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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

Lynn and Holly Webster

Holly and Lynn Webster, parents of alumna, Becky Webster '03.

Janes Family

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

School Stories from Fine Print Magazine

Rowland Hall senior Anna Hull practicing a dance for the Submerge dance concert.

It’s clear: Rowland Hall students are inspired by the Great Salt Lake—and, in turn, they are inspiring others through their tireless work to educate themselves on the crises facing the famous landmark and their actions to save it. This dedication extends to the school’s middle and upper school dancers, who have spent the school year creating original pieces about the lake. As Submerge, the culmination of their months of work, approaches, senior dancer Anna Hull reflects on the vital role the arts play in activism.


Art and Activism: A Student's Interrogation

By Anna Hull, Class of 2023

I’ve been in a Rowland Hall dance concert every year of high school, and each one brings unique feelings of anticipation, pressure, joy, and the knowledge of success.

However, this year’s dance concert—titled Submerge, which will be performed on February 10 and 11—has a different purpose and relevance than our past shows. When Rowland Hall decided to apply the thematic focus of Great Salt Lake’s climate crisis to the 2022–2023 school year, the dance department adopted this matter as well. This thematic shift meant that along with dealing with costuming and choreography, we’ve been asking questions of the role of activism within the arts. Specifically, how do we address the depleting Great Salt Lake through dance and, at the end of the day, can we actually make an impact?

When we worked on our first Great Salt Lake–inspired piece during the summer workshop, a weeklong intensive for all Rowland Hall dancers that takes place each August, we loved the ways that Great Salt Lake, an integral feature of our childhoods in Utah, was integrated into the choreography: the number of people on stage reflected a change in elevation, echoing the declining water level of the lake, and the multiple scores intensified the piece over time. Despite the fact that the Advanced Dance students understood these elements and their reasoning, we were constantly questioning if the dance accurately portrayed the impending crisis—and did it do so to an extent that it would cause an audience to change their behavior, join the activist cause, or simply care?

When we finished the dance, we were shocked to see tears in the eyes of the audience. Despite our apprehension, our short performance had created a massive impact. Since then, we’ve been trying to recreate this outcome.

Our first time performing one of the dances inspired by the lake, “In Form Memoriam,” was at the Great Salt Lake outdoor auditorium following a University of Utah academic forum. We expected this performance to be a throwaway and felt largely unprepared both as dancers and as agents of change. However, when we finished the dance, we were shocked to see tears in the eyes of the audience. Sofia Gorder, our dance teacher, informed us that despite our apprehension, our short performance had created a massive impact. But what caused it to be so moving? Was it the kind of audience, the setting of the lake, or simply the experience of watching young adults perform? Since then, we’ve been trying to recreate this outcome and the relationship that occurred between us and our audience.

Our second showing, at the Rowland Hall Deliberate Dialogue event Aridity, did not quite succeed at this goal. Although the arts played a role in this event, they were placed as a finalé to speeches full of alarming facts and calls to action. And although the speakers eloquently conveyed their message, our glances toward the audience told us that the information was crushing, rather than motivating. We realized that the art needed a place at the forefront of the event in order to create a context, gain the audience’s attention, and establish an emotional connection rather than a cerebral one. 

I hope that Submerge succeeds in representing our efforts as artists and activists, and that it doesn’t only leave the audience with a collection of information, but a desire to truly be a part of the solution.

So in preparation for Submerge, we’ve strategically recorded informative video clips conveying the magnitude and timeline of Great Salt Lake’s evaporation to accompany the dances, allowing logic to complement the art instead of overwhelm it. Moreover, each piece in the concert has a clear story that displays a human experience as an on-ramp to the dense material, rather than coercing a sudden wave of activism. This, to me, is the best way to use the arts to make social change. Performance has the unique ability to quickly and profoundly reach an audience, and only by using that connection can art be successful as advocacy.

Thus, I hope that Submerge succeeds in representing our efforts as artists and activists, and that it doesn’t only leave the audience with a collection of information, but a desire to truly be a part of the solution.


