Give

Refresh page when toggling 'compose' mode on and off to edit.

Recommended Image Size: 1440px wide by 600px tall
(this text will not display with 'compose' mode off or on live site)

Welcome, Parents of Alumni!

You're valued members of our community, and we hope you enjoy a rewarding association with the school even after your students graduate. You're invited to attend community events, join volunteer committees, and remain connected with other Rowland Hall families!

We hope you will join us for our annual Parents of Alumni gathering this spring. Save the Dates will be emailed in the fall, so please update your contact information using the link below.

Resources & Important Links

Parents of Alumni Co-Chairs

Janes Family

Greg and Anne Elliott, parents of alumni Keith '99, Michael '01, and Elizabeth '07.

School Stories from Fine Print Magazine

Students Reflect on Creation of AI-Inspired Dance Concert, ‘Integrated’

In preparation for this year’s dance concert, Integrated, middle and upper school students researched topics related to technology, AI, and how we as humans relate to these machines in our everyday lives. Students thought critically about their personal experiences with tech and created pieces inspired by their findings and curiosities. Their works explore how we can utilize AI as a resource moving forward, while also giving space to the many moral and existential questions that come along with developing non-human intelligence. Two Upper School students, Hayley Trockman and Mattie Sulivan, reflected on their own processes and interviewed peers to give the audience an inside look into the complex questions underlying this year’s concert.


Reflecting on Process: Dance Students’ Voices on Integrated

By Hayley Trockman, Class of 2024, and Mattie Sullivan, Class of 2025

During the summer workshop our dance teachers, Sophia Cutrubus ’18 and Grace Riter ’18, presented us with the question: how can we express our thoughts about the advancement of technology through dance? At first, we were unaware of just how many different paths we could take to explore this growing industry. But as we dove deeper, we discovered that this topic left us with endless questions and conversations to have. Both our Intermediate and Advanced Dance Ensembles classes endeavored to answer these questions with open minds and a willingness to delve into our movement explorations.

How can we express our thoughts about the advancement of technology through dance?

Junior Mattie Sullivan decided to ruminate on their individual relationship to transforming technologies, using their piece to uncover a duality that often comes with spending huge amounts of time online.

“When I was presented with the theme of this year's dance concert I felt excited, overwhelmed, and honestly scared,” said Mattie. “Walking into dance class this year, I was full of ideas but really struggling to articulate them. Even a couple of days ago I was reminded of our initial question: can you really express all of these feelings through dance? But in the few weeks leading up to the concert, I feel confident that our relationships with AI and technology have and will continue to be voiced.”

They continued, “The Internet has been my primary form of communication with those I care about and my main source of entertainment. On the flip side, I have observed the detrimental effects an Internet addiction can have on a person. For my piece, I focused on both of these aspects of Internet usage. By manipulating the energy qualities of my movement I was able to portray both loneliness and connection. In our creative processes, we dove into the complexities of using the Internet and AI, and through movement we have been able to tell our unique stories.”

In Mattie’s work with the Iron Lions robotics team captain, junior Evan Weinstein, they discussed how technology has a different kind of intelligence than humans do. Evan highlighted that we don’t need to fear AI; rather, we should focus on how we set boundaries around its use.

He said, “AI is incredibly important because as we learn to harness the power of computing, technological strides become more accessible. When we don’t need to worry about spending time regulating budgets and doing mundane tasks, the future workforce will be able to put our collective energy towards doing new things while AI can maintain what we already know. Additionally, AI will be able to pick up on patterns that humans can’t. This level of pattern recognition can also help us predict and regulate our response to relevant social and environmental issues.”

While neural networks and AI are incredible tools, they are just that—tools. We can learn to use them as innovators and problem solvers, but at the end of the day they can only perform as well as we teach them.

Evan also pointed out, “While neural networks and AI are incredible tools, they are just that—tools. We can learn to use them as innovators and problem solvers, but at the end of the day they can only perform as well as we teach them. AI is an advancement that we need to understand and accept. I urge the support of AI and hope that we can help learn within our communities to set our generation up for success.”

Senior Hayley Trockman gave a look into what her process looked like as she learned about how AI-generated images are created.

“I believe in integrating technology into our lives with human intelligence guiding its role,” said Hayley. “I began the process of choreographing a piece that specifically looked into the ways that AI-produced images are created from our insecurities and unrealistic beauty standards. However, after speaking with Rowland Hall staff member Ashley Atwood, her advice of ‘accepting the new and upcoming’ resonated with me. I realized that we can’t put all of the blame on technology—because we are actually the ones feeding it the ideal body image through our engagement with social media. Whether it be likes and positive reactions, or critical comments, AI recognizes this trend in data and takes that information to generate its own images. My piece is a commentary on that process. The use of mirrors as props represents how AI-generated images become both reflections and distortions of our own insecurities.”

