Custom Class: post-landing-hero

Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”


Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.

Alumni

Claire Wang ’15: Rhodes Scholar, Climate Advocate
Winged Lions on the Rise—title page graphic featuring six alumni.

Editor's note: this is one of six profiles republished from Rowland Hall's 2018–2019 Annual Report feature story, "Winged Lions on the Rise." Millennial alumni are finding their voices and already shaping their fields and communities—from physics to film, music to medical innovations, and environmental policy to conservation-minded real estate. Learn how Rowland Hall impacted them, and how they’re impacting the world. From left, Jared Ruga ’06, Claire Wang ’15, Phinehas Bynum ’08, Jeanna Tachiki Ryan ’01, Tyler Ruggles ’05, and Sarah Day ’06.


In her daily fight against climate change, Claire Wang’s weapons of choice include her bicycle, travel utensils, and reusable water bottle.

But the 21-year-old’s real arsenal is her character: her empathy, intellect, and contagious optimism that she wields to mobilize peers, negotiate with institutions, and drive environmental progress locally and nationally. Now, Rowland Hall’s first Rhodes Scholar graduates to the global stage.

There’s no choice but to be hopeful. We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.—Claire Wang ’15

In Claire, the daunting problem of climate change finds a formidable opponent: the former nationally ranked Rowland Hall debater loves what she does and refuses to be discouraged. “There’s no choice but to be hopeful,” she said. “We have a collective obligation to keep working towards a better future. Giving up would be a selfish act.”

Claire was always interested in science and environmentalism; after coming to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, relevant curriculum furthered her interest in climate advocacy, while debate turned her into a policy wonk. In high school, she started volunteering for Utah Clean Energy through a school connection. “That was the moment I realized that I love this work and I want to do it for a living,” Claire said. “Rowland Hall was really supportive of that.” As a senior, she co-organized a press conference—held at the McCarthey Campus and covered by local news outlets—advocating against new fees on solar panels. And just before she finished high school, the Sierra Club asked her to help plan a national youth-led movement for renewable energy.

Claire Wang speaks with a broadcast news reporter at a 2015 press conference on solar panels, held at Rowland Hall.

Claire graduated as valedictorian and accepted a full ride to Duke University, where she majored in environmental science and policy. As a freshman, she worked with college administrators to secure Duke’s official support for renewable-energy policy reform. Then, Duke Energy—a large utility company unaffiliated with the university—announced plans to build a natural-gas plant on the university’s campus. It was the first of eight small-scale gas plants planned for the Carolinas. Claire spent two years fighting the campus plant proposal, and the university suspended the plans in spring 2018. Since then, none of the other North Carolina plants have entered the planning process. “Turning the tide early with the first plant ended up being really impactful,” Claire said.

Claire thrived in community campaigns at Duke and beyond—she even won prestigious Truman and Udall Scholarships in recognition of her work—and envisioned a career in national policy. But a 2018 study-abroad program on climate change and the politics of food, water, and energy spurred a shift. She visited a hydroelectric dam in Vietnam, and an ethnic-minority community displaced because of that dam. She also learned about how extreme weather impacts farmers, from drought in Bolivia to hail in Morocco. Now, Claire wants to reduce financing for fossil-fuel infrastructure, especially in developing countries. “We're not going to be able to achieve a livable climate future without cutting those back,” she said.

Eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” Claire said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”

That global perspective drove Claire to apply for the Rhodes Scholarship—the oldest award for international study, covering graduate school at England’s University of Oxford. When she learned she’d been selected, Claire was elated, but incredulous. “It was a mix of nervousness, excitement, pride, and a general sense of, ‘Wait, did this actually happen?’”

Claire will be at Oxford for two years, starting with a one-year master’s in environmental change and management. She expects to land in policy, perhaps working for the government or an international group. Regardless, she’ll be doing work that’s meaningful to her, and she encourages other young people to follow suit: eschew the conventional belief that salaries define successful careers. “Instead, focus on the impact you have on the world,” she said. “What you do with your life is not just a job—it’s a legacy.”


Top photo: Claire in front of the United States Capitol. Over the summer, Claire interned with the Natural Resources Defense Council as part of the Truman Scholars' Summer Institute.

Alumni

Explore Our Most Recent Stories

Mick Gee, Rowland Hall's 20th head of school

On October 24, Rowland Hall officially welcomed Mick Gee, our 20th head of school, to the community with a virtual installation.

