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The graduates in Rowland Hall’s class of 2019 are a diverse and talented group of young people ready to make their mark on the world. During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

Seniors in this class pushed themselves academically through rigorous coursework during the year supplemented by summer learning at institutions including the University of Utah, Oxford University, Indiana University, and Stanford University. They completed internships with Wasatch Advisors, McNeill Von Maack, Avenues Pet Clinic, and Alliance for a Better Utah, among others, and continued their learning through independent study in subjects including Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and engineering. This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

The class of 2019 has no shortage of artists, ranging from dancers and musicians to poets and painters. Beyond performing in Rowland Hall productions, they have graced the stage with the University of Utah’s Youth Theatre Conservatory, the Utah Youth Philharmonic, the Salt Lake Dance Company, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Several seniors in our Advanced Chamber Ensemble earned superior ratings year after year in state competitions, and one was named concertmaster for the Utah Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra this past winter. These young artists continued their creative studies during the summer at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and at Carnegie Mellon University, and one recently traveled to Australia to perform with Dance and the Child International. One talented young writer won the Jewish Community Center’s Annual Holocaust Poetry Competition, and another teaches poetry classes to children at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center.

Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships.

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 27 Region and nine State titles as teams. Eight of our seniors were named All-State, nine earned All-Region honors, and five were selected to play in the postseason All-Star games of their respective sports this year. Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships. Their ski-racing successes include seven race wins the past two seasons, including a first-place in slalom in the FIS Western Region Junior Championship, nine total FIS podium finishes and a third place in the Intermountain Division Cup overall downhill standings. Outside of school, members of the class of 2019 pursued diverse athletics interests: two are avid sailors, one is a competitive CrossFit athlete, one is the winningest wrestler in the history of West High School, and another won the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for his aptitude and performance as a baseball player.

Every graduating class includes students who have devoted countless hours volunteering throughout the community, and the people and organizations touched by our current students include: the National Ability Center, Women of the World, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Angel Flight West, the Road Home book club, Intermountain Healthcare, Girl Up, the Utah Pride Center, and the International Rescue Committee. These seniors also embraced leadership roles on campus, whether tutoring Middle School students, serving as college counseling ambassadors, or advocating for the work of our Queer-Straight Alliance. One attended the People of Color Conference and subsequently formed a thriving affinity group at Rowland Hall, another has been an active leader in the Salt Lake City chapter of B’nai B’rith Youth International since eighth grade, and two were instrumental in organizing last spring’s local March for Our Lives. 

During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

A significant number of these students have also held down jobs while in school, ranging from hostessing at restaurants to working as mechanics to supporting the office management for their family businesses. Balancing school, service, and work has still not deterred them from passion projects, whether that means backpacking across Wyoming, producing music, or creating and managing a sports website with a staff of 12 writers. 

The 71 seniors in Rowland Hall’s graduating class earned admission to 114 different colleges and universities, and will matriculate to 44 institutions across the United States and Canada this fall. Over half the senior class was offered at least one merit scholarship to attend college. Yet college is far from the destination for these young adults. Rather, it is merely a stepping stone on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact. 

Congratulations to the class of 2019: you have already achieved many great things in your young lives, and we know the best is yet to come.

Students

Achievements of the Class of 2019

The graduates in Rowland Hall’s class of 2019 are a diverse and talented group of young people ready to make their mark on the world. During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

Seniors in this class pushed themselves academically through rigorous coursework during the year supplemented by summer learning at institutions including the University of Utah, Oxford University, Indiana University, and Stanford University. They completed internships with Wasatch Advisors, McNeill Von Maack, Avenues Pet Clinic, and Alliance for a Better Utah, among others, and continued their learning through independent study in subjects including Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and engineering. This class includes several top-tier debate students, including two winners of the National Speech and Debate Association’s Academic All-American Award and one student who, with her partner, finished third in this year’s Tournament of Champions—the most successful finish in Rowland Hall debate history.

The class of 2019 has no shortage of artists, ranging from dancers and musicians to poets and painters. Beyond performing in Rowland Hall productions, they have graced the stage with the University of Utah’s Youth Theatre Conservatory, the Utah Youth Philharmonic, the Salt Lake Dance Company, and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Several seniors in our Advanced Chamber Ensemble earned superior ratings year after year in state competitions, and one was named concertmaster for the Utah Music Educators Association All-State Orchestra this past winter. These young artists continued their creative studies during the summer at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and at Carnegie Mellon University, and one recently traveled to Australia to perform with Dance and the Child International. One talented young writer won the Jewish Community Center’s Annual Holocaust Poetry Competition, and another teaches poetry classes to children at the Sunnyvale Neighborhood Center.

Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships.

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 27 Region and nine State titles as teams. Eight of our seniors were named All-State, nine earned All-Region honors, and five were selected to play in the postseason All-Star games of their respective sports this year. Six Academic All-State and nine Academic All-Region honorees led seven of our athletic teams to earn the Top 2A Team GPA award for their sport this year, as designated by the Utah Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. Of the five seniors in Rowmark Ski Academy, all competed in the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) Western Region Junior Championships, and two competed in the U.S. Junior National Championships and U.S. National Championships. Their ski-racing successes include seven race wins the past two seasons, including a first-place in slalom in the FIS Western Region Junior Championship, nine total FIS podium finishes and a third place in the Intermountain Division Cup overall downhill standings. Outside of school, members of the class of 2019 pursued diverse athletics interests: two are avid sailors, one is a competitive CrossFit athlete, one is the winningest wrestler in the history of West High School, and another won the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award for his aptitude and performance as a baseball player.

Every graduating class includes students who have devoted countless hours volunteering throughout the community, and the people and organizations touched by our current students include: the National Ability Center, Women of the World, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Angel Flight West, the Road Home book club, Intermountain Healthcare, Girl Up, the Utah Pride Center, and the International Rescue Committee. These seniors also embraced leadership roles on campus, whether tutoring Middle School students, serving as college counseling ambassadors, or advocating for the work of our Queer-Straight Alliance. One attended the People of Color Conference and subsequently formed a thriving affinity group at Rowland Hall, another has been an active leader in the Salt Lake City chapter of B’nai B’rith Youth International since eighth grade, and two were instrumental in organizing last spring’s local March for Our Lives. 

During their years at our school, they excelled in the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing field and stage, in service to each other and our greater community, and by living with authenticity, courage, and hope.

A significant number of these students have also held down jobs while in school, ranging from hostessing at restaurants to working as mechanics to supporting the office management for their family businesses. Balancing school, service, and work has still not deterred them from passion projects, whether that means backpacking across Wyoming, producing music, or creating and managing a sports website with a staff of 12 writers. 

The 71 seniors in Rowland Hall’s graduating class earned admission to 114 different colleges and universities, and will matriculate to 44 institutions across the United States and Canada this fall. Over half the senior class was offered at least one merit scholarship to attend college. Yet college is far from the destination for these young adults. Rather, it is merely a stepping stone on their journeys to living lives of purpose and impact. 

Congratulations to the class of 2019: you have already achieved many great things in your young lives, and we know the best is yet to come.

Students

Explore Our Most Recent Stories

Podcasters rescording

Rowland Hall is excited to announce the release of our first podcast: princiPALS. Featuring Beginning School Principal Emma Wellman and Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus, princiPALS tackles big questions and ideas about how to raise children who thrive, and was created as an educational resource for our community.

When Rowland Hall uses the phrase 'community of learners' to describe our school, we mean it. We strive to offer adults at Rowland Hall, including parents and caretakers, opportunities for growth and development, just as we do for our students.—Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund

“When Rowland Hall uses the phrase community of learners to describe our school, we mean it,” said Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund. “We strive to offer adults at Rowland Hall, including parents and caretakers, opportunities for growth and development, just as we do for our students.” These opportunities—which also include lectures, discussions, readings, student panels, and film screenings—set the stage for school-wide success.

Parent and caretaker education supports lifelong learning, creates a community-wide culture of trust and vulnerability, and strengthens the critical Home & School partnership,” explained Ryan.

Director of Marketing and Communications Stephanie Orfanakis, who helped produce princiPALS, added, “The more tools we can access together, the better the outcome for children.” Stephanie also noted that a podcast is an ideal tool for those whose schedules may not allow much room for in-person gatherings. “Not all caregiving adults are available to attend education events,” she said. “A podcast is another option for engagement—parents can tune in when it’s convenient.”

PrinciPALS host, alumnus Conor Bentley ’01, agreed. "The work Jij and Emma do at Rowland Hall and the resources the school provides to families are important, and a podcast is an effective way to present that,” he said.

