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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 look forward to seeing you when on-campus gatherings resume. Keep an eye on your inboxes and mailboxes.
Editor's note: this piece is republished from Rowland Hall's 2019–2020 Annual Report story "The Rowland Hall Internship Program: Connecting Classroom Learning to Careers and Community."
For Jonah Holbrook ’16, a Rowland Hall internship was more than a summer experience—it was the first step on his career path.
After taking Advanced Placement Biology as a junior, Jonah was reconsidering plans to study mechanical engineering in college. When he saw Rowland Hall's internship program advertising an opportunity at Michael S. Kay’s biochemistry lab at the University of Utah, he jumped at the chance to explore the field, and spent that summer assisting a PhD student researching a viable inhibitor for Ebola virus strains.
The following summer, Dr. Kay recommended Jonah for a second internship at Navigen Pharmaceuticals, where, thanks to his Kay lab experience, Jonah transitioned from intern to assistant research scientist working on a lead inhibitor for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). He also took part in a weekly club where employees discussed conditions that may benefit from Navigen technology—Jonah researched how it could potentially inhibit a circulating peptide related to migraine headaches.
Reflecting on his Kay lab internship, Jonah said, “It helped me find my passion in terms of my career.”
In fall 2016, during his freshman year at Cal Poly, Jonah joined the Medical Design Club, which enables students to develop, research, design, and manufacture technology that improves quality of life. Jonah received permission from Navigen to pitch his migraine drug idea, and received funding. This experience led to the opportunity to run for club president (a position he held his sophomore through senior years), where he advised peers on a variety of projects, from an alternative EpiPen to a neurostimulator. It also helped him realize a desire to attend medical school, a goal he worked toward at Cal Poly alongside conducting his own research and returning to Navigen every summer to work on the RSV drug.
Reflecting on his Kay lab internship, Jonah said, “It helped me find my passion in terms of my career.” And he’s well on his way. After graduating with his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in May 2020, Jonah began working as a medical assistant to a vascular surgeon. He plans on starting medical school in fall 2021.
Top photo: Jonah with former Head of School Alan Sparrow at his 2016 graduation.
This year, Rowland Hall welcomed students back to school with a virtual Convocation on Friday, September 4. This year’s speakers focused on the theme Welcome Everyone—one of Rowland Hall’s core values—recognizing the power we all have in building our shared community. For Maddy Frech, 2020–2021 student body president and a Rowland Hall lifer (a student who has attended the school for 12 or more years), the event was a chance to reflect on her time at Rowland Hall and to use that experience to challenge each grade to find ways to build community and make a difference in the world. Her speech—lightly edited here for style and context—appears below.
Traditionally, a welcome can include a high five, a handshake, a hug, or a kiss on the cheek, but unfortunately these friendly gestures are no longer acceptable at the moment. We now have to depend on the sincerity of our words and honesty of our actions to convey our welcome. So, it is with heartfelt and candid excitement that I say, “Welcome, Everyone.” This year is going to be amazing!
Now, you may think, “How can we be sure that this year will be a great one when no one knows exactly what to expect?” But there are a few things that you can be assured of.
Firstly, you are at the very best school in the state of Utah. Our faculty and staff care about you and want you to succeed not only academically, but personally. Our school will adapt to these uncertain and frightening circumstances to provide you with the means to be successful and, more importantly, develop individuals who contribute to and are prepared to change the world. How do I know this? Well, this year will be my 14th year at this school. Since walking through the front doors of the Beginning School and being greeted by classmates who remain my friends to this day, I have known Rowland Hall to be welcoming. I can attest that your senior class is inspirational. They not only are talented but thoughtful. We can use the class of 2021 as a model of community spirit as we rally around the unknown.
A simple greeting to someone you don’t know can change the course of your year, or even the rest of your time at Rowland Hall.
