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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.

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.

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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

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
 

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

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

College Counseling Ambassadors

By Coral Azarian, associate director of College Counseling, Student Council advisor, and a 2017 graduate of the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute (gcLI) Leadership Lab

Republished from gcLi with permission; this version lightly edited.

In the late ’90s, John Christensen visited the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. He watched fishmongers toss massive fresh catches to one another while effortlessly interacting with throngs of tourists, and realized that despite the smiles, jokes, and radiating positivity, throwing heavy fish for an audience all day was tedious work.

Yet the experience for everyone was always happy, because regardless of variables—from bad weather to long work shifts—the fishmongers were always happy. They were always positive; they were always present; they actively sought ways to make their audience’s experience memorable; and they always had fun.

Leadership is complex, but at its core, it should be something we enjoy. Successful leaders are consistent and have fun, and we should instill that in our students. People who embrace that philosophy are more impactful and sustainable leaders than those motivated by expectation alone.

For the last four years, I’ve worked as Rowland Hall’s associate director of College Counseling. In the fall, our office is dedicated to supporting the needs and nurturing the anxieties of over 70 seniors, and we often find ourselves at a loss as to how to serve everyone to the fullest degree.

The last straw was when one admissions representative visited our school without meeting a single one of our students. He represented a college that my colleague and I knew would be a great fit for a number of our seniors, but because it wasn’t in the 25 perennial favorite “reach” schools of students and their parents, no one signed up. The representative was instead left to meet with my colleague and me. This experience, along with the daily stress of meeting the needs of students and visitors, inspired our College Counseling Ambassadors program.

The tenets—choosing your attitude, being present, finding small ways to make someone else’s day, and infusing fun into your work—serve as the perfect platform for a student-leadership program.

So what does a new student-leadership program have to do with fishmongers? Well, with my unwritten but foremost job responsibility being relationship building, I live my own version of the fishmonger’s story every day. The FISH! philosophy, the leadership theory that Christensen developed as a result of his Pike Place observations, is now used by organizations the world over. It’s a natural match for Rowland Hall. The tenets—choosing your attitude, being present, finding small ways to make someone else’s day, and infusing fun into your work—serve as the perfect platform for a student-leadership program.

Our ambassador team began with a group of second-semester sophomores who completed applications and interviews and participated in two months of training. Each ambassador developed a campus tour highlighting their unique Rowland Hall experience, then conducted mock tours with their peers and provided constructive feedback to ensure everyone would lead successful visits. Starting in the fall, they turned that training into concrete leadership as they adapted to last-minute schedule changes, guided peers on what to expect while talking with college reps, and synthesized and relayed institutional highlights in weekly emails to entice seniors to attend college meetings.

As the semester progressed, their confidence grew, and I witnessed—while they experienced—the FISH! philosophy in action:

Choose Your Attitude

We all have days when things don’t seem to be going right. For our ambassadors, this might  mean they overslept or have anxiety over a test. But when it’s time to don that nametag and welcome college reps to campus, ambassadors choose to have a positive attitude. They ensure guests leave knowing more about Rowland Hall, and that their time here was valued. This is a major goal of the program and a key component in developing students’ abilities to be positive leaders.

For our ambassadors, being there doesn’t just mean showing up on time. It means staying engaged throughout a rep’s visit, asking questions during their presentation, and cultivating curiosity about the opportunities an institution provides.

Be There

Our students exist in a culture that is constantly propelling them forward, providing little reward for being present and getting out from behind a screen. For our ambassadors, being there doesn’t just mean showing up on time. It means staying engaged throughout a rep’s visit, asking questions during their presentation, and cultivating curiosity about the opportunities an institution provides, even if they don’t think it would be a great fit for them personally. Being there also manifests in an ambassador’s ability to think on their feet and adjust to schedule changes. Focusing on the present helps them adapt to unplanned or less-than-ideal situations.

Make Their Day

Emotional intelligence is an important component of leadership development. For our ambassadors, this takes shape when they find small ways to make reps special. Ambassadors ensure that reps have the opportunity to set their bags down or get a drink of water before their tour. They also send reps handwritten thank-you cards. Helping our ambassadors develop the emotional intelligence to read and respond to situations empowers them to make others feel valued.

Play

Ambassadors may not be be enthusiastic about every college they’re assigned, and they may not always be jazzed about drafting yet another email on what they learned about a university. But we can still have fun. Celebrating successes—whether by hosting our end-of-semester breakfast or by sharing compliments paid to ambassadors via post-visit surveys—is an important practice that our lead ambassadors (a new component of the program this year) are now adopting. Taking a step back to find joy in your work is an important facet of leadership.

So as I kick off my 27th school year (as a student and counselor) with a new crop of ambassadors and our first crew of lead ambassadors, I’m energized by the enthusiasm of my students diving in headfirst. Our lead ambassadors are learning how to mentor our new folks, and in each interaction, I see them actively choosing positivity, finding ways to make each other’s day, and exploring new opportunities to infuse play into every aspect of the program.

Coral graduated from the gcLi Leadership Lab in 2017. The lab, by presenting a foundation in developmental psychology and brain science, helps educators develop the ability to identify, utilize, and create teachable moments to transform individuals, classrooms, sports teams, and whole schools.
 

College Counseling

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

 

Fine Print survey graphic

Over the past six months, our editorial staff has been rethinking the design and content strategy for our school magazine, Fine Print. Thank you to the many parents, alumni, faculty, staff, board members, and friends who completed our readership survey last fall. Your feedback helped us refine the layout of our new magazine website, which is now closely integrated with the school’s main website. 

We’ve streamlined the home page of Fine Print so you can easily locate the most recently published stories. You can also find editor’s picks, skim a feed of news-media coverage relating to Rowland Hall, and explore stories by both subject and format. We’ve changed our story categories as well, so you can now find content grouped accordingly: 

  • Features: In-depth stories shining the spotlight on Rowland Hall's programs, events, traditions, people, and more.
  • In Brief: Short updates and breaking news on all things Rowland Hall.
  • People: Interview-based stories on alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the school. These are the people that make Rowland Hall extraordinary.
  • Programs: Life and learning around campus.
  • Student Voices: First-person stories from students on their Rowland Hall experiences.
  • Letters from the Head: Alan Sparrow’s letters to the community.

We’ve streamlined the home page of Fine Print so you can easily locate the most recently published stories, find editor’s picks, skim a feed of news-media coverage relating to Rowland Hall, and explore stories by both subject and format.These updated categories highlight the subjects you’ve expressed the most interest in—faculty and staff profiles, curriculum, ethical education, and student work—while organizing content by form and length, too. We want our readers to be able to engage with compelling content across the site, whether they have five minutes to catch up on news or two hours to read all about our athletics and arts programs.