Rowland Hall’s dancers proudly invite the Rowland Hall community to witness Submerge at the Larimer Center for the Performing Arts (Lincoln Street Campus) on Friday, February 10, and Saturday, February 11. A panel discussion will follow the show, and tables staffed by local organizations—Brolly Arts, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, Great Salt Lake Collaborative, Save Our Great Salt Lake, and The Nature Conservancy—will be available for attendees who would like information on how to be part of the solution.

Student Voices

Ashley Atwood, Rob Wilson, and Stephanie Orfanakis show off their certificate from the 2022 Brilliance Awards.

Rowland Hall is proud to announce that the school has won two Golds in the 2022 InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Awards.

The Brilliance Awards is the only international competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications. Entries in 30 categories were judged by a volunteer panel of 71 marketing experts from around the world and scored on originality, persuasiveness, copy/script/dialog, visual elements, execution, and overall appeal.

Rowland Hall earned Gold in the “Special Event 2022” category for our 2022 strategic priorities video, “An Extraordinary Vision: Developing People the World Needs.” Managed by Stephanie Orfanakis, director of marketing and communications, and produced by alum brothers Chris Lee ’93 and Alex Lee ’03 of TWIG Media Lab, the video unveiled Rowland Hall’s newest strategic vision and priorities to our community in spring 2022.

“This may be the best strategic plan video I've ever seen,” wrote one judge. “With an engaging TED Talk–like intro, stellar visuals, brilliant use of student voices, and clarity of message, this video kept me engaged and interested throughout and eager to learn more about Rowland Hall and its initiatives.”

It’s always wonderful to be recognized for excellent work, and it’s even more exciting when that work invites people into the experiences our students benefit from each day.—Mick Gee, head of school

Rowland Hall also took Gold in the “Magazine Writing” category for our 2021–2022 Annual Report feature story, “House of Light: A Teacher, a Renowned Literary Legacy, and the Reach of Inspired Learning.” The piece, written by Ashley Atwood, marketing content associate, and Rob Wilson, Upper School biology teacher and coordinator of climate studies, helps bring our strategic vision to life for readers by inviting them into a unique authentic learning experience that took place in spring 2022.

“A captivating story is woven with connections to the school's educational approach and the deep commitment of its educators,” wrote one judge. Another said, “What a beautiful story of both teaching and learning! The combination of history and literature, along with academics and nature, kept my interest and inspired me to want to know more.”

Mick Gee, head of school, is thrilled by the recognition, which will invite new audiences to learn about the transformative work stemming from the school’s strategic vision.

“It’s always wonderful to be recognized for excellent work, and it’s even more exciting when that work invites people into the experiences our students benefit from each day,” he said. “At Rowland Hall, we are changing lives, and while we can—and do—passionately talk about it, inviting folks into a story or introducing them to students in a video enables viewers to, on some level, be part of these experiences themselves.”

Rowland Hall’s 2022 Gold wins add to the school’s impressive list of recognitions from the Brilliance Awards:

Awards

Emma Wellman and Brittney Hansen join host Conor Bentley to record the first episode of princiPALS' third season.

Good things are worth the wait. After a hiatus during the 2021–2022 school year, Rowland Hall’s princiPALS are back in office, ready to help families understand the preschool and elementary years and offer tips on how to raise children who thrive.

In addition to a new season, princiPALS is proud to present a new pal: Beginning School and Lower School Assistant Principal Brittney Hansen ’02 has joined Emma Wellman in the role first held by former Lower School Principal Jij de Jesus. (Jij is now Rowland Hall’s director of capital giving.)

“I’m very excited to join the podcast and help members of our community, and beyond, understand that they have support when it comes to raising young children,” said Brittney, who, in addition working as an educator, is a parent of three preschool- and elementary-aged children. “I truly understand the challenges of parenthood and believe we’re all in this together.”

For me as a parent, it’s time to recommit to giving my kids opportunities to struggle productively—to giving them chances to take risks, to get messy, to feel disappointment, because I know that that’s what they need. We couldn’t give our kids many of these things during the pandemic years, but we owe it to them to get back to this. They really deserve it.—Brittney Hansen ’02, Beginning School and Lower School assistant principal

In the first episode of season three, Emma and Brittney, along with host Conor Bentley ’01, revisit the topic covered in the podcast’s very first episode: resilience. Recorded in fall 2019, princiPALS’ inaugural episode was designed to help parents and caregivers learn what resilience is and how to build the skill in their children. But not long after the episode was recorded, the world changed. As COVID-19 quickly spread, parenting began to look completely different, and our overall tolerance for risk—a necessary component of building resilience—was dropped to make room for safety measures.

