior high to offer music have it backward. It's one reason she loves being part of the Rowland Hall community, a place where everyone is on the same page, understanding that "children are very capable, and we want to give them the best environment and best-quality materials we can." She added, "There's a real investment in best practices for young children."

For three-, four-, and five-year-old budding musicians, Rowland Hall's classes typically focus on finding their singing voices, learning rhythm and rhyme, and learning how to move through space un-self-consciously but with awareness of others. At that age, Susan joked, "learning not to just smash into everybody is a major skill." She also frequently uses games to enhance music lessons, and over the course of the year, introduces students to different instruments.

"Susan is uniquely talented with young learners," Beginning School Principal Carol Blackwell said. "Her music classes strengthen literacy and math skills while at the same time developing musical skills." Indeed, according to scientific research, musical training in young children benefits the brain in multiple ways, improving memory and overall language skills.

Becoming a music educator wasn't something Susan planned. She grew up in Cache Valley, where she began playing the oboe at age 12 and benefitted from what she described as a "super strong" music program in her school. In ninth grade, she started playing with the Utah State University orchestra. "I had a lot of opportunities to play," she said, "and I loved it." After high school, she earned a BA in oboe from the University of Utah and then a master's degree from the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.

Susan Swidnicki joyfully leading a class.

However, securing a full-time job as a performing musician proved challenging. While working with the Flagstaff Symphony in Sedona, Arizona, Susan picked up a gig teaching at a Montessori school and discovered the joys and rewards of being an educator. Since then, she's worked diligently to develop her teaching craft, training in the Orff Schulwerk approach and the Kodály method. The latter focuses on teaching musical literacy through song—often using folk songs—and provides excellent ear-training for young learners, Susan said.

Cindy Hall, Lower School music teacher and fellow Orff educator, described the benefits of Susan's background and professional training: "Since the Orff approach emphasizes learning through play and sound before symbol, it is a natural fit for this age group and our Beginning School philosophy. Susan is a master teacher who draws in children and nurtures their budding musicianship, and we are so fortunate to have her start our students out on their musical journeys." Susan expressed in-kind admiration and said she's pleased to be handing students off to another highly skilled, passionate music educator in Cindy.

I have a very meticulous performing life, and then I have this kind of joyful improvisatory life with children where I can say, 'Oh, you like this nursery rhyme? Let's go act it out.'—Susan Swidnicki

While Susan described teaching children as "the joy of her life," she still maintains an active performing life. She is the principal oboist with the Ballet West Orchestra and an extra with the Utah Symphony, filling in when other musicians are ill or out of town. Add those two roles to teaching positions at Rowland Hall, Canyon Rim Academy, Westminster College, and the Zion Lutheran Church, along with being a single mother to two teenagers, and Susan's schedule could make your head spin.

She doesn't seem to mind juggling her professional obligations. "Mostly the challenge is just remembering what day of the week it is, so I can make sure I go to the right place," she laughed. And she's not ready to give anything up—the way she sees it, teaching and performing provide her with balance. While playing classical music requires discipline and exactitude, in the classroom, she thrives with creative freedom.

"I have a very meticulous performing life, and then I have this kind of joyful improvisatory life with children where I can say, 'Oh, you like this nursery rhyme? Let's go act it out.'"

Susan plans to keep adding to her resume, too. This summer, she'll be an instructor with SummerWorks—something she's enjoyed doing for years—and will travel to Seattle for a Smithsonian Folkways course on multicultural music for children. As a long-term project, she wants to develop a website that would provide fourth-grade teachers in Utah a collection of songs, folktales, and dances from the state's indigenous population to integrate into their curriculum.

Susan's goal is to lay the foundation for music to be both a practice and a pleasure that children will have their whole lives, and she loves watching them grow in confidence during the process. "The great moments are when children who have not been singing—who have only been listening—start singing, and then sing by themselves. They find their singing voice," she said. "Is there anything more rewarding than that?"

People

 

Experiential Learning

Inaugural Camping Trip Rounds Out Fourth Graders' Year of Field Studies

Fourth-grade is the year of the field trip at Rowland Hall. Each year students head out of the classroom and into some of Utah's most remarkable places. They learn about geology, the water cycle, conservation, and state history. For the first time this year they capped their experiences with an overnight in Mapleton Canyon, where they put their newfound knowledge to the test.

"The concept of an overnight field study just made sense as a culminating experience for students to truly immerse themselves in their home state," said Jij de Jesus, Lower School principal. "It also helped them gain a sense of responsibility and independence as the transition to fifth grade approaches."

Thanks to a generous donation by a Rowland Hall supporter, the school partnered with Find Your Path Utah, a company specializing in experiential education. Founder Tyler Fonarow, a former Rowland Hall administrator and current parent, instantly saw all the marvelous possibilities. And he knew one thing: he didn't want these kids to think of this as just another camping trip.

"We kept it as much like school as possible, as far as the schedule," Tyler said. "We wanted to give them a chance to use the outdoor skills they've built up over the course of the year to understand that learning can happen in any place."

This was about getting our students outside with their classmates to help them see the interconnectedness of the natural and human world around them. —Principal Jij de Jesus

Our intrepid students faced fun challenges the moment they stepped off the bus in Mapleton: they found out they'd have to hike to their campsite a mile up the canyon while the bus carried their supplies. And it wasn't just a nice stroll up a paved trail—a creek crossing, for one, required creative problem-solving if they wanted to keep their feet dry.

"It was a neat opportunity to have the kids get out of their comfort zone a little bit," Tyler said. "Some kids chose to be carried, some kids chose to put the water shoes on, some kids chose to walk with garbage bags. It's called challenge by choice. It's about pushing the kids to the level where they are comfortable and still challenged."

After the hike in, fourth graders enjoyed activities centered on discovering a sense of place in their environment, studying water science and macroinvertebrates, leaving no trace, and being present.

“This was about getting our students outside with their classmates to help them see the interconnectedness of the natural and human world around them,” Jij said. "The state legislature's recent Utah's Every Kid Outdoors Initiative supports the idea that kids benefit from getting outside, especially with the incredible experiences locally accessible to us."

The lessons stuck with the students. Fourth grader Meg Hoglund said that from now on, whenever she goes fishing with her dad she'll check fishes' mouths for macroinvertebrates. "I also learned that your little piece of trash can contribute to a big problem for the environment later on," she said. "That's why leave no trace means NO trace at all."

At the end of the overnight, the kids wrote poems about the trip. Verses covered an array of memories—from the importance of protecting the watershed, to getting long hair stuck in a zipper. Fourth-grade teacher Matthew Collins said the poems helped students encapsulate their experiences: "With every line, we saw how much they learned and grew and just how much the experiential-education trips of the last year impacted them."

Experiential Learning

students interviewing man sitting on bench

Earlier this school year, sophomores hit iconic Salt Lake City spots to ask friendly strangers how migration has shaped their families’ stories. English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor masterminded the activity for sophomores' annual Beyond the Classroom day, in connection with their reading of Exit West

Before they took to the streets, students received a crash course from an expert folklorist, Thomas Richardson, on how to be an ethnographer and conduct interviews. Then during interviews, sophomores asked these questions:

Immigration heavily affected our way of life because we were the first peoples here.—Darren Parry, Chairman of the Shoshone Nation. See his interview in the top-left square.

  1. What story about your own or your family’s migration or travel can you share?
  2. Tell me about how migration or travel has shaped your story or your family’s story.
  3. Our class is reading a book called Exit West by Mohsin Hamid who said, “We are all migrants. All of us. We move through time and space.” How does that quote relate or not relate to your experience?

Students had a simple goal, Dr. Taylor said: listen and bear witness to the many different experiences of people in our city. 

View an exhibit of subjects’ photos and quotes just outside the Upper School library. A selection of students’ work is below.

Directions: On a desktop, hover over the audio icons to see pull quotes and hear interview audio. On a mobile device, press the audio icons.   

Student Reactions to the Assignment

Lightly edited for style and context.

It was interesting to hear about what people sacrificed and went through to get to the U.S. It makes you better appreciate your country. —Sophomore Cole McCartney

Beyond the Classroom made me realize how diverse Salt Lake City is. I was able to hear about many people’s experiences with migration or travel. I met people from Mexico, El Salvador, and other countries, and they all had very compelling stories. It was interesting to hear about what people sacrificed and went through to get to the U.S. It makes you better appreciate your country. I also found it interesting to hear different opinions on migration; there were some who were strongly for it while others didn't seem to care...I would never have talked to random people about this if it weren't for this project.
—Cole McCartney

It definitely showed me that people are always on the move, and how some don’t have to travel far to experience different things. It gave me more respect for people who do migrate often, or migrate to different countries or places that are vastly different from where they started. I feel more empathetic towards people who are migrating from oppressive countries and are struggling to find a place in this world. Even making the move from Jackson Hole to Salt Lake was difficult and took time, so these people are fighters and deserve happiness in their lives.
—Mary Clancy

At the beginning of the day, I thought it would be really scary because I would be talking with random people I didn't know, something I’ve rarely been comfortable with...I met a woman named Rosa María and asked if I could interview her. She replied, "I don't speak English, only Spanish; I'm on a trip," and I knew it would be a good opportunity to see how immigration had affected people who weren't living in the United States. I conducted the whole interview in Spanish and we laughed and had a good time...Being an immigrant myself, I thought everyone was affected in some way by immigration, but as I interviewed her I knew immigration wasn't all there was. She primarily talked about cross-cultural integration. I knew this was true but it didn't hit me until then: immigration is a big topic all around the world, but you don’t often hear in the media about how it opens people’s minds up to new ideas.
—Mena Zendejas-Portugal

Beyond the Classroom
 

Data Dash: My Tech-Driven Orthopedic Internship Helping Injured Patients

Test Test

By Steven Doctorman, Class of 2020

I begin by applying a double-sided adhesive sticker to a motion-reflective marker—a small, silvery sphere. There are about 30 markers on the floor, each one in need of a sticker. These markers are then applied to certain parts of the patient's body, each one in a specific location in relation to a joint or muscle mass.

Patients crack the occasional joke: about the tight shorts they have to wear, about how tearing off the markers will feel like removing a Band-Aid, about how their midriff is on display when markers are used to track hip joints.

I sit on a stool, scoot behind the computer, and watch as one of the personal trainers gives the same instructions: the cameras in the ceiling track every movement, and we first have to calibrate those cameras by having the patient make certain movements, such as marching with one leg or kicking out to the side. The markers appear on the computer and we record movements, from walking and running to jumping and squatting. Patients are here because of certain injuries, and by monitoring movements the computer algorithm can calculate the data necessary to diagnose treatment options. I, both literally and figuratively, take a backseat to the computer work, but I'm captivated by the procedure and by doctors' discussions of the asymmetry of certain joints.

I intern at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in a lab that works with physical trainers to help individuals in post-surgical recovery. My responsibilities range from data tracking and analysis to marker prep and observation. On days when we don't have a patient, I use a computer program to identify flaws in previously recorded data and replace those flaws with accurate estimates. On days when we have a patient, I help apply adhesive stickers to markers and then observe data collection and doctors' analyses. This kind of lab work fascinates me, and witnessing the real-world implications of technical and biomedical innovation is inspirational.

I first learned about Rowland Hall's internship program from a flyer on a hallway bulletin board. It described how students worked in a blood-synthesis lab over the summer, and what they learned. As I became more interested in lab work my sophomore year, I reached out to Dr. Laura Johnson, an Upper School English teacher who also manages student internships. She's the archetypal Rowland Hall teacher, dedicated to helping her students succeed. Her efforts were heartwarming: she worked tirelessly to identify an opportunity that matched my schedule and interests. She contacted an array of labs and eventually found the TOSH internship in September, the beginning of my junior year.

My work at TOSH has directly intersected with my classes, and vice versa. In Advanced Topics Biology, learning about data collection with standard error bars allowed me to identify whether someone's hip flexion was within the healthy range. In physics, learning about motion and gravity have helped me understand the results from force plates. Even calculus has helped me with data synthesis, as I'm able to track a graph on the x-, y-, and z-axes and apply the correct computer algorithm to replace faulty data. My schoolwork applies to real-world concepts, which, in my opinion, is priceless.

As recording wraps up, I help one of the physical trainers remove the markers. I take off the adhesive stickers and throw them away. I then watch as the doctors write a report about what treatment and exercises are needed. They compare the patient's data with a database that shows the abilities of healthy individuals. When I'm not actively helping, I either watch the doctors write their report, or return to old data and correct errors. The latter improves their database. And each recording helps make a difference in people's lives, which is an added bonus to an already meaningful internship.

Current upper schoolers interested in internships should contact teacher Laura Johnson. Prospective families who want to learn more are invited to our January 30 Upper School Open Door—RSVP here.    STEM

Student Steven Doctorman at his TOSH internship.

Gallery: Students Learn Snow Science, Safety, and More in Avalanche Course

Some upper schoolers have been taking an Avalanche Level I Course this winter, coordinated through our physical education program and led by Utah Mountain Adventures. The students have practiced safe travel in avalanche terrain, dug snow pits and performed field tests to recognize weak and strong layers in snow pack, trained with avalanche beacons, and more. According to Utah Mountain Adventures, "The graduate of this course will understand the basics of snow science, stability evaluation, safe travel, and rescue, and be ready to make informed decisions in avalanche terrain."
 
Photos by Upper School math teacher Emina Alibegović.
 
Experiential Learning
Senior's Summer at Oxford Offers Window into College Life, Engineering Major

This summer, Rowland Hall senior Aislinn Mitcham embarked on an exciting learning opportunity: she spent four weeks at Oxford University in England, taking classes taught by university professors and living in the undergraduate dorms. While many peers spent the summer preparing to apply for college, Aislinn experienced what attending college might actually be like, and she considers herself fortunate. "It reinvigorated me for the college application process," she said, and gave her a balanced perspective heading into the busy fall semester.

Aislinn—who earned one of the program's highly selective scholarships—opted to major in engineering and minor in medical science. In her engineering class, which met for three-hour sessions six days a week, students tackled projects ranging from building an FM radio to learning Python, a coding language.

Founded in 1985, the Oxford Tradition offers high school students entering grades 10 through 12 a chance to study with leading academics and earn college credit. Each student must choose a major and minor area of study from a wide variety of courses, and Aislinn—who earned one of the program's highly selective scholarships—opted to major in engineering and minor in medical science. In her engineering class, which met for three-hour sessions six days a week, students tackled projects ranging from building an FM radio to learning Python, a coding language. Aislinn plans to study engineering in college and found the class a perfect fit, especially since Rowland Hall doesn't offer specific courses in engineering. She credited Upper School teacher Robin Hori, who encouraged her to attend the program and wrote a letter of recommendation for her scholarship application, saying that the project-based learning in his physics class prepared her well for the demands of Oxford.

Rowland Hall prepared Aislinn to test the waters of the college experience in a practical sense too. While the program has structured times for classes and many suggested social activities for the evenings, students are ultimately responsible for their own schedules. "It's your responsibility to be up, to know when breakfast is, to know when dinner is," Aislinn said. "And I do feel we have that responsibility here, to a certain extent. If you don't have a class, you're allowed to be other places, but you have to be back on time, and get your stuff done."

Aislinn also embraced a mentoring role in her peer group—one she doesn't always play at home, as the younger sibling—and even taught other program students how to do laundry.

Aislinn and her friends at the end-of-program formal dinner

The people she met, and the friendships she formed, are what Aislinn will remember the most about her time at Oxford. She bonded with other students during cultural activities, including visiting local museums, going on ghost tours, and attending a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Aislinn acknowledged that being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces was intimidating at first, but she got over any initial shyness. "Getting to meet people who have completely different world views and world experiences was really important to me," she said.

Getting to meet people who have completely different world views and world experiences was really important to me. —Aislinn Mitcham

Aislinn will use her experience studying abroad to help guide her future learning as well. While she previously regarded attending an out-of-state college as a must, she is now considering nearby options—such as the U—as well. "I loved being away in a new environment, but I also realized how important my family is to me," she said, adding that the U is a really good school, and students shouldn't "just ignore it because it's close."

Regardless of where she ends up, Aislinn has real-world practice in engineering that she can draw upon, thanks to the Oxford program. The last week of class, they attempted to build robots, but they couldn't get them to synchronize successfully with their phones. "One of my favorite things about the program," Aislinn said, "was learning how much of engineering is trying and failing, trying and failing. Even my teacher didn't always know why things were failing."

The process of discovery—in the classroom and throughout her time abroad—is something Aislinn hopes other Rowland Hall students can have as well. "Go into it with an open mind," she encouraged. "It's an amazing experience."

Students

Mud Kitchen Enhances Beginning School's Menu of Outdoor Play Spaces

"It's a beautiful pie party today!" a bundled-up three-year-old declared one sunny January morning on the Beginning School playground.

Beginning schoolers have been throwing plenty of beautiful pie parties lately thanks to their playground's latest addition: a mud kitchen. They may fill their "pies" with pine cones and sand instead of pecans and sugar, but it is indeed beautiful to see how the kitchen stirs the students to use their imaginations, collaborate, and dig into nature.

Professional development introduced Beginning School Lead Enrichment Teacher Alesa Davis to mud kitchens—she first heard of the concept through conferences held by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

"We most often see more engaged and interactive play in the outside space when children are using their own imaginations," Ms. Davis said. "We, as teachers, are always thinking of ways to enhance and encourage that kind of play." For Ms. Davis, a mud kitchen sounded like a great way to achieve that ever-present goal.

So after years of marinating on the idea, last summer, the 11-year Rowland Hall veteran decided to finally make it a reality. Initially deterred by a limited and pricey selection of prefabricated options, she and her husband, John, opted to take it on as a DIY project.

Ms. Davis bought a reasonably priced potting bench online and began scouring hardware and secondhand stores for the necessary tools and accoutrements. Thanks to the treasure trove that is Deseret Industries (affectionately known to thrifty Utahns as "the DI"), she found a faucet for $3 and a brand-name toy wooden stovetop for $1. Together, the Davises trimmed the potting bench down to toddler height, and relocated the burners and knobs from the thrifted stovetop to the new bench. Then, they slathered on several coats of wood preserver, and appended the final touch—hooks under the shelving for pots and pans. "Another trip to the DI, and we had enough pots and pans, dishes and plates, and spoons to start up any imaginary restaurant," Ms. Davis said. To round out the nature motif, teachers added log stools, and an outdoor wooden bench purchased for the playground last school year.

Beginning School Principal Carol Blackwell applauded Ms. Davis's dedication. "She is a very resourceful teacher, and she constructed the mud kitchen for the benefit of all," Ms. Blackwell said. "Rather than put the mud kitchen on a wish list for someone else to implement, she took the initiative."

Since playground space is at a premium, it took some brainstorming to determine where the mud kitchen would live. Faculty and staff eventually settled on a corner dirt patch previously occupied by a tree. "It turned out to be the ideal place," Ms. Davis said. "Boxed in by two brick walls, it became a cozy little kitchen nook."

Others agree. 2PreK and 3PreK Lead Teacher Gail Rose and Assistant Teacher Mary Swaminathan said the kitchen transformed an underutilized area into a hub. "Deliveries of fresh food and visits from customers are regular activities," Ms. Rose said, explaining it's a destination for students riding scooters and toting wheelbarrows. Accordingly, the kitchen helps students build physical and social skills: "The stumps and crates are used for both sitting and heavy muscle work as the children prove their strength and make room for friends at the table."

Ms. Davis said she couldn't have predicted all the creative-play premises students have cooked up. "From a pie shop and an ice cream parlor to a poisonous-potion kitchen, they've giggled with delight over their own ideas blooming to life," she said.

Plus, a mud kitchen isn't a bad fit for a school community and metro area rife with outdoor enthusiasts. Encouraging youngsters to play outside and dig in the dirt, author Linda Åkeson McGurk posits in a new buzzed-about parenting book, ignites an appreciation for nature that can ultimately bolster one's health, resilience, and confidence.

Indeed, students now scamper around our playground with their pots and pans, collecting various earthly treasures: leaves, grass, sand, bark, water from our rain gutters, and snow from the ground. Then, they work together to concoct recipes and stage scenes inspired by food establishments. "We've been thrilled to watch their interactions, especially across age levels," Ms. Davis said. "Children that don't typically socialize as much have found their voices in the mud kitchen."

As the seasons change, so do the students' pie ingredients, and teachers rotate kitchen tools as needed over the course of a year. But in general, the kitchen runs itself.

"When children are so engaged that they don't need us or even notice us on the playground, we know we've been successful," Ms. Davis said. "That was the goal, and it was accomplished. Here's to many more hours of childhood happiness."

Experiential Learning

 

Aviation Curriculum and Culture Takes Off Under Direction of Retired Navy Pilot

Pilots have the greatest office in the world. It's one of the simple-yet-effective pitches from Middle School teacher Bill Tatomer to pique interest in aviation.

At Rowland Hall, interests are piqued. Middle schoolers pack Mr. Tatomer's aviation electives. Upper schoolers recently started a lively Aviation Club. One recent alumnus—Davis Kahler '17—is studying at Westminster College to become a pilot, and some current students want to follow suit.

Mr. Tatomer's matter-of-fact passion for aviation helps to sell the subject. Beyond the incredible view from the "office," flying is just fun, the retired US Navy pilot said. "You're flying different profiles with different people, seeing different places," he said. "The dynamic environment made for a wonderful profession." Even his old uniform, a green flight suit, still brings him joy. "I miss wearing this pretty much every day because it's so darn comfortable," he said on Halloween, clad in the coveralls as an easily accessible costume.

Mr. Tatomer flew planes in the Navy for 22 years before retiring in 2007. Like so many former military pilots, he planned to become a commercial airline pilot. But he sought to reverse his career trend of spending about 40% of his time away from his two daughters and wife Linda, now the Lower School specialty principal. After Mr. Tatomer's final military tour in Hawaii, the family returned to Bill and Linda's former home of Salt Lake City. Mr. Tatomer landed a coaching job at Rowland Hall while he waited to interview with the airlines. Then, former Middle School Principal Stephen Bennhoff offered him a long-term maternity substitute position for seventh-grade world studies teacher Margot Miller. "I got into the class setting with the kids, and just fell in love," he said. He subsequently canceled scheduled interviews with Southwest and FedEx, and now celebrates 10 years in our classrooms.

Within two years of his Rowland Hall tenure, Mr. Tatomer convinced Mr. Bennhoff to let him teach a six-week aviation elective. From there, the curriculum grew: he now teaches three six-week intro classes, a six-week flight design class, and a trimester advanced flight class.

The intro class covers topics such as professions in aviation, aerodynamics, and Bernoulli's principle. In flight design, students learn about the aircraft engineering process and design one of their own prototype airplanes, guided by constraints such as size, materials, and flight distance. In the advanced course—an abbreviated Federal Aviation Administration ground-school class—students learn pilotage using simulators, and as a capstone activity actually pilot a real flight with instructors from Westminster College, Mr. Tatomer's alma mater.

 

Bill Tatomer with students and planes

↑ During a field trip to the Westminster College Flight Center, located in the southeast corner of the Salt Lake City International Airport, Bill Tatomer fist-bumps a Middle School aviation student after she correctly answered a question.

As classes expanded, so did corresponding equipment in Mr. Tatomer's classroom: he now has four flight simulators thanks to ongoing tech help from Lincoln Street Campus Network Manager Nick Banyard, and general program support from current Principal Tyler Fonarow. When practicing on the so-called sims, students reference flight checklists straight from the Westminster program. Mr. Tatomer serves as air traffic controller. Sims are linked so students can see each other taxiing out, flying on their assigned mission profile, and following the aircraft landing pattern. A deer might show up on the runway, and birds might hit the plane mid-flight. "The realism is incredible," Mr. Tatomer said.

The aviation curriculum aligns with our commitment to experiential education, and with our Strategic Plan goal of providing the region's most outstanding math and science program. "From metereology to aerodynamics to flight physiology, there are so many STEM applications," Mr. Tatomer said. "Every class is STEM based."

Junior Ned Friedman, president of the Aviation Club and an aspiring Air Force pilot, agreed. For the past couple of years, he's attended summer camp to fly gliders and has learned, for example, about aircraft engineering and how weather—especially wind—affects the physics of flight. Ned didn't attend Rowland Hall's Middle School, but commended Mr. Tatomer for his infectious love of the subject, and for serving as faculty liaison for the Aviation Club and connecting that group with Westminster's myriad aviation resources.

Sophomore Sophie DuBois, club vice president, loved taking Mr. Tatomer's beginning and advanced aviation classes, and especially loved flying from Salt Lake to Heber in the latter class. Now, she said unequivocally, "I want to be a pilot."

"That's why Rowland Hall is so great," she said. "We can have experiences like this that not a lot of other schools, at least locally, are able to offer," Sophie said. Mr. Tatomer, she added, was her favorite eighth-grade teacher. He's inclusive and tries to get everyone interested in what he's teaching. The Utah Air Force Association agrees: in May, they named him Chapter 236 (Southern Utah) Secondary Teacher of the Year.

In addition to dovetailing with our Strategic Plan, the rise of aviation at Rowland Hall coincides with a national pilot shortage. To curtail that shortage, the industry could encourage more women to join the field, since they comprise just 5% of pilots. Westminster is doing a bit better: there, the percentage of women in the aviation program is about thrice that, according to Aviation Admissions Counselor Stacie Whitford, one of Mr. Tatomer's main Westminster liaisons. The retired Navy commander is doing his part to close the gender gap—Sophie said he recruited plenty of girls for her Middle School classes. The teacher hopes to continue building on our school's partnership with Westminster, and sending them aviation students, especially young women.

Upper schoolers who want to advance in their aviation studies can do so through a Westminster course for high schoolers that runs January through April, and through a new Rowland Hall Interim trip that condenses Westminster's aviation summer camp into five days. Plus, the roughly 15-member Aviation Club meets 9:20 am Tuesdays in Mr. Tatomer's room, MS 203. In addition to educational trips after school or on weekends, the group is diving into community service. Through December 8, they're collecting donated toys, school supplies, clothes, and more for Angel Flight West's Utah Santa Flight, which will bring the items to students at a title 1 school in Roosevelt, Utah.

 

Experiential Learning

 
New Upper School Fitness Program Teaches Wellness and Time Management

Over the past several years, enrollment in physical education (PE) classes steadily declined in the Upper School. Rather than getting discouraged by the lack of participation—and the subsequent lack of course offerings—PE teacher Mark Oftedal embraced a growth mindset. He saw the failures of the existing PE model in the Upper School as an opportunity to try something new: a Personal Fitness program that launched in September and is already creating buzz inside the Lincoln Street Campus hallways.

The program has a simple premise: make fitness fit your schedule. Instead of trimester or yearlong PE courses that meet at regularly scheduled times, students must accrue 25 hours of physical activity over the course of the year to earn one PE credit. Upper schoolers can earn two credits if they accrue 50 hours, but if they don't reach 25 by the end of the year, the hours won't carry forward.

The classes and activities available through the Personal Fitness program—which students were surveyed about, to gauge interest—appeal to a diverse crowd. Early offerings include hiking, yoga, Ultimate Frisbee, and meditation, with plans for kayaking, backcountry skiing, and open gym time underway. Students can attend a fitness class during a free period, after school, or sometimes on weekends, and most classes don't require advance signup. To earn credit, students must sign in with the instructor, and then participate to the best of their abilities.

Mr. Oftedal credited visiting colleges with his son Eli Oftedal '15 for inspiring him to look ahead to the fitness opportunities students will encounter after high school. He saw the first-rate recreational centers and facilities available to college students, and started to devise a PE program that would give upper schoolers the chance to try new activities, and require them to use time-management skills. The new program challenges students to figure out how they fit in, Mr. Oftedal said. "When they get to college, they won't have as many easy opportunities for athletics that they had here at Rowland Hall."

Our school's learning environment will help to make the Personal Fitness program a success, Mr. Oftedal said. "We can give students interesting options—maybe things they want to become better at, or things they have never tried before and can do in an environment that will be supportive, whether they succeed or fail."

Students are already embracing the program, according to sophomore Hailey Hauck. Hailey is a member of the Ultimate Frisbee team that plays after school on Mondays and Wednesdays with English teacher Joel Long and math teacher Brian Birchler. Last year Hailey played volleyball to earn PE credit, and while she likes the sport, she found the practice and game schedule a bit too demanding. She's planning to earn credit for the Ultimate Frisbee workouts this year, and feels less stressed without the commitment a team sport requires. She mentioned that her friends are looking forward to earning credit for backcountry skiing, something they already do an average of twice a week.