Finally, we recognize that school emails are the preferred delivery method for most of our community, so while you’ll regularly find fresh Fine Print content on social media and the website, we will continue to push issues of the magazine via an emailed newsletter twice a year.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Fine Print! As always, we welcome feedback and story ideas

News

Academics

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: The 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

 

Interactive Graphic: Freshmen and Sophomores Tell Their 150-Word Origin Stories

On a desktop, hover over a portrait to read the corresponding story. On a mobile device, tap to read, or view on ThingLink for best results.

Freshmen and sophomores contributed to the story of Rowland Hall's 150th anniversary in an especially personal way—by sharing their own 150-word origin stories, ranging from the literal to the metaphorical, the stirring to the stoic, and the lighthearted to the solemn.

Each of us makes up part of our school community, the English assignment reads, and our stories are what make the school a community.

"Having students write about themselves, their values, and their experiences helps them feel more part of a community, more invested in their learning, and more resilient in the face of big challenges," explained tenth-grade English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor, also a co-chair of the Inclusion and Equity Committee. "When we invite our students' stories into the classroom, we give them more permission to bring their full selves to class."

And from a technical point of view, the assignment helped students practice for their eventual college-application essays: they had to view language economically—writing concisely without sacrificing detail—and seek creative ways to reshape their prose to meet the word count, Dr. Taylor said.

After Dr. Taylor pitched the assignment to poet and ninth-grade English teacher Joel Long, Mr. Long contributed questions from writers he'd worked with. Together, the teachers honed the description to elicit the kind of vivid detail they sought from their young writers.

Dr. Taylor loved the results. "I learned a lot about how my students view themselves, their place in their family, their words and their silence, and their various passions," she said. "I feel like I know them better now."


150-Word Origin Stories Assignment

Our school is 150 years old this year. Each of us makes up part of our school community, and our stories are what make the school a community. This assignment asks you to tell a short story of your origin to help celebrate our school's sesquicentennial anniversary.

Assignment: Write an origin story for yourself. It must be exactly 150 words long and should be in a consistent tense. With this limited space, you will need to think of something to describe that is emblematic of that origin. Use concrete detail to create impressionistic images of your life, family, culture, and experience. Imagine yourself creating a microcosm of the story you want to tell about your origin.

Some questions to get you started (choose one or two, you won't be able to answer all of them in 150 words).

Questions from Melanie Rae Thon inspired in part by Anna Deavere Smith:

  1. What were the circumstances of your birth? (Even if you don't "remember," you may know many things about this time!)
  2. Are you different from other people in some way: clumsy or agile, sensitive to sound or light, susceptible to anxiety or depression, often sick, unusually strong?
  3. Have you been labeled by parents or teachers or siblings or doctors?
  4. Does the label help you rise to your most inspiring vision of yourself, or trap you in someone else's assessment?
  5. Have you ever been surprised by your own strength or courage, or dismayed by your own failure to act with conviction?

Questions of Bhanu Kapil:

  1. Who are you and whom do you love?
  2. Where did you come from / how did you arrive?
  3. How will you begin?
  4. How will you live now?
  5. What is the shape of your body?
  6. Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother?
  7. What do you remember about the earth?
  8. What are the consequences of silence?
  9. Describe a morning you woke without fear.

student voices

150 mosaic of freshmen and sophomores

Arts

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

 

Rowland Hall student-musicians.

Our Upper School student-musicians continue to excel under the direction of orchestra teacher Sarah Yoon and choir teacher and interfaith chaplain Jeremy Innis. Out of our students' eight entries at the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) State Solo and Ensemble South Festival held Saturday, April 28, they received six superior and two excellent ratings—the top two ratings on a five-point scale.

Singers Sophia Hodson (soprano) and Cora Lopez (alto), both juniors, received superior ratings on their solos, and freshman Katie Moore (alto) earned excellent.

Rowland Hall's Schubert "Trout" quintet (junior Austin Topham, freshman Zach Benton, senior Alex Benton, junior Claire Sanderson, and junior Jake Bleil) and our Dvorak "American" quartet (Austin, Zach, Alex, and sophomore Ziteng Zeng) both received superior ratings. Ziteng (violin) and Claire (piano) also received superior on their solo pieces, and Jake (bass) received excellent.

Read the complete UHSAA festival results including songs performed, and read about their music ratings system here.

Music

Embodying the Past to Understand the Present

Rowland Hall Dancers Honor Marginalized Voices in (R)evolution

Arts Department Chair and Director of Dance Sofia Gorder readily admits that history classes didn't appeal to her much in high school. "It was mostly a white-centric narrative about wars," she recalled. It wasn't until she got to graduate school and started studying the history of movement that she developed a powerful connection to past generations. "In the history of movement," Ms. Gorder said, "when people didn't have a voice, they'd use their bodies. All these marginalized voices emerged through movement that was then commodified and adopted by mainstream society."

When planning her annual dance concert this year—Rowland Hall's sesquicentennial—it made perfect sense to use the history of movement as an opportunity for students to explore the silenced voices of the past 150 years. "Asking kids to dive into those marginalized stories and then connect them to the stories we're taught in normative history has been really fruitful," Ms. Gorder said. "They're learning that disco and the twist evolved from slave dances, and that Jazzercise stemmed from the empowerment women felt after watching gay men dancing in clubs during the AIDS epidemic."

(R)evolution, as the concert is titled, ran Thursday through Saturday—February 8, 9, and 10—at the Larimer Center for the Performing Arts, and delivered both a celebratory retrospective of dance in America and a rumination on how history learned through words and images doesn't tell the whole story. Senior Sophia Cutrubus described the show as tracing the evolution of mainstream dance while demonstrating how the art provided "an outlet to express ideas and emotions that were taboo and threatened power structures in each time period." Approximately 120 students in sixth through twelfth grades performed renditions of period pieces ranging from the minuet to hip hop, with mixed-media transitions giving contextual cues, and narratives to aid the timeline.

Many of the students learned archived dances rather than developing original choreography, which made the process for this concert more educational than creative, according to Ms. Gorder. However, the research and practice of embodying highly respected artists from other generations can inform students' artistic voices in the future. Among the handful of students staging original work was junior Katie Rose Kimball, who teamed up with senior Sydney Rabbit to choreograph a piece about the history of body contact in partner dance. Sophia also had an original piece in the show: she and senior Rowen Kenny created a sequence of five dances based on the work of Merce Cunningham, and audience members will unwittingly have a hand in how these dances are performed each night.

Junior Tori Kusukawa oversaw a cluster of dances that will pay homage to major stars from the 1990s, such as Whitney Houston and Prince. While he copied choreography for Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" from music videos and live performances, he had to improvise when it came to mimicking David Bowie. "He didn't really dance much," Tori said. "So I had to capture his attitude and feeling." He relied on Ms. Gorder for guidance, as all the dancers do. "She lets us try and fail," Sophia said. "But she's always there at the end to make sure it goes well on stage."

