Suellyn Preston Scull has died
Suellyn Preston Scull, twenty-eighth head of Trinity School, died on Wednesday, 14 April 2021 at the age of seventy-six after battling cancer for the past five years.
In 1980, John Hanly, then-principal of the Upper School, and Robin Lester, then-headmaster of Trinity, hired an Australian chemistry teacher named Suellyn Preston. Suellyn quickly fell in love with Trinity and it soon became clear that the feeling was mutual. Over the course of her first career at Trinity, Suellyn taught science, was a form master—class dean in our current usage—and assistant principal. In 1986, she became principal of the Upper School, a position she held until 1997. She was known to be firm, fair, and exacting. She was also known to be a truly caring and empathetic presence in school with a great sense of fun. Her students loved her and her colleagues respected and admired her. Many of her former students are now parents at Trinity. While at Trinity in those years, Suellyn met, and married, Ted Scull, himself a former Trinity teacher.
In 2003, head of school Hank Moses invited Suellyn back to Trinity for a year to serve as interim associate head of school. Suellyn fell in love with Trinity all over again and with her new position which gave her the opportunity to see and to serve Trinity in new ways. One year in the job wasn’t enough and she applied for the job on a permanent basis. We will all always be grateful that Hank and the search committee had the good sense to hire Suellyn from among the many candidates they saw in the spring of 2004.
Over the course of five years, Suellyn oversaw curriculum integration across the three divisions, coordinated the curriculum mapping project, led the professional development program, directed our Tiger Kloof project, began work on internal 300th anniversary projects, and provided Hank, the senior staff, trustee committees, and the faculty with clear, direct, and wise counsel.
Suellyn became Trinity’s twenty-eighth—and first woman—head of school in 2007 and ably led the School through a challenging period of transition. At the School’s 300th Anniversary celebration at Carnegie Hall, then-board president Andy Brownstein said of her, “I have watched from the vantage point of the presidency of the board how hard, thoughtfully, and effectively she works. I’ve enjoyed her sharp wit and been, like so many here, the beneficiary of her advice and counsel. With affection, I sometimes refer to Suellyn as “The Boss,” and she deserves that respect. Her wisdom, grace, humor, extraordinary understanding of the school, and her deep love of children and of all things Trinity have characterized her leadership.” As a tribute to her extraordinary leadership and in honor of the school’s tercentennial, a group of Suellyn’s former students established The Suellyn Preston Scull Endowment for Professional Development, a fund which now totals over $1 million and provides support for ongoing faculty education and development programs.
Suellyn remained at Trinity as special assistant to John Allman during his first year as head of school in 2009-2010. Since her retirement, she has served on several boards, including the Bronx Charter School for Children and The Allen-Stevenson School, and on the Vestry of Trinity Church Wall Street. She and Ted traveled extensively and Suellyn took up and mastered bridge, her weekly game a sacrosanct event. Her love for and interest in all things Trinity never waned and her relationships with her former students and colleagues remained strong and deep. In 2016, Suellyn received The Lawrence T. Cole Award which is presented from time to time by the Trinity Alumni and Alumnae Association to an individual whose character and achievement reflect the highest traditions of Trinity School—which Suellyn did to her very core.
Suellyn is survived by her husband, Ted Scull, her sister, Bronwyn Barton, her niece, Sophie Klatt, and nephew, Mark Klatt. At her request, gifts in her memory may be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center or to the The Bronx Charter School for Children, 388 Willis Avenue, Bronx, NY 10454. Due to COVID regulations, the family will hold a private service in the coming days and, as soon as conditions permit, Trinity School will host a memorial event so that Suellyn’s many colleagues, friends, and former students may gather to remember her and to celebrate her life.
Upper School Orchestra Awarded Gold at Virtual Festival!
Trinity Dining Services is Helping with Reducing Food Waste ...