Ultimate Frisbee has yielded other benefits for Hailey, beyond a simplified way to earn PE credit. "I have been able to meet a lot of new people that I probably wouldn't talk to outside the team," she said. "And it's a great break—you can switch your brain off from school."

Exercise's mental boost plays a significant role in Mr. Oftedal's plan. He cited the latest neuroscientific research on how exercise improves brain activity and believes that students who can fit in a yoga or meditation class midday, or go for a walk during their free period, will perform better academically in the hours that follow. "All the literature shows that when students go out and get moving, and get chemicals flowing through their brains, they will be more apt to learn and remember material," he said. "It all points in that direction." He's also acutely aware of how much studying the average Upper School student does and wants them to find balance in their lives.

Mr. Oftedal hopes to expand the Personal Fitness program in the future to include guest speakers on topics such as nutrition, sleep habits, and sports psychology. He envisions a strong health and wellness curriculum that prepares students for the real-world scenarios they will encounter in college and beyond. The only challenge he currently anticipates is finding adequate space for certain activities, such as open gym time, especially since the Middle School PE program remains robust.

Upper School Principal Ingrid Gustavson said she's pleased with the rollout of the program so far, especially how it allows for flexibility. She thinks students are excited about the range of classes and curious about the impending experiential offerings. Mr. Oftedal foresees some of the off-campus classes like rock climbing or kayaking eventually turning into interim trips.

Mr. Oftedal also hopes that adults in our community—faculty, staff, or even parents—will join in the fitness activities, and act as positive role models for our students. "I want to create a culture where kids see that faculty and staff enjoy doing these things too, that they're trying to fit them into their lives because they see the benefits and enjoyment they get from exercise."

Experiential Learning

STEM

Student leans on lockers in hallway.

Sophomore Katy Dark’s family immigrated to Salt Lake City from Argentina when she was a toddler, but the bilingual student still seamlessly slides into her first language on a dime—like when she greets her abuela visiting Rowland Hall for Grandparents Day, or when she volunteers for the after-school coding club she founded at Dual Immersion Academy (DIA).

In February, Katy won a President's Volunteer Service Award for her work at DIA, among other efforts. The sophomore earned the gold-level award for 2018, meaning she volunteered over 250 hours in one year. She’s the first Rowland Hall student to win this national award in over a decade, according to Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.

Katy was surprised by the distinction but grateful to Rowland Hall—her invaluable experiences here inspired her to help DIA after they lost funding for computer science this school year. “Rowland Hall opened up a lot of possibilities for me,” Katy said, “and I know that coding can give DIA students new opportunities.”

Katy has accomplished much in the past few years, with help from the Rowland Hall community. That's part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” she said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.”

Katy, a Patricia C. Brim Memorial Scholar who’s been here since sixth grade, has had an especially remarkable few years. In March, she won an Aspirations in Computing regional honorable mention. She’s only a sophomore, and she said she already has a scholarship offer from a local college. Also this year, she traveled to Costa Rica for interim and to Southern Utah, Nashville, and Portland for student diversity and leadership retreats. Last summer, she interned with the National Security Agency, and the summer before that she studied criminology and computer science at the University of Cambridge in England. She did all these things, she said, with help from the Rowland Hall community, which is part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” Katy said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.” The DIA coding club has taken a lot of work, she said, but she’s invested in the community and up for the challenge.

The sophomore has remained fluent in Spanish thanks in part to attending DIA for elementary school. Her mom, Patricia Dark—one of DIA’s co-founders—enrolled Katy and older sister Elli (now a Rowland Hall senior) in the bilingual academy to keep their language skills sharp. When Katy left DIA she kept close ties, volunteering after school and on weekdays when Rowland Hall wasn’t in session.

DIA has about 500 students total in kindergarten through eighth grade, and they take classes in English and Spanish: the academy prepares students to become “bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural while developing the tools to be successful in higher education, the workforce and in life,” according to their mission. It’s a Title One school where about 98% of students (compared to about 57% of Salt Lake City School District students) come from economically disadvantaged families and qualify for free or discounted school lunch.

After hearing about DIA’s funding cuts, Katy—a passionate computer science student who’s already laser-focused on pursuing a career in the field—sprang into action and started the coding club. She spends her weekends planning lessons, which she delivers Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 pm—except in spring when she golfs for Rowland Hall and friend Alex Armknecht, a junior, subs for her. Katy has taught her 22 club members about programming basics using kid-friendly sources such as Hour of Code and Scratch. She’s also gotten to know the kids, tailored her approach based on their levels of comfort with the material, invited them to community coding events, helped them with non-computing schoolwork, and served as a mentor. “These kids are incredible,” Katy wrote in an essay about her volunteerism, “and they can do so much more than most people realize.” She said she hopes the club encourages DIA students to take computer science in high school, and ultimately, college.

Katy is self-motivated and didn’t necessarily expect recognition for her service, but teachers agree the national distinction is deserved. “Katy is incredibly dedicated to computer science,” said Ben Smith, her AP Computer Science teacher. The coding club was entirely her idea, he added. “I gave her some advice, but she really took off on her own.”

Katy also runs Rowland Hall’s Latinx affinity group, has volunteered with the Rotary Club, and has been “a tireless contributor to her community,” according to Ryan. “Katy sets a clear bar amongst her peers about the importance of giving back,” the ethical education director said, “and not waiting for an opportunity to arise, but instead creating those opportunities where she sees them.”

Volunteerism

Teacher helping students with a computing activity

Junior Alex Armknecht named Aspirations in Computing Northern Utah Affiliate winner, sophomore Katy Dark and teacher Ben Smith ’89 receive honorable mentions

It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.—Teacher Ben Smith ’89

Computer science teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 has spent the past several years encouraging his students as they apply for—and often place in—the National Center for Women and Information Technology's (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing awards. For the first time this year, NCWIT recognized the teacher alongside his students.

Ben learned in March that he’d been named a 2019 Northern Utah Affiliate Honorable Mention recipient of the NCWIT Educator Award, which goes to teachers who continually encourage young women’s aspirations in computing.

“I have been active with NCWIT for several years now, and it was good to get recognition for those efforts—it was a bit of a surprise,” Ben said. “It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.”

Ben was one of three teachers honored by the regional affiliate, junior Alex Armknecht was one of 16 student winners, and sophomore Katy Dark was one of 30 honorable mentions. Student winners are selected annually "based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education," according to Aspirations in Computing (AiC).

Teacher with students at awards ceremony for women in computing.

From left, sophomore Katy Dark, teacher Ben Smith, and junior Alex Armknecht at the regional awards ceremony in March.

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level.

Alex’s 2019 award follows her honorable mention last year. A Middle School coding seminar first sparked Alex’s interest in the subject—from there, she worked with administrators and faculty to create a computing elective, and even recruited other girls to take the class. Last year in Ben’s AP Computer Science Principles class, Alex made a math app to help kids learn division, and fourth graders in teacher Tyler Stack's class picked her project as their favorite. She plans to keep studying computer science.

Katy also plans to pursue computing. In addition to the AiC award, she recently won a national President's Volunteer Service Award for her work tutoring students and developing a coding club at Dual Immersion Academy, a bilingual Spanish-English charter school she attended during her elementary years.

Ben, Alex, and Katy attended a March 16 ceremony in Provo where they met peer students and teachers, accepted their awards, and left with swag bags—a much-anticipated highlight for Ben. “Every year I see my students getting these killer swag bags and I go home empty handed,” the teacher joked before attending the ceremony. “I might just get one of my own this year.”

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level. The center and its AiC awards have become big names in the computer science world. Women are underrepresented in that field, but the 2004-founded organization is working hard to move the needle and empower women to pursue and succeed in computing.

Related stories

STEM

Data Dash: My Tech-Driven Orthopedic Internship Helping Injured Patients

Test Test

By Steven Doctorman, Class of 2020

I begin by applying a double-sided adhesive sticker to a motion-reflective marker—a small, silvery sphere. There are about 30 markers on the floor, each one in need of a sticker. These markers are then applied to certain parts of the patient's body, each one in a specific location in relation to a joint or muscle mass.

Patients crack the occasional joke: about the tight shorts they have to wear, about how tearing off the markers will feel like removing a Band-Aid, about how their midriff is on display when markers are used to track hip joints.

I sit on a stool, scoot behind the computer, and watch as one of the personal trainers gives the same instructions: the cameras in the ceiling track every movement, and we first have to calibrate those cameras by having the patient make certain movements, such as marching with one leg or kicking out to the side. The markers appear on the computer and we record movements, from walking and running to jumping and squatting. Patients are here because of certain injuries, and by monitoring movements the computer algorithm can calculate the data necessary to diagnose treatment options. I, both literally and figuratively, take a backseat to the computer work, but I'm captivated by the procedure and by doctors' discussions of the asymmetry of certain joints.

I intern at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital (TOSH) in a lab that works with physical trainers to help individuals in post-surgical recovery. My responsibilities range from data tracking and analysis to marker prep and observation. On days when we don't have a patient, I use a computer program to identify flaws in previously recorded data and replace those flaws with accurate estimates. On days when we have a patient, I help apply adhesive stickers to markers and then observe data collection and doctors' analyses. This kind of lab work fascinates me, and witnessing the real-world implications of technical and biomedical innovation is inspirational.

I first learned about Rowland Hall's internship program from a flyer on a hallway bulletin board. It described how students worked in a blood-synthesis lab over the summer, and what they learned. As I became more interested in lab work my sophomore year, I reached out to Dr. Laura Johnson, an Upper School English teacher who also manages student internships. She's the archetypal Rowland Hall teacher, dedicated to helping her students succeed. Her efforts were heartwarming: she worked tirelessly to identify an opportunity that matched my schedule and interests. She contacted an array of labs and eventually found the TOSH internship in September, the beginning of my junior year.

My work at TOSH has directly intersected with my classes, and vice versa. In Advanced Topics Biology, learning about data collection with standard error bars allowed me to identify whether someone's hip flexion was within the healthy range. In physics, learning about motion and gravity have helped me understand the results from force plates. Even calculus has helped me with data synthesis, as I'm able to track a graph on the x-, y-, and z-axes and apply the correct computer algorithm to replace faulty data. My schoolwork applies to real-world concepts, which, in my opinion, is priceless.

As recording wraps up, I help one of the physical trainers remove the markers. I take off the adhesive stickers and throw them away. I then watch as the doctors write a report about what treatment and exercises are needed. They compare the patient's data with a database that shows the abilities of healthy individuals. When I'm not actively helping, I either watch the doctors write their report, or return to old data and correct errors. The latter improves their database. And each recording helps make a difference in people's lives, which is an added bonus to an already meaningful internship.

Current upper schoolers interested in internships should contact teacher Laura Johnson. Prospective families who want to learn more are invited to our January 30 Upper School Open Door—RSVP here.    STEM

Student Steven Doctorman at his TOSH internship.

Senior's Summer at Oxford Offers Window into College Life, Engineering Major

This summer, Rowland Hall senior Aislinn Mitcham embarked on an exciting learning opportunity: she spent four weeks at Oxford University in England, taking classes taught by university professors and living in the undergraduate dorms. While many peers spent the summer preparing to apply for college, Aislinn experienced what attending college might actually be like, and she considers herself fortunate. "It reinvigorated me for the college application process," she said, and gave her a balanced perspective heading into the busy fall semester.

Aislinn—who earned one of the program's highly selective scholarships—opted to major in engineering and minor in medical science. In her engineering class, which met for three-hour sessions six days a week, students tackled projects ranging from building an FM radio to learning Python, a coding language.

Founded in 1985, the Oxford Tradition offers high school students entering grades 10 through 12 a chance to study with leading academics and earn college credit. Each student must choose a major and minor area of study from a wide variety of courses, and Aislinn—who earned one of the program's highly selective scholarships—opted to major in engineering and minor in medical science. In her engineering class, which met for three-hour sessions six days a week, students tackled projects ranging from building an FM radio to learning Python, a coding language. Aislinn plans to study engineering in college and found the class a perfect fit, especially since Rowland Hall doesn't offer specific courses in engineering. She credited Upper School teacher Robin Hori, who encouraged her to attend the program and wrote a letter of recommendation for her scholarship application, saying that the project-based learning in his physics class prepared her well for the demands of Oxford.

Rowland Hall prepared Aislinn to test the waters of the college experience in a practical sense too. While the program has structured times for classes and many suggested social activities for the evenings, students are ultimately responsible for their own schedules. "It's your responsibility to be up, to know when breakfast is, to know when dinner is," Aislinn said. "And I do feel we have that responsibility here, to a certain extent. If you don't have a class, you're allowed to be other places, but you have to be back on time, and get your stuff done."

Aislinn also embraced a mentoring role in her peer group—one she doesn't always play at home, as the younger sibling—and even taught other program students how to do laundry.

Aislinn and her friends at the end-of-program formal dinner

The people she met, and the friendships she formed, are what Aislinn will remember the most about her time at Oxford. She bonded with other students during cultural activities, including visiting local museums, going on ghost tours, and attending a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Aislinn acknowledged that being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces was intimidating at first, but she got over any initial shyness. "Getting to meet people who have completely different world views and world experiences was really important to me," she said.

Getting to meet people who have completely different world views and world experiences was really important to me. —Aislinn Mitcham

Aislinn will use her experience studying abroad to help guide her future learning as well. While she previously regarded attending an out-of-state college as a must, she is now considering nearby options—such as the U—as well. "I loved being away in a new environment, but I also realized how important my family is to me," she said, adding that the U is a really good school, and students shouldn't "just ignore it because it's close."

Regardless of where she ends up, Aislinn has real-world practice in engineering that she can draw upon, thanks to the Oxford program. The last week of class, they attempted to build robots, but they couldn't get them to synchronize successfully with their phones. "One of my favorite things about the program," Aislinn said, "was learning how much of engineering is trying and failing, trying and failing. Even my teacher didn't always know why things were failing."

The process of discovery—in the classroom and throughout her time abroad—is something Aislinn hopes other Rowland Hall students can have as well. "Go into it with an open mind," she encouraged. "It's an amazing experience."

Students

Can't Stop, Won't Stop: Three Faculty Members Embark on Exciting Summer Professional Development Opportunities

While summer break often conjures up images of relaxation, such as reading a paperback novel on a sandy beach or sipping lemonade on a shady porch, in reality, many members of the Rowland Hall community are working between June and August. The months without daily classes allow staff to tackle major projects, including upgrades to campus facilities, and teachers have more time for collaboration and conference travel.

This summer, three of our faculty members in the middle and upper schools will be engaged in particularly exciting professional development opportunities, which are sure to reap benefits for the entire community. Read on to learn where Rob Wilson, Alisa Poppen, and Jeremy Innis are headed!


Upper School biology teacher Rob Wilson (pictured, top) will spend four days at the University of California, Davis, for a Penn State sponsored program called Arctic Plant Phenology Learning through Engaged Science (APPLES). Led by a group of researchers, Mr. Wilson and a cohort of selected teachers will study climate science as it relates to Arctic ecology, with a focus on developing a classroom project he can implement at Rowland Hall next year.

Mr. Wilson has been making changes to his curriculum over the past few years, both to support the school's Strategic Plan and align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The APPLES workshop will incorporate three-dimensional learning from the NGSS and even provide teachers with equipment—such as cameras or warming chambers—they can use to conduct experiments with students in the future.

"We don't spend a lot of time with living things in biology classrooms nowadays," Mr. Wilson said. He believes the new equipment and methodology will enable him to teach with more living models, in turn empowering his students to develop an intuitive sense of living systems. "It's something you can't really test—you have to experience it," he added.

The APPLES workshop will also allow Mr. Wilson to begin a collaboration with leading climate science researchers, one he hopes to continue for several years.


Alisa Poppen teaching students.

Alisa Poppen, Upper School science department chair, travels to Ames, Iowa, in mid-June to spend seven weeks working as a research assistant in a genetics laboratory at Iowa State University. The paid assistantship is part of the Research Experiences for Teachers program, funded by the National Science Foundation.

"Because I'm in the classroom all day, I don't have the opportunity to engage in long-term research projects," Ms. Poppen said. "I'm excited to spend this time on a college campus, in a lab, interacting with people who focus on scientific research all day."

Ms. Poppen's participation in the program comes at an ideal time for Rowland Hall, as the Upper School will be transitioning all science courses from Advanced Placement to Advanced Topics beginning in the fall. She hopes the material she encounters in the genetics lab—which for her, specifically, will be the study of chromosomal variation in species of cotton—will help inform the curriculum for AT biology courses, especially in the area of molecular biology. She also plans to use her summer-immersion experience to reinforce the value of classroom laboratory practices with students.

"I believe it's motivating for our students to know that what we're doing is the same thing real scientists do," she said.


Jeremy Innis leading the Chorus at Convocation.

Interfaith Chaplain Jeremy Innis was one of 25 teachers selected to participate in the Religious Worlds Institute, a summer fellowship supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mr. Innis will spend three weeks in New York City participating in field studies, reading texts, attending presentations, and collaborating with peers to assess and develop curriculum.

Mr. Innis applied for the Institute in large part because he wants to enhance the experiential learning component of world religions courses at Rowland Hall. He hopes visiting religious sites in New York City and participating in community rituals will give him new ideas for preparation and student reflection on field visits.

He is excited to have the opportunity to be a student again and mentioned looking forward to a presentation on Islam by one of his former professors from Harvard. "Broadening my own perspective on the diversity of religious beliefs and practices will also help me develop new curriculum for the chapel program," Mr. Innis said. "I'm fascinated by some of the sites we will visit and looking forward to meeting and speaking with many different people of faith."

 

People

 

Doing What Real Scientists Do: Fifth-Grade Science Share Celebrates Inquiry, Process, and (Sometimes) Failure

Each August when students at Rowland Hall enter fifth grade, they receive a special assignment: write a letter to your teacher introducing yourself and expressing your hopes and fears for the year ahead. According to Sarah Button and Chad Obermark, two Lower School faculty members with a collective 23 years of experience teaching Rowland Hall fifth graders, 75 percent of incoming students are worried about one thing in particular—the science share.

"We talk about the science share from day one," Mr. Obermark said.

The annual spring project, which has been part of the Lower School curriculum for over 20 years, requires students to develop a research question and then execute the scientific method, culminating in a public presentation of their findings. It takes approximately eight weeks for students to complete the entire process: choosing a question, forming a hypothesis, collecting and analyzing data, writing up their results using the claim-evidence-reasoning framework, and creating the presentation board and accompanying Keynote—digital documentation—for the science share.

The annual spring project, which has been part of the Lower School curriculum for over 20 years, requires students to develop a research question and then execute the scientific method, culminating in a public presentation of their findings.

The sustained timeline, coupled with the independent nature of the research, is what contributes to student anxiety about the science share, Mr. Obermark explained. "They've really got to own it," he said, "and for some kids it's daunting."

For some fifth-grade students, identifying their research question is the toughest part of the process. Mackenzie White, whose project explored whether the duration of egg-whipping affected the height of a pound cake, said that finding a genuine question was her biggest challenge.

Ms. Button said that students' initial questions frequently fall into that category: those they already know the answer to. When she pushes them to establish genuine questions, they grow concerned. "They'll worry that their hypothesis might turn out wrong," she said. "So I have to reassure them it's okay if their experiment goes south and they find out something different than what they expected. That's what real scientists do."

At this year's science share on April 26, projects explored a range of questions, such as whether the type of string on a lacrosse stick impacts shot accuracy, or whether listening to music during a math test affects student performance. Faculty, parents, and other Lower School students made their way around the room, examining display boards, listening to presentations about the scientific method, and asking the fifth graders questions about their findings.

Some students were nervous about presenting their work to the community, though many spoke with pride about what they had learned. Will Chin, whose question was "does the temperature of a tennis ball affect how high it bounces?" described the painstaking process of data collection. After filming bouncing tennis balls—some of which had been cooled or heated—he pored over hours of video to extract precise height measurements, often slowing down and rewinding footage multiple times. However, his advice to future students was reassuring. "Once you get past the procedure," he said, "it's really fun."

They'll worry that their hypothesis might turn out wrong. So I have to reassure them it's okay if their experiment goes south and they find out something different than what they expected. That's what real scientists do. —Sarah Button, fifth-grade teacher

Gigi Brown, Jojo Park, and Bea Martin also had good suggestions for next year's fifth-grade class: Make sure you pick a question that really interests you. Choose a project that doesn't involve living subjects. Start early, and don't be afraid to ask your teacher for help.

Even though some students may struggle with the science share, Ms. Button emphasized that the process of engaging with a meaningful question—not the end product on display— is what creates a positive learning outcome. Additionally, the experience can impact the way students approach future projects in the Middle School and beyond. For one of Ms. Button's former students whose science share wasn't particularly successful, that meant helping his brother out when he got to fifth grade. "He didn't want his brother to make the same mistakes he had," Ms. Button said, "and his brother's project ended up being one of the best in his class."

The celebration of scientific inquiry and process, including the occasional failure, presents an opportunity for the community too, according to Mr. Obermark. While many other Lower School performances or events focus on the arts or literacy, the science share offers a critical window into STEM learning. "It's a big deal," he said, "and it's a big deal about science."

STEM

 

students holding awards

Congratulations to senior Alison Kimball (pictured, top left), junior Anya Mulligan, and sophomore Alex Armknecht, who earlier this year won regional honorable mentions from the Aspirations in Computing awards. The National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) sponsors the awards, which recognize high school girls for their computing-related achievements and interests as part of an effort to encourage more women to choose careers in technology.

Since 2014, nine Rowland Hall students have won 12 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level—read about the most recent national award. This year, Alison, Anya, and Alex were three of 31 Northern Utah Affiliate award recipients selected for their aptitude and interest in information technology and computing, solid leadership ability, good academic history, and plans for post-secondary education.

STEM

Rowland Hall students winning high school Bench To Bedside competition,

For the second consecutive year, Rowland Hall students captured the Best Young Entrepreneur award at the University of Utah Center for Medical Innovation's Bench to Bedside competition night Monday, April 9. Seniors Michael Palmer, Chris Ausbeck, Nico Edgar, Joseph Wang, and Leo Doctorman won $1,000 for SmoothStop, a wheelchair brake that provides a safer, more comfortable stop for users riding downhill.

Michael said the win left him feeling excited about the project's future. "Competition night was the culmination of a serious amount of effort by me and the team, and seeing that effort pay off was gratifying," he said.

Bench to Bedside has been a seminar class at Rowland Hall since the 2016-2017 school year. Director of Curriculum and Instruction Wendell Thomas and Upper School Assistant Principal Dave Samson joined the SmoothStop team at the Utah Capitol for competition night, and applauded their work. "They represented Rowland Hall exceptionally well," Mr. Samson said.

According to the seniors, current wheelchair braking systems are unreliable at high speeds and can thus lead to user injury. The team learned about this problem during Bench to Bedside's physician reverse-pitch night October 18.

SmoothStop, pictured below, is a simple add-on for a wheelchair—its manual disc brake is similar to a bicycle's hand brake—and it would cost one-third the price of a competing device. It allows users to access variable braking pressure, which gives greater control over the speed of their descent on a slope.

Michael said the team is evaluating how to use their $1,000 prize. They may put the funds toward visiting potential manufacturers and clients, and improving their prototype for increased durability, easier installation, and cost-effectiveness.

STEM

Community & Traditions

At the Intersection of Homelessness, Healthcare, and Humanity

Rowland Hall alumnus Jeff Norris lives his purpose treating and advocating for underserved populations as the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego When Jeff Norris ’03 applied to medical school, the admissions office at the University of Utah called him in for a rare second interview. He had submitted a personal statement focused on the connection between medicine, public health, and social justice, and that intersectional approach raised some eyebrows.
 
Admissions officers asked Jeff if he was sure he wanted to go to medical school, and not study public health or social work. But he assured them: he knew he wanted to be a clinician who worked with, and advocated for, underserved populations.

Jeff credits Rowland Hall with launching his career trajectory. In high school, under the mentorship of then-faculty member Liz Paige, he volunteered with Amnesty International and prepared and served food at local youth groups. The positive experience of serving others and making an impact—and relevant content in history and psychology courses—got the wheels turning in Jeff’s brain: “I started reflecting on my role in the world and how I could try to do something to make a difference for others. What is my purpose for being here?”

Jeff's self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success.

The service and activism Jeff began at Rowland Hall carried through his years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a med student at the University of Utah, and as a Family Medicine resident at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success: in 2016, Jeff became the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages, an award-winning nonprofit that provides integrated services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
 
Jeff’s day-to-day work requires a breadth of skill, knowledge, and tenacity: he estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time treating patients and the other 60 percent engaged in clinic administration, fundraising, and advocacy—including ensuring that state and federal legislation supports nonprofits like his. He serves on a number of boards, including a large network of clinics with over 100,000 patients in the San Diego area. For Jeff, it’s about more than staying connected and representing the interests of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is being present in the community to advocate for the needs of not just those experiencing homelessness, but underserved populations more broadly.”


At the clinic he leads—which serves walk-ins along with residents of Father Joe’s Villages and people receiving assistance from other local agencies—Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health. “The challenges our patients face are pretty unique, compared to most patient populations,” he said. “Their lives are very chaotic, and they have a lot going on medically, psychiatrically, behaviorally, socially…in all senses.” A significant portion of his time is spent managing programs to deliver medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)—drugs such as buprenorphine (suboxone) or naltrexone—and for alcohol abuse. 

At the clinic he leads, Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health.

Among the most recent and cutting-edge programs Jeff and his team at Father Joe’s Villages are running is the Street Health Program, which launched this spring and is already impacting lives for the better. As the name suggests, the initiative involves going out into the streets and providing healthcare directly to people experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve reached a number of people who’ve avoided or been underserved by traditional healthcare. One example: a man who had been using heroin for 30 years and had never before been interested in treatment. Pending a grant, the street health team hopes to treat patients with OUD at the first point of contact. In the meantime, they wrote a prescription for this particular patient because, as Jeff said, “it was the right thing to do.”
 
One of the long-term goals of the Street Health Program is to develop rapport with individuals so that they will visit the clinic for treatment. Additionally, the launch has created quite a buzz throughout San Diego, so Jeff hopes other clinics and treatment centers will consider similar programs (which do already exist in other large metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco). “It can’t just be us,” he said. “There are enough folks experiencing homelessness that we certainly cannot meet the need unilaterally.”
 
Jeff is rightly proud of his advocacy work and the impact his clinic makes on a daily basis, and he speaks passionately of the need for everyone to recognize the homelessness crisis—not just in San Diego, but also in Salt Lake City and urban areas throughout the country. While rising housing costs and relatively stagnant wages are the two primary drivers of the problem, Jeff doesn’t discount the power of the individual to make a difference, whether through volunteering, donating goods, or elevating the dialogue to fight the stigma against those experiencing homelessness.
 
When he’s not working, Jeff stays active outdoors, taking advantage of all that San Diego’s famously temperate climate has to offer. He also prioritizes time with his family: two-year-old daughter Alex keeps Jeff and wife Sonia Ponce—a practicing cardiologist—quite busy.
 
Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is not at all surprised that Jeff is making a difference in the lives of others. He recalled how, as a high school student, Jeff was always highly engaged and motivated to serve, often being the last to leave a volunteer event. “Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion,” Ryan said. “It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare.”
Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion. It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare. —Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education

Just as Jeff credited Rowland Hall for sparking his interest in a life of service to others, Mr. Hoglund credits Jeff for setting an example of genuine student leadership at the school. And, to the student leaders today, Jeff sends these words of encouragement: “Figure out what gives you energy and makes you feel like you're contributing to the world in some positive way, then grab that bull by the horns and don’t let go of it. That’s where you're going to be able to make a difference, to be satisfied with who you are and what you're doing in this world.”

 

All photos courtesy of Father Joe's Villages.

 

Alumni

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman Reflects With Gratitude on First Year

Rowland Hall’s Beginning School is a cozy, welcoming place buzzing with the distinctive energy of active, engaged students. “One of my very favorite things is that on any given day in the Beginning School you can almost always count on getting to walk around and see young children working together at something they care deeply about,” said Emma Wellman, who just finished her first year as the division’s principal. “They are experimenting and they are failing. They are problem-solving and working through tension and conflict together, and making a mess, and being too loud—and it’s just the best ever.”