Whether students are perfecting a replica of historical dances or producing original content, their engagement with the past helps them draw connections to the present. Sophomore Grant Dacklin choreographed a piece to showcase a style of movement from the 1970s called locking, which he referred to as hip hop's disco. While he's excited about the sharp, detailed nature of his own piece, he also recognized that this show has required him to embody roles that he's not familiar—or comfortable—with: as a straight, white male, he depicts the role of the oppressor in history.

However, Grant believes that Rowland Hall students are in a prime position to communicate about discrimination and the need for greater awareness, especially since so many revolutionary movements of the past were youth driven. "I hope that the teenage perspective has power for people," he said. "Even though these dance pieces are founded in history, we are bringing our modern-day voices and identities to them."

While Ms. Gorder and the dancers hoped the audience would enjoy the high-energy, community-oriented theme of the concert, they did not shying away from the show's messages about cultural appropriation and the historical biases that viewed bodily movement as low class. Katie Rose emphasized the influence dance has on society, and Sophia agreed, adding "dance is an integral piece of culture shifts." The art form also provides a unique historical lens, Sophia reflected: "Because your body is your medium in dance, there is nothing to hide behind. People can't escape their identities while dancing. You're seeing the most pure expression of who they are—their stories, their struggles."

Dance

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.

Avalanche Level 1 Course

Some upper schoolers have been taking an Avalanche Level I Course this winter, coordinated through our PE program and led by @utahmountainadventures. They've 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. 📸 by teacher @eemina13. 🎿🏔️
 
Gallery
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

Students Study Sage-Grouse in Southern Utah, Cut Teeth on Field Science

Environmental science and ornithology upper schoolers on an early April weekend drove south to frigid, beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park to study sage-grouse—an indigenous bird species that junior Sarah Kaye playfully describes as resembling a "fancy chicken."

The group of eight students and their teachers worked with biologists from the Wild Utah Project and Utah State University—most notably Dr. Nicole Frey, a sage-grouse expert. Ornithology Teacher Rob Wilson called the excursion an "uncommon opportunity" for students to do field science.

"This is a remarkable field trip," said Mr. Wilson, who also teaches biology and leads Rowland Hall's participation in a prestigious pilot program to bolster genetics and evolution curriculum in high school. According to Mr. Wilson, sage-grouse present the most important wildlife conservation and land-management question in the Western United States.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) doesn't list sage-grouse as an endangered species, but the species has had a precarious past. From 2010 to 2015, FWS considered sage-grouse to be "warranted but precluded" from listing, trumped only by other priorities of the Endangered Species Act. Sage-grouse is also an umbrella species, meaning that protecting the bird will protect other species of the sage-steppe ecosystem. Plus, the colony Rowland Hall students studied may need to be relocated due to impending mining, and Dr. Frey and her colleagues are figuring out the best way to do that, if at all possible.

Sage-grouse males and females meet on what's called a "lek," their strutting ground—an open area mostly free of sagebrush.

"The males puff out their tail feathers (which kind of look like pine cones) and their chests (which are big, white, and fluffy)...and they strut," Sarah said. "They chase the females around, and the females decide who they want to mate with." The females, she explained, are plainer—they look like brown chickens. And many of the females select the same male for mating. "The females are very choosy," graduating senior Marguerite Tate said. "They're looking for very specific things."

During the field study, Environmental Science Teacher Ben Smith, Mr. Wilson, and Dr. Frey placed flags in the ground to mark (1) random locations and (2) known locations sage-grouse have been, according to GPS trackers on the birds. Students divided into two groups to gather data. One group measured the height of all plants five meters north, south, east, and west of the flags. Another group measured ground cover—they'd place a hula hoop at the edge of the five-meter marks and record the types and percentages of plant coverage on the ground within the hoop. "It was cool to have an experience where you were actually taking in data that was potentially going to be used in (Dr. Frey's) experiments," Sarah said.

Marguerite and Sarah said the study aimed to show what kind of shelter the birds prefer—critical knowledge should they need to be moved. "In the past, trying to move them to a brand new place just has not worked. They don't mate, they don't start a new colony, it just does not work," Marguerite said. "But we learned from this experiment that you can expand their territory as long as the restored areas are right next to their older areas."

Mr. Smith said he hoped that by going on the trip, students gleaned the value of field studies. According to Sarah and graduating senior Marguerite, they did.

Marguerite said that while researching out in the cold was a sobering experience, "It's really cool to know what it's like to be a field scientist."

Sarah and Marguerite both trumpeted the value of environmental science and ornithology and said students shouldn't overlook the classes just because they're not APs. "It's really important for students to get this other grasp of science—that it's not all just sitting in a lab," Marguerite said.

Sarah said the knowledge is also useful for other classes—in AP Biology, for instance, she was learning about species and habitat, which she'd studied in depth for Mr. Smith's class.

For the students, one of the most valuable aspects of the trip was meeting and working with Dr. Frey, a renowned expert in the subject of their study. It proved to Sarah that a STEM job can be more than crunching numbers. "It was cool seeing how she wasn't just out there to make money, gather data, and kind of be a robot," the junior said. "She was really interested and really passionate about the sage-grouse."

Experiential Learning

STEM

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: The 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

Student in science lab

Last fall, Rowland Hall first graders tackled a mystery in the science lab: how could two islands on either side of the world have the same tree growing on them? As part of a unit on seeds and trees, students suggested an explanation for this phenomenon, and then followed clues to determine whether their explanation was plausible. Carly Biedul—who served as the long-term science substitute teacher during Kirsten Walker's maternity leave and continues to teach the first- and second-grade science labs—was impressed with the students' engagement. "It was awesome to see how the first graders kept changing their answer the more and more they learned about seeds," she said. She explained that this lesson taught students about more than seed dispersal: it showed them that it's okay if your first answer to a problem is wrong because scientific study entails gathering evidence and then refining your answer based on what you learn.

Kids are the scientists now, and teachers are the facilitators. —Molly Lewis, sixth-grade science teacher

Over the past four years, Rowland Hall has been examining and refining the ways we teach science, largely in service of the Strategic Plan's second goal: provide the Intermountain West's most outstanding math and science program. While division-specific and developmentally appropriate, these curricular changes all have one thing in common: students are spending more time in class—and hopefully outside class too—engaging in the behaviors of science. They are conducting more lab experiments, which involve asking questions, making observations, collecting data, and forming and revising arguments. Teachers are often using the universal framework of claim-evidence-reasoning to guide their lessons, which fosters the kind of critical thinking that students can apply in any field.

In kindergarten through eighth grade, Rowland Hall's science curriculum now aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which emphasize inquiry-based learning and making connections across scientific domains. The vision outlined in the NGSS is one where students are empowered to lead their own scientific discoveries, and sixth-grade science teacher Molly Lewis wholeheartedly supports it.