So, how can we be welcoming and rise above the uncertainty that feeds our anxieties? Well, let’s start with our Beginning School. I challenge students in 3PreK, 4PreK, and kindergarten to meet new friends. Whether this is in the sandbox, on the playground, or in the classroom, a simple greeting to someone you don’t know can change the course of your year, or even the rest of your time at Rowland Hall. My memories of growing pumpkins, making green eggs and ham, constructing Mother’s Day hats, and learning all about the many varieties of apples are cherished, and my partners in those activities are still some of my best friends. Also, I can assure you that the entire senior class is really envious of your allotted naptime!
First graders, congratulations! You are in a different building on campus. You have a bigger playground, which at first may seem overwhelming but will be exciting as you learn to navigate a world that seems bigger. Share those monkey bars and help a friend that skins their knee. Remember that caring friends will last a lifetime.
Second graders, you will start writing your own stories. Try to write stories about friendship and making the world a better place. I wish I had written more of these instead of stories about Justin Bieber and my Bieber fever; I suspect our vice president, Cooper Davis, may have had some similar stories about the Biebs. So, focus on what you can do to be more inclusive. Your stories could teach adults how simple it truly is to be kind. Your parents may keep that story; re-read it to remind yourself who you strive to be.
Third graders, welcome to the upstairs! When you pick your biography project, I challenge you to, rather than picking a sports legend or celebrity, choose a person that actively tried to change the world. I actually chose Mother Teresa, initially not because of her amazing service, but because my teacher, whom I loved, was named Teresa, and my mom could easily convert my Princess Leia costume into a holy shroud. However, through that project, and looking back now, I am happy I chose her because I learned that she was an incredibly happy person by living a life of service.
Fourth graders, be prepared to learn about the great state of Utah! The lyrics “Utah, people working together” will soon be stuck in your parents’ heads. Even though the song is a little—no, really—incredibly annoying, it teaches you that we are a local community and everyone in that community matters and contributes to our great state.
Fifth graders, you are finally the oldest on the McCarthey Campus. When you learn about explorers, challenge yourself to think about what they could have done better. Many social problems exist because they could have explored and settled without harm to humanity. It is important to learn from the mistakes of history so we do not repeat them.
Sixth graders, I am sure you are terrified…I know I was. A new campus, and all the other students look so much older. But make sure you take advantage of the sports and the arts opportunities so that you can meet those older students. You will be surprised just how much community spirit our events can foster.
Seventh graders, you will likely have your first big trip to the Tetons to do amazing science. Even if that does not happen, the brilliant faculty will figure out some way for you to learn about the beauty of nature. Take advantage of the incredible knowledge of our teachers to learn what you can do to preserve our environment.
Eighth graders, similarly we hope that a trip to Washington, DC, happens. In preparation, make sure you learn about the importance of government. Don’t just plan to visit the sites—think about what decisions are made in those buildings. The only way we can have effective change is the next generation of leaders; be that change.
Freshmen, I cannot imagine what you are feeling. Starting high school is scary enough without added uncertainties. But please know that your Student Council is here for you. Specifically, we have a website for you to ask questions and get help.
Sophomores, you made it through a very strange freshman year. Even though you did not get the joy of losing Battle of the Classes, please know that Student Council will try to make that up to you. We will plan more class competitions so that the class of 2023 can come in last place a few times (but perhaps, with enough class spirit, you might pull off a few victories).
May this year allow us to use our innovation so that each student learns not only effectively, but also in a way that grows intellect, resiliency, and spirit. May each of us use our voice and actions for positive contributions to our community.
Juniors, your symposium was canceled last year, but, fortunately, the advertising project can be done mostly virtually. This project will challenge you to think about stereotypes and the importance of positive change. Be prepared to work hard and concretely propose ideas that reduce bias. It is a hard year—power through it!
And finally, my fellow seniors, I challenge you to be leaders. Look to set an example for those younger than yourselves. What do you wish the senior class did for you? Please use the Student Council website to voice your ideas to surmount these challenging times with innovation. Please propose a community gift so we can leave an impactful legacy. The community gift is something I believe will allow us to leave our mark.