One of many positive outgrowths of gratitude is mindfulness about making good use of what we have, and it is in this spirit that Trinity Dining Services is proud to announce its work with Imperfectly Delicious Produce, or IDP. Launched by Compass Group in May of 2014, IDP works with produce growers and distributors to reduce food waste. Many Grade A fruits and vegetables are deemed unfit for retail because they don’t meet strict standards for shape, size, and appearance. They are perfectly usable, edible and tasty, but they are imperfect-looking: they are “imperfectly delicious.” Some of this imperfect produce gets left behind in fields while the prettier produce is harvested; some of it is harvested but then deemed to be cosmetically unacceptable for Grade A produce standards; and some of the bounty that IDP spares from being thrown away or wasted consists of parts of vegetables that are somewhat strange-looking or difficult to determine how to use. IDP works with various food and dining services across sixteen states (with five additional states in the process of beginning to work with them) and now Trinity Dining Services has joined them. Dining Services Director James Cowan says they have been cooking with and serving IDP produce such as “IDP second cut greens, pickled watermelon rinds, IDP tomatoes, and even utilizing the broccoli stems on our salad bar.” A delicious way to make a difference!
The Fall Athletics Season Brought Trinity Much to Celebrate!
In cross-country, the Tigers made Trinity history, sweeping the Ivy Preparatory League meet by winning both the Boys’ and Girls’ Championship Titles for the first time! The Trinity Boys’ Varsity Cross Country team won their second consecutive Ivy Championship, beating Collegiate School 48-71. (Low score wins in Cross Country.) The Trinity Girls’ Varsity Cross Country team won the Ivy Championship with a thrilling finish: one of our runners finished 0.3 seconds ahead of a runner from Poly Prep Country Day School, earning Trinity the win by one point, 49-50. The boys’ and girls’ Junior Varsity teams both won their races, too! This bodes well for the future!
Boys’ Cross Country did Trinity proud at the New York State Association of Independent Schools Athletic Association (NYSAISAA) Championships, too, with their second consecutive win in the New York State Independent School Championship! This first-place finish earned them the opportunity to compete in the New York State Federation Championship meet on Saturday 18 November. The Trinity girls had a proud showing at the NYSAISAA Championship meet, too, finishing third.
The Boys’ Varsity Soccer team also made history this season, winning their first-ever NYSAISAA Championship! They entered the tournament as the #2 seed, started off strong with a 2-0 victory over Poly Prep Country Day School, then faced off against rival The Dalton School in the semifinals and earned a hard-fought 2-1 win. Lastly, they vanquished undefeated Riverdale Country School with a 2-1 win, and the overjoyed fans stormed the rainy field at Manhattanville.
The Girls’ Varsity Soccer team’s season was also filled with excitement. They earned the #6 seed in the NYSAISAA tournament, opened the tournament by beating Dwight School 7-0, then faced off against #3 seed The Packer Collegiate Institute and brought back a 1-0 Golden Goal win in the final overtime period. In the semis, they faced off against #2 seed The Dalton School and fought hard and honorably in a tight game, ultimately losing in overtime.
In Tennis, the Varsity Girls’ Team placed 3rd in the Ivy Preparatory League, and earned a bid in the Mayor’s Cup, in which they vanquished their rival Riverdale Country School, to whom they had previously lost, with a 3-1 victory in the semifinals, which bolstered them to the Mayor’s Cup Championship, where they lost a close match to Beacon High School in the finals.
Four Trinity tennis players earned bids to play in the NYSAISAA Tournament. Trinity’s #1 line Leila Epstein and #2 line Emma Eisenberg entered the championship in the singles’ bracket as the #3 and #7 seeds, and in the doubles bracket, Trinity’s #1 line of Kaya Alagappan and Gina Markov earned the #1 seed and won the NYSAISAA Championship! This qualified them for the New York State Federation Championship, where they lost in the finals but finished as the second best doubles team in New York state.