Mick has taken over the leadership of Rowland Hall at a significant moment in history, bringing with him over 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in public and independent schools in the United States and England. Mick chose to come to Rowland Hall for its caring community, talented faculty and staff, and strong Board of Trustees, and he looks forward to building on the school’s strengths.

We invite you to enjoy the above video, featuring Mick and several community members. We hope that, though we were unable to have an in-person installation, the film helps you feel connected to this historic moment.

Community

Masked Beginning School students play outside on the McCarthey Campus.

Will our youngest learners wear masks? This question was on many early educators’ minds this summer as schools considered how to return to in-person learning—which experts agree is best for children—in the fall.

At Rowland Hall, administrators began working toward this goal in the spring, closely monitoring scientific data and the most current recommendations from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as consulting with local medical experts. Since then, the school has put into place many guidelines and procedures to allow for in-person learning, including requiring all students and adults on our campuses to wear face coverings.

In Rowland Hall’s Beginning School—which serves students in 3PreK, 4PreK, and kindergarten—teachers spent the summer consulting resources and considering how they would approach mask wearing with the school’s youngest learners. They ultimately decided to teach this new life skill like they would any other—using the positive, supportive approach that the Beginning School is known for. But unlike washing hands, tying shoelaces, or zipping coats, mask wearing has an added layer of the unknown, plus built-in anxiety tied to the pandemic behind the requirement. As summer drew to a close, the teachers wondered: Would kids actually wear masks? And how much time would adults have to spend managing them? 

They didn’t have to wait long for an answer, which became clear the very first week of school: not only are Rowland Hall’s youngest students willing to wear masks, but they’re wearing them without complaint and with minimal reminders.

“They’re doing awesome,” said Isabelle Buhler, 4PreK lead teacher. “It’s amazing what kids can do.”

They really respond to keeping each other safe.—Gail Rose, 3PreK lead teacher

In fact, wearing masks alongside their peers at school is proving to be a powerful way to help normalize this behavior in children. Teachers are also keeping discussions about masks positive, focusing on community benefits to appeal to young children’s natural empathy. In Gail Rose’s 3PreK class, for instance, she and assistant teacher Kirsten White explain that each child plays a role in keeping the class, and the larger school community, safe and healthy. As a result, instead of thinking about masks as a hindrance, kids view them as a way to care for their friends.

“They really respond to keeping each other safe,” said Gail.

And while educators, parents, and caregivers were understandably worried that masks would affect children’s school experience—with concerns varying from whether they would alter their ability to socialize normally to whether kids could breathe comfortably—the Beginning School teachers are happy to report that this hasn’t been the case at Rowland Hall.

“After a few days, it seemed like the kids forgot they had a mask,” said Isabelle. Gail added, “It is not interfering with their ability to have fun at school at all.”

Katie Williams with kindergarten students (and the class' masked mascots).

Katie Williams playing a game with three of her kindergartners. Masked mascots Roary and Mabel are also pictured.

The teachers often hear children kindly reminding one another to pull up masks that have slipped beneath noses, and they marvel at how children have embraced new rules, like sitting six feet apart, without a problem. Lead kindergarten teacher Katie Williams recalled an early experience that illustrated to her how quickly students accepted mask wearing: after she and assistant teacher Beth Ott discussed masks on the first day of school, students pointed out that Mabel, the stuffed elephant from their phonics unit, wasn’t masked. Katie remembered thinking, “Whoa, this is so normal for them.” Since then, all of the class’s stuffed animals have been given masks (the teachers even use Roary, Rowland Hall’s mascot, to drive home skills by bringing him to morning circle with his mask on wrong so the kids can correct him). It was a powerful reminder of how resilient little people are—and how they can surprise adults when given the chance.

“They can do anything, those kids,” said Isabelle. “They’re unbelievable.”


Encouraging Mask Wearing: Our Teachers’ Top Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Downloadable Tips: Encouraging Mask Wearing Among Young Children

   ↪ Download our tips (PDF)

At Rowland Hall’s Beginning School, mask wearing is viewed and taught as a life skill—and like any other life skill, practice makes perfect. Below, teachers share their top tips for parents and caregivers who want to continue building mask-wearing skills outside of school.

  • Model mask wearing. Continue to normalize mask wearing by letting your children see you putting on your mask whenever possible.

  • Let children be the teachers. Give children opportunities to teach the mask-wearing skills they are learning at school. Ask them to remind you of the proper way to put on a mask, for example, or to show you on a favorite stuffed animal (this is especially helpful for kids who need to practice the fine-motor skills required for putting on masks).