Senior Lauren Bates pivoted the conversation in a new direction, with her inspiration coming from the increase in the use of AI to help process grief.

“My initial idea dealt with how AI does not feel or process grief the same way that we do,” said Lauren. “However, as I did more research, I found a number of articles talking about ‘Grief Tech.’ I learned that there is already technology that allows people to feed information from their loved ones who have passed into AI chatbots. Subsequently, the software can recreate their personality and identity. This has brought up a lot of ethical and psychological concerns, along with questions about if this is a healthy way to process grief. I was initially inspired to create this piece after listening to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘United In Grief’ and applying its meaning to dance. For me, dance has always been a way to express ideas that are too difficult to express with words.”

I hope that our audience will resonate with both our fear and love of technology, and spend a minute thinking about their own relationships, both on and off the screens.

As we have reflected on the past months of choreographing, researching, and critically evaluating our relationship with tech and AI, we hope that the concert encourages our audience to turn inward and think about how they relate to technology in their own lives. As Mattie Sullivan said, “I hope that our audience will resonate with both our fear and love of technology, and spend a minute thinking about their own relationships, both on and off the screens.”  We want this moment in time to allow viewers to take pause and evaluate where we are and how we want to move forward.

Student Voices

Rowland Hall senior Sophie Zheng excels in competition math.

Sophie Zheng remembers the first time she saw a competition math problem in fifth grade. “It was nothing I’d ever seen before,” she remembered.

At the time, Sophie had been tackling her first-ever American Mathematics Competition (AMC) exam, an optional test that’s designed to promote problem-solving skills in students. She remembered that initial excitement about the test, about using unique perspectives to observe the world and weaving connections between concepts with utmost flexibility.

“I see competition math as a puzzle,” Sophie explained. “It’s not like school math, where you have an equation and follow it. There’s a lot more creativity involved.”

Math really isn’t a competition in itself. It’s about learning skills and a way to connect with friends around the world. It’s vibrant and joyful.—Sophie Zheng, class of 2024

So when she came to Rowland Hall in seventh grade, Sophie, now a senior, embraced the middle and upper schools’ offerings for students interested in the creative world of competition math. She joined (and now leads) MATHCOUNTS and the Upper School Math Club, and, inspired by the division’s successful Writing Center, founded the Math Center to offer tutoring to students. Along the way, she delved into the wider competition math community by joining the Utah American Regions Mathematics League (ARML) team, the Ross Mathematics Program, Math Prize for Girls, and the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament (HMMT). Sophie has also continued to take the AMC every year, placing in the top five of all girl competitors in the Intermountain Section since 2020, and has qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), the next level of AMC competition, every year since eighth grade. In 2020, she even earned an inaugural Maryam Mirzakhani AMC 10 Award for her work on the AMC, just one of the many recognitions she’s collected during her high school career.

Sophie has enjoyed opportunities to travel for mathematics competitions, both as an individual and as a member of the Utah ARML team, a selective group of mathematicians from Utah high schools. And this year has been especially exciting, as she’s had three opportunities to travel to Boston to compete not only in math, but also in scientific research. In October, Sophie went to MIT to participate in the Math Prize for Girls. In November, she attended HMMT with her ARML team. And later that month, she flew east again for the S.-T. Yau High School Science Award, where she defended her astronomy research, “Investigating the Origins of Hot Neptunes from Radial Velocity Data,” a project Sophie has spent two years on and which beautifully exemplifies how her math journey has helped to shape her goal to become an astrophysics researcher—a career, she said, that provides “a perfect integration of applied and pure math.” (By the way, Sophie’s research won silver.)

Rowland Hall senior Sophie Zheng competed in the 2023 Math Prize for Girls at MIT.

A view of the 263 high schoolers competing in the 2023 Math Prize for Girls.


For Sophie, these trips to Boston go far beyond any wins or recognitions, though. In a journal she wrote about the experiences, titled “Three Trips to Boston,” the young mathematician and scientist shared how these opportunities have furthered her advocacy for gender equity, inspired collaboration, and invigorated her personal enjoyment of STEM.

“Math really isn’t a competition in itself. It’s about learning skills and a way to connect with friends around the world. It’s vibrant and joyful,” she said.