Varsity Volleyball earned the #6 seed in the NYSAISAA Tournament, where they emerged victorious from their match with Avenues and then lost in the quarterfinals to #3 seed Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
Congratulations to all!
Pat Krieger Inducted into the Rice University Athletic Hall ...
Pat Krieger, Trinity’s Athletic Director, was inducted into the Rice University Athletic Hall of Fame last month, an honor that the Trinity Upper School community celebrated with Coach Krieger in Community Time on 17 October. Coach Krieger’s accomplishments as a student-athlete while at Rice University were myriad and continue to define Rice’s women’s basketball program. Coach Krieger was the first-ever recipient of a women’s basketball scholarship at Rice. She is one of the very top scorers in Rice women’s basketball history, ranked second overall with 1,851 points. She was the leader in scoring in 1979-80 and in 1980-81, with 16.8 points per game. She holds Rice’s record for the most field goals made in a single season—231, in 1979-80. She became Rice’s first A.I.W.A. All-American (Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) in 1982. She was also a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American (College Sports Information Directors of America) in 1981 and 1982. Her overall points scored during the 1979-80 season—555—ranks second in school history. Her career scoring average of 16.5 points per game ranks third in school history. She is ranked seventh on Rice’s all-time rebounding list, with 740 total boards.
Ellen O’Malley Wins Distinguished Teaching Prize
Since its inception, thirty teachers have received this honor, their names displayed prominently on the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize Plaque in the Great Hall. The 2017 award was given to Ellen O’Malley. Ellen started at Trinity as a teacher of history in the Middle School in 2003. During her time at the School, she’s served as class dean for Grade Five from 2004 to present, and head coach of Girls Varsity Lacrosse from 2008-2009 and 2010-2014.
“A model teacher,” one who “cares deeply about the needs of others and consistently demonstrates that through her daily interactions,” colleagues also describe Ellen as “a positive and supportive colleague whose patient guidance is a constant.” “Ellen’s command of the subject matter is impressive. She is a precise and accurate historian! Her work with the students, parents, and colleagues as dean is quite wonderful. She is a positive and supportive colleague.” Ellen is parent to Johnny O’Malley, Trinity class of 2023.
Boys Varsity Indoor Track – Ivy Preparatory School Lea...
Girls Varsity Swimming Takes Ivy Preparatory School League C...
Anastasia Tonello was today’s Upper School Community Time ...
Anastasia Tonello is the managing partner of Laura Devine Attorneys LLC in New York, and a partner of Laura Devine Solicitors in London. The Laura Devine practice focuses on immigration law; Anastasia Tonello is global head of the U.S. immigration team.
Upper School News—Trinity Tibe was today’s Upper School ...
Trinity Tibe is a poet, artist, and a cofounder of Say Yes Electric Collective, a Brooklyn-based artists’ community that creates space for diverse artists and for artistic collaboration. She received her MFA in poetry from The New School and is the winner of "Crosswinds Poetry Journal’s" 2015 annual contest.
Nina Berman is today’s Lunch and Learn speaker
Author, Documentary Photographer, and Associate Professor at Columbia University, Nina Berman is today’s Lunch and Learn speaker. Nina’s work documents militarized life in the U.S. post 9/11, and the subsequent two wars that followed. Her photographs and videos have been exhibited at more than 100 international venues, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Dublin Contemporary. She has received numerous awards from prestigious organizations, including the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Open Society Foundation, among others.
Moon Duchin is today’s Community Time Speaker
Associate Professor at Tufts University in the Department of Mathematics, Moon Duchin is today’s Community Time Speaker. Professor Duchin researches geometric counting problems and the geometry of groups and surfaces. She received her A.B. from Harvard College and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She is the author of numerous papers and is a frequent presenter at conferences throughout the U.S..
The Diversity Committee is hosting a free screening of the f...