  • Talk about the importance of masks, but don’t give too much information. Short, simple answers are best for this age group (“We wear masks to help keep us and our friends safe”). Check out Wearing a Mask, a free Autism Little Learners story, for help guiding conversations (Gail and Kirsten read this story aloud on the first day of school).

  • Help children choose the best masks for them. Like adults, kids want their masks to be comfortable, but you might need to do some searching to find one that fits your child’s face. Look for masks that comfortably cover the nose and mouth but don't move when the child talks. Also check that masks don't pinch or squish ears (consider styles that let you adjust elastic length) and experiment with fabrics—our teachers recommend cotton, but advise against neoprene (it loses its shape over the day).

  • Give children mask-related tasks. Kids want to help keep their families safe, so give them jobs like handing out masks to family members every morning. Also, let your children choose the masks they want to wear each day as a simple, fun way to build their autonomy.

  • Keep extra masks on hand. You never know when a mask will become uncomfortable, dirty, wet, or lost. Keep spares in places like the glovebox or purse, and remember to pack extras in your children’s school bags.

  • Praise children. It can be hard to wear a mask all day. Remind your children how proud you are of them for keeping on their masks and protecting others.


Community

Troy Price with the 2019–2020 All Mountain Rippers.

After a four-month delay caused by the global pandemic, the US Ski & Snowboard Intermountain Division (IMD) announced on September 22 their 2019–2020 season awards. We are thrilled to share that Rowmark Junior Program Director Troy Price was named IMD Official of the Year.

Rowmark Junior Program Director Troy Price

An already well-recognized coach (Troy was most recently named US Ski and Snowboard’s Development Coach of the Year in 2018), Troy’s career is marked by an exceptional commitment to his student-athletes and colleagues, as well as to the larger division—he is actively involved with IMD, running yearly officials’ clinics and, this month, completing studies to become a International Ski Federation (FIS) technical delegate, the senior alpine official at internationally scored events. With the completion of this certification, Troy has become the division’s first new FIS technical delegate in 25 years—a necessity for this area of the country.

“There is a desperate need for this certification in our division and region,” said Rowmark Program Director Todd Brickson, who also noted that Troy takes on both his IMD and Rowmark tasks “with tremendous passion and knowledge of our great sport.”

As someone who is enthusiastic about helping to improve the ski-racing experience for athletes not only in Utah, but throughout the West, Troy is honored to be recognized by his peers for his work—although he is quick to point out that he is one of many working toward this goal.

“All alpine officials play a critical role to ensure our athletes have a safe environment and to enforce the rules of our sport. Our division is full of great individuals willing to donate their time and expertise,” Troy said. “I have had the pleasure to follow the lead of many great officials that have guided me throughout my career. I now have the pleasure to share my experience with the next generation and some outstanding folks who volunteer their time throughout our division. I look forward to continuing my education and giving back to the sport for many years to come.”

In addition to Troy’s recognition, five Rowmark student-athletes were recognized by IMD:

The breadth of the awards, both academic and athletic, across all ski racing disciplines is a reflection of our Rowmark values of teamwork, balance, and determination.

  • Carter Louchheim ’20 was named the 2019–2020 season’s Alan Hayes Intermountain Scholar for his athletic and academic achievements.

  • Harry Hoffman ’23 earned the Bryce Astle Intermountain Cup Award for men’s overall, as well as Intermountain Cup Awards for men’s slalom (first place), men’s giant slalom (first place), and men’s super-G (second place).

  • Elisabeth Bocock ’23 earned the Bryce Astle Intermountain Cup Award for women’s overall, as well as Intermountain Cup Awards for women’s slalom (third place), women’s giant slalom (first place), and women’s super-G (second place).

  • Jack AbuHaidar ’22 earned an Intermountain Cup Award in men’s giant slalom (third place).

  • Dagny Brickson ’21 earned an Intermountain Cup Award in women’s downhill (second place).


“I'm so pleased to have so many Rowmark athletes receiving awards from our Intermountain Division,” said Troy. “Carter, Harry, Elisabeth, Jack, and Dagny all came through the Rowmark Junior Program. It is extremely rewarding to see them continue their love for the sport and their pursuit of excellence.”

Todd echoed Troy and said Rowmark is proud of its award winners. “The breadth of the awards, both academic and athletic, across all ski racing disciplines is a reflection of our Rowmark values of teamwork, balance, and determination.”