And though Sophie is busy preparing for college and the next chapter of her own journey, her senior year STEM experiences aren’t over quite yet. Sophie recently took the AMC and AIME once more, achieving personal records for both. As head MATHCOUNTS coach, she’s guiding middle schoolers to the state competition in March. She’s also extending her astronomy project to participate in this year’s science fair and to submit her paper for publication. And in May, she’ll be traveling with her ARML team for the national ARML tournament. Best of luck, Sophie! We know you’ll do great.

Below, we share Sophie’s journal reflection, “Three Trips to Boston.”


Three Trips to Boston

By Sophie Zheng, Class of 2024

This fall: three times I stepped out of the same airport at 5 AM, Utah time, on a Saturday morning and rushed to university campuses with a sense of purpose. The Math Prize for Girls (MPFG), Harvard-MIT Math Tournament (HMMT), and the S.-T. Yau North America High School Science Award were all held at the most famous universities in Boston through back-to-back weekends. The MPFG, the largest contest for female students, brought together about 250 girls who were invited to promote gender equity in STEM through showcasing their mathematical creativity. The HMMT, as one of the most popular high school competitions in the world, draws thousands of students in over a hundred teams globally to engage in math reaching beyond traditional curriculums. Lastly, the S.-T. Yau High School Science Award, founded in 2008 by Fields Medal winner Prof. Shing-Tung Yau, inspires scientific innovations from high school students all over the world. Through writing academic papers and defending their research, students cultivate innovative thinking and collaborative spirits. Amidst 48-hour whirlwind trips every weekend, I traversed the corridors of three renowned Boston universities, immersing myself in all three of these STEM endeavors.

MPFG is not just a platform to spotlight individual skills. It is a crucial frontier for female participation in math competitions. In the world of STEM, where the gender gap looms prominently, competitors like me who have felt the strength of solidarity in the battle for gender equity carry a responsibility to pass on our vision. It's a call for everyone, irrespective of gender, to fearlessly pursue their passions in STEM.

This July, I was thrilled to receive the news that I qualified for the MPFG and immediately intensified my math studying in preparation. The night before the contest, over 250 girls met each other at game night at MIT. I not only reunited with friends from past summer math camps, but also met a larger community of girls who all shared a profound love for mathematics. We exchanged stories about our mathematical journeys and experiences, forging connections through our shared passion. The following morning thrust us into the 20-question, 150-minute test. Despite the jetlag, the adrenaline had woken me up hours earlier, and I felt ready to face these problems head-on. 263 tables, 263 chairs, and 263 school girls spread out in a massive ballroom to stretch our brain muscles to their limits. Out of all the math contests I had ever taken, I felt this was definitely the one where time was the tightest. I was able to solve 7 out of the 20 questions correctly, and secured the rank of 42nd place, narrowly missing an honorable mention, which needed 8 correct answers. While my performance received much praise, what resonated more profoundly with me was the substantial gap that separated me from the first-place winner. Rather than discouragement, this wide margin inspires me to continue striving for proficiency. Moreover, MPFG is not just a platform to spotlight individual skills. It is a crucial frontier for female participation in math competitions. In the world of STEM, where the gender gap looms prominently, competitors like me who have felt the strength of solidarity in the battle for gender equity carry a responsibility to pass on our vision. It's a call for everyone, irrespective of gender, to fearlessly pursue their passions in STEM.

In my second trip to Boston, together with five other Utah ARML team members from various schools and our coach, we flew to the east coast to represent Utah in the HMMT. The Utah ARML team—a club that convenes weekly to practice cooperation on math problems and partake in national tournaments—traditionally competes in the HMMT twice every year; once in November, and once in February. The competition lasted a whole 8-hour day and consisted of two individual rounds—the General Round and Theme Round; and two team rounds—the Team Round and Guts Round. The individual rounds offered exciting challenges with stimulating questions, but the true highlight was undeniably the team rounds, which displayed the synergy we had honed during team practices throughout the year. The ability to synchronize a flow of individual ideas toward a shared solution is what I love most about math. It is in these moments of collaborative problem-solving that the beauty and joy of mathematics come to life. Our Utah team won an impressive 19th place out of approximately 120 teams, as all 6 members in our team displayed strong performances. I placed 11th in the Theme Round, and another team member ranked 10th in the General Round. Our achievements continue the legacy of the Utah ARML team and serve as an inspiration for the rising younger generation. In the Rowland Hall MATHCOUNTS team and Upper School Math Club, I have encountered so many talented students during my years as a member and coach. My hope is that more Rowland Hall students can venture into the wider community of competition math and see the Utah ARML team for themselves. 

The entire process of my research served as a constant reminder of why STEM captivates me. It taught me to identify core issues, explore creative solutions, and build upon past contributions for advancing scientific frontiers.