Those who listen to princiPALS can expect to not only benefit from Emma’s and Jij’s expertise, but to walk away with ideas they can immediately implement. The podcast’s first episode focuses on how to build children's resilience—a topic, Emma said, chosen for its continual relevance. "The research is clear: resilience is at least as important as talent in terms of long-term success," she explained. "We see the positive impact of helping kids develop resilience from a young age." Knowing this, she and Jij offer proven methods on building resilience that parents and caregivers can try out. This feature of princiPALS is important to the team, who want to use their positions to help make raising children easier. As Jij stated in the podcast’s introduction: “Parenting is hard. Teaching is hard. But both are a little bit easier when done in partnership.”

PrinciPALS episode 1, “Building Resilience in Children,” is now available on Rowland Hall’s website, or you can listen and subscribe on Stitcher. Apple Podcast coming soon.


Top photo, from left: Emma Wellman, Conor Bentley, and Jij de Jesus recording the first episode of princiPALS.

Community

Rowland Hall student essayists.

For the second-consecutive year, a Rowland Hall student has taken home the grand prize in the middle school category of the McCarthey Family Foundation’s Lecture Series Essay Contest. Eighth grader Omar Alsolaiman won $1,500 for his cogent interpretation of a famous Walter Cronkite quote on how freedom of the press is the bedrock of democracy.

Omar entered the contest because he thought it would be fun, he said, and a good opportunity to learn more about the Constitution and our rights. In the process of crafting his submission, he discovered a lot about the topic and his own writing style. “I learned that I prefer writing a detailed outline that allows me to organize my thoughts and then practically copy and paste them into the final essay,” he said. “I also learned that I am often a writer who struggles to ‘cut the fat.’” But cut the fat, he did: Omar’s essay clocked in at 493 words, just under the competition’s 500-word limit. He was surprised, excited, and grateful, he said, to learn his hard work paid off with a win.

In addition to Omar’s win, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi and senior Kajal Ganesh landed finalist nods in their respective categories. Aiden was also a finalist last year.

In addition to Omar’s win, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi and senior Kajal Ganesh landed finalist nods in their respective categories. Aiden was also a finalist last year, when then-eighth-grader Arden Louchheim won. Read last year’s story.

The total number of contest submissions grew to 456 this year, up from 400 last year, and the number of middle school entries doubled. Foundation Trustee Philip G. McCarthey—also the vice chair of Rowland Hall’s Board of Trustees—complimented the quality of submissions. "The essays reflected an exceptionally well-informed student population keenly aware of the challenges facing press freedom in our society today,” he said. 

Omar will be recognized during the November 9 McCarthey Family Foundation Lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian Jon Meacham. Rowland Hall hosts this popular annual event but that doesn’t factor into the contest: judges aren’t told essayists’ names or schools.

Below is Omar’s essay, unedited by Rowland Hall.

Views expressed in the following essay are those of the writer and don't necessarily represent those of Rowland Hall and its employees.


Essay Question for Utah Students in Grades Six Through Eight

“Freedom of the press is not just important to democracy, it is democracy.” —Walter Cronkite

In an essay of no more than 500 words, (1) explain the meaning of this quote and (2) provide examples to support your explanation.

Winner

By Omar Alsolaiman, Rowland Hall eighth grader

We inherited our democratic government from people who believed that freedom of the press was valuable enough to be enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The American belief in this right dates all the way back to a time even before America in one of the most famous pre-colonial trials, the Zenger Trial. Peter Zenger, an immigrant in New York, published articles critical of the royal governor William Cosby. Cosby was so angered that he charged Zenger with libel and jailed him, a strategy that backfired when the public supported Zenger. The jury quickly freed him, establishing that in a democratic society, anything that could be proved could be published. 

History proves Walter Cronkite right; freedom of the press came before American democracy. But to truly understand his quote, we need to understand the two main reasons that freedom of the press is so essential to democracy. First, the power of the press can expand democracy. Secondly, democracy is about the ability of communities to make informed decisions according to what they want. Without a free press, the people can be kept in the dark about the issues that affect their communities.

Democracy is about the ability of communities to make informed decisions according to what they want. Without a free press, the people can be kept in the dark about the issues that affect their communities.—Omar Alsolaiman

Throughout American history, the press has been a tool for expanding the ability of people to participate in democracy, allowing the U.S. to become more democratic over time. David Graham Phillips was a muckraker, a term for journalists who exposed problems and advocated for solutions during the early 20th century. In The Treason of the Senate, he exposed the corruption of the United States Senate at the time which eventually led to the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an amendment that established a popular election for senators. In this way, freedom of the press allowed for an expansion of democracy, handing more power to the people. The amendment made corruption more difficult since senators needed to rely on the support of many people, not just a few state legislators. 