In conclusion, please know that I sincerely welcome you back to school with a virtual high five, handshake, hug, and kiss on the cheek. May this year allow us to use our innovation so that each student learns not only effectively, but also in a way that grows intellect, resiliency, and spirit. May each of us use our voice and actions for positive contributions to our community. Winged Lions, I wish you all health, safety, and comradery that can sustain you through the uncertainty. As your president, I promise you an amazing year. Thank you!
Top photo: Maddy, left, arriving on the Lincoln Street Campus on the first day of the 2020–2021 school year.
Lauren Samuels ’11—a Rowland Hall graduate who competed for Rowmark Ski Academy her senior year and two postgraduate years—served as the youngest panelist on a July 15 U.S. Ski & Snowboard virtual discussion on how to remedy the glaring lack of racial diversity in snowsports.
Lauren, who identifies as Black and multiracial, spoke candidly about how systemic racism and discrimination impacted her skiing career, and how the industry might better foster a love of skiing among people from more diverse backgrounds. Excerpts featuring Lauren—a newly named member of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee—are transcribed below.
Though the COVID-19 outbreak cut the 2019–2020 ski season short, Rowmark was grateful to have Lauren return (if only briefly) in a new capacity: FIS assistant coach and academic liaison. This fall, she’ll head to the University of Oregon to start a graduate program in sports product management, and plans to pursue a career in the outdoor industry.
Lauren has a rich history in ski racing. While enrolled in Rowmark, she spent much of each season traveling as an invitee with the U.S. Ski Team. She’s a J2 National Super-G champion who also raced in the U.S. Nationals and World Juniors championships. After Rowmark, she attended the University of Utah and competed as a member of their prestigious alpine ski team. She captained the team her senior year when the Utes won the 2017 NCAA National Championship.
We’re proud to call Lauren an alum, and we'll be referencing and building on discussions like this one as we redouble our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and antiracist work.
Not until I joined the National Brotherhood of Skiers and went to my first summit did I see another skier of color besides my dad and my brother.
Henri Rivers: Lauren, I’m going to go to you first. And I really want you to be honest with us. Has racism and discrimination altered or shortened your career as an athlete?
Lauren Samuels: This question is hard to answer. Altered, absolutely. Shortened, possibly.
Henri: I don’t want to put you on the spot like that because I understand where you’re coming from, I do. If you want to answer, you can, but we could rephrase it.
Lauren: I’m open to speak about it, it’s just tough to talk about. But I would say in regards to altering, it’s more what Schone and you, Henri, spoke about. I was already exposed to skiing because of family. I grew up skiing, learned how to ski when I was two. But once I got into the more—I mean really, even at the grassroots level, my home club, not seeing other people who looked like me, [having] that lack of comfort and support. And I was lucky to be involved with NBS, the National Brotherhood of Skiers, from a young age, where we had other athletes who were older than me and better than me that I could look up to. But not until I joined NBS and went to my first summit did I see another skier or ski racer of color besides my dad and my brother. In the topic of shortening my career, again, that’s hard to say, but I think possibly that shortened my career.
I had the highest vertical jump on record when I tested at 15 years old on the development team and immediately I was told, ‘That's just because you're Black.’
Some language I was faced with at any level, specific stories with the U.S. Ski Team, being disrespected or being told that I wasn't working hard enough even though I would show up to our physical testing and break records. I had the highest vertical jump on record when I tested at 15 years old on the development team and immediately I was told, “That's just because you’re Black.” And then I continued on, [being told] I'm not working hard enough, but my fitness and everything shows that I am working hard enough. These are things that, that’s racist language—as much as no one said I’m not working hard enough or it’s just because I’m Black that [I’m] not making it to the next step. But I do believe there is some ingrained racism in our sport, and in the people in our sport, and in the highest levels as well.