The Diversity Committee is hosting a free screening of the film, I Am Not a Racist...Am I?. Families from all three divisions along with students in grades six through twelve are invited to attend. A follow-up discussion of the film is planned for a later date. For more information, visit their website: https://www.notracistmovie.com/
Dr. Laurence Steinberg shares parenting strategies with pare...
Author and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Laurence Steinberg shares parenting strategies with parents while discussing adolescent brain research. The author of Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence, focuses on adolescent brain development, risk-taking, and decision-making, parent-adolescent relationships, adolescent employment, high school reform, and juvenile justice. He appears frequently on the New York Times and NPR as an adolescent psychology expert.
William Deresiewicz gives the Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture
William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, gives the Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture. Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic. He has taught at Yale and Columbia Universities, and is a contributing writer for The Nation. For more information about the author, visit his website: https://www.excellentsheep.com/
Pediatric psychiatrist and author, Dr. Jodi Gold is today’...
Pediatric psychiatrist and author, Dr. Jodi Gold is today’s Community Time speaker. She has spoken to domestic and international audiences of her approach to managing digital technology in children and adolescents. She is the author of Screen-Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child's Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices, and is a psychiatric expert for various news outlets. She serves on the voluntary faculty of Cornell and has a private practice in Manhattan. Visit her website here: http://jodigoldmd.com/
Trinity Students honored with 2016 New York City Scholastic ...
Trinity Students honored with 2016 New York City Scholastic Art and Writing Award. Trinity was well represented among the winners, selected from over 11,000 submissions. The recipients of the top award, the Gold Key, will be invited to choose artwork to display at the 2016 NYC Scholastic Art Awards Exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For full results of the 2016 NYC Scholastic Awards, visit: https://nycscholasticawards.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/the-2016-nyc-scholastic-awards-results-are-here/
Artistic Director of the Dash Ensemble, Gregory Dolbashian i...
Artistic Director of the Dash Ensemble, Gregory Dolbashian is today’s Community Time speaker and performer. The Dash Ensemble is a contemporary dance company combining elements of modern, hip hop, floor work, and physical theater. They have performed at NYU’s Skirball Center, Dance Theatre Workshop, Summer Stage, and the Joyce Theater, among others. Gregory received dance training at the Alvin Ailey School and later graduated cum laude from the SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance. For more information visit their website: https://www.thedashensemble.org/
Dr. Paul C. McCormick, the Gallen Professor of Neurological ...
Dr. Paul C. McCormick, the Gallen Professor of Neurological Surgery at Columbia University Medical Center, is today’s speaker. His clinical work and research focuses on the spine and spinal cord. After studying at the Neurological Institute of New York, he later joined their neurological staff as the first neurosurgeon dedicating his practice to the treatment of patients with spinal disorders. To view his profile, visit: https://www.columbianeurosurgery.org/doctors/paul-c-mccormick/
Trinity’s biannual literary and art journal, Columbus, rec...
Trinity’s biannual literary and art journal, Columbus, receives the Superior award in the Excellence in Student Literary Magazines competition from the National Council of Teachers of English. Trinity is the only independent school in New York City to receive the honor. Student editors of the publication include Ella Epstein '17, Amelia Frank '16, Laura Glesby '17, Mia Nicenko '16, Ani Tchorbajian '17, and Christopher Vassallo '16. To see NCTE’s 20015 ranked magazines, visit: https://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/About/Awards/PRESLM/2015PRESLM/NY.pdf
Trinity takes home prizes from the Greater New York Scholast...
Trinity takes home prizes from the Greater New York Scholastic City-Wide Chess Championship (GNYSCC). Tying for first place in the Primary Novice division, Oliver Epstein, with a perfect score, was the city-wide co-champion. Lila Paul ’25 and Carter Hebard ’26 both finished in the top twenty-five in the same division. The Primary Intermediate Team missed first place by only one point, and was led by Kyle Hahn ’25, also with a perfect score, earned first place in the city. In addition, Trinity’s K-1 team placed sixth and the Elementary Novice team finished tenth. For a list of rating reports for all the games of this event, visit: https://www.gnyscc.com/
Rena Deitz is Upper School’s Community Time speaker
Education specialist at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Rena Deitz is Upper School’s Community Time speaker. The IRC is a non-profit that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Prior to the IRC, Deitz worked as an Education Project Manager at UNESCO Juba and in communications at Child Protection in Crisis Network. She graduated from Columbia University Teachers College with an MA in International and Comparative Education.