They are experimenting and they are failing. They are problem-solving and working through tension and conflict together, and making a mess, and being too loud—and it’s just the best ever.—Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman

Emma joined Rowland Hall from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, known colloquially as Lab, where she most recently served as interim director of the Extended Day Program. After five years at Lab as both a teacher and an administrator, working with hundreds of children from ages three through 13, she was ready for a more intimate experience in the next chapter of her career. “I wanted to work at a place where I could know all the children and the families,” she explained. “And I wanted to work with professional teachers—people who have chosen it for their life’s work and were really committed and dedicated deep thinkers.”

From day one, Emma has been sure of her choice. “Every day this school year, I have woken up and felt huge gratitude that I get to be part of this community,” she said. “There is a deep respect for young children as people and as learners, and that’s really important to me. The teachers are genuinely interested in who these little people are and what is happening in their minds and in their hearts.”

Emma’s own commitment to students and the wider Rowland Hall community meant that the top item on her first-year agenda was connecting with students, parents, faculty, and staff because those relationships would set the foundation for success. She wanted to know the students, and their families, by name. “An early goal for myself was knowing all of the names of the children—and I did that by Back to School Night,” she said.

She went into Beginning School classrooms to discover each team’s curriculum, learning style, and personality, as well as how faculty members like to be supported. A self-described developmentalist, she also engaged her professional background to help provide age-appropriate activities and lessons. “I believe all people are becoming,” she said, stressing the importance of actively engaging children at their level so they discover how to learn—and enjoy the journey.

Emma has seen this approach working in the Beginning School. She described watching a kindergartener experimenting with how to make a ball roll from one end of a complicated ramp structure to the other. “It was really tricky, this route he had made, with lots of hills and so forth,” she explained. The setup required him to continuously step back to examine the design and to make adjustments, from the height of slopes to the size of the ball.

“It went on for a long, long time—and then he got it to work, and that was amazing. So exciting! Then he got it to work another time, and his comment was, ‘After it works it’s boring,’” she laughed. “And I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope you hold onto that for the rest of your life,’ that the process of figuring it out is the good stuff.”

Moving into her second year at Rowland Hall, Emma wants to build upon the work already underway. She’ll enrich the relationships she built this year and continue to give students developmentally appropriate opportunities. Over the summer, she’ll take what she has learned from students, families, and teachers and map out a community-centered plan for 2019–2020 that will include enhancing outdoor play spaces; strengthening the snack policy that prioritizes healthy, nutritious, whole foods; reflecting on the school’s accreditation self-study; thinking deeply about parent communications; and soaking in knowledge from Alan Sparrow—whom Emma describes as “a wise and wonderful leader”—during his final year as head of school.

Whatever the next year holds, it’s clear that Emma will be fully focused on supporting Rowland Hall’s youngest students as they discover their love of learning and start to think critically, take risks, solve problems, and collaborate with others. “This is the stuff of learning,” she said.

People

Carol Frymire

Longtime staff member Carol Frymire to retire after 30 years of stepping in and stepping up at Rowland Hall

It’s not hard to see where Carol Frymire got her work ethic: her mother, Ina Wyman, was a schoolteacher by day, a Murray City Library employee by night, and a devoted wife and mother around the clock. So it makes sense that Carol has worked consistently since she was a teenager, first in jobs at an Arctic Circle restaurant and a drugstore soda fountain, later in customer service for Eastern Airlines, and finally—luckily for Rowland Hall—in several different capacities as a school staff member for the past 30 years.

First hired as a receptionist in the late 1980s, Carol has since held all of the following positions: assistant to Head of School Alan Sparrow; owner’s representative during construction of the McCarthey Campus; early morning and after-school childcare provider; director of alumni relations; student-billing manager; auction director and assistant; calendar coordinator; database manager; and for the past five years, assistant to Director of Technology Patrick Godfrey. In addition, she also wore the hat of school parent for several years—her son Andy was a Rowland Hall student from seventh through eleventh grades, and though he left his senior year to play hockey at Highland High School, he’s considered an honorary alum.
 
While Rowland Hall is known for its supportive culture that encourages professional growth, and many faculty and staff have switched jobs once or twice during their tenure at the school, Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.
 
“She provides awesome customer service,” Patrick Godfrey said. “She’ll jump in to help at Maker Day or get students geared up for skiing and snowboarding—all things that are not in her job description.” In a similarly selfless fashion, when she was alumni director, Carol formed a special bond with Margaret Jackson, an alumna from the class of 1942. “She had rheumatoid arthritis and was in a wheelchair,” Carol recalled. “So I’d pick her up and take her to things. She was my friend.”

Carol might just hold the record for most number of roles. It doesn’t faze her, however: she’s always been willing to go where she’s needed and learn new skills, all in service of the school’s mission.

Carol’s caring nature, flexibility, and can-do attitude have served the school community tremendously through the years. According to Alan Sparrow, Carol became his assistant the same day he began his headship, and they grew in their positions side by side. “There were many times we looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders, laughed, and said, ‘I guess we’re going to learn how to do this together!’” he said. Some issues they tackled in the 1990s included establishing basic human-resources policies and examining faculty salaries and credentials. And even though Carol eventually moved into a new role, he continued to consult her for advice—and relied on her to keep him updated on news and events throughout the school community.
 
Perhaps the most shining example of Carol’s willingness to step up occurred in 2009, when a gas leak near 1500 East and 500 South resulted in a mandatory evacuation of the McCarthey Campus and surrounding areas. As Carol remembers it, Director of Operations Ann Burnett walked down the hallway to her office, threw a set of bus keys on her desk, and told her to go pick up the four-year-old students and take them to the Lincoln Street Campus.
 
Carol—never having driven a bus before, or anything similar—might have been a little nervous, but she never hesitated. She teamed up with then-teacher Linda Strohacker, loaded the bus with children, and headed out to complete her charge.
 
“I drove over probably 15 sprinkler heads when I pulled the bus out of the circle,” Carol laughed. Plus she had inadvertently deployed the stop sign on the side of the bus and couldn’t figure out how to retract it. “All the way down the hill, the sign was vibrating out there…prrr-prrr-prrr,” she mimicked. Nevertheless, she delivered the students safely and was subsequently asked by a police officer to help evacuate very young children—including infants—from the nearby KinderCare facility. And after that, she and her bus were summoned to the local Veterans Affairs hospital in case anyone needed transportation from there as well.
 
Finally, after being released by her police escort, Carol returned to the Lincoln Street Campus to pick up evacuated lower and beginning school faculty, and she drove them home on the bus.
 
While she smiled at the memory of that day, and the certificate of recognition she received for “careening above and beyond the call of duty,” Carol was also quick to shrug off her contributions as anything more than what others would do. “People rise to the occasion,” she said. “It worked out well, and every single one of our kids got down the hill in record time.”

No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture. —Head of School Alan Sparrow

 
Because for Carol, it’s always been about the students at Rowland Hall, and the unexpected daily interactions have kept her amused and engaged in her work. “It’s the happenstance, off-the-cuff things they say each day,” she said. “They just tickle me because they’re so willing to be vulnerable, and funny.” Her peers recognize just how much the students have meant to Carol. “She gets the big picture of what we do here at Rowland Hall and has always been focused on the students,” Patrick Godfrey said.
 
Alan Sparrow added: “No matter what position she had, Carol understood that students come first in our culture.” 
 
Now, after a lifetime of working and the last 30 years of prioritizing students and colleagues at Rowland Hall, Carol will retire this summer and start a new adventure in Southern Utah with her husband, David. She plans to spend much of her time reading, improving her golf game, camping, and visiting with her children and grandchildren. She doesn’t want to plan too much, knowing that retirement is likely to be a major adjustment. “I’ve never not worked since I was 14,” she said.

While she’s definitely earned the right to rest and take things as they come, she will be sorely missed around campus. “Her friendship and loyalty will be hard to replace,” Patrick Godfrey said. 
 

People

portrait of two moms outside school

Inclusion isn’t just a priority in our classrooms and on our playgrounds—it’s also a goal for all three 2019–2020 Home and School leaders, who want to make every family feel welcome.

Dawn Farrell will lead the Lincoln Street Campus Home and School Association, while Kari Corroon and alumna Jenna (Gelegotis) Pagoaga ’98 will serve as co-presidents for the McCarthey Campus. Jenna has two kids at McCarthey: Oliver is a rising 3PreK student and William is a rising second grader. Kari has twin sons: Reed and Ryker, rising fourth graders. Dawn's son, Kemper, is a rising senior.

Read more about Home and School here and learn about these leaders in the following Q&A.

Questions or Ideas? Email the Incoming Presidents

Dawn Farrell

    Dawn Farrell

Q&A

How long have you lived in the Salt Lake area, and what brought you and your family here?

Dawn: I moved to Utah in 1990 from Indiana. My dad transferred here when I was a sophomore in high school. It was so traumatic for me at the time (at 16 years old, everything is traumatic), but now Utah is my home. For three years, we lived on the Big Island of Hawaii with our two sons, Keaton and Kemper, but we've been back in Utah since 2017.

Jenna: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. I spent a few years outside of the state after college with my husband, Steve, while he served in the Army, but ultimately we decided to come back home to raise our family. It’s a beautiful place to live; it was too hard to stay away!

Kari: I was born and raised in the Salt Lake area.

What are your personal hobbies and interests?

Dawn: Right now, most of my time is spent getting certified to become a pilates instructor. I love pilates! I also love to cook, play tennis, and take indoor spin classes. I wish I had more time to craft. I especially like to embroider.

Jenna: I enjoy the outdoors, musical theater, University of Utah football games and gymnastic meets, and dinner with friends at local restaurants. And as the parent of young children, of course, I enjoy a good nap.

Kari: If the sun is shining, I’m outside. My favorite thing to do is hike with my dogs, a 10-year-old Pug mix and a nine-month-old Golden Retriever. I love the theater and go to every show that I possibly can. I love being with my family, no matter what we’re doing!

What's your family's favorite activity or destination?

Dawn: I asked everyone in my family their opinions about our favorite activity and everyone said playing board games together. We break out a game every night at dinner. Our favorite games right now are Monopoly Deal and Bananagrams.

Jenna: Put us near the water and we’re happy! We love spending time at the beach in Southern California or exploring the beauty of Red Fish Lake in Idaho. And you can often find us spending school breaks at the happiest place on earth, enjoying the magic of Disneyland.

Kari: Our family loves to travel. We visit my husband’s family several times a year in New York and Florida. We love to discover new places and explore cities together. We also love to camp, ride bikes, and backcountry ski.

Why did you choose Rowland Hall for your kids?

Dawn: When I was in college, I worked at Coffee Garden for a while. I always thought the kids who came in from Rowland Hall were so cool. They were always polite and articulate. I thought it seemed like a great place to go to school.

As a proud 'lifer' and alumna of Rowland Hall, I wanted to give my children the same experience and spectacular education I was privileged to receive.—Parent and Alumna Jenna (Gelegotis) Pagoaga ’98

Jenna: As a proud “lifer” and alumna of Rowland Hall, I wanted to give my children the same experience and spectacular education I was privileged to receive. Though Rowland Hall has evolved through the years, the strong traditions and values still hold true. It has been a heartwarming experience seeing this through my children’s eyes. Watching them learn about different cultures and beliefs in chapel and experience diverse viewpoints in their classrooms is wonderful. And, we all love the tradition of Color Day and have enjoyed starting another generation of holiday plates in our kitchen. What a fantastic school to be a part of then and now!

Kari: I am an early childhood educator, and I discovered Rowland Hall while doing my graduate work at the University of Utah. The school’s educational philosophy aligns perfectly with my own. Rowland Hall is a magical place with the most amazing educators and administrators. I knew there was no better place for my own children to go to school. My twin boys will be starting fourth grade next year. They started in kindergarten and have absolutely loved every year. Rowland Hall has given them a love for learning that will last their entire lives.

What are your goals as the new Home & School presidents?

Dawn: My goal is to offer more support to the students. I would love to brainstorm with student council in the fall to see if Home and School can support them in activities that will help increase the sense of community and inclusion. I would also like to start a life-skills activity day for our senior class. If you’re a skilled professional (or are just good at something!) and are willing to share your talents with our seniors, please contact me.

Jenna: My hope is to continue to foster a strong and inclusive parent community at Rowland Hall. We offer such unique and important programming and it’s my goal, along with Kari’s, to encourage all those interested in participating to do so. We hope to increase awareness of Home and School events and provide a welcoming environment for families to connect, learn, and socialize together. We challenge you to participate in Home and School in whatever capacity you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Kari: Jenna and I are really looking forward to helping out in Home and School next year. Our goal is to make every family, new and old, feel included. We want every parent who has a desire to volunteer to feel welcomed and appreciated. We want to support the incredible teachers and staff in every way that we can. We look forward to a great year!

Add anything else you'd like our community to know about you and your new role.

Dawn: Every family who has a student enrolled at the Lincoln Street Campus is a member of Home and School, yet I don't know the majority of you. Please take a second to introduce yourself! I cannot express enough how much I appreciate your participation in this organization. From your monetary donations to every second you spend volunteering, you’re helping bridge the gap between your home and your child's school. Thank you!

Jenna: We would love to meet you! Stop us in the halls, email us your questions, come to our monthly meetings. We want to get to know you all!

Home & School

Student leans on lockers in hallway.

Sophomore Katy Dark’s family immigrated to Salt Lake City from Argentina when she was a toddler, but the bilingual student still seamlessly slides into her first language on a dime—like when she greets her abuela visiting Rowland Hall for Grandparents Day, or when she volunteers for the after-school coding club she founded at Dual Immersion Academy (DIA).

In February, Katy won a President's Volunteer Service Award for her work at DIA, among other efforts. The sophomore earned the gold-level award for 2018, meaning she volunteered over 250 hours in one year. She’s the first Rowland Hall student to win this national award in over a decade, according to Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.

Katy was surprised by the distinction but grateful to Rowland Hall—her invaluable experiences here inspired her to help DIA after they lost funding for computer science this school year. “Rowland Hall opened up a lot of possibilities for me,” Katy said, “and I know that coding can give DIA students new opportunities.”

Katy has accomplished much in the past few years, with help from the Rowland Hall community. That's part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” she said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.”

Katy, a Patricia C. Brim Memorial Scholar who’s been here since sixth grade, has had an especially remarkable few years. In March, she won an Aspirations in Computing regional honorable mention. She’s only a sophomore, and she said she already has a scholarship offer from a local college. Also this year, she traveled to Costa Rica for interim and to Southern Utah, Nashville, and Portland for student diversity and leadership retreats. Last summer, she interned with the National Security Agency, and the summer before that she studied criminology and computer science at the University of Cambridge in England. She did all these things, she said, with help from the Rowland Hall community, which is part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” Katy said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.” The DIA coding club has taken a lot of work, she said, but she’s invested in the community and up for the challenge.

The sophomore has remained fluent in Spanish thanks in part to attending DIA for elementary school. Her mom, Patricia Dark—one of DIA’s co-founders—enrolled Katy and older sister Elli (now a Rowland Hall senior) in the bilingual academy to keep their language skills sharp. When Katy left DIA she kept close ties, volunteering after school and on weekdays when Rowland Hall wasn’t in session.

DIA has about 500 students total in kindergarten through eighth grade, and they take classes in English and Spanish: the academy prepares students to become “bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural while developing the tools to be successful in higher education, the workforce and in life,” according to their mission. It’s a Title One school where about 98% of students (compared to about 57% of Salt Lake City School District students) come from economically disadvantaged families and qualify for free or discounted school lunch.

After hearing about DIA’s funding cuts, Katy—a passionate computer science student who’s already laser-focused on pursuing a career in the field—sprang into action and started the coding club. She spends her weekends planning lessons, which she delivers Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 pm—except in spring when she golfs for Rowland Hall and friend Alex Armknecht, a junior, subs for her. Katy has taught her 22 club members about programming basics using kid-friendly sources such as Hour of Code and Scratch. She’s also gotten to know the kids, tailored her approach based on their levels of comfort with the material, invited them to community coding events, helped them with non-computing schoolwork, and served as a mentor. “These kids are incredible,” Katy wrote in an essay about her volunteerism, “and they can do so much more than most people realize.” She said she hopes the club encourages DIA students to take computer science in high school, and ultimately, college.

Katy is self-motivated and didn’t necessarily expect recognition for her service, but teachers agree the national distinction is deserved. “Katy is incredibly dedicated to computer science,” said Ben Smith, her AP Computer Science teacher. The coding club was entirely her idea, he added. “I gave her some advice, but she really took off on her own.”

Katy also runs Rowland Hall’s Latinx affinity group, has volunteered with the Rotary Club, and has been “a tireless contributor to her community,” according to Ryan. “Katy sets a clear bar amongst her peers about the importance of giving back,” the ethical education director said, “and not waiting for an opportunity to arise, but instead creating those opportunities where she sees them.”

Volunteerism

Teacher speaking at graduation ceremony.

Jeanne Zeigler, Lower School teacher, retires after 38 years of dedicated service. She began her Rowland Hall career in 1981 as a kindergarten aide who also oversaw the Extended Day Program. Since then, she’s taught in first, second, and third grade; implemented and worked as the lead mentor in a teacher-mentoring program; served as an ombudsperson; and won the Sumner Award (1994) and the Jones Award (2009). During her tenure, Jeanne was a caring teacher to countless students; a rich, knowledgeable resource for Lower School families; and a dependable friend to her colleagues. She’ll remain connected to Rowland Hall, serving our school and lending her lens as a member of Rowland Hall’s Board of Trustees. “I am so fortunate to have had an occupation that has made me feel so fulfilled,” Jeanne said. “Not everyone is this lucky, and I'm very grateful for it.” Read Jeanne’s retirement story.

Carol Frymire, assistant to the director of technology, retires after three decades and myriad titles at Rowland Hall. In addition to her last role here, she has previously worked as a receptionist, assistant to the head of school, owner’s representative for the McCarthey Campus construction project, alumni director, student-billing manager, auction director and assistant, and database manager. Countless Rowland Hall community members have appreciated and benefitted from Carol’s customer-service skills and her desire to always go the extra mile. Carol and husband David will be relocating to St. George, where they plan to golf, hike, and enjoy the warm weather, but we expect to see her from time to time when she returns to Salt Lake City to visit her family. Read Carol’s retirement story.

Ethanne Waldo, administrative assistant for the admission and college counseling departments, retired in December 2018 after 28 years of service to Rowland Hall. In her nearly three decades here, she wrote and proofread countless letters, maintained databases and produced reports, and tracked the many steps of the application process for both incoming Rowland Hall students and seniors preparing for college. Ethanne’s positive attitude and strong work ethic are just two of her traits that Director of Admission Kathy Gundersen most appreciates. "She has an observant eye and a sharp sense of humor," Kathy said, "and in her quiet voice, she has been known to drop the most astonishing commentary." We’ll miss Ethanne dearly and wish her a wonderful retirement. Read Ethanne’s retirement story.

The way this community works together so students can achieve their athletic and academic goals is inspiring.—Sarah Getzelman

Sarah Getzelman, Rowmark Ski Academy team manager, leaves Rowland Hall this summer after an action-packed 12 years. Sarah's skill, compassion, teamwork, and relationship building within Rowmark and the Rowland Hall community has been second to none, Rowmark Director Todd Brickson said. Sarah has been an unwavering, stabilizing force holding the often-hectic ski program together—she is leaving Rowmark a much better place. Sarah said she looks forward to our program’s continued success on and off the hill. “The way this community works together so students can achieve their athletic and academic goals is inspiring,” she added. We’re excited for her and will keep in touch as she climbs new mountains and skis down the other side.

Kristin Takahashi, middle and upper school librarian, left in summer 2018 after 12 years of service in order to start a new career as a paralegal. Kristin was instrumental in transforming the Lincoln Street Campus library into a 21st-century learning center. She was an early advocate for digital books and resources and played a key role in developing proper research techniques for our students. She was also an outstanding resource for faculty, and displayed remarkable attention to detail and thoroughness in her work for Rowland Hall. “It has been a privilege to work in such a caring community,” Kristin said. We wish Kristin the best in her new career.

Cindy Feinman, kindergarten assistant teacher, is moving back to the East Coast after 11 years at the Beginning School. Since 2008, Cindy has supported five kindergarten teachers, contributing her wisdom, even-keeled sensible approach, and caring attention to the interior lives of young children and adults. In 2015, Cindy won the Sumner Award, and now-retired principal Carol Blackwell described her this way: “Cindy starts each day with a smile, warm hug, or word of encouragement for students and parents. Her positive comments reassure parents that their child is in confident hands. She delights in the relationships she establishes each year, and she cares deeply for the children and their families.” Cindy has also served as a divisional ombudsperson and on the Faculty Budget Committee. We’ll dearly miss her warmth, wry humor, and insight about the emotional lives of kindergarteners, and wish her the best.

Our nine years here have been among the most stimulating and rewarding of my life, professionally and personally. The Upper School is a dynamic group of professionals whose collaborative spirit has helped me learn so much about what we all do.—Dr. Fiona Halloran, pictured top

Dr. Fiona Halloran, beloved Upper School history teacher and department chair, is relocating to San Diego with her family after nine years at Rowland Hall. She wore many hats here: mentor, collaborator, storyteller, quilter, lunch host, Interim innovator, member of the disciplinary committee and many hiring committees, prolific writer of rec letters, tireless advocate for students and faculty, and more. Fiona engaged, captivated, and inspired in her classroom, while striving to uphold a culture of care, accountability, and professionalism schoolwide. Dr. Halloran said she heads to California with a profound sense of gratitude for the warmth and generosity of the Rowland Hall community. “Our nine years here have been among the most stimulating and rewarding of my life, professionally and personally,” said Fiona, also mom to Iain, who has grown up in our beginning and lower schools. “The Upper School is a dynamic group of professionals whose collaborative spirit has helped me learn so much about what we all do.”

Shannon Casson, Middle School athletics director and physical education (PE) teacher, relocated to British Columbia with her husband in summer 2018 after five years at Rowland Hall. Our school benefited from Shannon's expertise and dedication to the PE program on both the McCarthey and Lincoln Street campuses. She excelled in bringing new curriculum and standards to the departments and ​ensured our Middle School athletics program ran smoothly, all while coaching multiple teams herself. While we’ll miss Shannon, her enthusiasm for wellness and the outdoors makes her an excellent match for British Columbia, and we wish her the best as she settles there.

Mark Davenport, ninth-grade history teacher affectionately known to students as “Dav,” leaves Rowland Hall after five years to pursue new challenges. Mark helped freshmen develop their academic and research skills and—through his eastern civilizations and Latin America courses—encouraged students to engage in complex narratives about the past. He also helped ninth graders challenge themselves via annual outdoor-learning adventures in the Uinta Mountains. Mark taught popular seminars, served on admissions and hiring committees, and created and nurtured a classroom environment that is supportive and engaging, as well as appropriately challenging. We’ll miss Mark’s patience, humor, thoughtfulness, and love of learning, and wish him the best.

Gina Kiechle, 4PreK assistant teacher, is relocating to the San Diego area with her family after five years of service to the Beginning School. During Gina’s time here, she shared her passions for music, yoga, stories, and sustainability with students and grownups alike. She also served as a liaison between the Beginning School and the Sustainability Committee, and in that role helped division faculty and staff hold themselves to a higher standard for water use, composting, recycling, and more. While we’ll miss Gina's beautiful singing voice and her talent for animated storytelling, we’re excited for her to embark on her next adventure—living the surf life with her husband in California. Gina said that Rowland Hall has been an important part of her life, both as an employee and as a parent of graduate Laura ’05. “The ideals to which this school strives are exemplary,” she wrote. “It has been a dream job!”

Elizabeth Rodriguez, 4PreK assistant teacher, leaves the Beginning School after five years of impactful work. During her time here, she built rich relationships with students, families, faculty, and staff. She'll be missed for her kind and patient way with children, her keen insights and comforting presence with families, and her willingness to chip in and share the workload with her teammates. Happily, we'll still get to see plenty of Elizabeth as a Rowland Hall parent next year, as her eldest will be in 4PreK. We wish Elizabeth all the best in her new professional adventure teaching high school Spanish to native speakers.

Dave Samson, Upper School assistant principal, leaves after four years to head the Upper School at the Brookwood School in Massachusetts. “Dave has been a peerless and fearless partner in leading the Upper School,” Principal Ingrid Gustavson said. He gracefully juggled the daily trials and tribulations of school life while developing meaningful programming and policies that will endure for years to come, Ingrid added. Dave championed balance, wellness, student voices, and restorative practices in the Upper School. Most importantly, he valued building relationships over time, and with empathy as a core vehicle for success—whether in working through a disciplinary situation, helping students choose their courses, or managing parent expectations. While we’ll miss Dave, we’re happy that he gets to move back closer to extended family, and grow as a leader in this next chapter of his career.

Jill Chesley-McGinnis, 4PreK lead teacher, is leaving the Beginning School after two years to focus on teaching early childhood education at the University of Utah. Jill has a seemingly endless wealth of kindness, patience, and profound love for young children and their families. This year, she has served as a facilitator of the self-study group for social-emotional learning—a deeply important and complex component of a Rowland Hall education. We’ll miss Jill's warmth, cheer, and deep knowledge of young children's development, but we’re pleased that she'll continue her impactful work on their behalf in her role at the University of Utah.

Marcus Milling, Upper School chemistry teacher, is leaving Rowland Hall after two years. Marcus brought inquiry-based, lab-intensive practices to the chemistry curriculum, led his colleagues in sharing lab experiences, and advocated for time, resources, and collaboration to grow a strong lab-based program across scientific disciplines. We’ll miss his initiative and passion for science. The high number of students signed up for Advanced Topics (AT) Chemistry are a testament to his teaching. Students in tenth-grade and AT chemistry courses now spend more than half their class time collecting data, analyzing the results, and coming to their own conclusions about how the physical world operates, thanks in part to Marcus’ work.

Linda Quinn, Beginning School administrative assistant, leaves Rowland Hall after two years of work. Linda was instrumental in supporting a smooth transition for her division after former principal Carol Blackwell retired. She’ll be missed for her warmth with students, families, and teachers; her wry sense of humor; and her hard work on behalf of our community. We wish her all the best in her next adventures.

Melissa Sharp, seventh-grade science teacher and advisor, is moving to Los Angeles to teach high school science after two years at our Middle School. Melissa is a passionate science educator who will be greatly missed by her students and colleagues. In addition to the dynamic lessons she created in her classroom, she was a strong advocate for her students here. We wish Melissa all the best in California.

Liz VanLeeuwen, part-time library media assistant, left in November 2018 after two years of service to the McCarthey Campus. We wish her the best.

People

Jeanne Zeigler's Unexpected Teaching Adventure

Jeanne Zeigler didn’t plan to be a teacher. She also didn’t plan to stay in Utah. In 1981 when she arrived here to stay with her brother, an administrator at a small school called Rowland Hall, she thought she was just passing through on her way to a grand western adventure that did not involve small children. Luckily for us, that’s not how things worked out.

“I always thought there must be something more interesting I can do, something more original since two out of three of my brothers were teachers and my dad was a teacher,” Zeigler said, with her trademark twinkle in her eye. “Then I met a wonderful teacher named Barbara Rabin, who made teaching children look like the very best way to spend the day. The rest is ‘herstory.’”

It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids. Everything comes from that.—Retiring Teacher Jeanne Zeigler

What a story it has been. Jeanne has worked with students at Rowland Hall in several different capacities. She was an aide in kindergarten. She ran the after-school program. She’s taught first, second, and third grade. No matter what role she was in, though, Jeanne always made sure to build a special bond with each and every student. “It has to start with the relationship you create with the kids,” she said. “Everything comes from that.”

Those relationships are what her students, and their parents, remember years later. Liza Gilbert recalled that Jeanne started building a relationship with her son Henry ’16 even before he entered her classroom in 2006. “She sent a postcard to Henry before he started school, and it said ‘I can't wait to find out all about you,’” Liza said. “I feel like that really captures Jeanne and her teachings. She just has this wonder about every child.”

Not only has Jeanne made a point of getting to know every child, but she let her students know about her. She has made sure she is not someone they can only picture in a classroom between the hours of 8 am and 3 pm. “I loved that Jeanne took all the kids to her house because when my daughter was young she always wondered where her teacher lived,” said Pamela Henderson. Her daughter Meghan ’13 had Jeanne as a teacher for both first and second grade. “Meghan is 24 now and living in New York City, but Jeanne is still her (and my) favorite teacher.”