On my latest trip to Boston, I defended my astronomy research thesis for the S.-T. Yau High School Science Award at Brandeis University. In the 15-minute presentation and ensuing question session from professional judges, I explained how I modeled astronomical data to detect extrasolar planets, coded statistical analyses to study their parameters, and derived physics equations to interpret my results. The feedback from my judges and winning the Silver Award (second place) in the physics category brought back memories of the past two years, from learning foundations of physics to mathematically resolving astronomical mysteries. The entire process of my research served as a constant reminder of why STEM captivates me. It taught me to identify core issues, explore creative solutions, and build upon past contributions for advancing scientific frontiers. Looking to the future, my exploration is only the first glimpse into the greatest mysteries of the universe and our existence.


Banner: Sophie Zheng competes at the 2023 Math Prize for Girls. All photos courtesy Sophie Zheng.

Student Voices

Rowland Hall eleventh and fourth graders visit the Great Salt Lake in September 2023.

How can Utahns lead out on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals? That was the question posed to students by the Utah chapter of the United Nations Association for their 2023 essay contest, held in honor of the 75th United Nations Day. And it was a question that appealed to junior Spencer Brady, who late last year took first place in the competition.

Spencer’s essay journey kicked off in October, when he was thinking about an upcoming AP US History assignment. Designed to build on Beyond the Classroom, when juniors traveled with fourth graders to the Great Salt Lake, the assignment asked students to explore a contemporary issue they feel strongly about, conduct historical research on the topic, and write an essay that explains and situates the issue in a longer historical lens. And though students could adhere to Dr. Nate Kogan’s essay parameters and submit their work directly to him, they were also allowed to submit their topics to essay contests of their choice instead, if desired.

When Spencer read the United Nations Association-Utah essay prompt, he saw an opportunity to connect ongoing conversations about the future of the Great Salt Lake with two of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs: SDG 11 (make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable) and SDG 14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development). Through that lens, he began studying declining saline lakes and learned that one, Mono Lake, had been successfully restored thanks to community involvement. Spencer thought the same approach could benefit Great Salt Lake.

“The community has to be involved. You can’t put a problem like this to government and just expect it to magic it away,” Spencer explained. “We’ve all got to help.”

Spencer wrote a clear, well-researched, and artfully crafted essay [that] captured an optimistic and forward-looking outlook on the future of the lake and grounded that positive perspective in a strong comparative study of Owens and Mono Lake, respectively. He fused compelling argumentation with a strong call to community action that clearly resonated with the judging panel.—Dr. Nate Kogan ’00, Upper School history teacher

By the end of October, Spencer had put together a thoughtful 463-word essay covering the history of two other terminal saline lakes and sharing how Utahns can learn from these stories to come together and lead on water-related SDGs to save our own lake. On November 21, he learned he had won first place, including a $500 prize, for this work. “We appreciated your connection between the SDGs and Utah’s Great Salt Lake,” wrote judge Peter Corroon about the committee’s choice to declare Spencer’s essay the winner.

Spencer, who called the experience fun and exciting, said this research helped him feel optimistic about Utahns’ ability to protect Great Salt Lake, and he hopes those who read his essay will take away an understanding of the importance of coming together in pursuit of this goal. Thanks to his choice to share his essay more widely, it’s much more likely that Spencer’s words will indeed inspire others to play a role in saving the lake—an outcome that illustrates why Dr. Kogan likes to offer students the chance to share their writing outside of school.

“I think our students and their perspectives deserve to be heard by a wider audience,” said Dr. Kogan. “They have outstanding insights and sophisticated understandings of both historical and contemporary dilemmas. I have the good fortune of hearing these in the classroom on a daily basis, but I'm always thrilled when our students put themselves out there and share their strong voices and well-researched perspectives in the editorial pages of the Salt Lake Tribune or other publications or contests.”

Furthermore, said Dr. Kogan, sharing their work more broadly is a great way to build students’ confidence in their writing skills and individual voices.

“I think writing for an authentic audience is crucial and the feedback one receives from people beyond the classroom gives vital insight into how strong our students’ writing is when read by outside evaluators,” he said. “I think it's so valuable for them to get this type of authentic feedback from experts outside of our school community and, in many cases, gain the validation that their work is exceptional on both local and national levels.”

Congratulations, Spencer, on your deserved recognition.

With Spencer’s permission, we’ve shared his award-winning essay below.