Trinity Students Perform at United Nations
Three Trinity Upper School Chorus members participated in a performance at the United Nations on Monday, 26 November 2012: Emily S. Shah ’15, Tanvi Janardhan ’15, and Isabelle J. Chau ’16. The choir was organized and led by Trinity alumna Amy M. Zakar ’95.
The event—A Celebration of Love: Love Towards All, Malice Towards None—took place in the Economic and Social Council Room at the United Nations. It celebrated universal love, human unity, and service without regard to race, religion, or national origin. The evening included the renowned Shahi Qawwals from Ajmer Dargah Sharif (devotional singers and musicians from India) and a presentation by Dr. Deepak Chopra. Tanvi Janardhan ’15, Emily S. Shah ’15, and Isabelle J. Chau ’16 sang to a full house of delegates and families as well as to the security council president and the deputy secretary general. The soloist, Mor Dior Bamba, is a Senegalese griot singer (a hereditary caste in western Africa whose function it is to keep an oral history of a tribe or village).
The concert was organized by the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations to celebrate India's presidency of the United Nations Security Council and to mark the 800th Urs (anniversary of death) of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, a twelfth century Sufi saint.
Video of the performance can be viewed here:
In Memoriam: James Grady Hobson
We recently received news of the death of one of our former faculty members that occurred last year. James Grady Hobson, who taught mathematics at Trinity School from 1979 to 1991, passed away on 30 November 2011 at his home in Selma, California.
James was born on 5 February 1926. During World War II, he served in the United States Armed Forces. He received his undergraduate degree from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Prior to teaching at Trinity, James taught at both campuses of Robert College of Istanbul in Turkey between 1952-1960, 1962-1968, and from 1971-1977, for a total of twenty years. Back in the United States, he also taught at Verde Valley School in Sedona, Arizona, from 1968-1971 and St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas, from 1977-1979.
James is survived by his nieces and their spouses, Gail and Pat Lewis; Karen and Rod Ochinero, and Rae Coonce; four great nephews and their spouses; and two great nieces.
To learn more about James’s life in Istanbul and in New York City at Trinity, read this 2003 interview with him conducted by a former student of his from Robert College: https://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~omer/DOWNLOADABLE/J_Grady_Hobson_Interview_2003.pdf
Trinity DNA Project on ABC News Nightline
Parent of alumna Dr. Mark Stoeckle, alumni Catherine C. Gamble '11 and Rohan N. Kirpekar '11, and student Grace Young '13, who made the news after finding unlisted ingredients in teas and infusions by using DNA barcoding, were featured in an ABC News Nightline program on food fraud. See them at minute 3:50 in the video, which can be watched at http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/food-fraud-watchdog-group-raises-concerns-18290097.
Read the Campus News article from 2011 about their findings at https://www.sinecharta.org/Campus-News/Around-the-Campus/2011-2012/July/Trinity-Students-Use-DNA-Barcoding-to-Test-Teas-an.aspx.
Trinity Students Win Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
The 2012-2013 academic year marked the ninetieth anniversary of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers presents the awards every year to bring recognition of the artistic and literary talents of students to a national audience.
The Gold Key awards are the highest level of achievement on the regional level. Gold key entries are automatically entered into the National Judging later this year. The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of New York City are in, and Trinity students are among the many talented students of New York City who have been awarded Gold and Silver Key awards in art and writing.
Visit https://www.artandwriting.org/ for more information about the awards and the history of the awards.