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust.

Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus said the way Jeanne interacts with her students builds a foundation of trust. “With that foundation, she’s able to help them reach goals they may not have even imagined. She shows her students education isn’t just about her leading and them following—it’s a collaboration.” 

For the past two years, Jeanne has been collaborating in the classroom co-teaching third grade with Erika McCarthy. The less-demanding work schedule has provided a welcome segue into retirement. “The last two years have really allowed me to discover that there's a whole big world out there,” she said. “Now I plan to ride my bike, hike, knit, volunteer, and learn some new things.”

Jeanne isn’t completely leaving Rowland Hall though. In the coming year she will be serving on the Board of Trustees. She is especially excited to help with the Capital Campaign tasked with raising money for the new middle and upper school buildings on the Steiner Campus. Head of School Alan Sparrow thinks it’s an ideal fit for Jeanne to be a guiding force in the future of the community.

I want Henry to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students. She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner.—Parent Andrea Matlin

“Throughout my tenure I have counted on Jeanne as an advisor and counselor. She has given me wonderful insights into the school and helped me focus on where our school could get better,” he said. “Jeanne has been a terrific member of our community in that she can see well beyond what she needs for her own classroom or even division and promotes what's good for the whole school.”

Jeanne will be an enduring part of Rowland Hall’s legacy. She is not only in the hearts of her students, but in their rooms as well: Andrea Matlin said her sixth-grade son, Henry, still has a photo of him and his third-grade teacher on his home desk. “I want him to always remember how he felt as one of Jeanne's students,” Andrea said. “She just had a way of making him feel loved and happy and so he became a happy learner.

We wish Jeanne much happiness of her own in her retirement. We know that she will be spending a lot of time marveling at the sunset from the porch of her cabin in Boulder, Utah. We know that she will be reading and re-reading the many books from her two book clubs. We hope she gets to enjoy time on her wished-for scooter (while wearing a helmet, of course). We are all so happy that she became a teacher in Utah, and a teacher at Rowland Hall. 

retirement

student with teacher at event

After honing her letter-to-the-editor skills in Kody Partridge’s English 11 class, junior Laura Summerfield took that lesson to the next level: she entered and won Westminster College's annual Honors College Statewide Essay Contest. Read her winning essay in The Salt Lake Tribune.

Laura—an aspiring journalist herself—penned the persuasive piece in response to the following prompt: “Write an essay (600 words or less) that explores the role played by media in promoting or impeding civility in our political and civic discourse. In an age of Twitter and ‘fake news,’ what responsibility does the media have to encourage civility?”

My generation may be one of the last that remembers civility in politics unless we do something to reignite it.—Laura Summerfield, Class of 2020

The contest drew 85 entrants from 22 high schools across Utah, according to Westminster Honors College Dean Richard Badenhausen. A distinguished, bipartisan panel of five judges (a former Salt Lake City mayor, an acclaimed author, a lobbyist, a professor, and a Trib reporter) evaluated 13 finalists. Although it was an extremely close contest—Laura won by one point—her essay was the only one that appeared on every judge’s ballot.

Westminster held the contest in conjunction with a March 19 lecture by New York Times Op-Ed Editor James Dao. Laura received her prize, a $2,000 check, that evening, and the Trib published her piece not long after.

“When I received the email telling me I had won, I literally didn't believe it,” Laura said. “Even when my essay was in the Trib, I didn't believe it. I still don't believe it.”

I want students to know that their words matter to me and to others.—Upper School English Teacher Kody Partridge

Incredulous as she may be, there’s no denying that Laura—thanks in part to family discussions and Kody’s class—was well prepared to respond to this year’s prompt. “The topic resonated with me because my family's go-to pre-dinner, dinner, and post-dinner programming is the news and political talk shows, so I knew the state of our political climate,” Laura said. “This topic is important because my generation may be one of the last that remembers civility in politics unless we do something to reignite it.”

Kody attended the March event to support Laura and hear the lecture. Though Laura didn’t write the award-winning essay specifically for Kody’s class, the beloved Upper School teacher of over 16 years has a unit that covers writing letters to the editor, and respectfully and compellingly voicing opinions outside of the classroom. “I want students to know that their words matter to me and to others,” Kody said. The lesson certainly got through to Laura, and Kody is a proud teacher. “Laura is a talented writer and a thoughtful young woman,” she said. “It was a fantastic letter.”

Pictured, top: Laura and Kody at the March 16 event.

Writing

Athletics

Girl soccer players walking away with arms around each other.

Rowland Hall won its second-consecutive Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (UIAAA) 2A Directors Cup for excellence across three areas: athletics, academics, and sportsmanship and student leadership.

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic said the prestigious award, announced July 13, demonstrates that Rowland Hall is home to some truly gifted student-athletes. “I am so very proud of our athletes for their efforts in the competitive arena as well as in the classroom,” Kendra said, “and thankful to our coaches who are so supportive of our student-athletes' academic commitments.”

Strong showings at state tournaments—along with high GPAs—helped Rowland Hall secure its second Directors Cup in the award's nine-year history. The UIAAA recognized seven of our teams for having the highest GPAs among their 2A competitors: volleyball, girls basketball, boys cross-country, boys tennis, boys track, and girls and boys soccer. And top-five finishes at state competitions included first place in 2A for girls soccer, second place in 3A for girls swimming, second place in 2A for boys soccer, third place in 2A for boys golf, third place in 2A for boys basketball, third place in 2A for girls golf, and fourth place in 3A for boys tennis.

The description of the Directors Cup, from UIAAA:

The UIAAA Directors Cup is awarded each year to the top school in each class that demonstrates combined excellence in athletic, academic, and sportsmanship and student-leadership [categories]. Each category makes up a percentage toward a school’s total ranking:

  1. Athletic (40%): The place or position a school team finishes in the state tournament.
  2. Academic (40%): Varsity team GPA.
  3. Sportsmanship and student leadership (20%): School’s participation in UHSAA-sponsored sportsmanship and leadership initiatives.

The top-five ranked schools in 2A:

  1. Rowland Hall: 15.26 points
  2. Gunnison: 13.47
  3. Waterford: 12.8
  4. Kanab: 10.12
  5. Layton Christian: 9.65

Rowland Hall's score also amounted to the fourth-highest point total among all classifications in the state.

Read last year's story about our first Directors Cup.

Athletics

Lizzie Carlin: Born to Run

Lizzie Carlin may only be a freshman, but she is already part of Rowland Hall history. In her first year on the track team she has broken the school records for both the 100-meter and 200-meter sprints, and she has her eye on the record for the 400.

“Lizzie’s really got goals,” said Mark Oftedal, head track and field coach. “She came in with goals in her freshman year, which is kind of unusual for a freshman to come in knowing straightaway, ‘These are the events I want to do. These are my goals. These are the times I'm shooting for.’"

Lizzie quickly turned her goals into reality. At her first track meet of the season she broke the school record in the 100-meter sprint with a time of 12.87 seconds. At the second meet, she claimed her second school record when she ran the 200 in 26.96 seconds.

Sibling rivalry may have had a bit to do with how Lizzie set her goals. The first two records she broke were set by her older sister, Emma Carlin ’17. Now though, while Lizzie’s still interested in breaking records, she’s running more for herself. “I just want to get faster,” she said. “I don't know if I really have an end goal, but I think mostly I'm just trying to get better with every practice and get the best times I can.”

Those amazing times may seem to come easy to Lizzie, but there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. This is only her first year running track—ever. She was, and still is, a soccer player. As we all know, the two sports are very different. Yet, with the help of coaches she has been able to navigate between the two. 

“We're trying to work more with her to get rid of the soccer arms—when you're running with your elbows out because you're trying to keep people away from the ball,” Coach Oftedal said. “We're trying to get her more linear in her sprint form, which will help take her times down.”

Lizzie said the physical differences between the two sports haven’t been the only adjustment. She’s had to change her mindset as well. “It's probably the first individual sport I've ever done,” she said. “That kind of gives me more motivation to do it well, because I know if I mess up, it's not like my team can fix it for me. And so that makes me work harder.”

There is a lot of hard work in Lizzie’s future if she wants the school record for the 400-meter sprint. At the final meet of the year she ran the race in 1:01.44 seconds. Her best time for the year was 1.00.76. The record, held by Candice Nkoy ’15, is 59.47. Lizzie had hoped to break it before the end of the year, but just over a second still stands between her and making more history. Will she be able to do it?

“She’s got the speed, obviously,” Coach Oftedal said. “Over time she will build endurance, and be able to carry that speed throughout the length of the race better.”

Lizzie knows breaking the record will be a challenge, but she’s digging deep to make it happen. “It's just having the motivation to go out and train on my own, so that I can get better at it,” Lizzie said. “That's the hardest part for me.”

Lizzie’s coaches see her drive growing, and they’re helping her overcome any qualms or fears that may get in her way. “She says she hates to compete, but I think it's because she cares so much about the outcome, the results, that she gets nervous,” Coach Oftedal said. “She's young. She's learning to deal with her nerves.”

Lizzie is at the right school for finding motivation and overcoming challenges. After all, it isn’t a question of if, but when: she hasn’t broken the 400 record, yet. She still has three more years, and the whole school cheering her on.

Athletics

Ally Hansen

Senior Ally Hansen (pictured above, center) gave the following speech to 330 guests at Rowland Hall's biennial auction March 16. After she shared her story, a paddle raise garnered $88,050 for school financial aid. Thank you to Ally for her heartfelt words, and to our generous donors for empowering wonderful students like her to attend Rowland Hall.

I’ve been attending Rowland Hall since seventh grade, but before that I’d attended the same public school since kindergarten. It was considered small, yet it was almost twice the size of Rowland Hall’s middle and upper schools combined. Despite the size, I never really fit into the community. It was uninviting, unaccepting, and relatively unfriendly. I didn’t like it there very much, and wanted an escape. I looked at other options for middle school, but they were limited. 

A friend told me about Rowland Hall and I looked into it. I quickly realized it wouldn’t be an option for me, as there was no way I could afford it. Then, another friend—a Rowland Hall junior with whom I played competitive basketball—told me about the Malone Scholarship. So I applied, and here I am six years later.

Rowland Hall gave me something no other place had ever given me: a sense of belonging. I felt happy with who I was, quirks and all.

At my previous school, I was always the tomboy. I didn’t want to walk around talking about clothes or boys during recess; I wanted to play football on the back field instead. But I was never really included anywhere—the boys wouldn’t let a girl play with them, and the girls thought I was weird. During my first few weeks at Rowland Hall, I met this boy and one of the very first things he asked me was if I wanted to throw a football with him during recess. He is now one of my very best friends. This is just one example of the warm, loving, and accepting community I was quickly welcomed into. Rowland Hall gave me something no other place had ever given me: a sense of belonging. I felt happy with who I was, weird quirks and all. 

Rowland Hall made me realize my true potential and gave me all the tools I needed to be successful. I played basketball my two years in Middle School and all four years in the Upper School, making varsity my freshman year. This last year, I was lucky enough to be elected team captain. I was a good leader because I always led by example. I knew that if I did what I was supposed to, then others would follow in my footsteps. Also, I always pushed for “better” and never wanted to settle for “good enough.” Rowland Hall taught me what a real leader looks like, so when it was my turn to step into those shoes I knew exactly what to do.

Ally Hansen takes a jump shot in a basketball game.

Ally Hansen takes a jump shot in a January 10 basketball game.

I’ve been able to write my own ticket because of the education Rowland Hall provides. When I enrolled in Rowland Hall, I couldn’t have even imagined how great my life would turn out.

Lastly, Rowland Hall opened my eyes to all of the opportunities out there—ways to become the most successful person I can be. The school community made me feel like I was good enough to pursue my dreams. I’d been dead set on attending the University of Utah as long as I can remember. But my truly amazing counselors, teachers, and friends exposed me to the idea of expanding my horizons and considering other schools. Now, I’ll be attending Arizona State University (ASU) in fall, majoring in sports journalism and pursuing a dream I’ve had since I was little: becoming a sportscaster. I would have never even looked at that college had it not been for that very same seventh-grade friend who asked me to throw the football (he’s the one who told me about ASU), and for Rowland Hall, which opened my eyes to new possibilities.

My whole life is different because of my scholarship. I now have four of the most amazing friends anyone could ask for and I’ve been able to write my own ticket because of the education Rowland Hall provides. When I enrolled in Rowland Hall, I couldn’t have even imagined how great my life would turn out. None of this would have been possible without the Malone Family Foundation’s generosity. I will be forever grateful. I only hope that other people will be able to have the same opportunities and experiences I did. But for many, Rowland Hall is not a financial option without the generosity of people like you. So tonight, I ask you to please get out your phones and give generously to support future students like me. Thank you.

scholarships

Zack Alvidrez and team

Zack Alvidrez aimed to build a strong culture in the boys basketball program this season. What he created took the team to a third-place trophy at the State Tournament, their best-ever finish in 2A.

For Rowland Hall senior Trey Provost, the most memorable moment of the basketball season is precisely what you would expect: his buzzer-beating shot to take down Gunnison in the first round of the State 2A Tournament, which brought all his teammates onto the floor in celebration. It was a finish fit for March Madness—although it took place in February—and set the team on course for their best showing in the tournament in over a decade.

Coach Zack Alvidrez cited several joyous moments in the State Tournament, but one other game really stood out to him. It came during Region play, in a matchup at home against rival Waterford. Rowland Hall’s defense stymied their opponents, holding them to just two points at halftime—and the team’s locker room conversation was about how they could do even better. “That showed me they were ready,” Coach Alvidrez said.

As the new head coach this season, Coach Alvidrez’s primary goal was to build a strong culture in the program, one where hard work, communication, and responsibility were paramount. From their earliest practices, he sought investment from everyone on the team—regardless of grade level or experience—and vowed to match their effort. He made himself available for extra workouts, skill development, and weight-training sessions, and he regularly asked players for input, citing a desire to create shared ownership.

As the new head coach this season, Coach Alvidrez’s primary goal was to build a strong culture in the program, one where hard work, communication, and responsibility were paramount. From their earliest practices, he sought investment from everyone on the team—regardless of grade level or experience—and vowed to match their effort.

Such a strong commitment to the team stems from the love Coach Alvidrez has had for this sport since he was in eighth grade. After playing basketball throughout high school and college, he had a seven-year professional career internationally, which might have continued longer if not for a devastating injury to his Achilles tendon. Although he lamented the situation, Zack soon turned elsewhere, launching a competitive league and running basketball camps for kids, something he’d done periodically since college. He connected with Rowland Hall students through his league games, and three years ago began coaching for our Middle School. In fact, some players in Rowland Hall’s class of 2020 have been learning from Coach Alvidrez—in one forum or another—since they were in sixth grade.

Relationships matter, and as the foundation of what Coach Alvidrez has started to build at Rowland Hall, he taught his players to value their interactions with others. “He made us focus on being respectful to everyone, such as our own teammates, our opponents, our coaches, teachers, bus drivers…basically everyone we encountered,” Trey Provost said. Those high expectations were paired with incredible attention to detail on the court and Coach Alvidrez’s meticulous preparation before every game, watching hours of game film and producing long scouting reports to share with the team.

“I think a lot of our shortcomings can be made up for if I’m prepared, and we’re prepared as a team,” he said.

His approach worked. Rowland Hall went undefeated in Region 17 play, and finished third at the State Tournament, notching a gritty win along the way against the defending State Champions from Beaver High School. The standout play from Trey Provost and junior Isaiah Adams—who subsequently won Larry H. Miller Player of the Week honors—led the team during the playoffs, along with steady contributions from juniors Boston Ballard and Oscar Percy and seniors Maya Royer and Zander Smith. During the third-place game against Kanab, which required a second-half comeback to seal the win, Zander played “the game of his life,” according to Coach Alvidrez, scoring 23 points and playing excellent defense.

 

“All these guys stepped up,” the coach continued. “We had a true definition of a team. We didn’t have one guy to focus on—we had five guys on the floor at all times that needed to be accounted for.”

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic lauded her new head coach’s performance in building team culture and modeling the high expectations he has for his players. “Zack is one of the best hires we’ve ever made in the boys’ basketball program, not because he knows and can teach the game so well, but because he gets it—he is able to strike a healthy balance between pushing the players on the court and expecting top-notch behavior off the court.” 

Playing a team sport…yes, it’s about wins and losses and championships, but if it’s done right, it should teach you life lessons and prepare you for college. —Coach Zack Alvidrez

Coach Alvidrez is excited for the future of basketball at Rowland Hall, not just because he believes the state championship trophy is within reach, but because he sees this sport as a vehicle for teaching the values and behaviors students need for lifelong success. “Playing a team sport…yes, it’s about wins and losses and championships, but if it’s done right, it should teach you life lessons and prepare you for college.” 

Also exciting to Coach Alvidrez: buzzer beaters, exceptional defense, and the overwhelming support he’s received from everybody in the school community. “It’s a huge blessing,” he said.

Athletics
 

team in park

Carson Burian led a young cross-country team to a Region 17 title last fall, and he's not slowing down. Read about his training methods, goals, and why he thinks 2019 will be his best year yet.

Running can be a lonely sport, particularly for high school athletes pursuing an advanced career. Rowland Hall's cross-country and track and field coach Mark Oftedal knows the situation all too well, having watched his son Eli—a 2015 alum and elite runner who now races for Colorado State University—endure many solitary training sessions. So when he met Carson Burian last fall, Mr. Oftedal recognized what the talented young runner was facing. "I told him, 'You're in a difficult situation, at a small school with a small team, training at your level.' I knew he would be off on his own quite frequently."

Indeed, Carson has experienced just that: long miles on the road alone, when he focuses on long-term goals—such as running in college—to stay motivated. This past summer, he logged between 60–65 miles most weeks, often training in Park City to escape the heat and ozone in the valley. The sophomore, who individually placed first at this year's Region Championship and third at the 2A State meet, used to play up to six sports. He didn't take running all that seriously when he joined the Middle School cross-country team, but after winning every race in his eighth-grade division, he realized that the sport might hold a future for him. Now, he trains year-round for races, competes in cross country and track, and supplements his running with weight lifting—and the occasional ski day, like many Utahns.

Mr. Oftedal described Carson as an intense, determined young athlete who does his research before races and sets realistic goals for himself. While he's competitive, Carson will never bad-mouth his competition—in fact, he wants to race against the best in the field, making a potential victory that much sweeter. "He wants to bring himself to and beyond the level of the people in front of him," Mr. Oftedal said. And since he's racing against juniors and seniors, he oftentimes has to be patient with himself. Carson can be philosophical about his performance, especially if he's not feeling in peak physical or mental condition on race day. "I still try to run the best race I can," he said, "and though I may be disappointed with my time, I'll usually understand why."

Mr. Oftedal described Carson as an intense, determined young athlete who does his research before races and sets realistic goals for himself. While he's competitive, Carson will never bad-mouth his competition—in fact, he wants to race against the best in the field, making a potential victory that much sweeter.For a young runner, Carson has already developed a balanced regimen of nutrition, sleep, hydration, and workouts. He's learned to listen to his body, and knows that adjusting his pace by five seconds will allow him to push through several more miles instead of hitting a wall. Much of his growth stems from intense training and research, both at Rowland Hall and elsewhere—he attended a running camp at Northern Arizona University this summer, which he credited with giving him an extra boost of motivation during the hottest months of the year. But Carson has also been forced to adapt at times due to injury: last December, he strained ligaments in his foot two days before a race, and then batted through ongoing pain at the start of the track season because he hadn't healed properly. Thankfully, he's stayed healthy since, and says he's hoping to shave another 20–25 seconds off his mile next spring.

Carson's talent and mindset are only part of what makes him a special athlete. His individual performances certainly help the team at race time, but his sportsmanship and leadership help everyone persevere through tough practices. He understands the importance of being a good teammate, and said he'll give others encouragement when they might be struggling, sometimes simply by running alongside them. "It's all about trying to create positivity within the group," he said.

That's a strategy Mr. Oftedal and his assistant coaches, Laura Johnson and Giselle Slotboom, often employ during races too. "We try to give runners cues, and so if someone is having a rough time we'll ask their peer to join up with them and give them a boost." In fact, the camaraderie Mr. Oftedal saw in this fall's cross-country team is one of the things that pleased him most: even with varying levels of ability and experience among the group, they were often running together at practice and training together outside of school.

Carson's dedicated approach to conditioning and wellness has rubbed off on his peers, according to Mr. Oftedal. "Anytime you've got kids that are pushing at the top, it's going to positively influence others." He noticed students comparing their patterns and choices to Carson's, and then emulating his habits or characteristics. "They realize it's not just about showing up for practice and putting in the miles. It's a lifestyle decision."

Mr. Oftedal was quick to add, "It's a gain for Carson, too," as he can find inspiration watching his teammates make huge improvements, and they encourage his growth in return.

This year's cross-country team was a young group, led by sophomores and juniors, which Mr. Oftedal and Carson find exciting. Their achievements included Region 17 titles for both the girls and boys teams, and a third-place finish for the boys at the 2A State Championship—only one point behind the second-place team. With no one on the boys varsity team graduating in 2019, Carson believes the top spot in the state will soon be within reach.

A successful season for me is when I meet these kids years down the line and they're still running—still finding joy in competing, or just running for themselves. —Coach Mark Oftedal

Carson's future, as well as the team's future, is undoubtedly bright, but Mr. Oftedal doesn't necessarily measure success in terms of championships. He recently heard from the parents of a 2012 alum that their son is training for a marathon, and that news is just as satisfying to Mr. Oftedal as any state title. "A successful season for me is when I meet these kids years down the line and they're still running—still finding joy in competing, or just running for themselves," he said.

And if they still hear Coach Oftedal's or a teammate's voice encouraging them to push through training sessions, well, that might just make the runner's life a little less lonely after all.

Athletics

Girls Soccer Wins Third State Title in Five Years

 

Congratulations to our girls soccer team for a decisive victory over rival Waterford in the 2A State Championship game on Saturday, October 19, at Rio Tinto Stadium. The group was also recognized Saturday for having the highest team GPA in their division.

 

Read more:

Athletics

 

Rowland Hall Wins Award for Success in Sportsmanship, School, State Tourneys
Rowland Hall on June 18, 2018, won its first 2A Directors Cup, awarded annually by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (UIAAA) for success in sportsmanship, academics, and state tournaments.

 

Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic called the achievement a prestigious one. "It's quite an honor for our Athletics program, our coaches, and the school," she said. "We've been in the top five every year of this award's existence, but this is the first year that we have been named the top 2A school." This is the eighth year of the Directors Cup.

Kendra praised her dedicated coaches and hardworking student-athletes, but also deserves some of the credit: she's known as a tireless advocate for Rowland Hall Athletics, and she inspires Winged Lions to play with integrity and have fun in the process. Kendra has worked for the school since 1992, and in 2013 won a national award for her outstanding contributions to interscholastic athletics.

State championships bolstered Rowland Hall's Directors Cup ranking this year. Winged Lion highlights at the state level included the 2A title for girls soccer, the 3A 1st singles tennis title for senior Katie Foley, the 2A third-place spot for boys golf, the 3A title for girls swimming, the 2A title for boys tennis, the 2A title for girls golf, and the 2A runner-up trophy for boys soccer.

The description of the Directors Cup, from UIAAA:

The "Directors Cup" is awarded to the school achieving the highest cumulative point total in each classification based on state tournament results in all sports (boys and girls) and the successful implementation of the "Raise The Bar" sportsmanship initiative. The top 16 teams in each sport and classification received points based on how their teams finished in the UHSAA State Championship events. (This counts for 40% of the Directors Cup Total.) Each school may also submit their respective team GPAs to the UIAAA. The top 16 teams in each sport and classification received points based on how their team's GPA rank compared to other schools in their classification. (This counts for 40% of the Directors Cup Total.) Every school regardless of team GPAs or how it placed in any State Tournament can also receive points from the successful implementation of the "Raise The Bar" sportsmanship initiative.

The top-five ranked schools in 2A:

  1. Rowland Hall: 16.8 points
  2. Gunnison: 12.6 points
  3. Kanab: 10.8 points
  4. North Summit: 10.1 points
  5. Beaver: 9.4 points

Rowland Hall's score also amounted to the highest point total among all classifications in the state. In the 6A classification, Bingham was a close second, with 16.7 points.

Athletics

Suspense-Filled Boys Tennis Tournament Ends with Rowland Hall's First State Title in Seven Years

About a week after Rowland Hall captured their first state title in boys tennis since 2011, Head Coach Tim Sleeper was still on cloud nine about the team's win. "There have been a couple of championships [throughout the years] that have stuck in my mind, and I think this will be one of them," he said.

In a drama-filled weekend that included Rowland Hall sophomore Peter Chase rallying from down 1-5 in the third set to win at #3 singles, the Winged Lions overcame a one-point deficit in the standings—to Waterford, nonetheless—by winning the final doubles match of the day.

It's not hard to understand what made this year's 3A State Tournament so memorable. In a drama-filled weekend that included Rowland Hall sophomore Peter Chase rallying from down 1-5 in the third set to win at #3 singles, the Winged Lions overcame a one-point deficit in the standings—to Waterford, nonetheless—by winning the final doubles match of the day.

Rowland Hall senior Soren Feola, who was paired with sophomore Justin Peng for the final match, recalled the intensity of the afternoon. "About halfway through our finals match, we found out that the state title rested on our shoulders. We pushed through the stress, even though everyone there was watching us," he said. "I think once that last point I hit was over, my mind went blank and all I could think was, 'Wow, I just did that for myself and my team.' I was filled with explosive happiness."

Coach Sleeper acknowledged that Soren had been in a similar position before but with different results, which only made this year that much more special. "The last shot of the whole tournament was Soren with an overhead to win the match," he said. "It was just really cool to see him come through and complete the journey."

The team's senior leadership, from Soren and #1 singles player Leif Thulin, and JV players Leo Doctorman and Chris Ausbeck, was a significant factor in this year's success. In particular, Coach Sleeper cited Leif's attitude and ability to bring the team together, whether at practice or during matches, as a consistent influence. "He deserves a lot of credit for what happened," Coach Sleeper said.

Complementing the senior leadership were outstanding performances from underclassmen, namely freshman Tucker Lee—who finished the season undefeated at #2 singles—and sophomores Justin and Peter. Coach Sleeper described Peter's attitude during his final match at the state tournament when he went to speak with him at the 5-2 changeover: "He had this energy I hadn't seen all season and this determination in his face. He said, 'I'm gonna do this' and he just went out and upped his game."

To have all my players rise to the occasion at the same time was thrilling. The whole team—they just outperformed themselves. —Coach Tim Sleeper

Celebrating a victory over rival Waterford added an extra layer of satisfaction to this year's championship, though Coach Sleeper has great respect for their longtime opponents. "Their coach is awesome," he said. "He makes a lot of good decisions and is always doing the right thing on and off the court, teaching good sportsmanship to his players."

Even in years when Rowland Hall lost to Waterford, Coach Sleeper has maintained a positive feeling watching his players grow on the court and summon their confidence at key moments. And heading into the state tournament May 11, despite having won the Region 13 championship the week before, he wasn't sure how his team would match up against unknown players from other regions.

In any case, he almost certainly would never have predicted the intensity of the tournament's conclusion, which he agreed couldn't have been scripted any better for the team. "To have all my players rise to the occasion at the same time was thrilling," he said. "The whole team—they just outperformed themselves."

Coach Sleeper was especially grateful for the way this season wrapped, as he has decided not to return to Rowland Hall next season and instead spend more time with his family. He will carry with him many fond memories of watching Rowland Hall's young athletes mature over the course of a season, and for some, throughout their high school careers.

"I've been honored to be a part of their lives throughout the years," he said. "They are an amazing group of kids."

Athletics

Ethical Education

At the Intersection of Homelessness, Healthcare, and Humanity

Rowland Hall alumnus Jeff Norris lives his purpose treating and advocating for underserved populations as the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego When Jeff Norris ’03 applied to medical school, the admissions office at the University of Utah called him in for a rare second interview. He had submitted a personal statement focused on the connection between medicine, public health, and social justice, and that intersectional approach raised some eyebrows.
 
Admissions officers asked Jeff if he was sure he wanted to go to medical school, and not study public health or social work. But he assured them: he knew he wanted to be a clinician who worked with, and advocated for, underserved populations.