"Kids are the scientists now," she said, "and teachers are the facilitators." Whether directing a lab experiment about human vision—having students identify the limitations of their eyesight in certain circumstances, such as a dark room—or exploring the relationship between the form and function of red blood cells, Ms. Lewis is happy to let the students take risks and posit theories that might initially be ill-founded. "We're giving them meaningful context instead of just abstract ideas, and then teaching them the skills necessary to discover what's true or what they can prove."

In the Middle School and the Lower School, phenomena—like the trees and their traveling seeds, or fossils found in sedimentary rocks—are being used to draw students into the practice of inquiry. The Lower School also has several new units that integrate science and literacy, laying the groundwork for more in-depth experiments in the science lab. The Beginning School, meanwhile, builds foundational skills with activities such as daffodil painting and dissection.

For Upper School Science Department Chair Alisa Poppen, the skills and concepts learned through lab work are essential, and her department recently acquired some new sensors and probes necessary for proper data collection. Echoing Ms. Lewis, Ms. Poppen said, "We are using labs to build models rather than simply confirm ideas. We are focused on the behaviors of scientists, and understanding that science is not a collection of facts but rather a series of practices."

We are using labs to build models rather than simply confirm ideas. We are focused on the behaviors of scientists, and understanding that science is not a collection of facts but rather a series of practices. —Alisa Poppen, Upper School science department chair

While the Upper School curriculum is focused on moving toward lab-based Advanced Topics courses—rather than using the NGSS as their guide—Ms. Poppen is thrilled at the prospect of students entering ninth-grade science with an excellent foundation in the claim-evidence-reasoning framework. Furthermore, she sees additional lab time creating an upswing in student engagement, much like Ms. Biedul observed in first grade.

Teachers and administrators will continue to observe how students perform in science classrooms—and, like good scientists, they will refine their practices based on the data they collect. Ultimately, Rowland Hall remains committed to providing students with the best possible learning experience. New Middle School science teacher Melissa Sharp hopes that by increasing students' enthusiasm for science, their learning experience will carry over into after-school hours too. "I want them to get into the car and ask their parents about genetics, and say, 'Mom, let me see your thumb!'" she said. "Or they might watch football and think about concussions, wondering what is happening in terms of neuroscience."

What it boils down to for everyone teaching science at Rowland Hall, including Ms. Sharp: "I want students to embrace the identity of a scientist."

STEM

 

Community & Traditions

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

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

 

Fine Print survey graphic

Over the past six months, our editorial staff has been rethinking the design and content strategy for our school magazine, Fine Print. Thank you to the many parents, alumni, faculty, staff, board members, and friends who completed our readership survey last fall. Your feedback helped us refine the layout of our new magazine website, which is now closely integrated with the school’s main website. 

We’ve streamlined the home page of Fine Print so you can easily locate the most recently published stories. You can also find editor’s picks, skim a feed of news-media coverage relating to Rowland Hall, and explore stories by both subject and format. We’ve changed our story categories as well, so you can now find content grouped accordingly: 

  • Features: In-depth stories shining the spotlight on Rowland Hall's programs, events, traditions, people, and more.
  • In Brief: Short updates and breaking news on all things Rowland Hall.
  • People: Interview-based stories on alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the school. These are the people that make Rowland Hall extraordinary.
  • Programs: Life and learning around campus.
  • Student Voices: First-person stories from students on their Rowland Hall experiences.
  • Letters from the Head: Alan Sparrow’s letters to the community.

We’ve streamlined the home page of Fine Print so you can easily locate the most recently published stories, find editor’s picks, skim a feed of news-media coverage relating to Rowland Hall, and explore stories by both subject and format.These updated categories highlight the subjects you’ve expressed the most interest in—faculty and staff profiles, curriculum, ethical education, and student work—while organizing content by form and length, too. We want our readers to be able to engage with compelling content across the site, whether they have five minutes to catch up on news or two hours to read all about our athletics and arts programs.

Finally, we recognize that school emails are the preferred delivery method for most of our community, so while you’ll regularly find fresh Fine Print content on social media and the website, we will continue to push issues of the magazine via an emailed newsletter twice a year.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Fine Print! As always, we welcome feedback and story ideas

News

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

Christopher Von Maack ’97 Appointed Next Board Chair

We are pleased to announce that Christopher Von Maack ’97 has been elected Rowland Hall’s next chair of the Board of Trustees. He will begin his term in July 2020. Current Board Chair Jennifer Price-Wallin will continue in the role for the upcoming academic year. 

I look forward to helping preserve and enhance our strong institution and community.
- Christopher Von Maack ’97

Chris joined the Board in July 2014 and has served as Chair of the Alumni Association and Development Committee. A Rowland Hall lifer—a student who attended the school for 12 or more years—and parent of two current students, his long-standing relationship with the school and dynamic leadership skills made Chris the clear choice to guide the Board during the transition to a new head of school and ongoing Capital Campaign. “It will be an honor to serve as Board chair during these important times,” Chris said. “I look forward to helping preserve and enhance our strong institution and community and acclimate a new head of school—something that the school has not done in 28 years.”

Chris graduated from UCLA with a degree in English. He obtained his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was a writer and editor for the McGeorge Law Review. A civil trial lawyer, Chris and law partner Jason McNeil recently founded McNeil Von Maack, a downtown firm focusing on complex business, intellectual property, and government contract disputes.

Chris and his wife Alexandra ’99 are parents of fourth-grader Charlie and first-grader Juliet. Alexandra is currently serving as the chair of Rowland Hall’s 2019 Auction, A Night in Havana, and both alums have dedicated countless hours as school volunteers over the past decade. Chris also serves on the board of the R. Harold Burton Foundation and previously served as a trustee for Preservation Utah and the Salt Lake Honorary Colonels.

“I am thrilled Chris has agreed to chair the Board of Trustees in 2020,” Ms. Price-Wallin said. “He is a visionary and understands the school very well. Rowland Hall is in excellent shape, and under Chris’s leadership, the school will continue to provide an exceptional education for years to come.”

People

Robin Hori teaching physics class.

If you're cooking a holiday feast for family and friends this week or just bringing a dish, here's some inspiration from physics teacher and kimchi mastermind Robin Hori.

The way I grew up, if you're making something and people enjoy it, you hand it to them. —Physics Teacher Robin Hori

Video

No Monday Blues: Ethanne Waldo Retires after over 28 Years of Joyful, Steadfast Service to Rowland Hall

When Ethanne Waldo got the call in May 1990 about a temporary job in the Rowland Hall admission office, her husband, Charles, was skeptical. It was slated to be a two- to three-week assignment, working about eight to 10 hours per week making re-enrollment calls, and according to Ethanne, Charles thought it wouldn't amount to anything. She chuckled at the memory: "And here I am, 28 years later."