Banner photo: Troy Price, left, with coaches Megan Hanrahan and Jay Sawyer and some of the members of the Rowmark Junior 2019–2020 All-Mountain Rippers team.

Rowmark

Upper School girls soccer coach Colette Smith on the Steiner Campus fields.

Rowland Hall is thrilled to welcome Colette Smith to Winged Lion Athletics.

Rowland Hall girls soccer head coach Colette Smith.

Colette Smith

Colette joined Rowland Hall in summer 2020 as head coach of the Upper School girls soccer team, taking the reins from longtime coach Bobby Kennedy (BK, to players), who now teaches physical education and coaches girls soccer at Rowland Hall’s Middle School. With her impressive resume, Colette is an ideal successor to BK, who led the Winged Lions to three State Championship victories.

“Colette brings with her a wealth of soccer background, both as a decorated player and as a successful coach,” said Athletics Director Kendra Tomsic. “She has brought on board two equally qualified assistants, Annie Hawkins and Haylee Cacciacarne. Together, this dynamite staff—full of positive energy, enthusiasm, and love of the game—is inspiring our team to a very successful 2020 season.”

To help introduce Colette to the Rowland Hall community, we asked her to play a round of 20 questions. Her answers—lightly edited for style and context—appear below.


1. Welcome to Rowland Hall! This summer you joined our community as head coach of the Upper School girls soccer team. Why did you choose to come to Rowland Hall?

I applied for the job and after the first interview knew it was a special community. I wanted to be a part of something that I believed in, both on a soccer and community level.

2. Soccer has been a major part of your life. How did you first become interested in the sport?

I have four brothers that played. My dad also played soccer, and he and I would go to the park to play. It was the best because we’d just play. He didn’t coach or expect anything. I just followed him with the ball.

3. You’re not new to coaching. You previously assisted Davis High School to three state and two national championships, and you coached the Utah Royals FC Reserves to a runner-up spot in the Women's Premier Soccer League National Championship in their inaugural season. What’s the number-one thing you’ve learned about coaching (so far)?

It’s all about the players. I genuinely care for every player and respect their needs and feedback. My job is to help them be their best. That takes us understanding each other.

4. What do you think is the best thing about coaching at the high school level?

Being with the team almost every day. We are able to implement tactics and build off each game and practice. I also enjoy getting to know the girls. It is a rather quick season, but we spend so much time together and that makes it so much fun.

5. In addition to coaching, you have an impressive background as a player—you played for Brigham Young University, where you captained the team to two West Coast Conference Championships and an NCAA tournament run to the Elite Eight, and you played professionally for Real Salt Lake Women and Utah Royals FC. What moment from your own athletic career are you most proud of?

I am honestly just happy I got to play the game I love competitively for so long.

The girls have learned that they can do hard things. They are sacrificing to be able to play the sport they love. I am incredibly proud of them every day.

6. We’ve been hearing a lot about challenges in athletics this fall due to COVID-19, but do you think there are unique opportunities or benefits to this season?

The girls have learned that they can do hard things. They are sacrificing to be able to play the sport they love. I am incredibly proud of them every day.

7. Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about who you are off the field. What three words would you use to describe yourself when you’re off duty?

Mom, playful, adventurer.

8. Where’s your happy place?

Outdoors.

9. Where do you want to travel next? (You know, when air travel isn’t quite so scary.)

Greece.

The Rowland Hall girls soccer coaching team looks on at a September 2020 game.

Colette and her coaching staff look on as the Winged Lions play the Logan High School Grizzlies on August 27.

10. What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a busy day?

Reading books with my boys.

11. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Plums.

12. What book do you read over and over?

Atomic Habits by James Clear.

13. What was your favorite subject in high school?

Psychology.

14. What’s your family’s favorite thing to do on the weekend?

Mountain bike.

15. What’s one fun fact about you that you don’t often get to share?

I broke my jaw and had it wired shut.

16. Who’s your favorite soccer player of all time?

Mia Hamm.

17. Is there a sport you enjoy watching or playing besides soccer?

Spikeball and pickleball.

18. Who has been one of the biggest influences in your life?

My husband.

Every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become.

19. To wrap things up, let’s talk a bit about your goals during your first season at Rowland Hall. We know that playing sports helps young adults build important life skills. What top life skills do you want to help build in your student-athletes this season?

Confidence in themselves and empathy for others.

20. What’s one piece of advice you have learned over your career that you want your players to keep in mind this year?

Every action you take is like a vote for the type of person you want to become.

Athletics

You Belong at Rowland Hall