Jeff credits Rowland Hall with launching his career trajectory. In high school, under the mentorship of then-faculty member Liz Paige, he volunteered with Amnesty International and prepared and served food at local youth groups. The positive experience of serving others and making an impact—and relevant content in history and psychology courses—got the wheels turning in Jeff’s brain: “I started reflecting on my role in the world and how I could try to do something to make a difference for others. What is my purpose for being here?”

Jeff's self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success.

The service and activism Jeff began at Rowland Hall carried through his years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a med student at the University of Utah, and as a Family Medicine resident at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success: in 2016, Jeff became the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages, an award-winning nonprofit that provides integrated services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
 
Jeff’s day-to-day work requires a breadth of skill, knowledge, and tenacity: he estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time treating patients and the other 60 percent engaged in clinic administration, fundraising, and advocacy—including ensuring that state and federal legislation supports nonprofits like his. He serves on a number of boards, including a large network of clinics with over 100,000 patients in the San Diego area. For Jeff, it’s about more than staying connected and representing the interests of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is being present in the community to advocate for the needs of not just those experiencing homelessness, but underserved populations more broadly.”


At the clinic he leads—which serves walk-ins along with residents of Father Joe’s Villages and people receiving assistance from other local agencies—Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health. “The challenges our patients face are pretty unique, compared to most patient populations,” he said. “Their lives are very chaotic, and they have a lot going on medically, psychiatrically, behaviorally, socially…in all senses.” A significant portion of his time is spent managing programs to deliver medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)—drugs such as buprenorphine (suboxone) or naltrexone—and for alcohol abuse. 

At the clinic he leads, Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health.

Among the most recent and cutting-edge programs Jeff and his team at Father Joe’s Villages are running is the Street Health Program, which launched this spring and is already impacting lives for the better. As the name suggests, the initiative involves going out into the streets and providing healthcare directly to people experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve reached a number of people who’ve avoided or been underserved by traditional healthcare. One example: a man who had been using heroin for 30 years and had never before been interested in treatment. Pending a grant, the street health team hopes to treat patients with OUD at the first point of contact. In the meantime, they wrote a prescription for this particular patient because, as Jeff said, “it was the right thing to do.”
 
One of the long-term goals of the Street Health Program is to develop rapport with individuals so that they will visit the clinic for treatment. Additionally, the launch has created quite a buzz throughout San Diego, so Jeff hopes other clinics and treatment centers will consider similar programs (which do already exist in other large metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco). “It can’t just be us,” he said. “There are enough folks experiencing homelessness that we certainly cannot meet the need unilaterally.”
 
Jeff is rightly proud of his advocacy work and the impact his clinic makes on a daily basis, and he speaks passionately of the need for everyone to recognize the homelessness crisis—not just in San Diego, but also in Salt Lake City and urban areas throughout the country. While rising housing costs and relatively stagnant wages are the two primary drivers of the problem, Jeff doesn’t discount the power of the individual to make a difference, whether through volunteering, donating goods, or elevating the dialogue to fight the stigma against those experiencing homelessness.
 
When he’s not working, Jeff stays active outdoors, taking advantage of all that San Diego’s famously temperate climate has to offer. He also prioritizes time with his family: two-year-old daughter Alex keeps Jeff and wife Sonia Ponce—a practicing cardiologist—quite busy.
 
Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is not at all surprised that Jeff is making a difference in the lives of others. He recalled how, as a high school student, Jeff was always highly engaged and motivated to serve, often being the last to leave a volunteer event. “Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion,” Ryan said. “It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare.”
Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion. It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare. —Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education

Just as Jeff credited Rowland Hall for sparking his interest in a life of service to others, Mr. Hoglund credits Jeff for setting an example of genuine student leadership at the school. And, to the student leaders today, Jeff sends these words of encouragement: “Figure out what gives you energy and makes you feel like you're contributing to the world in some positive way, then grab that bull by the horns and don’t let go of it. That’s where you're going to be able to make a difference, to be satisfied with who you are and what you're doing in this world.”

 

All photos courtesy of Father Joe's Villages.

 

Alumni

Three people pose outside with an Emmy.

Charismatic Rowland Hall lifer and Emmy winner Jared Ruga ’06 is apparently just as comfortable in the spotlight as he is behind the camera. On May 29, he flexed his storytelling prowess and delivered a speech chock-full of good advice for almost-grads at our annual Alumni Senior Breakfast, a school tradition since 1924.

Jared told his story in three acts: he waxed nostalgic about his time here; dissected his college life as a triple-major at the University of San Diego (USD); and recounted how he won an Emmy for Quiet Heroes, a documentary examining the Utah AIDS epidemic and the one doctor and her team that stepped up to treat thousands of critically ill, socially stigmatized patients.

The 30-year-old alumnus wove seven key insights into his talk.

Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time.

“Hate your work but show it anyway”

By the time Jared reached the Upper School, he knew he wanted to make movies, and he did. For the Distinction program—a now-defunct optional thesis project that, if successfully completed, resulted in graduation honors—he masterminded a feature-length teen thriller. But Jared procrastinated on his work, worrying his Distinction committee members. “I ended up not finishing the film until the night before the premiere,” he said. “And then I watched, beat for beat, in that crowded theater, and caught literal typos on screen, and saw that some of my non-actors’ performances weren’t made any better projected 20 feet high.”

Jared wryly confessed to seniors that the thriller, Sanctuary Disrupted, is not his best work. “But at that point in time, it was,” he added. “Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time with something else. And if you go through that process enough times, eventually you might land on something enough people like.”

As hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.

“Connect deeply with others even when it’s temporary”

Jared and high school best friend Isabel Carpenter ’06 “weren’t the emotional types,” he said, but that changed with their pre-college goodbye that ended in a sob-filled hug. They still talk, only about once a year, but that’s OK: our lives are often transient, Jared posited, and roles such as friend, mentor, partner, etc., may be filled by different people at different times. “It doesn’t cheapen what you had with them in the moments your lives intersected,” he told seniors. “And it shouldn’t dissuade you from connecting deeply with the next round of candidates…Because as hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.”

“Stick with your grit even when it’s hard”

Jared started college with a freshman roommate who wouldn’t talk to him, and mostly boring classes—“Rowland Hall had prepared me so well that I didn’t feel academically challenged until my junior year,” he said. But he trusted that circumstances would improve, and soon hit his stride academically, socially, and extracurricularly—through running the student TV station, participating in student government, and more. Jared earned his share of perfect grades at USD, but said the one he’s most proud of is a C+ in calculus, a required course that he kept dropping. In his last semester, he failed the midterm—but then poured his energy into acing the final. He passed the class and graduated magna cum laude from the honors program. “I didn’t transfer away from USD after a rocky start, and I didn’t drop calculus because I was hellbent on graduating as planned,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but it went my way in the end because I committed to making it happen.”

“Accept the wisdom of life seasons” and “Recharge your souls”

Jared is now openly gay, but didn’t come out until early adulthood. By the time he started law school at 24, he still hadn’t been in a relationship. “While I was so precociously successful by so many other metrics, what I thought was the deepest, most human experience we can have had eluded me,” he said. So he dove into dating, even to the detriment of his usually high grades. “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once,” Jared said. “Life has seasons for a reason.” Make time for the things that feed your soul, he advised. Pursuits such as relationships, hobbies, and volunteering are “just as important as the traditional metrics of success like degrees, accolades, money,” Jared said. “Success only actually feels good when you can celebrate it with others, and when it serves a greater purpose.”

The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.

On winning the Emmy: “Prefer life management over life planning” and “Pick a path and just do the work until it, with luck, catches fire”

Jared first heard the story of Dr. Kristen Ries and physician's assistant Maggie Snyder—the main subjects of Quiet Heroes, pictured with Jared, top—from one of his law professors. “I was deeply touched by what Kristen and Maggie had done, and embarrassed that as a politically active 26-year-old gay man who was born and raised Salt Lake City, I had never heard their story,” Jared said. “The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.”

So Jared’s professor connected him with the two women, and the emotionally draining—but highly rewarding—project began soon after. “Quiet Heroes was a difficult film to make,” Jared admitted. “For nearly a year of the film’s production lifecycle, I wanted to just throw in the towel and focus on something else that wouldn’t cause me so much heartburn.” Driven in part by Salt Lake City’s supportive LGBTQ community, Jared and his team charged forward and ultimately earned a spot at the Sundance Film Festival, then secured distribution deals. A subsequent TV showing qualified Quiet Heroes for a Daytime Emmy, and the documentary won in its category—even edging out an Oprah’s Book Club special. The filmmaking journey wasn’t easy, but it was character building, and it helped Jared get over his “analysis paralysis”: “Sometimes you have to just roll up your sleeves and start doing the work, without any expectation of its success,” he said. “Trusting your instincts will probably nudge you in the right direction.”

Jared closed by telling seniors that no one does anything worth doing without help, and he thanked everyone who aided him along the way. “I continue to be motivated and touched by your faith in me,” he said, “It’s the fuel inside that burns brighter every day.” Echoing his early advice, he encouraged students to be bold. “You’ll fail, probably publicly. You’ll love people who don’t love you back. You’ll say mean things you wish you hadn’t. And you’ll take for granted some of the most important ingredients to your health and success. But know that even though you won’t be perfect, you’re well positioned to make these choices. You have a solid foundation of skills and deep community support behind you.”

Alumni

Student leans on lockers in hallway.

Sophomore Katy Dark’s family immigrated to Salt Lake City from Argentina when she was a toddler, but the bilingual student still seamlessly slides into her first language on a dime—like when she greets her abuela visiting Rowland Hall for Grandparents Day, or when she volunteers for the after-school coding club she founded at Dual Immersion Academy (DIA).

In February, Katy won a President's Volunteer Service Award for her work at DIA, among other efforts. The sophomore earned the gold-level award for 2018, meaning she volunteered over 250 hours in one year. She’s the first Rowland Hall student to win this national award in over a decade, according to Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.

Katy was surprised by the distinction but grateful to Rowland Hall—her invaluable experiences here inspired her to help DIA after they lost funding for computer science this school year. “Rowland Hall opened up a lot of possibilities for me,” Katy said, “and I know that coding can give DIA students new opportunities.”

Katy has accomplished much in the past few years, with help from the Rowland Hall community. That's part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” she said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.”

Katy, a Patricia C. Brim Memorial Scholar who’s been here since sixth grade, has had an especially remarkable few years. In March, she won an Aspirations in Computing regional honorable mention. She’s only a sophomore, and she said she already has a scholarship offer from a local college. Also this year, she traveled to Costa Rica for interim and to Southern Utah, Nashville, and Portland for student diversity and leadership retreats. Last summer, she interned with the National Security Agency, and the summer before that she studied criminology and computer science at the University of Cambridge in England. She did all these things, she said, with help from the Rowland Hall community, which is part of why she’s now paying it forward to DIA students. “As a Latina, I don’t get all these opportunities normally,” Katy said. “I wanted to be able to even the playing field.” The DIA coding club has taken a lot of work, she said, but she’s invested in the community and up for the challenge.

The sophomore has remained fluent in Spanish thanks in part to attending DIA for elementary school. Her mom, Patricia Dark—one of DIA’s co-founders—enrolled Katy and older sister Elli (now a Rowland Hall senior) in the bilingual academy to keep their language skills sharp. When Katy left DIA she kept close ties, volunteering after school and on weekdays when Rowland Hall wasn’t in session.

DIA has about 500 students total in kindergarten through eighth grade, and they take classes in English and Spanish: the academy prepares students to become “bilingual, bi-literate, and bicultural while developing the tools to be successful in higher education, the workforce and in life,” according to their mission. It’s a Title One school where about 98% of students (compared to about 57% of Salt Lake City School District students) come from economically disadvantaged families and qualify for free or discounted school lunch.

After hearing about DIA’s funding cuts, Katy—a passionate computer science student who’s already laser-focused on pursuing a career in the field—sprang into action and started the coding club. She spends her weekends planning lessons, which she delivers Tuesdays from 3 to 5:30 pm—except in spring when she golfs for Rowland Hall and friend Alex Armknecht, a junior, subs for her. Katy has taught her 22 club members about programming basics using kid-friendly sources such as Hour of Code and Scratch. She’s also gotten to know the kids, tailored her approach based on their levels of comfort with the material, invited them to community coding events, helped them with non-computing schoolwork, and served as a mentor. “These kids are incredible,” Katy wrote in an essay about her volunteerism, “and they can do so much more than most people realize.” She said she hopes the club encourages DIA students to take computer science in high school, and ultimately, college.

Katy is self-motivated and didn’t necessarily expect recognition for her service, but teachers agree the national distinction is deserved. “Katy is incredibly dedicated to computer science,” said Ben Smith, her AP Computer Science teacher. The coding club was entirely her idea, he added. “I gave her some advice, but she really took off on her own.”

Katy also runs Rowland Hall’s Latinx affinity group, has volunteered with the Rotary Club, and has been “a tireless contributor to her community,” according to Ryan. “Katy sets a clear bar amongst her peers about the importance of giving back,” the ethical education director said, “and not waiting for an opportunity to arise, but instead creating those opportunities where she sees them.”

Volunteerism

Portrait of a Gap Year: Work, Activism, Writing, Self-Care, and Self-Discovery

Editor’s note: Gap years have long been common in Europe, and they’re on the rise in the US. So what happens when a high-achieving Rowland Hall alum takes a break from the classroom? Read on for our 2018 co-valedictorian’s account.

By Allie Zehner ’18

Ever since middle school, I had my life all planned out: graduate from high school, launch straight into college, graduate from college, and immediately enter grad school or a career. Straying from this pin-straight path didn’t seem like an option; however, here I am, writing this piece at the end of my gap year.

At the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging.

Looking back, I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m taking a year between high school and college.” Because this option did not pop up on my radar until eleventh grade, the only way to describe my decision is as the perfect collision of four distinct circumstances. First: at the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging. Second: in the fall of my senior year, my family hosted two young women, Priya and Winona, who were in the middle of taking gap years to travel the country, interview people about their intersectional identities, and write a book on racial literacy. Third: I met Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, an organization dedicated to making bridge years between high school and university a socially acceptable norm. Fourth: after continuously pushing myself throughout high school and becoming co-valedictorian, I was afraid of burning out. 

So, I committed to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York last spring and asked for a deferral of admission, elucidating my gap year plans. Barnard approved my request, I filled out a one-page form, and just like that, I was taking a gap year. 

And so the year began.

In the summer, I worked part-time jobs and saved some money.

In the fall, I worked with Sonita Alizadeh (pictured top, right, being interviewed by Allie at a Surefire conference), a young activist who uses music as a tool to catalyze social change, particularly looking to end the detrimental traditional practice of child marriage. Through my work with her and a nonprofit, Strongheart Group, I conducted research, interviewed young activists from around the world, and traveled to the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit in New York City. 

In the winter, I started focusing on curating a book about the next generation of young women. Formatted as a collection of essays, I will write about half of the chapters and other teen girls will write the rest. From omnipresent social media to an extremely divided political climate to gun violence, this book will speak to the most pressing, serious issues my generation is facing on our journey to adulthood. Learning through doing, I taught myself how to write a book proposal, draft a query letter, reach out to agents, and build a website. 

In the spring, I was extremely fortunate to travel to Colombia, where I used my Spanish (gracias, Señor Burnett), attended a women’s conference, and shadowed an incredible nonprofit, Juanfe, that works with teen moms in Cartagena. And, coincidentally, I met another teen who is taking a gap year to live in South American cities, work, become fluent in Spanish, and volunteer. I have also spent the spring loving (pretty much) every second of learning how to write a book. 

The other key aspect of this year is that, having struggled with a chronic illness since the seventh grade, I made time to see doctors and get necessary testing. While I still do not know the root cause of my health issues, I am better equipped to manage my symptoms and look after my own well being: two things I did not prioritize in middle and high school.

And that is my gap year in a nutshell. 

Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

Let me just say that taking this year and venturing from the extremely narrow life path I had envisioned has been one of my best decisions. From around the time I could walk, I was in school five days a week, seven hours a day. For 15 years, being a student was absolutely core to my identity. Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

I will be attending university this fall. Contrary to what is sometimes believed about gap years, I will be going back to school with an immensely stronger sense of self, more direction, and a readiness to return to the classroom. I could not be more ecstatic to finish my book throughout freshman year and continue to grow as a person.

Gap years are not for everyone, but they should be considered a viable alternative to going straight to college. My hope is that society recognizes the immense possibilities bridge years can hold.

alumni

Ally Hansen

Senior Ally Hansen (pictured above, center) gave the following speech to 330 guests at Rowland Hall's biennial auction March 16. After she shared her story, a paddle raise garnered $88,050 for school financial aid. Thank you to Ally for her heartfelt words, and to our generous donors for empowering wonderful students like her to attend Rowland Hall.

I’ve been attending Rowland Hall since seventh grade, but before that I’d attended the same public school since kindergarten. It was considered small, yet it was almost twice the size of Rowland Hall’s middle and upper schools combined. Despite the size, I never really fit into the community. It was uninviting, unaccepting, and relatively unfriendly. I didn’t like it there very much, and wanted an escape. I looked at other options for middle school, but they were limited. 

A friend told me about Rowland Hall and I looked into it. I quickly realized it wouldn’t be an option for me, as there was no way I could afford it. Then, another friend—a Rowland Hall junior with whom I played competitive basketball—told me about the Malone Scholarship. So I applied, and here I am six years later.

Rowland Hall gave me something no other place had ever given me: a sense of belonging. I felt happy with who I was, quirks and all.

At my previous school, I was always the tomboy. I didn’t want to walk around talking about clothes or boys during recess; I wanted to play football on the back field instead. But I was never really included anywhere—the boys wouldn’t let a girl play with them, and the girls thought I was weird. During my first few weeks at Rowland Hall, I met this boy and one of the very first things he asked me was if I wanted to throw a football with him during recess. He is now one of my very best friends. This is just one example of the warm, loving, and accepting community I was quickly welcomed into. Rowland Hall gave me something no other place had ever given me: a sense of belonging. I felt happy with who I was, weird quirks and all. 

Rowland Hall made me realize my true potential and gave me all the tools I needed to be successful. I played basketball my two years in Middle School and all four years in the Upper School, making varsity my freshman year. This last year, I was lucky enough to be elected team captain. I was a good leader because I always led by example. I knew that if I did what I was supposed to, then others would follow in my footsteps. Also, I always pushed for “better” and never wanted to settle for “good enough.” Rowland Hall taught me what a real leader looks like, so when it was my turn to step into those shoes I knew exactly what to do.

Ally Hansen takes a jump shot in a basketball game.

Ally Hansen takes a jump shot in a January 10 basketball game.

I’ve been able to write my own ticket because of the education Rowland Hall provides. When I enrolled in Rowland Hall, I couldn’t have even imagined how great my life would turn out.

Lastly, Rowland Hall opened my eyes to all of the opportunities out there—ways to become the most successful person I can be. The school community made me feel like I was good enough to pursue my dreams. I’d been dead set on attending the University of Utah as long as I can remember. But my truly amazing counselors, teachers, and friends exposed me to the idea of expanding my horizons and considering other schools. Now, I’ll be attending Arizona State University (ASU) in fall, majoring in sports journalism and pursuing a dream I’ve had since I was little: becoming a sportscaster. I would have never even looked at that college had it not been for that very same seventh-grade friend who asked me to throw the football (he’s the one who told me about ASU), and for Rowland Hall, which opened my eyes to new possibilities.

My whole life is different because of my scholarship. I now have four of the most amazing friends anyone could ask for and I’ve been able to write my own ticket because of the education Rowland Hall provides. When I enrolled in Rowland Hall, I couldn’t have even imagined how great my life would turn out. None of this would have been possible without the Malone Family Foundation’s generosity. I will be forever grateful. I only hope that other people will be able to have the same opportunities and experiences I did. But for many, Rowland Hall is not a financial option without the generosity of people like you. So tonight, I ask you to please get out your phones and give generously to support future students like me. Thank you.

scholarships

Teacher helping students with a computing activity

Junior Alex Armknecht named Aspirations in Computing Northern Utah Affiliate winner, sophomore Katy Dark and teacher Ben Smith ’89 receive honorable mentions

It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.—Teacher Ben Smith ’89

Computer science teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 has spent the past several years encouraging his students as they apply for—and often place in—the National Center for Women and Information Technology's (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing awards. For the first time this year, NCWIT recognized the teacher alongside his students.

Ben learned in March that he’d been named a 2019 Northern Utah Affiliate Honorable Mention recipient of the NCWIT Educator Award, which goes to teachers who continually encourage young women’s aspirations in computing.

“I have been active with NCWIT for several years now, and it was good to get recognition for those efforts—it was a bit of a surprise,” Ben said. “It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.”

Ben was one of three teachers honored by the regional affiliate, junior Alex Armknecht was one of 16 student winners, and sophomore Katy Dark was one of 30 honorable mentions. Student winners are selected annually "based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education," according to Aspirations in Computing (AiC).

Teacher with students at awards ceremony for women in computing.

From left, sophomore Katy Dark, teacher Ben Smith, and junior Alex Armknecht at the regional awards ceremony in March.

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level.

Alex’s 2019 award follows her honorable mention last year. A Middle School coding seminar first sparked Alex’s interest in the subject—from there, she worked with administrators and faculty to create a computing elective, and even recruited other girls to take the class. Last year in Ben’s AP Computer Science Principles class, Alex made a math app to help kids learn division, and fourth graders in teacher Tyler Stack's class picked her project as their favorite. She plans to keep studying computer science.

Katy also plans to pursue computing. In addition to the AiC award, she recently won a national President's Volunteer Service Award for her work tutoring students and developing a coding club at Dual Immersion Academy, a bilingual Spanish-English charter school she attended during her elementary years.

Ben, Alex, and Katy attended a March 16 ceremony in Provo where they met peer students and teachers, accepted their awards, and left with swag bags—a much-anticipated highlight for Ben. “Every year I see my students getting these killer swag bags and I go home empty handed,” the teacher joked before attending the ceremony. “I might just get one of my own this year.”

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level. The center and its AiC awards have become big names in the computer science world. Women are underrepresented in that field, but the 2004-founded organization is working hard to move the needle and empower women to pursue and succeed in computing.

Related stories

STEM

Student in traditional Islamic dress gestures toward a pot.

On March 20, seventh graders used illustrations, demos, dioramas, and even virtual reality to transport Rowland Hall community members to a different time and place—the Golden Age of Islam that started in the seventh century and stretched from Spain to China.

According to seventh-grade world studies teacher Margot Miller, last week's exhibition was driven by one question: "How can we showcase the Golden Age of Islam in order to educate our community about Islamic inventions and challenge assumptions and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims?"

The middle schoolers used the book 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilizations and conducted additional research to become experts on their topics. For the main attraction, they transformed the Middle School's upstairs art hallway, adjacent staircase, and the band room hallway into a funnel of knowledge—visitors snaked through topical sections dealing with food, fashion, medicine, school, astronomy, architecture, and more. The seventh graders also prepared oral and written presentations, and eagerly enlightened all who passed through the exhibition.

World Studies

Lori and Chuck reviewing work.

When Rowland Hall’s youngest students face academic or social-emotional challenges, Chuck White and Lori Miller are there to lift them up.

What strategies will help a third-grade student stay focused during class? How can a group of children on the playground resolve a conflict? How do you support the emotional needs of a first grader who has just lost a pet? What are the best ways to challenge a nine-year-old reading at a middle school level?
 
If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve grappled with questions like these. As children develop throughout their preschool and elementary years, unexpected challenges often arise—and those challenges can turn into learning opportunities and positive outcomes for students. In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development. If you haven’t already, you should get to know the powerhouse duo leading this effort: Chuck White and Lori Miller.

In Rowland Hall’s beginning and lower schools, we encourage a growth mindset with an intentionally crafted student-support program to evaluate and nurture each child’s development.

Meet Lori

Lori Miller has always loved reading. She grew up in a small town without a public library, so when the bookmobile came by every two weeks, Lori and her sister would check out seven books apiece—the maximum allowed—and each read one book per day until the bookmobile came again. During a visit to her college’s career center, Lori watched a short film of a teacher helping children learn to read and knew immediately: that’s what she wanted to do. Lori recalled thinking, “I love to read so much, and if I can give that gift to other kids, that’s exactly what I want to do.” And for the next 15 years, she taught first grade—the age at which most children learn to read.
 
Throughout her career, Lori has worn a variety of educational hats: elementary school principal, literacy-intervention specialist, and director of curriculum and instruction. She earned a master’s degree in gifted education from Utah State University and an administrative certificate from the University of Utah. When the position of academic support counselor at Rowland Hall opened up in 2007, Lori jumped at the chance to join a community she’d always admired. “I knew it was an amazing place,” Lori said, “and I really felt I could make a difference here.”


Lori spends her days on the McCarthey Campus serving three core constituencies: students, teachers, and parents. She oversees reading assessments and helps teachers ensure that all students are meeting benchmarks in reading, writing, and math. If there are any red flags for learning differences, she can observe the student, offer strategies to differentiate instruction, and develop a support plan, which may include tutoring. “I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock,” Lori said. “I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction.”

I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock. I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction. —Lori MillerThe joy Lori derives from her job is most evident when she speaks about visiting the kindergarten writer’s workshop. “It’s like a watching a miracle, to see how they’re figuring it out,” she said. “They have something they are excited about, and they want to put their ideas into words, and they have to think: How do I do that?” It’s a vital step in literacy development, Lori explained, since writing and reading work as opposite processes in a young brain: the former involves encoding one’s own thoughts into sounds and symbols, and the latter is a decoding process that starts with symbols on the page. “It’s really awesome,” she said.

Meet Chuck

In Chuck White’s office, one bookshelf is full of small figurines, dolls, and gadgets that, he explains, are part of an engagement strategy. Students can bring in a small toy from home and exchange it for something off his shelves. “It’s about making them feel welcome and comfortable in the counselor’s office,” he said.


Chuck joined the Rowland Hall community in 2008, one year after Lori arrived. School counseling is a second act for him, having spent 25 years working for Information and Referral Center—now 211 Utah—a private nonprofit that connects people who need help with the appropriate programs and agencies. Seeking more face-to-face interaction, and citing his love of education, Chuck earned his master’s degree in school counseling from Utah State University, then spent a few years working in the Salt Lake City School District before landing at Rowland Hall.
 
A significant portion of Chuck’s time is spent in the Lower School classrooms, teaching social-emotional learning (SEL) through the Second Step curriculum. “We teach skills,” Chuck explained, “such as how to look at and understand another person’s feelings, or how to control strong emotions, or how to be an effective problem-solver.” These lessons begin in 4PreK—where they are delivered by assistant teachers, under Chuck’s tutelage—and continue all the way through fifth grade. The language and approach evolve as children age, but the concepts remain the same.
 
Chuck reaches every Lower School student through chapel service as well, where he introduces a virtue of the month such as kindness, service, and respect—all to reinforce core values and encourage good behavior. Those virtues can be individualized, too: “We try and find various ways of helping kids own that virtue, understanding that it may mean something different for one student than another,” Chuck said. He and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund also recently created the Kindness Club, a voluntary opportunity for Lower School students to practice kind acts, often anonymously.

Like Lori, Chuck is always a resource anytime a student needs individual support. “I can provide a listening ear, help set goals or strategize, or just check in on them,” he said. He loves being able to witness the growth of students during their Lower School years. “It’s a real privilege, and an honor.”

The Whole Child

As the two faculty members devoted full time to student support in the beginning and lower schools, Chuck and Lori think often about a core component of Rowland Hall’s mission: educating the whole child. For Lori, that means considering the social, emotional, and academic components of being part of a learning community, and how they must effectively combine in order for a student to succeed. Chuck agrees: “A child cannot do well academically if they are not doing well emotionally or socially.”

Chuck and Lori often work as a team—along with division principals, teachers, and parents—to support a student in need. Chuck’s SEL curriculum teaches resilience and strategies to deal with academic challenges, too. He gave an example of how he might approach a struggling student: “If you’re at your desk feeling super frustrated because you’re not understanding the math piece in front of you, what do you with that frustration? You can give up, which is one strategy, which is not good learning. Or you can flip the script and say, ‘Yeah, I am feeling frustrated. Maybe I need to get some help.’ That’s controlling your strong emotions. That’s you being in control.”

Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading.

Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman joined the Rowland Hall community last summer, and she already marvels at the work Chuck and Lori do for students and faculty—particularly how they problem solve. “There’s love and respect for children at the foundation, always,” she said. “It’s really about figuring out what does this individual person need to be his or her best learning self, and how can we match what we're doing with what that learner needs.”
 
Chuck and Lori focus on the whole child, for each individual child—which means everything from identifying early signs of dyslexia to running a support group for children of divorced parents to helping classroom teachers recommend books to foster a love of reading. Working with a diverse group of children with different academic, social, and emotional needs is part of what makes the job so rewarding, though. “Kids with all kinds of learning differences thrive at our school,” Lori said.

The Big Picture

Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is passionate about SEL, citing the many benefits to student performance and long-term success, including a significant economic impact that extends far beyond the field of education. Furthermore, research has shown that every minute spent on the social-emotional development of children translates to increased instructional time. 
 
Rowland Hall recently solidified its long-term commitment to SEL, adding a bullet point to the strategic plan about integrating social-emotional learning in support of Goal 1, enhancing the student learning experience. For Mr. Hoglund, having the resources to keep children on track when they face inevitable challenges—at any point in their education—is part of what differentiates independent schools. "We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game,” he said.

We’re in an environment where you have these two amazing individuals who get kids off the sidelines and back in the game. —Ryan Hoglund

Chuck said he’s grateful to be in a place where it’s part of the culture to talk about supporting the whole child, and where there’s a robust professional-development program to keep staff and teachers at the top of their game. When it comes down to it, the daily motivation is simple for Chuck, Lori, and most educators: they hope to impact children’s lives for the better.

“We want each of our kids to maximize their potential and their skills,” Lori said, “because that will unlock a lot of doors for them.”

 

People

 

Rowmark

Three Rowmark Alumnae Named to 2018-2019 Alpine Team

We are thrilled to announce three Rowmark Ski Academy alumnae have been named to the 2018-2019 U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Team. Named to the A Team are Breezy Johnson '13 and postgraduate Alice McKennis '08. Katie Hensien '18 has been named to the C Team. This is Breezy's fourth year on US Ski Team, Alice's seventh year, and Katie Hensien's second year.

 

According to Rowmark Academy program director Todd Brickson, "Alice, Breezy and Katie were all model Rowmarkers and we couldn't be more proud to have them represent Rowmark as members of the U.S. Ski Team. Most importantly, all three athletes are kind, humble, and incredibly hard working and have earned everything that has come their way. To kick off the season, Katie starts in her third World Cup SL race in Killington, Vermont next week as one of the youngest members of the U.S. Team and we look forward to cheering her on."

Selection criteria for the US Alpine Team is based on results and rankings from the 2017-18 season. To read the full alpine team roster announcement, visit the US Ski Team webpage.

 


Team Members Photo Credit: US Ski & Snowboard Team

 

Read more about these Rowmark athletes:

Charismatic Katie Hensien Transitions to National Team, Keeps Adding to Career Highlights

Rowmark Ski Academy Announces Its Own as One of the Newest Member to the US Alpine Ski Team

Breezy Johnson's Unparalleled Work Ethic Takes Her All the Way to PyeongChang

Extraordinary Athletes: How Rowmark Ski Academy Develops Future Olympians


Rowmark

 

Rowmark Junior Program Director Troy Price Crowned National Development Coach of the Year

Troy Price, Rowmark Ski Academy's beloved junior program director since 2010, in May added national accolades to his already long list of accomplishments. U.S. Ski and Snowboard named him the 2018 Development Coach of the Year, one of only two top coaching awards they bestow annually.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard initially selected Troy as the 2018 Alpine Domestic Coach of the Year, one of 14 silver-level coaching awards for various disciplines, including snowboarding, cross country, and ski jumping. From that group of 14 winners, only one is picked to receive the gold-level, cross-discipline honor of Development Coach of the Year.

Neither Troy nor Rowmark Director Todd Brickson knew Intermountain Division (IMD) Director Carma Burnett had nominated Troy for the initial award. Appropriately enough, Troy learned he'd won that title while he was at Canada's Whistler Cup overseeing the Western Region's U14 team—a team that existed thanks in part to his vision. With his award, Troy joins a list of past winners whom he considers legends within the sport. "It's a little humbling to be on there," he said.

Not everyone's as modest: Rowmark Director Todd Brickson said Troy was "so deserving" of the recognition. Troy loves what he does, cares deeply, and is intelligent and well-organized, Todd said. "Not only is he directing our junior program and driving really sound athlete development within Rowmark," Todd said, "but Troy is reaching out beyond our program to make our division better. It therefore makes our program better. And now he's also creating regional projects and philosophies that make the whole West better." That big-picture scope is rare, Todd said, and ultimately benefits skiing at the national level too.

U.S. Ski and Snowboard summarized Troy's efforts in a news release: "He established the division's development committee nine years ago and has served as committee chair since its inception, playing a key role in managing development projects, running the Tri-Divisional Championships," and fielding the regional team for the Whistler Cup. And in her nomination letter, Carma wrote that "Troy IS Development in the IMD Alpine Division." Read her letter here.

"I hope I have been able to convey how passionate and amazing Troy Price is when it comes to developing athletes," Carma concluded her letter. "He pays as much attention to the 'elite' athletes as he does to the 'last pick.' IMD is fortunate to have his energy and input."

Rowmark and Rowland Hall alumna Sofia Yubero '17 has known Troy since she was seven years old, and as a seventh grader started at Rowmark Junior under his direction. Some of the IMD events she and her peers got to compete in wouldn't have existed without Troy, she explained. And of course, he goes above and beyond in his leadership roles: "Even if he's running the race, he's cycling the chairlift and bringing food and drinks to all the other volunteers," she said. "He's extremely organized and knows how to achieve his agenda. No one works harder for what they want than Troy, and he's a true role model."

Troy Price and his Rowmark Junior crew.
Immediately above: Troy Price (far left, bottom) with his Rowmark Junior crew in March.
Top of page: Troy Price, right, with U.S. Ski and Snowboard Chairman Dexter Paine during the Chairman's Awards Dinner in Park City May 3.


At Rowmark, Troy focuses on the athlete as a whole, from ski racing to good sportsmanship to academics. One career highlight, for instance, came when rising sophomore Tommy Hoffman, as a seventh grader, won the region's first U14 event—an event Troy had proposed. "To have a Rowmark kid win it, that was awesome," he said. But what was so memorable about the event was how Tommy took the initiative to shake the hands of the other top-10 finishers before stepping onto his podium. "He showed respect to his competitors," Troy said. "That sportsmanship was a true reflection of our program."

Troy's positive, inclusive coaching style and inimitable work ethic has absolutely benefitted Rowmark, Todd said. "When Troy first took the job, our junior program wasn't really a feeder program," the director said. "We would gain zero to one or two kids moving into our junior program for the academy and had to recruit most of our skiers from all over the country and internationally." But as a result of Troy's work, the junior program has become a primary feeder for the academy, and skiers coming from the junior program are well-prepared to meet the demands of the Rowmark/Rowland Hall lifestyle.

Troy doesn't mince words: he's put in long days to achieve his myriad goals. It helps that he's eerily organized—he holds an accounting degree from Weber State University and worked in that field before leaving to pursue his coaching passion. Though he switched careers, accounting strategies stuck with him: "There are a few coaches out there who nicknamed me Mr. Spreadsheet," Troy joked. But even the spreadsheets hold deeper meaning for Troy. Once he's formed a relationship with a Rowmarker or any IMD skier, he keeps an eye on their careers. "It's exciting when I'm creating a ranking sheet and I see an athlete succeed or make a championship event, and I know I may have had a small impact in that."

And it's just that: at the root of it all, Troy is an amazing coach who knows how to motivate his skiers. "During each of the last three years in a row, Troy's U14 athletes have qualified for the U16 Nationals," Carma wrote in her letter. "More so they continue to have success as they advance their ski-racing journey."

Sofia can vouch for Troy's impactfulness. She took a postgraduate year and is currently recovering from injuries, but hopes to ski for Middlebury College, where she'll be a freshman in the fall. "I definitely wouldn't be the person or athlete I am today if it weren't for Troy," she said. "He's been in my life for so long, and we've spent so much time together that he's essentially like a second father to me. But besides our close, personal connection, as a coach, he taught me about the value of work ethic and the importance of goal setting. There's nothing like grueling workouts in the summer and fall heat, but somehow Troy always made us excited to work towards our in-season goals that were months away."

And through his coaching style and his talent, Troy simply inspires a love for the sport, Sofia said. She still remembers sprinting against him during physical testing when she was younger: "Following him on a powder day around Snowbasin is one of the best things because he knows the mountain so well," she said. "Plus, he's an insane skier. I loved skiing behind him and trying to mimic his every move." Troy cultivated a fun atmosphere, Sofia explained, because he knows the competition aspect of the sport eventually comes to an end. Rather, he focuses on the promise that "if our love of skiing is strong enough, we—his athletes—will continue to ski for the rest of our lives."

Rowmark

 

Charismatic Katie Hensien Transitions to National Team, Keeps Adding to Career Highlights

Katie Hensien started her Rowmark Ski Academy career strong with a U16 slalom national championship in Sugarloaf, Maine, back in 2015. Rowmark Director Todd Brickson still remembers the middle of Katie's second run, when she suddenly and precariously skied on one foot as the other flew into the air.

"She didn't fall, but picture one ski on the ground and one ski near her head," Todd said, crediting Katie's flexibility. "It all happens in one moment and then she regains her balance and keeps going."

Katie, now a senior, laughed knowingly at Todd's memory. "I did that in Davos, too," she said, referencing her fourth-place slalom finish January 31 at the World Junior Championships in Switzerland.

Katie's incredible recovery to win that U16 title epitomizes her style, Todd said. "She goes all out, she attacks, but she's also a smart skier," he explained. Rowmarkers and their families know all too well that ski racing isn't a judged sport—it's simply about clocking the fastest time. "It doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to be pretty, and Katie gets that," Todd said.

Katie modestly paints her past year in ski racing as one of ups and downs. But her career has generally followed an upward trajectory, and she's performed in increasingly competitive races:

  • She had a spectacular 2016-2017 season with her first NorAm top 10, plus four International Ski Federation victories in slalom and giant slalom.
  • In May, the U.S. Ski Team named Katie an alpine C-Team member—the youngest American to qualify.
  • This winter, she earned her first two World Cup slalom starts, one of which also entailed her first European competition.
  • In Davos, her first World Juniors, she finished as the top American and fourth overall, a mere 0.71 seconds shy of a podium spot.

U.S. Ski & Snowboard Alpine Development Director Chip Knight told Ski Racing Media Katie had a great day in Davos and skied well in a heavily stacked event. "She more than held her own," he said, adding she finished third in her second run, and in both runs she was very fast on the bottom of the course.

Katie's World Juniors outcome is even more impressive given an unprecedented blow in her personal life: less than two weeks beforehand, she learned her grandfather, Gil Hensien, had passed away. The 18-year-old had never before lost a family member. "It was hard to deal with that and keep moving forward," she said. "He was kind of an idol of mine." Gil had always supported her racing—even if he didn't entirely understand it—but never got a chance to see her in action. So in Davos, she penned "♥ G. Hensien" on a piece of tape and stuck it on her helmet, front and center. With that dedication, he joined her in spirit on the slope. "Now that he got to watch me, I'm happy," she said.

 

This one was for you grandpa! 💙G.Hensien 1/20/18

A post shared by {KT HENSIEN} (@katiehensien) on

The positive Davos result initially left Katie "speechless," she said with a smile. But beneath the surface, the new career highlight stoked her motivation. "When I can put two solid runs together, nothing is impossible," she reasoned, "just more hard work."

Her determination and ability to learn from past races paid off February 16 in Whiteface, New York. She landed second in the slalom and secured her first NorAm podium, achieving a primary goal for the season.

"It feels great as we head into NorAm finals to recognize that I have the speed needed to challenge for the top of the podium," she wrote on her blog.

She certainly has the speed, and she also has the support. Katie's devoted parents moved their family to Park City from Seattle so she could attend Rowmark. She looked at a few other ski academies, but one chat with Todd and she was hooked.

"I knew right away that was what I wanted," Katie said of meeting Todd and hearing about Rowmark in person. "He's really confident in his athletes and he's determined to make them as successful as possible in school and skiing."

So her folks made it happen, and now they love Utah just as much as their daughter does. The Hensiens, naturally, are known for their optimism. "Katie's parents are the two most positive people I think I've ever met, and she has that same personality trait," Todd said. "It just helps her in so many ways."

 

❄️Thankful For These Two❄️📷: @skitechdad

A post shared by {KT HENSIEN} (@katiehensien) on

Katie said her down-to-earth mom sparked her love of athletics and always told her she could play any sport she wanted, as long as she enjoyed it. Accordingly, Katie still makes time for mountain biking and hiking with her new German Shepherd, Jess. Her passion for skiing, appropriately enough, started with a family trip to Whistler, British Columbia. As reported in the Park Record, the Hensiens put three-year-old Katie in ski school for the day: "When they dropped her off, she cried because she didn't want to ski," reporter Ben Ramsey wrote. "But by the end of the day, she cried because she didn't want to leave."

As a senior set to graduate in June, Katie will soon leave Rowland Hall—but not without happy memories and lifelong friends, many of whom are Rowmarkers. Though she applied to college, Katie is keeping her options open for next year. Dreams of competing in the Olympics occupy the back of her mind, but she's taking a zen approach to it all. "I'll keep striving for it," she said. "But wherever my path takes me, I'm just going to go with it."

Rowmark

After her Wrongful Arrest, Alex Wubbels '94 Spurs Movement to Protect Nurses, Patients

The Rowmarker and two-time Olympian on how Rowland Hall shaped her, and how she's turned a traumatizing and widely covered incident into a rallying cry for her community

In February of her Rowmark Ski Academy postgraduate year—which skiers often use as a stepping stone to national or college teams—Alex Shaffer '94 competed in exactly zero races. She took a month off in the middle of racing season.

"People thought I was crazy," Alex said. Some peers and national coaches saw her hiatus as a big mistake. But a race-free month was hardly the death knell of the 19-year-old's career.

The respite (from competing, not practicing) was part of a post-knee-injury plan hatched by Alex and Rowmark Co-Founder Olle Larsson. "It gave my body and my mind a chance to find that fire again," Alex said. Come spring, a string of successful races qualified her to the U.S. Ski Team. By her 2004 retirement from the sport, she'd earned two national championships and competed in two Olympics, cementing her legacy as one of our notable Rowmark alumni.

1995 Rowmark Edge featuring Alex Shaffer

The September 1995 Rowmark Edge announcing Alex's spot on the U.S. Ski Team.

 

Rowmarkers like Alex thrived because they were independent thinkers, Olle said, and weren't deterred by occasionally unconventional training plans. "It's difficult with a young teenager to sit down in the fall, and lay out a whole program for the winter, and stick to it," he said. "Alex had that ability because she could see there could be higher gratification in the end."

Alex Shaffer—now Alex Wubbels—honed that kind of mental fortitude at Rowmark. In true Rowland Hall tradition, her sixth-grade biographers documented that evolution in 1994: "Alex is a person who has grown more self-reliant, independent, and has increased her self-esteem over the past four years," wrote then-sixth-graders Kaebah Orme '99 and Myndi McCloskey. "The person who has most influenced her life would probably be her coach, Olle Larsson, who taught her about life, rules, and learning. He taught her to understand herself and depend more on herself."

Olle's lessons stuck. Now a critical care nurse, Alex proved her enduring conviction on the University of Utah Hospital floor.

On July 26 last year, during a mind-boggling incident recorded on a body camera, Salt Lake City Police Department Detective Jeff Payne wrongfully arrested Alex when she refused to allow him to take a blood sample from an unconscious patient who'd been in an automobile accident. Per hospital policy—which Alex calmly relayed multiple times—Payne needed a warrant or patient consent, or the patient needed to be under arrest. Payne lacked any prerequisites. Alex adhered to the policy and refused to yield.

After a half-hour of bullying by the detective, she could have given in. Maybe it wasn't worth it.

But for Alex—who sees it as a privilege to help patients and keep them safe when they're unable to do so themselves—the issue transcended worth.

You can't just come in and take something that isn't yours. If there's anything more proprietary and more personal than your blood, I don't know what it is.—Alex Wubbels, Class of 1994

"You can't just come in and take something that isn't yours," she said. "If there's anything more proprietary and more personal than your blood, I don't know what it is."

So she did her job and protected her patient, even though it entailed being grabbed, dragged from the ER floor while yelling for help, handcuffed, and put in the back of a police car.

"My heart was pounding," Alex said. "I was scared to death." She's still coping with post-traumatic stress from the arrest, but even in the chaos of it all, she knew she was doing the right thing.

"In moments of duress, our guts tell us a lot about right and wrong," she said. "I learned to trust my gut that day, I think, more than I probably have in a while."

Alex's story went viral in September, after she and her lawyer released bodycam footage from the arrest. The video sparked international outrage over the aggressive arrest and mistreatment of a nurse doing her job.

"Alex Wubbels did everything correct," Utah Nurses Association (UNA) President Aimee McLean told the American Nurses Association (ANA). "She stepped away from her patient's unit, she deescalated, she followed hospital policy and procedure. This never should have happened." ANA called Alex "a hero to her patient, to her hospital and to nurses across the country."

During the wave of media attention, Alex told reporters she hoped her actions were enough to invoke change. They certainly were.

Alex reached a $500,000 settlement from the city and university—she donated some money to the UNA, and set up a fund to help others obtain police bodycam footage. Relevant hospital and police policies were updated. Payne was fired and his watch commander was demoted, though news media have reported they're both appealing. The Utah House and Senate have passed a bill that aims to prevent this from happening again, and now it awaits the governor's signature.

The Rowmark Effect

Alex's Rowmark years with Olle primed her to go against the grain when needed. "Talk about the principles of standing up against bullies—that's pretty much what he taught us from the very beginning," Alex said of Olle. The duo has maintained their friendship. "He is one of those people that I am just so grateful to have in my life."

When he heard about the arrest, Larsson wasn't surprised that Alex stood her ground that day. He cited her independence, thick skin, and broad life experience as an elite athlete competing internationally. "She could be calm-minded skiing at 70 miles per hour," he said.

Like so many skiing prodigies, Alex started young. She and her brother, Pete Shaffer '96, also a Rowmarker, grew up on a ranch in Aspen, Colorado. "We didn't have babysitters," she said. "You either skied till the mountain closed and got the bus home, or you skied till your parents got off work and you caught a ride with them. So you just skied—that's just what you did."

Alex joined her local ski club one year younger than normally allowed, climbed in the rankings as a middle schooler, and attracted the attention of recruiters, including Larsson. She committed to Rowmark due to the selling point of a Rowland Hall education—her parents knew skiing wouldn't sustain her forever, and they wanted her to attend a challenging school.

So Alex and Pete moved to Salt Lake City and lived with host families while their parents stayed in Aspen. During Alex's senior year, the Shaffer siblings happily landed with Middle School math teacher Nancy Robinson, now a popular tutor. After Alex's second of two knee injuries, Nancy remembers the skier's dogged determination to heal. The teacher, who's now like a sister to Alex, even begrudgingly joined the senior for some early morning physical therapy—a 6 am aqua-jogging class at the Steiner Aquatic Center. "We spent a lot of time running back and forth in the pool," Nancy laughed.

"Alex's big goal was to go to the Olympics, and despite her various setbacks and challenges, she made it," Nancy said, adding Alex acknowledged her challenges and found a way through them. "Whatever she's going to do, she's going to do it as well as she can."

Learning How to Learn

Rowland Hall delivered on the challenging education Alex's parents sought for her—it was, in fact, probably more challenging than Alex would've liked at the time. "I remember being so focused on skiing, literally nothing else mattered," she joked.

More than anything, the curiosity that I have for medicine and for nursing came directly out of Rowland Hall. If you're curious about something, learning is easy. I got that from Rowland Hall in a way that I could have never imagined.—Alex Wubbels

But in retrospect, she's grateful that Rowland Hall helped her hone her learning skills. Her junior year, for example, she'd just had knee surgery and needed to write an essay for Carol Kranes' English class. She perfunctorily completed it in her hospital bed, and in a suggestion that seemed novel to Alex, Ms. Kranes later encouraged the Rowmarker to resculpt the essay into something better, and turn it in for a new grade. "I was like, 'huh,'" Alex said quizzically, imitating her teenage self. Through interactions like that one, Alex said, Rowland Hall dispelled her misconceptions about school. It was about learning how to learn, staying curious, and gaining a deeper understanding of subjects, not rote memorization or completing an assignment for the sake of completion.

"I was a blob when I showed up. I was actually a figure of someone when I left," the alumna said. Her teachers and coaches, she explained, helped to shape her into an effective citizen, and a good person who strives to be the best version of herself.

This set her up for success in her nursing career—a job that shes says keeps her on her toes, and in a state of perpetual learning. She even spends 20 hours every two weeks as an educator in the burn unit. "More than anything, the curiosity that I have for medicine and for nursing came directly out of Rowland Hall," she said. "If you're curious about something, learning is easy. I got that from Rowland Hall in a way that I could have never imagined."

"Nurses are closing their ranks around Alex Wubbels"

Alex's desire to understand and educate steered her actions after the arrest: "This happened, it should never have happened, and it will never happen again," she said. "In that light, what can I do to inform people."

Friend Nancy Robinson confirmed that after the incident, Alex felt a responsibility to raise awareness and help nurses and others who perhaps had similar experiences but didn't receive media coverage. "She's very conscious that this is not just her experience, she just happens to be in the limelight because there is video footage," Nancy said.

Indeed, the incident was isolated, Alex said, only in the sense that it was filmed. "Without the bodycam my story would've gone nowhere," she said. "It made it really easy for anyone to watch that footage and feel like it was them, or someone that they loved."

According to the ANA, one in four nurses has been assaulted at work. In addition to new legislation here in Utah, Alex's arrest sparked an ANA-led movement to #EndNurseAbuse, including a pledge with 13,000 signatures and counting. On a personal level, the response to the incident reinforced her commitment to nursing. In the same blog post where the UNA president defended Alex's actions, the national organization doubled down in a heartening way. "Nurses are closing their ranks around Alex Wubbels," the post reads. "ANA has your back." She received an outpouring of supportive letters and emails from nurses across the world. "We're not just here for people that need help—we're here for each other," Alex said. "I couldn't have done what I did if I wasn't a nurse."

One of the most important things Alex learned as a ski racer was how to recover. You can set the goal of a perfect run, she explained, but it's not realistic. "If you're always aiming for perfection, the little bumps are going to throw you off so much so that you won't ever recover," she said. "I realized that it wasn't about the perfect run. It was about who can recover the fastest from the mistakes." As in ski racing, so in life: "There are bumps and bruises, and that's to be expected," she said. "It's how you recover and how you pick yourself back up and move forward that determines what happens." Through no fault of her own, Alex hit a major bump. But she's moved forward admirably by fighting for what's right and defending herself, and her community.

Alumni

Extraordinary Athletes: How Rowmark Ski Academy Develops Future Olympians

Rowmark Ski Academy has never been for the faint of heart. The physical and mental demands of ski racing, coupled with the academic pressures of attending a college-preparatory school like Rowland Hall, push young athletes to their limits. The payoff is worth it, though—Rowmark alumni benefit from their intense schedule and training far into the future, whether or not they continue skiing in college. They excel at time management, are more resilient than many of their college peers, and embrace a growth mindset in all endeavors, not just those related to athletics.

Of course for some alumni, Rowmark is just the beginning of their competitive skiing careers. In the 35 years since its founding, 16 Rowmark alumni have been named to the U.S. Ski Team, including current Rowland Hall senior Katie Hensien. Others have represented their home countries on national teams for Japan, Canada, and Spain. Kristi (Terzian) Cumming '85, Alex (Shaffer) Wubbels '94, Keely Kelleher '03, and postgraduate* Alice McKennis '08 all have national championships under their belts, and alumni continue to collect international podium finishes almost every year. But perhaps what's most impressive to both the casual and die-hard ski-racing fans is the number of Olympic qualifiers and winners that Rowmark has developed:

  • Hilary Lindh '87 and Picabo Street both won silver medals in women's downhill skiing, in 1992 and 1994, respectively. (Picabo attended Rowland Hall and Rowmark her freshman year, 1985-1986, and is considered an honorary alumna by the school.)
  • Picabo Street also won a gold medal in 1998 in the women's super-G.
  • Alex Wubbels skied for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1998 and 2002 games.
  • Postgraduate* Erik Fisher '04 represented the U.S. in the 2010 Winter Olympics.
  • Ovidio Garcia '86 skied for Spain in two Winter Olympics, as Gota Miura '88 did for Japan.
  • Chirine Njeim '03 competed for Lebanon in skiing at three Winter Olympics and in the women's marathon in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Levi Leipheimer '92 represented the U.S. in cycling at two Summer Olympics, winning a bronze in the men's individual time trial in 2008.

Rowmark also boasts two graduates in the 2018 Games in PyeongChang: Alice McKennis—who also skied in the 2010 Olympics—and Breezy Johnson '13, pictured together below.

Head Women's Coach Jim Tschabrun believes a combination of periodized training and the development of self-coaching techniques helps our athletes succeed at the highest level. Since our high-school skiers are accountable for the academic requirements of Rowland Hall—which are far above those of most other ski academies—they can't train quite as much. As a result, their training must be more efficient, which teaches them to focus completely on the task at hand, and ultimately keeps our athletes fresher.

Along with honing their focus on the slopes, they learn how to advocate for themselves and how to communicate their needs to their coaches. "We really work to help athletes grow into their own best coaches," Mr. Tschabrun said. For the skiers that go on to join the national team and compete internationally, those self-management practices are essential. "The World Cup circuit and the Olympics are filled with stressors, time demands and distractions," he said. "Breezy, Alice, and others learned how to manage and thrive with a higher level of stress than their peers, and I believe that capacity continues to serve all of the Rowmarkers now."

The international success of Rowmark athletes is not really a surprise to co-founder and former director Olle Larsson. He described many of his former students as "contrarian thinkers," meaning they did not simply follow what others were doing but learned to listen to their own voices—much like becoming their own coaches. Mr. Larsson also believes that the athletes who learned the value of delayed gratification were more likely to achieve their personal and professional goals.

And it doesn't hurt that Rowmark Ski Academy is located at the base of the Wasatch Mountains, providing young skiers with some of the best training ground in the country. "Salt Lake City is really the ultimate location for a program like this," Mr. Larsson said.

Indeed, Salt Lake City's ideal positioning for winter sports is what helped secure the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, and what many local leaders hope will make the city a strong candidate to host again. Alumna Alex Wubbels, for one, said she'll never forget how surreal it was to walk in the opening ceremonies here. "You're representing not just yourself but your country, and everyone that makes us who we are as a nation," she said. "It's an amazing gift to be given." Alex earned that gift twice. In her first Olympics, Nagano's 1998 Games, she didn't necessarily have to live up to any performance expectations. Still, competing in the Games drove her to do her best, and she placed an impressive ninth in the women's combined. "I went in thinking, 'I'm going to show my art to the world,'" she said. "There's just something that elevates everybody at the Olympics—spectators and athletes alike."

As Breezy Johnson prepared to compete in South Korea this month, she didn't hesitate to look back and credit Rowmark with helping her get to the Olympics. "The resourcefulness, time management, and ability to think outside the box helped me continue to grow after my time at Rowmark, and enabled me to develop the many different aspects—besides skiing fast— required of a professional athlete," she said. "I am forever thankful."

Top banner image, from left: Hilary Lindh '87 gets silver in the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, and two-time Olympian Alex (Shaffer) Wubbels '94 skis in Park City in 1995.


*Rowmark Ski Academy postgraduates, as defined by Director Todd Brickson: A ski academy postgraduate (or PG) year is typically for a high school graduate who's close to making a national or college team, or earning a scholarship position on a college team. They take another year or two to more narrowly focus on ski training, racing, and conditioning, all without the pressure of school. Some PGs may take a college-level class or get a job or internship during their PG years. The two PGs mentioned in this article aren't Rowland Hall alumni, but they are Rowmark alumni—meaning they trained with Rowmark for at least a year.

rowmark

Hilary Lindh gets silver in 1992 Olympics; Alex Shaffer in 1995

Breezy Johnson's Unparalleled Work Ethic Takes Her All the Way to PyeongChang

Updated February 20: Rowmark alumnae Breezy Johnson '13 and Alice McKennis '08 placed 14th and 16th, respectively, in the Olympic women's super-G February 16. Breezy finished as the second U.S. skier, just 1.03 seconds out from the winner, while Alice barely trailed at 1.09 seconds out. It only got better from there: in the women's downhill February 20, Alice placed 5th at 1.02 seconds out from the winner, and Breezy 7th at 1.12 seconds out. Along with bronze medalist Lindsey Vonn, they're part of an impressive downhill trifecta: never before has the U.S. had three skiers in the top 10 of this event, NBC analyst Dan Hicks said during the live broadcast.