Evaporating Opportunities: Water Management and the Great Salt Lake

By Spencer Brady, Class of 2025

As an international organization, the United Nations is committed to making the world a better place. Among the UN’s goals are the desire for water conservation to promote water availability, the management of marine resources, and the management of terrestrial ecosystems. In Utah, one of the main environmental issues confronting us today is the impending disappearance of the Great Salt Lake, the largest saline lake in the Western Hemisphere. Lately, the water level in the lake has been declining due to excessive water use, reaching successive all-time lows.1 The issue of the consequences of disappearing lakes, however, has caused problems around the world for years and lends lessons Utahns can use as we attempt to lead the world in the conservation of our aquatic resources. An early example of human-caused lake evaporation is the fate of Owens Lake in California. This lake was almost completely dry a mere fourteen years after water began to be diverted from its tributaries. The typical use of Owens Lake when discussing lake disappearance is as an example of the enormous financial burden of maintaining a dry lake. Alyse Bertenthal, an Associate Professor of Law who studies the production and uses of evidence in science and law, explains that Owens Lake also demonstrates the regulatory challenges of managing lakes. Bertenthal states that purely legislative solutions for lake conservation are largely ineffective due to the difficulty of determining the optimal and thus regulated state of the lake.2 Another lake in California seems to hold the solution to these regulatory difficulties. Mono Lake was at risk of drying up in the 1970s, but community activism led to the lake being successfully protected.3 Randal Orton, a former California resource conservation manager, states that one of the driving factors behind this success was the recognition that Mono Lake is a resource that belongs to the community.4 The successful management of the lake depended on cooperation and communication between the community and government officials.5 The continual increase in Salt Lake City’s population and the accompanying increase in demand for water indicates that the drying lake is a problem that will have to be reckoned with. As our legislators grapple with laws that attempt to maintain the Great Salt Lake the past seems to indicate that there is another way. By looking to the community for advice and assistance we can create the lake that everyone wants through everyone’s cooperation. The conservation of the Great Salt Lake does not merely fulfill one of the United Nations’ goals, it bridges the gap between them. To truly lead out on these sustainable development goals, it is not enough for Utah to simply try to fulfill them individually. We must look beyond these boundaries and into the future of a better world.

1 Nate Seltenrich, “A Terminal Case? Shrinking Inland Seas Expose Salty Particulates and More,” Environmental Health Perspectives 131, no. 6 (2023), https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP12835.
2 Alyse Bertenthal, “Scaling the Baseline: Technicalities and Environmental Regulation in Owens Valley, California,” Law and Policy 43, no. 1 (2021), https://doi.org/10.1111/lapo.12162.
3 Seltenrich, “A Terminal.”
4 Randal David Orton, “INVENTING THE PUBLIC TRUST DOCTRINE: California Water Law and the Mono Lake Controversy,” California Legal History 16 (January 2021): passim.
5 Orton, passim.

Student Voices

Photo Gallery: Weavers and Dreamers 2024, A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This year, the Rowland Hall community honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy with Weavers and Dreamers: Leading the Beloved Community, a time to imagine a beloved community where everyone can be themselves in multifaceted ways alongside local Black storytellers, artists, and musicians.

Weavers and Dreamers - Leading the Beloved Community

This year’s event kicked off on Thursday, January 11, with a tribute to Reverend France A. Davis, a longstanding Rowland Hall board member, community trailblazer, and civil rights activist. Rev. Davis’ tribute was followed by a performance by alum Micah Willis ’14 and his band and a storytelling program presented by Charlotte Starks and Ashley Finley, members of the Nubian Storytellers of Utah Leadership (NSOUL).

On Friday, January 12, middle and upper school faculty and staff gathered for a professional learning opportunity, and then a special daylong program was held for students in grades 6–12. Students engaged in conversations about building a beloved community; participated in activities featuring musicians, poetry, and storytelling; and reflected on the connection between our imaginations and questions of belonging and inclusion, as well as storytelling as a crucial leadership skill that can help us imagine different and better futures. Alum Micah Willis and NSOUL storytellers also joined this gathering.

On Monday, January 15, Rowland Hall students and their families honored the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by coming together for a day of community engagement. Volunteers planted wildflower seeds and built greenhouse benches with the Jordan River Nature Center in the morning, and then community members were invited to join an afternoon march, organized by the University of Utah’s MLK Week Committee, from East High School to the University of Utah.

The celebration continued on Tuesday, January 16, when Charlotte Starks of NSOUL gathered with Beginning School students to read a story and speak about Dr. King. The Lower School then came together for a Changemaker Chapel, where students heard from two guest speakers, Micah Willis and Charlotte Starks, and engaged in the division’s annual tradition of creating an artifact and marching around the quad to demonstrate how they can see themselves as future changemakers. This gathering allows our younger students to express what they need to feel belonging and how they might imagine a world where everyone feels included and valued.
 
We invite you to enjoy the linked Weavers and Dreamers photo gallery.

Community