Thursday, December 6, was Ethanne's last day in a position she described as "tailor-made for me." A lover of details, organization, and learning, she always dreamed of working in schools, and when Rowland Hall called again in the fall of 1990 with a job offer, she was thrilled. Her temporary assignment turned into a career supporting the Admission and College Counseling offices, where she's written and proofread countless letters, maintained databases and produced reports, and tracked the myriad steps of the application process for both incoming Rowland Hall students and seniors preparing for college.

A lover of details, organization, and learning, she always dreamed of working in schools, and when Rowland Hall called again in the fall of 1990 with a job offer, she was thrilled.

Director of Admission Kathy Gundersen once told Ethanne that she was in a remarkable position as perhaps the only employee who directly supported students at both their point of entry to Rowland Hall and when they graduated. "I always liked working in two departments," Ethanne reflected. "It kept things interesting."

In fact, Ethanne has loved her job so much that, for years, she never had the dreaded Monday blues about coming to work. Her position allowed her to learn new skills and software programs—particularly as technology evolved over the past two and a half decades—and she is deeply grateful for that experience. On Sunday nights, she looked forward to the work week beginning again, thinking, "I get to learn more about the computer!"

Her positive attitude and strong work ethic are just two of the things Ms. Gundersen appreciates about Ethanne. "She has an observant eye and a sharp sense of humor," Ms. Gundersen said, "and in her quiet voice, she has been known to drop the most astonishing commentary." Director of College Counseling Michelle Rasich echoed Ms. Gundersen's sentiments: "I could always depend on her to do high-quality work in an efficient manner, and ask probing questions with the intent to produce the best product possible."

While Ethanne has seen Rowland Hall change throughout the years, and had her share of different bosses and offices—all on the Lincoln Street Campus—what she'll remember most about the school is our supportive community. When her father was close to death, then-College Counseling Director Bruce Hunter and Admission Director Karen Hyde gave Ethanne the green light to take as much time as she needed to be with family. "Bruce told me, 'There's nothing as important as seeing your dad,'" Ethanne recalled.

Ethanne's colleagues, both past and present, celebrated her at a farewell lunch December 4.

She has an observant eye and a sharp sense of humor, and in her quiet voice, she has been known to drop the most astonishing commentary. —Director of Admission Kathy Gundersen

As she enters retirement, Ethanne is excited to have more time for watching old movies, reading biographies, and rereading classic novels like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. She'll also keep planning annual trips to Disneyland with her daughter, one of Ethanne's three adult children in Utah. "But I won't have to ask for the time off anymore!" she joked.

Everyone at Rowland Hall will miss Ethanne dearly. "I can't imagine a more dedicated, reliable team member who made me smile more," Ms. Gundersen said.

People

 

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

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

Rowland Hall's Swim Team Enjoys First-Ever State Title, Record Participation

For Amelia Wolfgramm, Rowland Hall's new Upper School swim coach, this season didn't go quite as she expected. "Coming in as a rookie coach," she explained, "my ultimate goal was to create an environment where my student-athletes wanted to come to practice and were comfortable being themselves." However, when 25 swimmers showed up for the first day of practice—she had been expecting about half as many—Coach Wolfgramm realized her goals and expectations would need adjusting.

Along with her assistant coaches, Hope Feliciano and Cole Jackman, she established efficient training schedules that could accommodate the diverse skill levels of their athletes, many of whom never swam competitively prior to this season. Rowland Hall shares a pool for practice and typically only has three lanes available, which posed a challenge for the growing team. According to Coach Wolfgramm, "Our newer swimmers really had to stay focused in order to learn the strokes and techniques, while our more experienced swimmers had to be adamant and intentional with every set in order to have a great workout every day."

Coach Wolfgramm's youth and background as a competitive swimmer—first at Judge Memorial and then at West High, followed by two years at BYU—helped her relate to Rowland Hall students. Still, she established rules and boundaries from day one. She prioritized hard work and made the team's motto "effort is observable," and she held every swimmer accountable, at every practice and every meet. Unsurprisingly, she cited the improvements made by individual athletes and the entire team as her greatest source of pride this season.

So while there was cause for celebration when the girls team captured both the Region 13 and 3A State titles—a first for Rowland Hall's swim program—both coaches and students recognized that the season amounted to much more than a championship.

"Throughout all four years swimming for Rowland Hall, it was never about winning," senior and co-captain Sophie Hannah said. "It was about supporting each other, beating your previous times, and pushing yourself." Sophie cherishes her team's state title "not because we beat the other teams, but because it was a direct representation of our persistence."

Sophie also pointed to her co-captain Bella Goh achieving her longtime goal of swimming the 100m freestyle in under one minute as a season highlight, especially since the two have watched each other's progression over the past four years.

That level of camaraderie and support between teammates was key to their success, according to Coach Wolfgramm, and it extended to the boys team as well—at the state tournament, they placed 10th after competing against some much larger teams. She emphasized that the effort demonstrated by all swimmers created a ripple effect, with teammates challenging one another to exceed their own expectations.

In addition to the team's demonstrated effort and encouragement for each other, Coach Wolfgramm cited patience as a determining factor in the girls performance at the state championship, which included—in addition to the state title—first-place finishes in the 200m and 400m freestyle relays, and a first-place finish in the individual 50m freestyle by sophomore Ella Vitek. "Behind every great success story are challenging and trying times," Coach Wolfgramm said, recognizing the toll hard practices and meets can take on high school students. In the end, though, she wants them to focus on the experiences they shared and how far they came together.

"They were a young team, and I hope they can remember that anything is possible if they all come together to support and encourage each other."

Update, April 13, 2018: Preps Utah named Amelia Wolfgram a girls team coach of the week. Congrats!

athletics

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

Ethical Education

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

 

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
 

Ikwo Frank and peers on National Academy of Medicine stairs

Ikwo Frank '13 and her peers from American University recently took the stage at the National Academy of Medicine to pitch their solution to the sixth-annual DC Public Health Case Challenge. The competition engages teams of students from DC-area universities in an intensive two-week process of researching solutions to a significant public health issue, culminating in the presentation of a proposal to a panel of expert judges at the Academy's annual meeting. This year's challenge was "Reducing Disparities in Cancer and Chronic Disease: Preventing Tobacco Use in African American Adolescents."

Ikwo, who is about six months away from completing her master's degree in health promotion management, joined American's team at the invitation of another program student—she thought it would be a good academic challenge. Plus it's a subject she and her team members are passionate about, which served them well during the strenuous research phase and at the panel presentation on October 14.
 

Left: Ikwo with fellow American University students Liz Fam and Elizabeth Taormina. Right: Ikwo on stage.