It is not only national journalism that matters though. The communities we live in each have their own problems which can’t be solved without exposure through the press. In 2017, Rebecca Liebson, a student reporter at Stony Brook University broke the story that the administration would be cutting their budget, many different departments, and laying off over 20 professors from the school. The campus became outraged by this plan which would not have been exposed without Liebson. The administration attempted to scare her into silence. However, this only proves the power of the press. Stony Brook wanted to preserve its reputation while doing unpopular things, hiding the truth from the people who could punish it by leaving, not donating, or protesting. Democracies only work when people like Liebson do their civic duty to keep people informed about what goes on in their communities. Leaders always prefer their actions happen in the dark so that they can encounter no opposition, but as Justice Brandeis said, “sunlight . . . is the best disinfectant.”


Top photo: From left, seventh grader Aiden Gandhi, eighth grader Omar Alsolaiman, and senior Kajal Ganesh.

Student Voices

AJ Oliver skiing in Timeless.

Rowland Hall and Rowmark Ski Academy alumnus A.J. Oliver ’07 and Marcus Caston—a Rowmark postgraduate skier from 2007 to 2009—grace the powdery screen in Timeless, the latest Warren Miller Entertainment movie getting skiers stoked for winter. 

Though Marcus has been in several Warren Miller movies, Timeless is A.J.’s first. Both Rowmark alums have turned skiing into their livelihoods and are backed by big-name sponsors such as Patagonia, Head, Helly Hansen, and POC. A.J. is currently a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort and an outdoor guide in the off-season—read his recent profile in the Ogden Standard-Examiner. And Marcus has a robust résumé that includes several magazine covers—read his 2017 Ski magazine profile.

A.J. and Marcus expect to be at the following local showings of Timeless. Catch them before or after the movie and tell them hi, from Rowland Hall and Rowmark. 

Jeanne Wagner Theatre, Salt Lake City
Thursday, October 24, at 7 pm
Friday, October 25, at 6 and 9 pm

Eccles Center, Park City
Saturday, October 26, at 6 pm

The duo also stopped by the Rowmark office October 23 for a Q&A with staff, including Rowmark Director Todd Brickson. Watch the video on the Rowmark Facebook page, or read the highlights below, edited for length and context.

A.J., how did Rowland Hall shape you?

A.J.: The education that you get here is second to none. It really prepares you for when you go to college. I remember sliding into freshman year pretty comfortably and not feeling like I was overwhelmed or underprepared. I went to Rocky Mountain College in Billings, and it was very natural moving to a small liberal arts school from Rowland Hall because the curriculum is similar.

And how did Rowmark shape both of you?

Marcus: When I was here as a PG I was just focused on skiing and that was my life. It teaches you how to buckle down, focus on one thing, and work hard.

A.J.: Rowland Hall prepares you in some of the same ways, but being in a program structured like Rowmark, you learn to hold yourself accountable and get out there and do the work, and that's the only way you're going to get where you want to go. And so that sticks with you moving forward—that sense of self-accountability.

What’s your favorite Rowmark memory?

Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.—Rowmark/Rowland Hall alum A.J. Oliver ’07

A.J.: [Laughs] I might get Todd in trouble, but trust-falling off the top of the short bus at Bear Lake. Man, that's a fall—right off the top of the ski rack. That one sticks with me for sure.

Marcus: The people I got to ski with. You become family, you spend all your time together throughout the winter traveling, and you get to know one another. And that's something that at the time you take for granted, but you don't really have that in life—a group of people you go out and ski with and spend time with every day.

Do you keep up with people from your cohorts?

A.J.: Absolutely. This week in particular has been exciting. I’m looking forward to a few days at home and seeing old classmates and teammates. Whenever we get back together there's definitely a sense of camaraderie and a bond that doesn't go away.

What was it like to be in a Warren Miller production?

Marcus Caston skiing in Timeless

Marcus Caston skis in Timeless. (Photo by Cam McLeod)

Marcus: I went to Chamonix, and I’ve always wanted to go. It’s legendary in the ski world. If you’re a skier, you know Chamonix has the biggest and steepest mountains, so it’s known for its extreme skiing. I was pretty nervous going into it just because you build it up in your head, and the hype is real. It’s steep, and it’s icy, and it’s scary. But lucky for me, conditions weren’t in for the steep stuff, so I got to kind of ease my way in a little bit. And being in Europe is always great—it’s just a cool ski experience. Skiing is life over there—they’ve got it down: huts and good food up on the mountain.