Thankfully, we’re now living in a different phase of the pandemic—one that’s ideal for caregivers who want to recalibrate their parenting strategies, including introducing the kind of risks that help build resilience in children.

“During the height of the pandemic, we forgot that it’s actually really good and important for kids to do things that may feel unsafe, like walking to a friend’s house, or going into a store alone, or, for really young children, even navigating something like a tall staircase by themselves,” explained Emma. “This is an important part of childhood.”

Join the princiPALS as they revisit what resilience is, discuss how it’s built in children (and how adults can keep their fears in check while building it), and remind listeners of the many benefits of this life skill—like tenacity, endurance, adaptability, and purposefulness—that make the work worthwhile.

“For me as a parent, it’s time to recommit to giving my kids opportunities to struggle productively—to giving them chances to take risks, to get messy, to feel disappointment, because I know that that’s what they need,” said Brittney. “We couldn’t give our kids many of these things during the pandemic years, but we owe it to them to get back to this. They really deserve it.”

Check out “Rebuilding Resilience after COVID” (along with other episodes of the princiPALS podcast), available now on Rowland Hall's website, Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher.

Podcast

Rowland Hall fourth grader Sophie L. had a poem published in the FRIENDS of the Great Salt Lake fall/winter 2022 newsletter.

This September, when Rowland Hall’s fourth graders took a field trip to Ensign Peak, located in the foothills near downtown Salt Lake City, student Sophie L. wasn’t expecting to be inspired by the experience.

But as Sophie looked across the Salt Lake Valley—the Wasatch Mountains standing rugged to the east, the city unfolding below, the Great Salt Lake glittering in the west—she wanted to somehow capture the view before her. The students were given time at the peak to write and draw, so Sophie began to weave together lines about the landscape. Though she’d never written a poem before, she had expressed herself in a similar way through songwriting. “I like the way rhymes sound,” she explained.

As Sophie worked, she found herself especially inspired by the Great Salt Lake, which features prominently in the fourth grade’s Utah studies this year, and she wanted her poem to call attention to the urgent need to save the lake. Once the poem was completed, Sophie decided to share it with her writing tutor, who asked permission to show the piece to a neighbor who is a member of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, a local organization with a mission to “preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy, and the arts.” After reading the poem, the member asked for Sophie’s permission to publish it in an upcoming FRIENDS newsletter, which she granted. Her poem recently appeared in the organization’s fall/winter 2022 newsletter.

"Sophie's perspective is integral to our mission to preserve and protect the Great Salt Lake ecosystem," said Holly Simonsen, membership and programs director of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake, who said Sophie's words will be read by more than 700 subscribers, in addition to those who receive the newsletter during outreach events or access it online. "We need as many voices as possible to join our chorus of concern. Sophie has given us an incredible gift; her words will certainly help educate and inspire others."

Sophie's poem beautifully provides a glimpse of life in the Salt Lake Valley, and reminds readers of the importance of protecting Great Salt Lake for generations to come.

When asked for her reaction to her poem being published in the newsletter, Sophie said, “I felt really good. I like writing, but I don’t really share my writing with other people.”

We’re thrilled she did, though, as the poem, written through Sophie’s unique perspective, beautifully provides a glimpse of life in the Salt Lake Valley, and reminds readers of the importance of protecting Great Salt Lake for generations to come.

“It’s this really nice place, and we still want to have this place to look at,” said Sophie.


With Sophie’s permission, we’re proud to share her poem, “Our Great Salt Lake,” with the Rowland Hall community.

Our Great Salt Lake
By Sophie L., Age 9

I love this place, our Great Salt Lake
The mountains they moan, they quake
They seem as if they are watching us
When in the car or on the bus
Each year weather changes form
From snowy, medium to warm
And every morning when I wake
I see this place, our Great Salt Lake
The wind brushes against my face
And then it leaves without a trace
It is a thing I cannot break
This is my home, my Great Salt Lake
Save our lake!

Student Voices