Over the next couple of months, the Scholastic Awards of New York City blog will be publishing five artworks and five works of writing a day from the Gold and Silver Key winners. A list of honorable mentions can also be seen on the blog. Visit it at http://nycscholasticawards.wordpress.com/.
The winners are below:
Writing – Gold Key
Daniel B. Carlon ’13 – Poetry – Southern Catatonia
Elodie M. Freymann ’14 – Short Story – The Boat, Short Story – Scratch Paper
Kyra S. Guillemin ’15 – Short Story – Tree
Lee Harris ’15 – Persuasive Writing – “Falling” in Love
Hyunsun “Heidi” Kim ’17 – Short Story – Flowers and the Bottom Line
Alexandra L. Lathen ’17 – Short Story – Rosie’s Rainbow
Ian B. Leifer ’17 – Short Story – Popped Like a Zit
Lucy L. MacGowan ’17 – Flash Fiction – Perspective, Flash Fiction – Metamorphosis, Personal Essay/Memoirs – Awake with the Rainbows
Emily R. Malpass ’17 – Flash Fiction – The Boy with the Mulberry Mark
Sophia R. McCreary ’17 – Poetry – Papa, Short Story – Seasons of Friends
Sarah A. Saltiel ’14 – Short Story – Witness Theory
Madeleine C. Steinberg ’13 – Personal Essay/Memoir – Oklahoma
Sara S. Tavakolian ’17 – Flash Fiction – A Walk in Winter Wonderland, Short Story – Porchetta Pig
Kristjan T. Tomasson ’15 – Personal Essay/Memoir – The Gift
Writing – Silver Key
Jane R. Baldwin ’17 – Flash Fiction – Dear Randy
Catherine Banner ’16 – Poetry – The Land of Magnolia
Corin I. Bronsther ’14 – Personal Essay/Memoir – The Primate Voyeur
Kenan Danon ’16 – Personal Essay/Memoir – Rawhide
Elodie M. Freymann ’14 – Short Story – The Plowman, Personal Essay Memoir - Tunneling
Finn Freymann ’14 – Personal Essay/Memoir – I’ll Lend You My Voice So You Can Be Yourself
Clara M. N. Gardner ’17 – Flash Fiction – Yellow and Red
Emma R. Gray ’17 – Short Story – The Fall
Jasmine Henry ’16 – Flash Fiction – Coming of Age
Casey E. Horey ’17 – Flash Fiction – A Flickering Hope of Home
Alexandra L. Lathen ’17 – Poetry – These are the Candles I am Lighting
Lucy L. MacGowan ’17 – Poetry – Life Is…
Susanna E. McCollum ’17 – Flash Fiction – The Eye of the Storm
Sophia R. McCreary ’17 – Short Story – Falling, Short Story – Bright
Ava C. McEnroe ’17 – Short Story – Storm, Short Story – Trapped
Scott R. Newman ’17 – Short Story – How am I Getting Home Tomorrow
Ananth Raghavan ’16 – Poetry – The River
Sarah A. Saltiel ’14 – Poetry - What to do About the Consequences, Goodbye/Hello Wish It Would Snow, Shadows are For Decoration, A Study of Dickinson, Small Dreams; Short Story – A Catastrophic Sense of Being
Zachary C. Spohler ’13 – Personal Essay/Memoir – Butterfield
Jack D. Wasserstein ’17 – Short Story – KAROLD
Art – Gold Key
Annabel C. Berney ’17 – Photography – The Necessities of Night
Daniel B. Carlon ’13 – Photography – Promised Land III
Elodie M. Freymann ’14 – Mixed Media – Forest Things, Drawing – An Answer, Photography – Dumpling Shop
Olivia A. Robbins ’17 – Photography – Julia, Julia, Oceanchild
Aaron Z. Smithson ’15 – Architecture – Skyscraper, Architecture – La Plaza
Art – Silver Key
Jane R. Baldwin ’17 – Digital Art – Lights
Daniel B. Carlon ’13 – Photography – Urban Self-portrait I Miranda Coombe – Painting – Untitled I
Emma J. Delaney ’13 – Photography – Red Shoes
Elodie M. Freymann ’14 – Photography – American Trumpet, Photography – Fly Swatter
Olivia Glen-Rayner ’14 – Photography – Ancramdale 1
Olivia C. Manocherian ’14 – Photography – Equilibrium
Olivia A. Robbins ’17 – Photography – Hallmark 1970, Photography – In the Abyss
Jennifer P. Romanello ’13 – Photography - Untitled
Jack Saltzman ’14 – Photography – Hurricane Sandy, Photography - Limbo