Jim Tschabrun, the head women's coach for Rowmark Ski Academy, has no shortage of praise for alumna Breezy Johnson '13. He recalled the exceptional work ethic and focus she brought to every task, whether it was conditioning, reviewing video, or inspecting equipment. "I often 'caught her' doing something extra," he said. "She outworked everyone, not only at Rowmark but at any elite club or academy." Breezy's talent and dedication yielded impressive results as a teenager—she medaled in three U18 National Championships—and now she's competing at the highest level: this month, Breezy will represent the United States at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, along with fellow Rowmark alum Alice McKennis '08.

Breezy's ascent in ski racing stems from the work ethic Coach Tschabrun identified, along with a "willingness to dissect her own attributes to determine strengths and weaknesses," which made her unique among athletes he's coached. While at Rowmark, Breezy took it upon herself to supplement her ski training with gymnastics classes and soccer drills that targeted specific skills she wanted to improve. Both Coach Tschabrun and Rowmark Academy Director Todd Brickson commented on her resilience and psychological fortitude as well. In particular, they recounted how years ago, after a horrific crash off a jump at the top of the Super-G course at Mammoth Mountain, Breezy came back the next day to race the same course and win her age group. "She's truly remarkable," Mr. Brickson said. "I have a feeling this [Olympics] is just the tip of the iceberg."

As much as she impressed her coaches, Breezy called her time at Rowmark the hardest thing she ever did. She credited the academy and Rowland Hall with helping her develop resourcefulness and critical-thinking skills and said that she's continued to grow as a professional athlete because of how she trained in high school. Breezy has affection and gratitude for her former coaches. "They provided humor and comfort on the tough days, a smiling face on the good days, and the harsh truth when necessary, too."

Breezy is among the youngest members of the U.S. Olympic Alpine Ski Team, and with a recent fourth-place finish in the Garmisch World Cup Downhill, a podium finish at her first Olympics is not out of reach. Regardless of what happens in the downhill races—tune in 7 pm (MST) Tuesday, February 20, to find out—Breezy understands the significance of being an Olympian. She offered the following advice to aspiring athletes: "Remember that to valiantly try at something so difficult is more than most people will ever attempt, and that true attempt to risk failing at something you love so much is triumph in itself."

Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy couldn't ask for a better ambassador.

Photo by Jonathan Selkowitz, courtesy of Darigold

Rowmark

Celebrating the Sesquicentennial

Generations of Community Members Unite to Lionize Rowland Hall's 150th Year

Spontaneously breaking out into a 1955 school song on the old Avenues Campus. Overhearing Rowmark Ski Academy co-founder Olle Larsson's distinctive guffaw and listening to one of his epic yarns. Dancing the night away on the McCarthey Campus, first in a flashmob, and later on stage with the headlining band. A record-breaking 1,200 community members attended Rowland Hall's Sesquicentennial Kickoff Weekend September 8-9 to celebrate—and make—school history through a series of unforgettable, hilarious, and heartwarming moments spread over six events.

The weekend opened with a victorious Girls Varsity Soccer game followed by the Alumni All-Class Reunion Friday night. Over 200 alums came from near and far—as far as Rome, in one case—to attend the reunion. Classmates seamlessly rekindled old friendships like it was only yesterday they raced down slopes for Rowmark, led peers down the chapel aisle as crucifers, or squeezed together for mom's photo of their matching Rowland Hall-St. Mark's uniform sweatshirts.

↓ Alumni All-Class Reunion guests (from left) Tasha Woolley '08 and Sarah Snedaker '08 don vintage-style RHSM sweatshirts reincarnated for the sesquicentennial.

 

Loving the vintage sweatshirts at the alumni reunion! #rh150 #rhsm

A post shared by Rowland Hall (@rowlandhall150) on

"The old friendships are just ones that we step into so naturally after we haven't seen each other for a while" Sally Adams Prinster '60 said of her close-knit graduating class. "There's something reassuring about that, and something that's timeless."

Saturday morning at the old Avenues Campus, Sally's classmates—including sesquicentennial co-chair Nancy Borgenicht '60—formed an impromptu chorus to sing "Fair and True," a school song written in 1955 by the class of '56 for Rowland Hall's 75th anniversary. Later on, the '60 squad processed up and down the chapel aisle behind Sally, the former school crucifer, to reenact daily morning chapel services.

 

↓ Video: From left, Mimi MacKinnon Kingsbury '60, sesquicentennial co-chair Nancy Borgenicht '60, Penny Ray Vernet '61, and Peggy Rosen Feder '61 sing "Fair and True."

 

Lifer Rudi Riet '91 had a similarly memorable bonding experience with fellow skiers from the classes of '90, '91, and '92 at the Rowmark barbecue Saturday afternoon. "We've somehow survived all these years and still are able to talk and laugh as if we hadn't skipped a day," he said. "We're older and have a lot more perspective than we had before, which is a good thing, but we're friends for life."

 

↓ Rudi Riet '91 (back row, center) with fellow Rowmarkers.

 

 

Rowmark classes of '90, '91 & '92 indahouse. #Rowmark35 #RH150

A post shared by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

 

Olle was in fine form over the weekend, according to Rudi. "He hasn't changed a bit," Rudi said. "He still is able to tell a rambling yarn that has so many 'one more things' that it puts Steve Jobs to shame."

↓ From left, Rowmarkers Kitty Northrup Friedman '91, Katie Poinier '91, co-founder Olle Larsson, and Rudi Riet '91.

 

 

Kitty, Katie, and the guru Olle. @rowmark_ski_academy #Rowmark35 #RH150 #everydayisagift

A post shared by Rudi Riet (@therandomduck) on

Accordingly, a highlight for many guests involved connecting with old coaches and teachers.

Sesquicentennial Planning Committee member Erica Keil—mom of fifth-grader Owen and ninth-grader Maddie—praised the inclusivity of the flagship celebration Saturday night. She loved seeing faculty mingle with students from all different generations, she said, citing the wave of former Winged Lions who approached French Teacher Doug Wortham.

"It's a small community here, but you don't always see these people all the time. So it was really great to reconnect, talk to teachers and parents, and see all the kids—the little kids—really enjoy it," Erica said. She relished a casual conversation over tacos with Maddie's fourth-grade teacher, Erika McCarthy. They chatted "not even about school—just, 'How are you?' and summer, and grandkids...it was really nice."

Rudi caught up with Bob Liget—his physical education teacher in Lower School and American history teacher in Upper School—and even the mother of one of his fellow skiers. Kristy Northrup McCoy, mom of Kitty Northrup Friedman '91, cheered at races alongside Rudi's parents. "With Rowmark, the parents were kind of like the little backbone that nobody spoke about but everybody recognized," Rudi said. Seeing Kristy prompted a "big old bear hug" and surfaced lots of good memories, he recalled.

Sally enjoyed facetime with the three daughters—Patricia "Patsy" Pearson Johnston '51, Ann Pearson Hutton '53, and Frances "Fannie" Pearson Crosier '56—of Henrietta "Aunt Henri" Pearson '25, who ran the boarding school. "She was my second mother. I loved her, and her three daughters were wonderful," said Sally, one of about 30 boarders at that time. "That was really fun for me."

Pre-2003 alumni who hadn't yet caught a glimpse of the completed McCarthey Campus savored the chance to explore Rowland Hall's new home. "From an aesthetic standpoint, that McCarthey and Steiner Campus land is a gem," Rudi said. "The view looking west over the city and that sunset on Saturday night—it was like, ok, this works."

 

↓ McCarthey Campus sunset, by Sesquicentennial Planning Committee member Molly Jones '07.

 

 

The best view in town during the @rowlandhall150 celebration! @metromusicclub KILLED IT as always 🎶 #rowlandhall #rh150

A post shared by molly jones (@mollyjoneshomes) on

Sally agreed: "I was just so impressed" with the campus architecture and landscaping, she said. And she heralded the beauty of the Wasatch Range, even when she and her husband drove from equally remarkable Grand Junction, Colorado. The alumna grew up in a ranching family in that neighboring state, where she initially went to a one-room school. Thanks to some careful family budgeting, Sally made the move to Salt Lake and attended our school for six years. "To be able to go to Rowland Hall and have the friendships that I had and the education that I had was a gift from my family," she said.

 

↓ Sally Adams Prinster '60, center, stands in her old boarding room during the Avenues Campus tour.

 

Sally Adams Prinster

Sally added she was so pleased to see how Rowland Hall had evolved over the years. "It contributes so much to the community and provides such a wonderful education," she said. "I'm sorry that my children and grandchildren haven't lived there to be able to go school at Rowland Hall."

If her kids had been Utahns, she said, they'd be there in a heartbeat. "I'd be like Nancy," she joked about her classmate, the sesquicentennial co-chair whose kids and grandkids are Winged Lions. "They'd all have to go there, no question, because of what it gave to me."

Rudi said the weekend showed Rowland Hall has a bright future, informed by its past. "You see so many multi-generational Rowland Hall families now," he said. "That, to me, is quite telling."

If Maddie and Owen Keil land in Salt Lake as adults, mom Erica hopes they'd one day send their kids to Rowland Hall. But if life brings the Keil kids elsewhere, Erica hopes they return to their alma mater. "It obviously means a lot—to a lot of different people and a lot of different generations," she said. "And I hope that as my kids go forward, it'll always hold a place in their hearts. I know it will. But I'll look forward to hearing them say, 'I'm going to my 20th reunion.'"

 

Upcoming Sesquicentennial Events

 

  • December 8 at 7 pm: Candle and Carol at St. Mark's Cathedral. Read more here.
  • May 4: 150th Day of School. For the 150 Challenge, we invite our entire community to do, practice, or create something 150 times to symbolize each year of the school's history. If we get 150 submissions by the 150th day of school, daredevil Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus will climb the McCarthey Campus flagpole.
  • May 19: Sesquicentennial Jubilee on the McCarthey Campus. A gala for everyone! Details will be shared at rowlandhall.org/150.

Sesquicentennial

 

Six Years After Near-Fatal Rowmark Car Accident, Tenacious Hank Shipman '13 Sets Sights on Med School

Alumnus Attributes Recovery to Rowland Hall Community, Rowmark Work Ethic

Train daily for a month. Focus on even the smallest details to shave milliseconds off your time. Travel across the country to a race. Crash right out of the gate. Your weekend's over.

It's a seemingly discouraging chain of events for ski racers. But it primed Hank Shipman '13 for perseverance after a near-fatal Rowmark Ski Academy car accident April 9, 2011.

"In Rowmark, there's so much emphasis on conditioning, and nutrition, and time management, and setting goals and accomplishing them," Hank, now a college graduate, rattled off Rowmark tenets. Ski racing taught him to recognize his limitations, objectively evaluate his progress, and not dwell on short-term outcomes. He got used to the sport's ups and downs, and to spending every day training and striving for improvement. And those qualities have continued to serve him ever since he stopped racing, the 22-year-old keynote speaker told the audience at Rowmark's fall barbecue last month (pictured).

Hank Shipman giving speech

Toward the end of the ski season in 2011, coach Scotty Veenis was driving Hank and five other Rowmarkers—Jake Graves, Zach Merrill, Andrew Rutledge, Hunter Stuercke, and Zach Young—north on Oregon's Highway 35, back to their hotel after a race at Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort. A southbound driver in a Jeep Wrangler illegally crossed a double-yellow line to pass a semi-truck. The Jeep struck Rowmark's Chevy Suburban head on—in a potentially life-saving reaction, Scotty swerved, and the front-left corner of the Suburban took the brunt of the impact.

Hank had been sitting behind the driver's seat. The then-sophomore slept through the accident, but awoke right after. Hank and Scotty endured the most severe injuries of the group. They both suffered significant head trauma. Scotty also had a ruptured lung; a shattered ankle; a broken femur, hip, and ribs; and more.

Hank's primary injuries included a compound femur fracture, a broken scapula, and a broken neck resulting in a spinal cord injury. The five other passengers sustained concussions. Everyone experienced some level of traumatic stress.

In the foggy aftermath, while stuck in the Suburban, Hank said he remembered moving his lips to try to tell his teammates he was alive, but he couldn't pull air into his lungs. Those with minor injuries sprung into action—Zach Young grabbed a fire extinguisher from the semi-truck to quell flames on the Suburban. First responders started showing up; they used Jaws of Life to remove car doors, and they life-flighted Hank and Scotty to Portland hospitals.

In the helicopter, Hank started to realize the extent of his injuries. He recalled asking a nurse if he'd be able to race again that season. He heard her request a tourniquet for his compound open femur, and he knew he wouldn't.

Hank, a Rowland Hall lifer, had joined the fledgling Rowmark Junior Program as a second grader in 2002, the same year Rowmark Director Todd Brickson started. Todd watched Hank grow up: he was always a fun, hardworking, good kid, and an incredible multisport athlete, Todd said.

Then, the accident. "We were reeling," Todd said with a nod and a sigh. "That was kind of burned in our memory forever."

The support was everything. When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges.—Hank Shipman, Class of 2013

The Rowmark and Rowland Hall community rallied. Hank stayed in the Portland hospital for 10 days, then came to Primary Children's Hospital (PCH) here in Salt Lake City. Along with Hank's family, a constant stream of classmates, coaches, teachers, and even skiing stars such as Ted Ligety and former Rowmarker Andy Phillips visited him in the hospital. "The support was everything," Hank said at the Rowmark barbecue. "When you have an entire community pulling for you and lifting you up, it makes it a lot easier to overcome challenges."

After the accident, doctors put a metal rod in Hank's femur and 50 staples in his head. He underwent two spinal-fusion surgeries; the second one, though successful, had complications that left Hank temporarily using a feeding tube. He received cognitive and speech therapy, including revisiting second-grade math.

According to Todd, no one argued with Hank when he said he'd leave the hospital on his feet. "But not a lot of people believed him, either," Todd said. Hank's mom, Julie Shipman, recognized her son's unwavering determination to heal. "He seemed to just know that he would," she recounted in a video. "The walker replaced the wheelchair, and crutches replaced the walker." And when doctors released Hank after about three months in the hospital, he walked out on his own two legs, with help from just one crutch.

At the fall barbecue, Hank told the Rowmark community that his racing mentality kept him dissatisfied—but not angry—during his recovery. "In ski racing, you work for a long time paying attention to tons of details, and you're often deprived of any immediate gratification," he said. So in rehab, he focused on those minor details, and the athlete's trifecta of exercise, nutrition, and sleep. "The progress of my recovery was slow and agonizing, but it was easy to track," Hank said. "From one day to the next, I didn't necessarily feel like anything was happening, but if I reflected on where I was two weeks or a month prior, it was easy to tell that I was regaining significant strength and movement."

Hank's rehab—including three years at Sandy's Neuroworx, a renowned physical therapy clinic that focuses on neurological rehabilitation—sparked a new passion. Before the accident, he said, he was narrowly focused on ski racing, and had no other plans for the future. Afterward, he shifted his goals from sports to medicine. As a junior, he volunteered in PCH's Neuroscience Trauma Unit rehab room, where he worked with patients and talked to them and their parents about his own recovery.

Since high school, Hank has also intermittently volunteered at Neuroworx, where he makes special connections with patients—he knows exactly what they're going through. In April, he earned a bachelor's in movement science from the University of Michigan, then applied to 25 medical schools across the country. He's keeping his options open, but is interested in pursuing rehab-based medicine and wants a job with significant patient interaction.

Todd called the accident a watershed experience for Hank. The skier learned about his own injuries and how to move again, and he befriended kids and adults facing similar—and sometimes more serious—conditions. "He all of a sudden latched onto this," Todd said. "That's kind of where the blessing in disguise is. Being able to learn about what he had to do to come back, and what others were going through, it just became a passion of his, and kind of a calling."

Scotty also made a full recovery and now coaches the US Men's World Cup Ski Team. "You'd hope when anybody goes through that sort of life-changing, traumatic experience, that they'd handle it the way that Hank did and the way that Scotty did," Todd said. "I don't think they could have done a better job of turning a negative into a positive." Hank played varsity baseball and golf before graduating, and even returned to recreational skiing. In spring 2013, Rowmark started giving out the Hank Shipman and Scotty Veenis Perseverance Award in the duo's honor. Hank also won the 2013 Spirit of Sport award from the Utah High School Activities Association.

Now, Hank's daily life is barely inhibited. He has incomplete quadriplegia and Brown-Séquard syndrome—he lost strength on the left side of his body, and lost feeling in the right side. But in true Hank style, he pursues new ways to continue his physical therapy. Since July, classmate and fellow med-school applicant Saeed Shihab '13 has been helping Hank learn to rock climb—an activity the former Rowmarker said bolsters his grip strength and range of motion in his shoulder.

I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall.—Hank Shipman

On the precipice of hearing back from med schools, Hank still extols his college-prep education. "I'm one of the students that constantly brags about Rowland Hall," he said. The writing, study, and communication skills he acquired here gave him a leg up at Michigan, he added. And he praised the expertise and helpfulness of Rowland Hall teachers—and not just from an academic standpoint. He still remembers his first day back at school in fall 2011, after the accident. He shuffled in on crutches, and the late Peter Hayes grabbed his backpack, helped him up the stairs, and cheered him on. Today, the Rowland Hall community can't help but continue to cheer for Hank, who'll be anxiously checking his email until at least one of his 25 med school applications proves successful.


Update August 15, 2018: Hank is starting at the University of Utah's School of Medicine this fall—read the news story. Congratulations, Hank!

Rowmark

Alumni

At the Intersection of Homelessness, Healthcare, and Humanity

Rowland Hall alumnus Jeff Norris lives his purpose treating and advocating for underserved populations as the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego When Jeff Norris ’03 applied to medical school, the admissions office at the University of Utah called him in for a rare second interview. He had submitted a personal statement focused on the connection between medicine, public health, and social justice, and that intersectional approach raised some eyebrows.
 
Admissions officers asked Jeff if he was sure he wanted to go to medical school, and not study public health or social work. But he assured them: he knew he wanted to be a clinician who worked with, and advocated for, underserved populations.

Jeff credits Rowland Hall with launching his career trajectory. In high school, under the mentorship of then-faculty member Liz Paige, he volunteered with Amnesty International and prepared and served food at local youth groups. The positive experience of serving others and making an impact—and relevant content in history and psychology courses—got the wheels turning in Jeff’s brain: “I started reflecting on my role in the world and how I could try to do something to make a difference for others. What is my purpose for being here?”

Jeff's self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success.

The service and activism Jeff began at Rowland Hall carried through his years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as a med student at the University of Utah, and as a Family Medicine resident at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His self-described “deliberate and diligent” approach to his career—melding his interests in science and social justice, being motivated by a desire to give back to the world—has been nothing short of a success: in 2016, Jeff became the medical director of Father Joe’s Villages, an award-winning nonprofit that provides integrated services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego.
 
Jeff’s day-to-day work requires a breadth of skill, knowledge, and tenacity: he estimates he spends about 40 percent of his time treating patients and the other 60 percent engaged in clinic administration, fundraising, and advocacy—including ensuring that state and federal legislation supports nonprofits like his. He serves on a number of boards, including a large network of clinics with over 100,000 patients in the San Diego area. For Jeff, it’s about more than staying connected and representing the interests of Father Joe’s Villages. “It is being present in the community to advocate for the needs of not just those experiencing homelessness, but underserved populations more broadly.”


At the clinic he leads—which serves walk-ins along with residents of Father Joe’s Villages and people receiving assistance from other local agencies—Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health. “The challenges our patients face are pretty unique, compared to most patient populations,” he said. “Their lives are very chaotic, and they have a lot going on medically, psychiatrically, behaviorally, socially…in all senses.” A significant portion of his time is spent managing programs to deliver medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)—drugs such as buprenorphine (suboxone) or naltrexone—and for alcohol abuse. 

At the clinic he leads, Jeff focuses on decreasing the barriers his patients face in getting adequate care, and staying on the cutting edge of what they need in order to improve their health.

Among the most recent and cutting-edge programs Jeff and his team at Father Joe’s Villages are running is the Street Health Program, which launched this spring and is already impacting lives for the better. As the name suggests, the initiative involves going out into the streets and providing healthcare directly to people experiencing homelessness. So far, they’ve reached a number of people who’ve avoided or been underserved by traditional healthcare. One example: a man who had been using heroin for 30 years and had never before been interested in treatment. Pending a grant, the street health team hopes to treat patients with OUD at the first point of contact. In the meantime, they wrote a prescription for this particular patient because, as Jeff said, “it was the right thing to do.”
 
One of the long-term goals of the Street Health Program is to develop rapport with individuals so that they will visit the clinic for treatment. Additionally, the launch has created quite a buzz throughout San Diego, so Jeff hopes other clinics and treatment centers will consider similar programs (which do already exist in other large metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco). “It can’t just be us,” he said. “There are enough folks experiencing homelessness that we certainly cannot meet the need unilaterally.”
 
Jeff is rightly proud of his advocacy work and the impact his clinic makes on a daily basis, and he speaks passionately of the need for everyone to recognize the homelessness crisis—not just in San Diego, but also in Salt Lake City and urban areas throughout the country. While rising housing costs and relatively stagnant wages are the two primary drivers of the problem, Jeff doesn’t discount the power of the individual to make a difference, whether through volunteering, donating goods, or elevating the dialogue to fight the stigma against those experiencing homelessness.
 
When he’s not working, Jeff stays active outdoors, taking advantage of all that San Diego’s famously temperate climate has to offer. He also prioritizes time with his family: two-year-old daughter Alex keeps Jeff and wife Sonia Ponce—a practicing cardiologist—quite busy.
 
Rowland Hall’s Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund is not at all surprised that Jeff is making a difference in the lives of others. He recalled how, as a high school student, Jeff was always highly engaged and motivated to serve, often being the last to leave a volunteer event. “Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion,” Ryan said. “It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare.”
Jeff always treated those he served with dignity and compassion. It is wonderful to see him intently living his purpose, in the intersection of bettering human relationships as a way to improve healthcare. —Ryan Hoglund, director of ethical education

Just as Jeff credited Rowland Hall for sparking his interest in a life of service to others, Mr. Hoglund credits Jeff for setting an example of genuine student leadership at the school. And, to the student leaders today, Jeff sends these words of encouragement: “Figure out what gives you energy and makes you feel like you're contributing to the world in some positive way, then grab that bull by the horns and don’t let go of it. That’s where you're going to be able to make a difference, to be satisfied with who you are and what you're doing in this world.”

 

All photos courtesy of Father Joe's Villages.

 

Alumni

Three people pose outside with an Emmy.

Charismatic Rowland Hall lifer and Emmy winner Jared Ruga ’06 is apparently just as comfortable in the spotlight as he is behind the camera. On May 29, he flexed his storytelling prowess and delivered a speech chock-full of good advice for almost-grads at our annual Alumni Senior Breakfast, a school tradition since 1924.

Jared told his story in three acts: he waxed nostalgic about his time here; dissected his college life as a triple-major at the University of San Diego (USD); and recounted how he won an Emmy for Quiet Heroes, a documentary examining the Utah AIDS epidemic and the one doctor and her team that stepped up to treat thousands of critically ill, socially stigmatized patients.

The 30-year-old alumnus wove seven key insights into his talk.

Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time.

“Hate your work but show it anyway”

By the time Jared reached the Upper School, he knew he wanted to make movies, and he did. For the Distinction program—a now-defunct optional thesis project that, if successfully completed, resulted in graduation honors—he masterminded a feature-length teen thriller. But Jared procrastinated on his work, worrying his Distinction committee members. “I ended up not finishing the film until the night before the premiere,” he said. “And then I watched, beat for beat, in that crowded theater, and caught literal typos on screen, and saw that some of my non-actors’ performances weren’t made any better projected 20 feet high.”

Jared wryly confessed to seniors that the thriller, Sanctuary Disrupted, is not his best work. “But at that point in time, it was,” he added. “Talented people usually hate their work. You have to finish it and show it to others anyway. Because standing behind imperfect work gives you the confidence to try it another time with something else. And if you go through that process enough times, eventually you might land on something enough people like.”

As hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.

“Connect deeply with others even when it’s temporary”

Jared and high school best friend Isabel Carpenter ’06 “weren’t the emotional types,” he said, but that changed with their pre-college goodbye that ended in a sob-filled hug. They still talk, only about once a year, but that’s OK: our lives are often transient, Jared posited, and roles such as friend, mentor, partner, etc., may be filled by different people at different times. “It doesn’t cheapen what you had with them in the moments your lives intersected,” he told seniors. “And it shouldn’t dissuade you from connecting deeply with the next round of candidates…Because as hard as it is for people you care about deeply to fall out of your life, the alternative—connecting only superficially—is so much worse.”

“Stick with your grit even when it’s hard”

Jared started college with a freshman roommate who wouldn’t talk to him, and mostly boring classes—“Rowland Hall had prepared me so well that I didn’t feel academically challenged until my junior year,” he said. But he trusted that circumstances would improve, and soon hit his stride academically, socially, and extracurricularly—through running the student TV station, participating in student government, and more. Jared earned his share of perfect grades at USD, but said the one he’s most proud of is a C+ in calculus, a required course that he kept dropping. In his last semester, he failed the midterm—but then poured his energy into acing the final. He passed the class and graduated magna cum laude from the honors program. “I didn’t transfer away from USD after a rocky start, and I didn’t drop calculus because I was hellbent on graduating as planned,” he said. “It wasn’t easy, but it went my way in the end because I committed to making it happen.”

“Accept the wisdom of life seasons” and “Recharge your souls”

Jared is now openly gay, but didn’t come out until early adulthood. By the time he started law school at 24, he still hadn’t been in a relationship. “While I was so precociously successful by so many other metrics, what I thought was the deepest, most human experience we can have had eluded me,” he said. So he dove into dating, even to the detriment of his usually high grades. “You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once,” Jared said. “Life has seasons for a reason.” Make time for the things that feed your soul, he advised. Pursuits such as relationships, hobbies, and volunteering are “just as important as the traditional metrics of success like degrees, accolades, money,” Jared said. “Success only actually feels good when you can celebrate it with others, and when it serves a greater purpose.”

The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.

On winning the Emmy: “Prefer life management over life planning” and “Pick a path and just do the work until it, with luck, catches fire”

Jared first heard the story of Dr. Kristen Ries and physician's assistant Maggie Snyder—the main subjects of Quiet Heroes, pictured with Jared, top—from one of his law professors. “I was deeply touched by what Kristen and Maggie had done, and embarrassed that as a politically active 26-year-old gay man who was born and raised Salt Lake City, I had never heard their story,” Jared said. “The scourge of the AIDS crisis in the ’80s and ’90s is a crucial part of Queer history that we in younger generations must understand and appreciate.”

So Jared’s professor connected him with the two women, and the emotionally draining—but highly rewarding—project began soon after. “Quiet Heroes was a difficult film to make,” Jared admitted. “For nearly a year of the film’s production lifecycle, I wanted to just throw in the towel and focus on something else that wouldn’t cause me so much heartburn.” Driven in part by Salt Lake City’s supportive LGBTQ community, Jared and his team charged forward and ultimately earned a spot at the Sundance Film Festival, then secured distribution deals. A subsequent TV showing qualified Quiet Heroes for a Daytime Emmy, and the documentary won in its category—even edging out an Oprah’s Book Club special. The filmmaking journey wasn’t easy, but it was character building, and it helped Jared get over his “analysis paralysis”: “Sometimes you have to just roll up your sleeves and start doing the work, without any expectation of its success,” he said. “Trusting your instincts will probably nudge you in the right direction.”

Jared closed by telling seniors that no one does anything worth doing without help, and he thanked everyone who aided him along the way. “I continue to be motivated and touched by your faith in me,” he said, “It’s the fuel inside that burns brighter every day.” Echoing his early advice, he encouraged students to be bold. “You’ll fail, probably publicly. You’ll love people who don’t love you back. You’ll say mean things you wish you hadn’t. And you’ll take for granted some of the most important ingredients to your health and success. But know that even though you won’t be perfect, you’re well positioned to make these choices. You have a solid foundation of skills and deep community support behind you.”