Henri: It’s hard to even comment on that because I’ve watched you grow up. I’ve watched you as such a spectacular racer and I'm really sorry to hear that you had to go through that. Do you think having coaches—and I know it’s also a gender thing as well—but do you think that having coaches (male and female) of color would have helped you adjust to some of the things that you were exposed to?
I was told I had to braid my hair to ski downhill because it's the fastest, most aerodynamic style. Maybe if I had a coach who had an experience similar to mine, they would've come up with other ideas or not judge me for not braiding my hair.
Lauren: Yeah, I think it's more, again, about that comfort and belonging there. There comes a big relief, at least on my shoulders, when there’s another person of color on the hill that day. And it’s as minor as that: I know there’s someone else here who will stick up for me or speak out if something does happen or go that way. And same with being able to relate on other things. My hair: I can't braid my hair—it doesn't really braid—but I was told I had to braid my hair to ski downhill because it's the fastest, most aerodynamic [style]. Well, maybe if I had a coach who had that experience similar to me, they would come up with other ideas or not judge me so hard for not braiding my hair. It's things like that that I think a coach of color and female would help with, but I don't even want to say that it has to be a Black coach or look exactly like me. Does that answer your question?
Henri: Yeah, it does. Wow, you know, I take a deep breath because you know I have young racers as well and they will start experiencing those things. That is why we’re here, that is why we’re having this discussion, so that we can stop this type of thinking and these thought processes because they are unfounded, they’re unnecessary, and they hurt young people. Lauren is a young racer that should not have to experience these things. But this is what we continually do year after year after year. We need to stop the cycle. Forrest, my question for you, same question I had for Lauren. Has racism or discrimination altered or shortened your career (I know it has) with [U.S. Ski & Snowboard or Professional Ski Instructors of America]?
Forrest King-Shaw: Well, it hasn’t shortened my career, that's for sure. It’s altered it, oh, absolutely. And before we go too deep into this I wanted to comment on a couple of things Lauren said. I have two daughters that ski race and if you knew the discussions I had with them about helmets, that was something I had to figure out. I'm a man and had to learn how to be a better man by raising daughters. So I think there’s a parallel here. You don’t have to be in our circumstance. You don't have to be whatever gender or whatever ethnicity to be better at understanding what people have to carry.
Getting more kids and athletes from all aspects of diversity will expand our talent pool and make it better.
Henri: Lauren, what do you think the U.S. Ski Team or [U.S. Ski & Snowboard] can do to develop more athletes of color? Have you ever thought about that? Is there anything that you think they could do a little different that would help attract or bring in—you know, that’s a hard question to ask because the snow industry, it’s a difficult sport to get into, but what do you think? Have you ever had any thoughts about that?
Lauren: Yeah, I’m going to kind of piggyback on what Forrest said about how it’s the outward-facing portion of your association, your organization, and that outreach, and partnerships with organizations like Winter4Kids and with [Share Winter Foundation]. I’m going to speak about one that I know purely off of location, it’s within a mile of my house: the Loppet Foundation. They are getting kids from inner city Minneapolis out skiing and on the snow, and they focus on nordic skiing. And I think starting at that grassroots level is really, really important. And like Forrest said, if your first experience isn't great, you're not coming back. But this is more about getting the new athlete, the new member, to love skiing in one way or another. If they dont love skiing they're not going to work their way up and be a coach. Or even at a later age, if you get exposed to skiing when you're 20, 30, whatever it is, if you don't love it, you're not going to stay involved in the sport. And again, really, it's a lot of the same as [what Forrest said]. That interaction between the elite level and the younger or less elite level, between the current athletes on the U.S. Ski Team and reaching out and connecting with those younger kids. Or even coaches, newer coaches to the sport, feeling like you matter, feeling like you can make it to that next level, to that next step, whatever it is. It doesn't have to be the elite track, but it can be. And I don't think that should be disregarded that getting more kids and athletes from all aspects of diversity will, one, expand our talent pool, and make it better.