A.J.: It was a blast. It was an all-new experience. It was super cool to call Marcus after growing up skiing together and kind of dreaming if this would ever happen. It’s cool to be on the big screen together. I got to go to the Monashee Range in British Columbia and ski with another PSA [Professional Ski Instructors of America] instructor, Brenna Kelleher, who is a sibling of another Rowmark alum, Keely Kelleher ’03. And then Glen Plake tagged along on our trip, so that was a blast. It was super fun to ski with a guy who’s such an industry icon and to learn from him and draw from his experience.

Tell us about Glen Plake.

A.J.: Glen Plake is the most famous mohawk in skiing.

Marcus: He was a mogul skier. He was in all the original Greg Stump films and a bunch of Warren Miller films. He’s the guy who kind of started what we do. He’s the man.

You grew up watching him. So what was it like to actually ski with him in a movie?

A.J.: It was everything I’d hoped it would be. He is everything that he exudes on camera—that’s not an act. He is just a to-the-core skier and he loves it.

Marcus: I was pretty jealous [laughter]; I didn’t ski with him. It’s funny—the director called me up and said, ‘We’re going up to Canada. Do you know A.J. Oliver?’ I was like, ‘No way. Yes. How do I get on this trip?’” I never did.

A.J.: You were thinking you might be able to be the tripod guy there for a minute.

Marcus: I was trying to go hold bags just so I could go hang out.

What were your favorite parts of filming Timeless?

I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them.—Marcus Caston, Rowmark PG 2007–2009

A.J.: Skiing with Glen was definitely a takeaway. Just being able to be around him and draw from that experience. It’s super cool to hear his stories and all the places he’s been. The Monashees are cool, though. It was some new terrain and that’s always fun. It’s a blast getting to do stuff you haven’t done before. It was fun to explore the Monashees, because those are the Rocky Mountains. They know how to do it in Canada.

Marcus: I got to film with Erin Mielzynski, who races World Cup for Canada, and Mattias Hargin, who is a Swedish World Cup slalom skier—he won the Kitzbuehel slalom and just recently retired. This was their first film shoot, too. So I was with these two World Cup slalom skiers, they were skiing these big mountains for the first time, and that was really cool. I look up to them. Mattias is a good freeskier. Erin grew up in eastern Canada ski racing on this little hill. She never goes freeskiing, so it was really cool to see somebody who, skiing is their entire life, and they get to experience the sport in a different way. So that was the highlight of my trip for me, was to watch Erin experience a different side of skiing.

Why should people see this movie?

Marcus: It’s the kickoff to winter. Some people have been coming out every year for 50 years—it’s tradition. There’s something for everybody. It’s a great adventure, there’s amazing cinematography, and it’s just fun.

A.J.: Seeing a Warren Miller film really embodies the community that is our industry. Any time that we can have a nice social gathering around skiing, that’s always a good thing.

What are your future skiing goals and plans?

That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better.—A.J. Oliver ’07

A.J.: That’s always a tough one to answer because it’s the ever-changing answer. Things are always evolving. But in five to 10 years, hopefully I’m still teaching skiing and trying to get better. That’s one of the great things about this sport. If you do it for life you get addicted to that pursuit of always getting better. So my goals for five to 10 years from now are to still be learning and growing, and hopefully spending as many days on snow as I can.

Marcus: I’m down with short-term goals.

A.J.: Like, what am I going to eat for breakfast? [Laughs]

Marcus: If you’re like, ‘In five years I’m going to be right here,’ then you might have an opportunity that you miss. Whereas if you’re living in the moment, you may take more in.

A.J.: Goal-setting with Marcus and A.J.

What do you do in the off-season for training and for fun?

A.J.: I try to wrap my training and my fun up in the same activity. I’ve been trying to stay in shape and not have to go to the gym. In the off-season I do a lot of mountain biking. I ride my horse a fair amount, which isn’t the most aerobic thing in the world. But when you’re hiking around the woods and running around the backcountry all summer, that usually keeps you in shape.

Marcus: Horseback riding is good for your legs, though, right?

A.J.: Yeah, it is a lot of lower-body strength. I also do a little bit of rock climbing when this guy will drag me.

Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.—Marcus Caston

Marcus: I do a lot of hiking and climbing. It’s nice to stay outside and in the mountains. Hiking and climbing are also really good mentally. Skiing can be scary, so if you can scare yourself every once in awhile in the summer, it’s not so scary when you get back on skis.