Her cohort spent hours working individually and as a team, sharing ideas for the best and most practical ways they could tackle the case. Ikwo, who has been living in Washington DC for almost a year and a half, found herself focusing on what students do after school. "It's a big city," she said. "Where do all these kids go?" Her team devised an idea for an after-school program built around mental health and wellness—the program would help kids become more mindful, teach healthy strategies for coping with stress, and provide a safe space when school lets out.

Ikwo's team devised an idea for an after-school program built around mental health and wellness—the program would help kids become more mindful, teach healthy strategies for coping with stress, and provide a safe space when school lets out.

Even though her team didn't win the competition, Ikwo regards the experience as extremely worthwhile. The conviction they brought to their presentation earned positive reviews from the panel, and the collaborative energy of participants was inspiring. Furthermore, all teams' proposals will be summarized in an upcoming National Academy of Medicine publication.

And there's one more benefit not to be overlooked: the competition requires students to apply a narrow lens—and look for feasible solutions—in a field where the scope and volume of problems often seem daunting. "The health world is so broad, and there's so much work to be done," Ikwo said. "I wish we could save the world, but we have to be realistic. One small thing really does go a long way."

Ikwo is already applying her studies to the greater community. When not in school, she works at the World Bank as a fitness specialist and instructor. Prior to attending American, she earned her bachelor of science from Weber State University in human performance management (the program has since been renamed).

 

Banner photo: 2018 DC Public Health Case Challenge Participants. Photo credit: National Academy of Medicine.

Alumni

Oliver Jin '18 Uses Passion for Film to Share Stories and Spark Change

Rowland Hall Senior Recognized with Excellence in Education Award for Work with Navajo Nation

Oliver Jin '18 can't pass up a good filming opportunity. His sophomore year at Rowland Hall, he signed up for the Highway Hiking 12 Interim trip, but a week before their scheduled departure, his good friend Knox Heslop '17 approached him with a request: come help film their cultural exchange on the Navajo reservation.

The Navajo Project is currently a yearlong civic engagement program for Rowland Hall juniors—often regarded as the advanced version of Project 11—focused on building relationships with members of the Navajo Nation, which culminates in a weeklong trip each May to work with students at Montezuma Creek Elementary School, Bluff Elementary School, and White Horse High School. When Oliver accepted Knox's invitation in the spring of 2016, the project was still evolving, and Oliver didn't know what to expect. As an international student from China who moved to the United States to attend Rowland Hall beginning in ninth grade, he simply wasn't familiar with Native American history and traditions, nor the typical stereotypes about their population. Looking back, he believes that lack of awareness benefited him.

I think the documentary became a central focus because of what documentary filmmaking, at least for me, does to power relationships. —Oliver Jin

"If I were to tell you every single statistic about the Native American population that is bad, you might want to do something about it, but you're terrified," He understands how paralyzing it can be to acknowledge the suffering of the Native American population—especially given how the United States is mostly at fault. Because Oliver didn't have those preconceptions or fears, he found his first-year trip to the reservation eye opening rather than paralyzing. He focused on working with Knox, setting up their cameras and listening to people's stories, eventually producing a documentary called The Common Ground.

"I think the documentary became a central focus because of what documentary filmmaking, at least for me, does to power relationships," Oliver said. Instead of showing up in a new community to help with a project, which suggests inferiority in the recipients, the documentary allowed Oliver to provide a platform to share others' stories. It made him feel like he and the Rowland Hall community could empower people by embracing their stories, Oliver said. And the sharing and cherishing of personal narratives matters deeply to him—he believes it's the way to form the human connections that eventually lead to positive change on substantive issues.

The first year was so powerful that Oliver committed to the program for his junior year, even though he technically completed his Project 11 requirement as a sophomore. Motivated to build stronger connections and help promote the longevity of the program, he produced a second documentary: A Film About Why There Isn't a Film. Oliver described the second film as a reflection on the difficulty of storytelling and service and said the title gestures toward the nuance and complexity of the project. Oliver hopes the two films can serve as a better starting point for future Rowland Hall students who might want to participate in community-building work.

"I can only hope that, as I graduate, ninth graders and tenth graders and eighth graders can see the work that we've done—through my lens—and having that awareness, want to go there," he said. As a senior, he spent many hours collaborating with the juniors who participated in this year's trip to the Navajo Nation, and he plans to maintain his connections with the people at the Navajo reservation for years to come. Additionally, he still has "hundreds, if not thousands" of stories in his notebook or on his computer's hard drive. He just hasn't found the right occasion or composition yet to share them. Currently at work on a portraiture project similarly focused on finding the human element at the center of every situation, he said, "I'm pretty far away from ever calling it done."

Institutionalizing these celebrations is really valuable in that it shows you a fundamental level of respect for this type of work. I don't have to win the award to feel empowered. —Oliver Jin

Oliver's success in building relationships with members of the Navajo Nation was the primary reason Rowland Hall faculty members Ryan Hoglund and Sofia Gorder nominated him for the Utah Office of Multicultural Affairs' Excellence in Education Award earlier this year. The award recognizes high school students and educators who facilitate change, embrace intercultural awareness, and advance civic engagement in their communities.

In their nomination letter, Ms. Gorder and Mr. Hoglund also lauded Oliver's work with Rowland Hall's Inclusion and Equity Committee, his contributions to the school's arts department, and his graceful transition to our community as an international student. "Such a rich and evolving cultural identity role modeled openly by Oliver liberates other students to explore conflicting identities and engage with many parts of themselves," they wrote.

When Oliver won the award in March—presented as part of Utah Multicultural Youth Leadership Day—he was unsurprisingly humble about the recognition. Instead, he took great pleasure in the mere existence of the award and the people who coordinate it. "Institutionalizing these celebrations is really valuable in that it shows you a fundamental level of respect for this type of work," he said. "I don't have to win the award to feel empowered."

Oliver wasn't always engaged with initiatives for equity and inclusion. In fact, he credited a conversation with his sister, Jin, an alumna from the class of 2015, with spurring him to action. After she asked him why he didn't participate in a social media trend celebrating the passage of gay marriage legislation in Utah—she is a gay woman—Oliver recognized that his answer wasn't satisfactory. "I told her, 'You know I love you and support you, but I just didn't feel like it,'" he recalled. "I came to realize it's not enough to ideologically align with a tradition or liberal ideal of inclusivity and equality. I really need to do things instead of staying silent, quietly knowing I am a good person."

Over the past three years, Oliver emerged as a leader on the Lincoln Street Campus, frequently advocating for marginalized or underprivileged members of the school community. He recently initiated a dialogue with Upper School leaders about making sure the flag hallway represents the home nations of all students. He also adamantly supported the creation of an all-gender bathroom and regards it as a critical space, even though he identifies as a gender-conforming male. "Having that space to be used by everyone makes those who actually need it more comfortable to use it," he said. "Going to it shouldn't be sending out any message other than that's a convenient bathroom to use when in certain classrooms."