Since 2016, the schools and families of Utah’s Navajo Nation communities in Bluff and Montezuma Creek have graciously embraced teaching and connecting with Rowland Hall students and faculty during Upper School Interim and beyond.
They’ve invited us into their homes, shared their traditions, and even traveled to our school for race-relations workshops, strengthening our nation-to-nation ties. In the wake of COVID-19, Rowland Hall finally had a chance to give back. Our students, families, and dozens of alumni affiliated with Navajo Nation projects in past years rallied to collect three truckloads of resources for hard-hit Navajo families and schools.
Donations included 68 art kits for elementary-aged kids, enough art supplies to cover curriculum needs for all Whitehorse middle and high schoolers, 52 gift certificates, 200 homemade masks, five donation checks, and various household items—from toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, to cleaning supplies and pet food.
In mid-May, a small-but-mighty contingency of Rowland Hall folks made the trek down to Bluff: Director of Arts Sofa Gorder and her children, Jules Framme (fourth grade) and Solenne Framme (kindergarten); Director of Community Programs Allison Spehar and her daughter, Chiyoko Spehar (eighth grade); and alum Yuan Oliver Jin ’18. The group met administrators from local schools and the executive director of We Are Navajo, and they worked together to sort through every single donation and help get it to the best place. Donations included 68 art kits for elementary-aged kids, enough art supplies to cover curriculum needs for all Whitehorse middle and high schoolers, 52 gift certificates, 200 homemade masks, five donation checks, and various household items—from toilet paper and feminine hygiene products, to cleaning supplies and pet food. In addition to We Are Navajo and the White Horse students, donations went to the Rural Utah Project and to emergency medical technicians volunteering in Bluff.
Junior Elena Barker had been eager to visit the Navajo Nation for Interim this spring—she would’ve worked on art projects with kindergarteners. After the pandemic hit, she and her family sprang into action, donating art supplies for kids and gift cards to help Navajo seniors attend summer programs at a college in Price. “I wanted whatever we did to make kids smile,” Elena said, “or allow kids to explore different aspects of education that they are interested in.”
Sofia and Allison gave a sincere shoutout to the approximately 100 community members like Elena who put hard and fast work into making this happen. “Our effort does not go unnoticed,” Allison said. “There is so much gratitude from our partners on the Navajo Nation. And, in reality, it barely scratches the surface of the kind of support this community deserves as a part of our state and country.” The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and magnified institutional inequities, Sofia explained. “While there is so much more work to be done, this very moment is one that shows the true utility in authentic partnerships between communities that are vastly different, but that share boundaries.”
While there is so much more work to be done, this very moment is one that shows the true utility in authentic partnerships between communities that are vastly different, but that share boundaries.—Director of Arts Sofa Gorder
Junior Katie Kern—who visited the Navajo Nation for Interim in 2019 and would’ve gone again this year—echoed Allison and Sofia’s sentiments. “The people that I met in the Navajo Nation are simply good people who don't deserve what is going on right now,” Katie said, recalling how she loved dancing with the middle schoolers there, and meeting fellow high schoolers. “When good people go through something like this and resources become scarce, people need to come together and do what they can to provide some comfort.”
And we were able to provide some comfort, Sofia reiterated, due to our several years spent building trust and relationships. “Without these relationships, I am almost positive we would have seen less effort from our current and past students, and much less efficiency in getting the collected supplies to the right places and to the right people in a timely manner.”
Allison and Sofia gave a special thanks to the following community members who helped to make this happen through work and donations: Middle School Administrative Assistant Andrea Beckman; Brian, Karey, and Elena Barker; Martin, Krista, and Katie Kern; junior Samantha Paisley; parent Jacqueline Wittmeyer; Upper School Principal Ingrid Gustavson and family; and Director of Ethical Education Ryan Hoglund.