Alumni

portrait of two moms outside school

Inclusion isn’t just a priority in our classrooms and on our playgrounds—it’s also a goal for all three 2019–2020 Home and School leaders, who want to make every family feel welcome.

Dawn Farrell will lead the Lincoln Street Campus Home and School Association, while Kari Corroon and alumna Jenna (Gelegotis) Pagoaga ’98 will serve as co-presidents for the McCarthey Campus. Jenna has two kids at McCarthey: Oliver is a rising 3PreK student and William is a rising second grader. Kari has twin sons: Reed and Ryker, rising fourth graders. Dawn's son, Kemper, is a rising senior.

Read more about Home and School here and learn about these leaders in the following Q&A.

Questions or Ideas? Email the Incoming Presidents

Dawn Farrell

    Dawn Farrell

Q&A

How long have you lived in the Salt Lake area, and what brought you and your family here?

Dawn: I moved to Utah in 1990 from Indiana. My dad transferred here when I was a sophomore in high school. It was so traumatic for me at the time (at 16 years old, everything is traumatic), but now Utah is my home. For three years, we lived on the Big Island of Hawaii with our two sons, Keaton and Kemper, but we've been back in Utah since 2017.

Jenna: I was born and raised in Salt Lake City. I spent a few years outside of the state after college with my husband, Steve, while he served in the Army, but ultimately we decided to come back home to raise our family. It’s a beautiful place to live; it was too hard to stay away!

Kari: I was born and raised in the Salt Lake area.

What are your personal hobbies and interests?

Dawn: Right now, most of my time is spent getting certified to become a pilates instructor. I love pilates! I also love to cook, play tennis, and take indoor spin classes. I wish I had more time to craft. I especially like to embroider.

Jenna: I enjoy the outdoors, musical theater, University of Utah football games and gymnastic meets, and dinner with friends at local restaurants. And as the parent of young children, of course, I enjoy a good nap.

Kari: If the sun is shining, I’m outside. My favorite thing to do is hike with my dogs, a 10-year-old Pug mix and a nine-month-old Golden Retriever. I love the theater and go to every show that I possibly can. I love being with my family, no matter what we’re doing!

What's your family's favorite activity or destination?

Dawn: I asked everyone in my family their opinions about our favorite activity and everyone said playing board games together. We break out a game every night at dinner. Our favorite games right now are Monopoly Deal and Bananagrams.

Jenna: Put us near the water and we’re happy! We love spending time at the beach in Southern California or exploring the beauty of Red Fish Lake in Idaho. And you can often find us spending school breaks at the happiest place on earth, enjoying the magic of Disneyland.

Kari: Our family loves to travel. We visit my husband’s family several times a year in New York and Florida. We love to discover new places and explore cities together. We also love to camp, ride bikes, and backcountry ski.

Why did you choose Rowland Hall for your kids?

Dawn: When I was in college, I worked at Coffee Garden for a while. I always thought the kids who came in from Rowland Hall were so cool. They were always polite and articulate. I thought it seemed like a great place to go to school.

As a proud 'lifer' and alumna of Rowland Hall, I wanted to give my children the same experience and spectacular education I was privileged to receive.—Parent and Alumna Jenna (Gelegotis) Pagoaga ’98

Jenna: As a proud “lifer” and alumna of Rowland Hall, I wanted to give my children the same experience and spectacular education I was privileged to receive. Though Rowland Hall has evolved through the years, the strong traditions and values still hold true. It has been a heartwarming experience seeing this through my children’s eyes. Watching them learn about different cultures and beliefs in chapel and experience diverse viewpoints in their classrooms is wonderful. And, we all love the tradition of Color Day and have enjoyed starting another generation of holiday plates in our kitchen. What a fantastic school to be a part of then and now!

Kari: I am an early childhood educator, and I discovered Rowland Hall while doing my graduate work at the University of Utah. The school’s educational philosophy aligns perfectly with my own. Rowland Hall is a magical place with the most amazing educators and administrators. I knew there was no better place for my own children to go to school. My twin boys will be starting fourth grade next year. They started in kindergarten and have absolutely loved every year. Rowland Hall has given them a love for learning that will last their entire lives.

What are your goals as the new Home & School presidents?

Dawn: My goal is to offer more support to the students. I would love to brainstorm with student council in the fall to see if Home and School can support them in activities that will help increase the sense of community and inclusion. I would also like to start a life-skills activity day for our senior class. If you’re a skilled professional (or are just good at something!) and are willing to share your talents with our seniors, please contact me.

Jenna: My hope is to continue to foster a strong and inclusive parent community at Rowland Hall. We offer such unique and important programming and it’s my goal, along with Kari’s, to encourage all those interested in participating to do so. We hope to increase awareness of Home and School events and provide a welcoming environment for families to connect, learn, and socialize together. We challenge you to participate in Home and School in whatever capacity you can. You won’t be disappointed.

Kari: Jenna and I are really looking forward to helping out in Home and School next year. Our goal is to make every family, new and old, feel included. We want every parent who has a desire to volunteer to feel welcomed and appreciated. We want to support the incredible teachers and staff in every way that we can. We look forward to a great year!

Add anything else you'd like our community to know about you and your new role.

Dawn: Every family who has a student enrolled at the Lincoln Street Campus is a member of Home and School, yet I don't know the majority of you. Please take a second to introduce yourself! I cannot express enough how much I appreciate your participation in this organization. From your monetary donations to every second you spend volunteering, you’re helping bridge the gap between your home and your child's school. Thank you!

Jenna: We would love to meet you! Stop us in the halls, email us your questions, come to our monthly meetings. We want to get to know you all!

Home & School

Portrait of a Gap Year: Work, Activism, Writing, Self-Care, and Self-Discovery

Editor’s note: Gap years have long been common in Europe, and they’re on the rise in the US. So what happens when a high-achieving Rowland Hall alum takes a break from the classroom? Read on for our 2018 co-valedictorian’s account.

By Allie Zehner ’18

Ever since middle school, I had my life all planned out: graduate from high school, launch straight into college, graduate from college, and immediately enter grad school or a career. Straying from this pin-straight path didn’t seem like an option; however, here I am, writing this piece at the end of my gap year.

At the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging.

Looking back, I don’t remember the exact moment I said, “Hey, mom and dad, I’m taking a year between high school and college.” Because this option did not pop up on my radar until eleventh grade, the only way to describe my decision is as the perfect collision of four distinct circumstances. First: at the end of my junior year, certain projects arose that I was extremely passionate about pursuing. However, I knew that juggling these opportunities with the intensity of school would be extremely challenging. Second: in the fall of my senior year, my family hosted two young women, Priya and Winona, who were in the middle of taking gap years to travel the country, interview people about their intersectional identities, and write a book on racial literacy. Third: I met Abby Falik, the founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, an organization dedicated to making bridge years between high school and university a socially acceptable norm. Fourth: after continuously pushing myself throughout high school and becoming co-valedictorian, I was afraid of burning out. 

So, I committed to Barnard College of Columbia University in New York last spring and asked for a deferral of admission, elucidating my gap year plans. Barnard approved my request, I filled out a one-page form, and just like that, I was taking a gap year. 

And so the year began.

In the summer, I worked part-time jobs and saved some money.

In the fall, I worked with Sonita Alizadeh (pictured top, right, being interviewed by Allie at a Surefire conference), a young activist who uses music as a tool to catalyze social change, particularly looking to end the detrimental traditional practice of child marriage. Through my work with her and a nonprofit, Strongheart Group, I conducted research, interviewed young activists from around the world, and traveled to the United Nations Foundation’s Social Good Summit in New York City. 

In the winter, I started focusing on curating a book about the next generation of young women. Formatted as a collection of essays, I will write about half of the chapters and other teen girls will write the rest. From omnipresent social media to an extremely divided political climate to gun violence, this book will speak to the most pressing, serious issues my generation is facing on our journey to adulthood. Learning through doing, I taught myself how to write a book proposal, draft a query letter, reach out to agents, and build a website. 

In the spring, I was extremely fortunate to travel to Colombia, where I used my Spanish (gracias, Señor Burnett), attended a women’s conference, and shadowed an incredible nonprofit, Juanfe, that works with teen moms in Cartagena. And, coincidentally, I met another teen who is taking a gap year to live in South American cities, work, become fluent in Spanish, and volunteer. I have also spent the spring loving (pretty much) every second of learning how to write a book. 

The other key aspect of this year is that, having struggled with a chronic illness since the seventh grade, I made time to see doctors and get necessary testing. While I still do not know the root cause of my health issues, I am better equipped to manage my symptoms and look after my own well being: two things I did not prioritize in middle and high school.

And that is my gap year in a nutshell. 

Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

Let me just say that taking this year and venturing from the extremely narrow life path I had envisioned has been one of my best decisions. From around the time I could walk, I was in school five days a week, seven hours a day. For 15 years, being a student was absolutely core to my identity. Spending a year outside the classroom has given me time to nurture other facets of my persona: I am an activist, daughter, employee, sister, and global citizen. 

I will be attending university this fall. Contrary to what is sometimes believed about gap years, I will be going back to school with an immensely stronger sense of self, more direction, and a readiness to return to the classroom. I could not be more ecstatic to finish my book throughout freshman year and continue to grow as a person.

Gap years are not for everyone, but they should be considered a viable alternative to going straight to college. My hope is that society recognizes the immense possibilities bridge years can hold.

alumni

Teacher helping students with a computing activity

Junior Alex Armknecht named Aspirations in Computing Northern Utah Affiliate winner, sophomore Katy Dark and teacher Ben Smith ’89 receive honorable mentions

It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.—Teacher Ben Smith ’89

Computer science teacher and alumnus Ben Smith ’89 has spent the past several years encouraging his students as they apply for—and often place in—the National Center for Women and Information Technology's (NCWIT) Aspirations in Computing awards. For the first time this year, NCWIT recognized the teacher alongside his students.

Ben learned in March that he’d been named a 2019 Northern Utah Affiliate Honorable Mention recipient of the NCWIT Educator Award, which goes to teachers who continually encourage young women’s aspirations in computing.

“I have been active with NCWIT for several years now, and it was good to get recognition for those efforts—it was a bit of a surprise,” Ben said. “It helps me confirm my commitment to equity and inclusion of girls in computer science classes at Rowland Hall.”

Ben was one of three teachers honored by the regional affiliate, junior Alex Armknecht was one of 16 student winners, and sophomore Katy Dark was one of 30 honorable mentions. Student winners are selected annually "based on their aptitude and aspirations in technology and computing; leadership ability; academic history; and plans for post-secondary education," according to Aspirations in Computing (AiC).

Teacher with students at awards ceremony for women in computing.

From left, sophomore Katy Dark, teacher Ben Smith, and junior Alex Armknecht at the regional awards ceremony in March.

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level.

Alex’s 2019 award follows her honorable mention last year. A Middle School coding seminar first sparked Alex’s interest in the subject—from there, she worked with administrators and faculty to create a computing elective, and even recruited other girls to take the class. Last year in Ben’s AP Computer Science Principles class, Alex made a math app to help kids learn division, and fourth graders in teacher Tyler Stack's class picked her project as their favorite. She plans to keep studying computer science.

Katy also plans to pursue computing. In addition to the AiC award, she recently won a national President's Volunteer Service Award for her work tutoring students and developing a coding club at Dual Immersion Academy, a bilingual Spanish-English charter school she attended during her elementary years.

Ben, Alex, and Katy attended a March 16 ceremony in Provo where they met peer students and teachers, accepted their awards, and left with swag bags—a much-anticipated highlight for Ben. “Every year I see my students getting these killer swag bags and I go home empty handed,” the teacher joked before attending the ceremony. “I might just get one of my own this year.”

Since 2014, 11 Rowland Hall students have earned a collective 14 NCWIT awards, including two honorable mentions at the national level. The center and its AiC awards have become big names in the computer science world. Women are underrepresented in that field, but the 2004-founded organization is working hard to move the needle and empower women to pursue and succeed in computing.

Related stories

STEM

dancers on stage

Every arts performance is a collaborative event, and in recent years we’ve had a large contingency of alumni return and contribute their time and talents to our programs. This January’s dance concert, Home: The Monsters We Run From, The Refuge We Seek, featured a film by Oliver Jin ’18 and a piece choreographed by Laja Field ’08. Also assisting: Max Jacquin ’18 worked on the lighting design and Sophia Cutrubus ’18 trained dancers in the Middle School Arts & Ensemble program.

Oliver’s film served as an introduction to the dance concert, framing the themes of migration and departure in scientific terms and providing audience members with a foundation to aid their interpretation of the dancers’ work. “The film is a message that says migration and movement and departure are an integral part of our humanity,” Oliver said. He credited Rowland Hall with showing him how the arts are intertwined. Now in his first year at Sarah Lawrence College studying photography, Oliver frequently attends art installations, dance lectures, and other performances to support and learn from fellow artists.

Laja Field ’08 enjoyed coming back to Rowland Hall and collaborating with the current group of students and artists. She said the school feels like home to her: “The teachers and experiences I had there I hold very close to my heart.”After graduating in 2008, Laja Field earned her bachelor’s degree in modern dance at the University of Utah and went on to dance professionally, eventually founding the physical dance theatre company LAJAMARTIN with her partner, Martin Durov. She said studying dance at Rowland Hall—and the opportunity to complete a distinction in dance—helped her envision a career in the field. Laja was thrilled to return and create a piece on current students, which  was partly inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, The Danger of a Single Story.

“I believe that, if we tell more stories, and we’re able to invite another perspective through dance, there’s an opportunity to see something in a new way,” Laja said. She described her piece as a mish-mash of cultural influences, which asks people to consider their roles in any given community. “Who are we? Are we the ones who open our arms? Are we the ones who listen to new stories and open up our perspectives and take them in? Or are we stuck in our ways?”

Rowland Hall’s arts department chair Sofia Gorder celebrated the desire of our alumni to collaborate with other artists and stay engaged with their alma mater: “The school breeds this idea that we come back and we give back. That’s part of the culture.” See clips from the concert and hear more from Laja and Oliver about what giving back to the arts means to them.
 

Alumni

Linda Hampton with sons

May we all flirt a little more, read a little more, go adventuring a little more, and put in the work to make the day-to-day special.

Linda Hampton, former administrative assistant to the Upper School principal and a beloved Rowland Hall employee since 1989, passed away December 25 following a sudden diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in August. Though our community continues to reel from Linda’s loss, a January 5 Celebration of Life service in St. Margaret’s Chapel on the McCarthey Campus provided some much-needed comfort and laughter—something Linda, the life of the party, would have wanted us all to have. Here are three sets of remarks from Linda’s family and friends, as read at the service. Lightly edited for style.

Jacob Hampton ’04, Linda’s son

When I started thinking of ways to highlight who mom was as a person, one of the first things I thought of was the day she stood us in the hallway and said, “Today is the day you learn that the words 'mom' and 'maid' are not synonymous.” Being direct was a hallmark of her personality.

She was one of the most genuine people I knew. She told me she once volunteered to discuss dress-code issues with one of the Upper School classes and ended up threatening that she’d start showing her underwear if they kept showing theirs. She was fiercely independent and stubborn when she had to be. Years ago she needed some work done on her sprinklers and balked at a local company’s quote. They explained the price was so high because they’d need to bring in a backhoe to dig a hole large enough to work in. She asked for the size of the hole and then proceeded to spend the day digging it by hand, no doubt throwing her back out in the process. Years ago her washing machine broke. She went to a local home-improvement store and asked one of the employees some questions to try to figure out the problem. He said her husband or one of her sons could probably do it for her. I wasn’t there, so I don’t what her response was, but I do know she worked on that machine until it was up and running again (probably more out of spite than anything). 

She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

But she wasn’t all gristle and sarcasm. She had such a strong, goofy, fun side to her, and that’s the side we saw most. She took us to Disneyland when I was 12 and my brother was 16. We went two more times after that, always reveling in the chance to act like three-year-olds together. She loved taking long walks with us and would spend the whole time talking about absolutely anything. She never shied away from serious or tough topics, including the eventuality of her death. We spent countless hours watching the Chiefs disappoint us so, so many times. These were our formative moments for the art of cursing. In the final weeks of her life, I always knew she was feeling pretty good if she cursed a few times during a Chiefs game. She used to love singing and dancing in public because it embarrassed us, and now I find myself carrying on the tradition with my wife as my primary victim.

We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Mom said she wanted today’s memorial to be focused on memories and stories that make us smile or laugh. And I have plenty more I could share. But the most important memory I have of mom isn’t any one specific event or tradition. It was simply the feeling of being home with her. She told us she was so happy we weren’t interested in doing many extracurricular activities growing up because she was selfish and only had 18 years of us in the house. But it wasn’t selfish; it was so good for us to be with her. We were together a lot, and we were lucky to be so unconditionally wanted and loved by someone at all times without fail. She gave us a perfect home.

Before I finish, I need to fulfill a request that my mom desperately wanted me to do for her. She told me to tell everyone who reached out to her during these last few months: Thank you. Thank you for making her feel special and loved. She knew at the end how many people cared for her. And for that I’m so grateful.


Lee Thomsen, former Upper School principal and Linda’s former boss

We all know how much Linda loved books, and writers often articulate better what we mean to say, so I quote from George Saunders’ book Lincoln in the Bardo—a beautiful meditation on sadness and loss. 

“His mind was freshly inclined toward sorrow; toward the fact that the world was full of sorrow, that all were suffering; and therefore, one must do what one could to lighten the load of those with whom one came into contact, because, in this state, he could be of no help to anyone and, given that his position in the world situated him to be either of great help, or great harm, it would not do to stay low, if he could help it.” 

For those of you who worked in the Upper School with me, particularly in the office, you know that I tried to live by the mantra, “If that’s the biggest problem we have today we’ll take it,” but today is not one of those days, because it wasn’t supposed to be this way. Linda, seemingly was always a part of Rowland Hall and always would be. When I arrived 15 years ago, it seemed like she’d been here forever, and when I left three years ago, I assumed she would be here forever.

Let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Those of us who adored Linda are devastated today, but we also know she’d be pissed if we moped around too long. So, in service to Saunders’ words let’s choose to remember those qualities that were so essential to who Linda was—generosity, honesty, hard work, and integrity.

Among those things she loved: The Chiefs, books—especially dark mysteries (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Silence of the Lambs, the darker the better). This because, of course, she had studied criminal justice in college. 

She loved pie; guys with big, burly forearms; a well-cooked French fry; musicals; dance and choir concerts at Rowland Hall; Kansas City barbecue; and of course, DOGS. And sometimes those loves overlapped.

I knew Linda mostly during the Diesel era. I’ll never forget one weekend when the Upper School was running one of the musicals. Because both my girls were in it, Linda knew I would see it at least two if not all three nights. So, Friday morning, she asked me how the show had gone the night before, and she ended asking, “Did Alan go last night by any chance?” to which I answered, “Yes.” She said, “Good! Because I really want to see the show, but I can’t leave Diesel alone from 7 am to 10 at night. I’ll run home and smuggle him into the show. Alan would kill me if he caught me doing that.” Sure enough, come show time, there was Linda in the first row of the balcony of the Larimer Center, with Diesel tucked inside her jacket. But then she left at intermission. When I asked why she said, “Diesel started singing along with the big group number right at the end of the first act, so I couldn’t risk staying.”

Linda was a no-BS person. She disliked meanness and untruth. One day when someone was rude to Angela at the front desk, Linda was ready to go out there and rip that person a new one.  

She HATED when a parent would call and excuse their child from a test or something else when she suspected they weren’t really sick. And forget about anyone saying Doug Wortham’s class was “too hard.” 

The other night Abby reminded me that when she graduated from Rowland Hall, Linda said, “I have a graduation present for you that I want to bring by.” And, of course, what would you think Linda would give a student going off to college? A book, right? But no, the gift was a can of pepper spray, because Linda told her, “The world can be a very hard place.”

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on.

She ADORED our children—she watched with parental pride as kids came, grew into themselves, graduated, and moved on. The Bynum boys, Micha Hori, Jamie Pierce, Sofia Diehl, just to name a few—she had a soft spot for the singers and dancers and admired their talent and grace.

For faculty and staff kids, she was their “school mom.” Frequently taking the afternoon shift for our kids who took the shuttle from the other campus, clamoring into the office to grab a piece of candy. She’d get a special sparkle in her eyes when she got a hug from Hazel, Meg, my two, or the Tschabrun girls. I’m sure she carried on the same for Ingrid and Dave and the next generation.

And she loved all things Rowland Hall. Yes, she would occasionally complain that too many of us would gather in the office and talk and laugh making it impossible for her to talk on the phone or get any work done, but she kept that candy dish filled knowing that we’d keep coming back, and she kept real half-and-half in the faculty-room fridge so we didn’t have to use that powdered gunk.

And…she loved her boys. Zach and Jake—she was so proud of everything you two accomplished, and she loved her travels with you. The generosity you gave by spending her last days at home with her was a reflection of her generosity to others that she instilled in you. When I visited with her, the only time she cried was at the thought of leaving you behind. All of us appreciate how you kept us connected to her through Caring Bridge these last several months and how you took care of your mom.

Finally, to close, back to George Saunders who reminds us to keep the happy memories in our hearts.

“What I mean to say is, we had been considerable. Had been loved. Our departures caused pain. Those who had loved us sat upon their beds, heads in hand... We had been loved, I say, and remembering us, even many years later, people would smile, briefly gladdened at the memory.”


Director of Ethical of Education Ryan Hoglund and Upper School psychology teacher Diane Guido

We’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Linda for 20 and 25 years. We want to first express gratitude to this community for taking care of its own through this difficult and poignant process. Thank you to Jeremy, Ann and operations, Linda’s family—Jacob, Emily, and Zach—and all of you in this community who have rallied to provide support, labor, and financial assistance, all to preserve Linda’s memory, dignity, comfort, and final peace. Tough love was Linda’s spirit and you have honored her well. 

Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

In addition to being Salt Lake’s most notorious zucchini square dealer, Linda was a mentor and friend we could all count on. Her Lutheran tradition believes salvation comes through grace, but we all in this space know she would achieve peace through works as well. Linda was always easy to love, would talk your damn ear off, and was as generous as one could be.

The blessing of our friendship, as it was with many of you here, was the magic in the mundane, day-to-day routines with Linda. Schools are labor-intensive places and behind the scenes are cycles, a hamster wheel of yearly to-do lists, tasks, checklists, and grind. Linda humanized the process. Annual events such as back to school and graduation would have happened without Linda, but she always gave them her touch—she knew those days were important to students and families. She made the mundane special. In fact, she insisted on it.

For example, while cleaning out student folders one summer, she came across sets of pre-digital school portraits that showed kids growing up year to year. Instead of seeing it as the detritus of student record-keeping, Linda insisted we mail them to each family. So we spent two days in the summer mailing these photos back to each family. As a parent now, I understand how powerful that gesture was.

Linda was the personification of tough love. Manners, hard work, and refinement were the bars she set for teens and adults alike. 

No dog or baby that came into the community made it past Linda’s caring heart. This is evident by the cross-stitch birth announcements hanging in many of our children’s rooms, and the coloring wall outside her cubicle. 

When my daughter Meg was born, Linda was a sweet hand—just as enthusiastic as I was with Meg’s arrival—and offered sound advice to a nervous and joyous parent. Mostly ways to make sure she feared for her life.

While Linda loved the Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Rowland Hall alums Zach and Jacob. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic.

While Linda loved the Kansas City Chiefs and dachshunds, those loves pale in comparison to the love she has for her two sons, Zach and Jacob, who graduated from Rowland Hall. Their travels to Ireland, Disneyland, and Disney World—and their road trips through the Black Hills and the Badlands—were epic. Linda always spoke about that drive through Spearfish Canyon as one of her favorite memories with you two boys. How beautiful that canyon was. She said it was her idea of heaven.

When you all went to the Star Trek convention (in, I think, Las Vegas), Linda was shocked you spent three days there without leaving the convention center. “A real testament to their upbringing,” she joked. I didn’t have the heart to explain to Linda the decadence that is cosplay culture. Your secrets are safe there.

When Zach got certified to do SCUBA, Linda wanted to as well. She joined me and students at the crater in Heber once, and talked about one day returning to dive with Zach. Linda loved the water. 

When we honored Linda for 30 years of service to the school this past fall, I asked Jacob what it was like to have his mother on campus. He said: “For a lot of teenagers entering a new school, having their mother in the main office would be some combination of embarrassing and terrifying. For me it was a blessing, as it gave me the chance to spend more time with the person most responsible for making me who I am. I'm extremely proud of what she's done.”

Zach mentioned: “I remember the sailing interim trip where I was the only guy on a boat full of women, including my mom! It wasn't bad though. I had a great time. I too am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with mom at Rowland Hall and even fondly recall going into the office during the summers to hang out or help with the bookstore.”

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults.

As much as Linda could be a fun-slayer for teenagers, she was a fun-starter for adults. At her and Diane’s 50th birthday party, I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of a great picture of their anatomically correct birthday cake. Diane is petrified in the picture, and Linda looks like she’s in it to win it. Linda was naughty, and never missed the opportunity to point out a double-entendre that would make all of us blush.

Linda spoke fondly of her childhood in Missouri—from what a role model her father had been growing up (Linda inherited her love of home improvement and her fix-it attitude from him), to her antic-filled tales of college, where she studied criminal justice. She had a voracious appetite for true-crime fiction. She and Diane would game the holiday book-exchange to pick each other and each secure a stack of the-gorier-the-better books. 

Diane and I were blessed to see her awe in Sorrento, Italy—the way she giggled through seeing the David, her silence as we walked Pompeii (well, except for the low-level swooning over our hot male Italian tour guide).

My favorite ritual we shared was the occasional beer on the porch with she and Diane on a lazy summer day or impromptu afternoon, joking, debating, or just catching up. We could sit for hours with the conversation easy...and one-sided mostly. Near the end of her life, Diane and I sat one afternoon with Linda. Linda was no-nonsense that she was going to die and was as sweetly resolved and brave as you would expect her to be. 

Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once.

We mere mortals joked that Linda was superwoman. We even had her wear a cape when we honored her for 30 years of service to the school. But Linda was a superhero, and I’m glad I got to see her save the day more than once. 

What makes death so difficult are dreams and plans unfulfilled. In Linda’s honor I hope all of us flirt a little more, read for pleasure more often, share a drink with friends on the porch, take the time and put in the work to make the day-to-day special, and take a selfish adventure—a crazy adventure—that you have been putting off for responsible reasons.
 

People

Married couple smiling at each other.

This video wins for originality! The couples were hilarious and very comfortable on film.—InspirEd School Marketers Judge

As our community gathered to celebrate our sesquicentennial last year, we were amazed to see how many Rowland Hall friendships have carried on through the years. So in the spirit of Valentine's Day 2018, we had heart-to-hearts with alumni couples whose relationships have grown into lifelong love stories.

In December, we learned this project—produced by alumni brothers Christopher and Alex Lee of TWIG Media Lab—captured first place in the holiday video category of the InspirEd School Marketers 2018 Brilliance Awards. Congrats to the project team: TWIG, Director of Marketing and Communications Stephanie Orfanakis, Director of Events Mary Anne Wetzel ’01, Director of Alumni Relations Hilary Amoss ’96, and our charismatic alumni couples—the camera loves you and so do we.

Sample Judges' Comments on Our Winning Entry

"Solid gold winner! What a great idea for a video!"

"This video wins for originality! Loved that RH chose a non-traditional holiday (Valentine’s as opposed to Christmas or New Year’s), the couples were hilarious and very comfortable on film. As a school that has quite a few couples as current parents and faculty, I may have to 'borrow' this for 2019."

"What a fun way to showcase an endearing part of a school's history! I'll admit that I groaned when I saw that the video was six minutes long, but I watched to the very end because the stories of each couple were engaging and they revealed a lighter, more personal side of the school."

"So original—I smiled all the way through it! High production values with great editing. Very well done!"

"A really funny, refreshing piece to celebrate alumni romances through 150 years of Rowland Hall."

Alumni

InspirEd School Marketers 2018 Brilliance Award Winner badge

They are problem-solving and working through tension and conflict together, and making a mess, and being too loud—and it’s just the best ever.—From our story Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman Reflects With Gratitude on First Year