Over the past three years, Oliver emerged as a leader on the Lincoln Street Campus, frequently advocating for marginalized or underprivileged members of the school community.Oliver will continue to seek out stories to share among people he'll encounter at Sarah Lawrence College next year, where he plans to major in film with a continued focus in philosophy, ethics, and sociology. Regardless of which degree path he chooses, film will remain an essential part of his life and work. At a time when the film industry is embracing stories of inclusion and making blockbuster movies about them—Oliver cited the recent success of Call Me By Your Name and Black Panther—he is optimistic about what he and others can accomplish.

"It's a beautiful thing in our society, where these concepts are becoming accepted, and there's financial incentive to make these films," Oliver said. "And then that reinforces society to be more embracing of these concepts. There's a circle of positive feedback in mainstream culture."

Community

 

Interactive Graphic: Freshmen and Sophomores Tell Their 150-Word Origin Stories

On a desktop, hover over a portrait to read the corresponding story. On a mobile device, tap to read, or view on ThingLink for best results.

Freshmen and sophomores contributed to the story of Rowland Hall's 150th anniversary in an especially personal way—by sharing their own 150-word origin stories, ranging from the literal to the metaphorical, the stirring to the stoic, and the lighthearted to the solemn.

Each of us makes up part of our school community, the English assignment reads, and our stories are what make the school a community.

"Having students write about themselves, their values, and their experiences helps them feel more part of a community, more invested in their learning, and more resilient in the face of big challenges," explained tenth-grade English teacher Dr. Kate Taylor, also a co-chair of the Inclusion and Equity Committee. "When we invite our students' stories into the classroom, we give them more permission to bring their full selves to class."

And from a technical point of view, the assignment helped students practice for their eventual college-application essays: they had to view language economically—writing concisely without sacrificing detail—and seek creative ways to reshape their prose to meet the word count, Dr. Taylor said.

After Dr. Taylor pitched the assignment to poet and ninth-grade English teacher Joel Long, Mr. Long contributed questions from writers he'd worked with. Together, the teachers honed the description to elicit the kind of vivid detail they sought from their young writers.

Dr. Taylor loved the results. "I learned a lot about how my students view themselves, their place in their family, their words and their silence, and their various passions," she said. "I feel like I know them better now."


150-Word Origin Stories Assignment

Our school is 150 years old this year. Each of us makes up part of our school community, and our stories are what make the school a community. This assignment asks you to tell a short story of your origin to help celebrate our school's sesquicentennial anniversary.

Assignment: Write an origin story for yourself. It must be exactly 150 words long and should be in a consistent tense. With this limited space, you will need to think of something to describe that is emblematic of that origin. Use concrete detail to create impressionistic images of your life, family, culture, and experience. Imagine yourself creating a microcosm of the story you want to tell about your origin.

Some questions to get you started (choose one or two, you won't be able to answer all of them in 150 words).

Questions from Melanie Rae Thon inspired in part by Anna Deavere Smith:

  1. What were the circumstances of your birth? (Even if you don't "remember," you may know many things about this time!)
  2. Are you different from other people in some way: clumsy or agile, sensitive to sound or light, susceptible to anxiety or depression, often sick, unusually strong?
  3. Have you been labeled by parents or teachers or siblings or doctors?
  4. Does the label help you rise to your most inspiring vision of yourself, or trap you in someone else's assessment?
  5. Have you ever been surprised by your own strength or courage, or dismayed by your own failure to act with conviction?

Questions of Bhanu Kapil:

  1. Who are you and whom do you love?
  2. Where did you come from / how did you arrive?
  3. How will you begin?
  4. How will you live now?
  5. What is the shape of your body?
  6. Who was responsible for the suffering of your mother?
  7. What do you remember about the earth?
  8. What are the consequences of silence?
  9. Describe a morning you woke without fear.

student voices

150 mosaic of freshmen and sophomores

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

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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

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
Christopher Von Maack ’97 Appointed Next Board Chair

We are pleased to announce that Christopher Von Maack ’97 has been elected Rowland Hall’s next chair of the Board of Trustees. He will begin his term in July 2020. Current Board Chair Jennifer Price-Wallin will continue in the role for the upcoming academic year. 

I look forward to helping preserve and enhance our strong institution and community.
- Christopher Von Maack ’97

Chris joined the Board in July 2014 and has served as Chair of the Alumni Association and Development Committee. A Rowland Hall lifer—a student who attended the school for 12 or more years—and parent of two current students, his long-standing relationship with the school and dynamic leadership skills made Chris the clear choice to guide the Board during the transition to a new head of school and ongoing Capital Campaign. “It will be an honor to serve as Board chair during these important times,” Chris said. “I look forward to helping preserve and enhance our strong institution and community and acclimate a new head of school—something that the school has not done in 28 years.”

Chris graduated from UCLA with a degree in English. He obtained his J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was a writer and editor for the McGeorge Law Review. A civil trial lawyer, Chris and law partner Jason McNeil recently founded McNeil Von Maack, a downtown firm focusing on complex business, intellectual property, and government contract disputes.

Chris and his wife Alexandra ’99 are parents of fourth-grader Charlie and first-grader Juliet. Alexandra is currently serving as the chair of Rowland Hall’s 2019 Auction, A Night in Havana, and both alums have dedicated countless hours as school volunteers over the past decade. Chris also serves on the board of the R. Harold Burton Foundation and previously served as a trustee for Preservation Utah and the Salt Lake Honorary Colonels.

“I am thrilled Chris has agreed to chair the Board of Trustees in 2020,” Ms. Price-Wallin said. “He is a visionary and understands the school very well. Rowland Hall is in excellent shape, and under Chris’s leadership, the school will continue to provide an exceptional education for years to come.”

People

Alum Dr. Jon Bone at a Rowland Hall parent forum.

In Q&A, Dr. Bone Still Credits Rowland Hall for his Sense of Community and Strong Critical-Thinking Skills

Dr. Jonathan Bone '94 and Dr. Amy De La Garza from Equilibrium Clinic dropped by the Lincoln Street Campus Café December 7 for a Coffee and Conversation with Rowland Hall parents on the physiology of addiction. The chat revolved around how addiction operates in the brain and how to help our children avoid this all-too-common disease.

The event echoed a November 7 Freedom from Chemical Dependency Parent Forum, as well as ongoing school efforts to educate middle and upper schoolers on addiction.

Listen to event audio, and read some paraphrased nuggets of wisdom from both experts followed by a Q&A with Dr. Bone.