What advice do you have for Rowmarkers and other young skiers who want to do what you do?

A.J.: The biggest thing is just staying in it—having the resolve to be in skiing and the industry and not have anything else be an option. If you’re in it for long enough, people decide to do other stuff and they fall away. But if you’re committed to it, things are going to happen for you. It’s definitely a small and welcoming industry if you have the drive to be part of it.

Marcus: Love skiing and love whatever it is you do. Making movies is not easy. It’s hard and it’s cold. Sometimes it gets really tough—you can be sitting there waiting for the light for two hours. I was in Norway a couple of years ago and we were on top of this mountain and the clouds came in. We had to build an igloo, and we sat in this little igloo, freezing for six hours because we couldn’t see anything. You just have to remind yourself why you’re there: because you love skiing and everything that comes with it—the traveling and all the people. And that’s not just for skiing, that’s everything. Just love what you do. And advice to Rowmarkers would be enjoy it now because life gets harder...It’s still fun, but not as fun.

A.J.: Don’t take it too seriously now because you’ll have plenty of time to be serious when you get older. Have fun.


Top: A.J. Oliver skis in Timeless. (Photo by SkyScope)

Rowmark

Four students sitting around their teacher, learning about computers and circuits.

After years of watching CSforAll Summit videos online, Rowland Hall alumnus and computer science teacher Ben Smith ’89 is elated to attend the national conference in person: the third-annual event is happening October 21–23 here in Salt Lake City, at the University of Utah.

In conjunction with the summit, CSforAll asks participants to make a specific commitment to support the ultimate goal of “making high-quality computer science an integral part of the educational experience of all K-12 students and teachers.” Accordingly, Rowland Hall is committing to increase girls’ participation in computer science to more closely mirror the school's demographics. 

Read on for a Q&A with Ben about that commitment, the summit, and why this matters to Rowland Hall.

Graphic: Rowland Hall commits to increasing the participation of girls in computer science.

Who from Rowland Hall is attending the CSforAll Summit?  

I’m going with Chief Information Officer Patrick Godfrey and Director of Technology Integration Christian Waters. It’s Rowland Hall’s first time sending anyone. The summit was originally held in the Obama White House for the first few years, and now it travels to a new city each year. This is a great opportunity to have this event in our hometown, very close to the school.

The summit is the one place each year that focuses on equity, inclusion, and access to CS for all students, a goal that Rowland Hall and the computer science program have been dedicated to for quite some time.—Computer Science teacher Ben Smith ’89

Why are you excited to attend the summit?

I’m a member of the CSforAll teacher community, and I watch the announcements and videos coming out of the summit each year. The summit is the one place each year that focuses on equity, inclusion, and access to CS for all students, a goal that Rowland Hall and the computer science program have been dedicated to for quite some time.

Why did we set a broad commitment, as opposed to a narrow one (for instance, “launch a coding camp”)?

We wanted a commitment that each division and each teacher could adopt, even if the method by which they accomplish it varies based on circumstances. Perhaps one division could pursue integrating CS into all science and math classrooms, thereby reaching all students, while another one might make a concerted effort at recruitment strategies, and another might reconfigure the course offerings or schedule to accommodate CS for all students.

What do you hope to get out of the conference that will help us reach our goal?

I hope to hear from people about structures, innovative strategies, and methods for making our commitment possible. There are some important topics at the conference, such as "Teaching Ethics and Social Impacts of Computing in K–12 CS," "Building a Supportive Pathway for Girls in CS, Engineering, and Beyond," and "Inspiring Engagement through Popular Culture and Media."

What has our male/female CS participation looked like in the past several years?

We’ve tracked participation in tech and CS classes in the Middle School and Upper School for six years. In both divisions, we’ve moved the needle for girls participating in CS classes closer to our school demographics (which are roughly 50/50), with the Middle School reaching a high in 2017 of 40% participation by girls. This year, the Advanced Placement CS courses in the Upper School have 60% girls—a majority for the first time at Rowland Hall. We still have challenges with the competing interests of sports, theater, dance, and music on students’ schedules, as CS is not a required course. What’s impressive is that we’ve been able to consciously and successfully close the gap for girls, though we still need to look at students of color and other demographic factors.

Add anything else you think is important.

Rowland Hall's CS, engineering, and STEM program has grown immensely in the last six years, and we’re on the precipice of changes and adoption at all divisions.

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