 

Kids don't respond well to 'should' or 'shouldn't.' I have kids and young adults ask themselves the question, 'How's this behavior going to help me, and how's it going to hurt me?'—Dr. Jonathan Bone ’94

Highlights from the doctors:

  • "Kids don't respond well to 'should' or 'shouldn't.' I have kids and young adults ask themselves the question, 'How's this behavior going to help me, and how's it going to hurt me?' Get them to pause for two seconds to ask that question and to think about it. If they can get that integrated into their thinking—how it will help versus how it will hurt—it lets them feel like they're making that choice for themselves."—Dr. Bone
  • "Addiction is a disease of the brain. Kids' brains are so plastic and dynamic: think about how fast they can learn language, skiing, or math. They could learn addiction just that fast."—Dr. De La Garza
  • "Kids that use substances before they're 21 have a 20% greater chance of developing a substance abuse disorder when they're older."—Dr. De La Garza
  • Both doctors agreed parents should start teaching kids at a young age about addiction—around fourth grade.

On assessing the situation after discovering substance use:

  • "We don't want to be alarmist about it. If you look at it diagnostically, you look at the different domains of life: health, relationships, education, occupation, legal, financial—how is use impacting each of those domains? That's how we differentiate between mild, moderate, and severe substance-abuse disorder. We can take that approach with our kids: how are they doing socially, how are they doing academically? Are they sticking with their sports team? Do they give stuff up? You take an inventory of what is going on with them globally. And if you find a joint, that's different than finding a bottle of oxycodone. You're also looking at the risk of the substance."—Dr. Bone
  • "Emergency rooms, detox centers—those are really scary places for kids and it stigmatizes them. You have to do a good risk assessment, and if you can't do that yourself, call someone: your pediatrician, your family practice doctor, one of us."—Dr. De La Garza
  • "We want to keep kids at the lowest level of care possible for as long as possible. I'm very conservative with raising that level, and it's really well-contemplated. If kids have a plan to hurt themselves, for example, that's when they go to the hospital."—Dr. Bone
     

Q&A with Dr. Jonathan Bone ’94

Dr. Bone, a 1994 Rowland Hall graduate, holds a doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Denver, and he's worked with substance-use disorder patients since his medical internship. Following the Coffee and Conversation, we talked to him about what his job is like, and how his time at Rowland Hall left an impression on him. Q&A lightly edited for style and context.

I chose a career that fosters my continued development of relationships and I think this foundation emerged during my time at Rowland Hall. —Dr. Jonathan Bone ’94

How did Rowland Hall impact you and your career path?
Rowland Hall impacted my career by shining a light on the importance of community. I formed bonds with people at the school—teachers, coaches, peers, administration—that have lasted until today, and I hope they continue to thrive. I began to learn about and appreciate the interconnectedness of humanity while a student, although I certainly was not cognizant of that as a teenager. I chose a career that fosters my continued development of relationships and I think this foundation emerged during my time at Rowland Hall.

During my undergraduate, graduate, and internship, my training professors, supervisors, and colleagues often spontaneously commented on how well-developed my writing skills are. I think that one of the most impactful aspects of Rowland Hall is the importance placed on thinking critically and being able to synthesize data from multiple sources in a cogent essay, thesis, etc.   

What is it like working and treating patients here in Utah, where the opioid epidemic has hit especially hard?
It is frustrating and rewarding, on a daily basis. Opioid dependence is a brutal condition that changes how people behave in such drastic ways it is difficult to describe. When I lose a patient to overdose or suicide, or they simply fall out of treatment, I am pained beyond words. However, when I have a patient with six months sobriety who is interpersonally, emotionally, and physically healthy again it is incredibly rewarding. Utah has a significant problem at present. It is time we no longer hide the disease so we can treat it aggressively.

Top image: From left, Dr. Jonathan Bone '94 and Dr. Amy De La Garza from Equilibrium Clinic on December 7 led a Lincoln Street Campus Coffee and Conversation on the physiology of addiction.

Alumni

Claire Wang at Rowland Hall graduation in 2015.

Rowland Hall alumna and Duke University senior Claire Wang '15 has added a prestigious new title to her already impressive list of achievements: Rhodes Scholar.

Claire Wang holding climate action now sign

The Rhodes Trust on November 17 announced the names of the 32 Americans to win the 2019 scholarship, one of the most famous academic awards available to US college graduates.

Claire emailed some of her former Rowland Hall teachers Sunday, overjoyed to share the news. "I'll be Oxford bound next fall," she wrote. "Thank you all so much for your support over the years."

Claire is the sole Utahn among the 2019 scholars, and one of 21 women—a record for an American Rhodes class. Here's her profile as published by the trust:

"Claire R. Wang, North Salt Lake, is a Duke senior majoring in Environmental Science and Policy. She is a Truman Scholar and a Udall Scholar, and has a perfect GPA. She is President of the Duke Climate Coalition, was appointed by Duke's president to advise on campus sustainability and climate policy, and has led numerous environmental policy campaigns. Claire also has worked at the Rocky Mountain Institute, and for Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and Greenpeace. She aspires to a career as a climate-change policy advocate and to work at a global level to develop clean energy alternatives to replace fossil fuels. Claire will do master's degrees at Oxford in Environmental Change and Management, and Global Governance and Diplomacy."

At Rowland Hall, Claire felt supported and encouraged on her quest to make the world a better place.

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest and best-known award for international study, provide all expenses for up to four years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Scholars must display academic excellence, good character, leadership skills, and commitment to service.

Claire has previously said she's fortunate to have attended Rowland Hall, where she felt supported and encouraged on her quest to make the world a better place. The valedictorian for the class of 2015 also said she appreciated her alma mater's emphasis on writing, which helped her as a student and an organizer. She credited her middle and upper school debate experience for giving her many of the skills she uses in her advocacy work: "Just like debate, running campaigns involves strategy, negotiation, and analysis," she said. Read our November 2016 Fine Print story about Claire.

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Alumni

Matthew Redd on yearbook staff in 1988.

Cattle rancher and Rowland Hall alumnus Matthew Redd '88—director of The Nature Conservancy's Dugout Ranch and Canyonlands Research Center—graces this month's National Geographic for their cover story, "The Battle for the American West."

National Geographic published Aaron Huey's photographs of Redd on the cover of the printed magazine, and in a two-page interior spread. In the especially stunning second shot, Redd is on horseback rounding up cattle in the foreground, with Southern Utah scenery and a rainbow in the background.

Journalist Hannah Nordhaus quotes Redd and writes in the story:

"It is a diverse, iconic, some say spiritual landscape," says rancher Matt Redd. His family sold their 5,247-acre ranch to the Nature Conservancy in 1997, and it's now the largest private tract inside Bears Ears. Redd still runs the cattle as part of research on how to manage land in a changing climate.

Read more about Matt and his family—including wife and fellow '88 Rowland Hall alum Kristen Redd—in this Nature Conservancy story from last year.

Related photos on social media:

Top image: Matthew Redd as a senior on Rowland Hall's yearbook staff in 1988—view the yearbook.

Alumni

I feel like a shepherd, with my little flock. I’m just making sure they are all heading in the right direction.—Academic Support Counselor Lori Miller in our story Support Superstars