Elisa M. Sheen ’15 – Photography – Dedication
Aaron Z. Smithson ’15 – Architecture – Pavilion, Architecture – Train Station, Architecture – Fluid Station
Romy D. Vassilev ’15 – Photography – Untitled 4
Caroline M. Wilson ’14 – Photography – Trey
Trinity Students Win at Rondo Young Artist Festival
Congratulations to students David M. Leeds '13 and Quinn A. Steven '14 who were selected as first place winners in the First Annual Rondo Young Artist Festival. They will both perform, along with other first place winners, in Rondo's recitals this spring.
David Leeds will be performing George Gershwin's "Prelude" on piano at the Liederkranz Foundation in New York City on 13 April at 5:00 p.m. and Quinn Steven will be singing Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Black Swan" in Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall on 17 March at 1:00 p.m. The Rondo Young Artist Festival is an international concert showcase which is set out to encourage young musicians to further their musical talents. Rondo's idea is simple: to build confidence in the participants and prepare them for successful lives ahead, while helping their budding musical careers and promoting the spread of music in the community.
For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.rondoyoungartist.org/.
Trinity Community Helps Toborg Family After Hurricane Sandy
Fred Toborg, who coached and taught physical education at Trinity for thirty years, and his wife, Barbara, live in Broad Channel, New York, where their home was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. NY1 produced a segment on the couple and the volunteer efforts of Trinity’s community as they work to rebuild their home. With help from many alumni, including Elvin A. "Elly" Can ’91, Norman W. “Ned” Boyd III ’92, Vaughn P. Caldon ’95, and Chip Brian ’89 (co-owner of the construction firm, Design Development, who is rebuilding the home for free), the Toborgs hope to be able to return to their home in April. Watch the segment at https://www.ny1.com/content/179265/queens-couple-thankful-for-team-of-support-in-sandy-recovery.
The Curbed NY blog featured the renovation of the house in an article, including photographs. Read the post at http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/09/11/with_a_little_h
Trinity Students Published in Independent Voices Anthology
Each year, Independent Voices, sponsored by Joint Student Activities, Inc. (JSA), gathers together student poets from New York City's independent schools for a public poetry reading at Barnes and Noble. This year four Trinity students--Sarah A. Saltiel '14, Danny B. Carlon '13, Anna S. McEnroe '14, and Gabriela "Gaby" Sommer '15--will be participating. Their poems will also be published in theIndependent Voices anthology, of which an online edition will be available. Student Claire A. Keyte '13 will not be reading; however, her work will also be published in the anthology. Congratulations Sarah, Danny, Anna, Gaby, and Claire!
The reading will be at the Barnes and Noble located at 150 East 86th Street on Friday, 12 April 2013. The event begins at 6:00 p.m and will run until 7:30 p.m.
Trinity Middle School Robotics Team Places Second
On 19 January 2013, Trinity’s two Middle School robotics teams, the Siberian Tigers and the Raging Tigers, competed in the regional FIRST LEGO League contest. The Raging Tigers placed second overall out of thirty-six teams in Manhattan, beating perennial winners, The Dalton School and Hunter College Elementary School, in the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) Manhattan Qualifier at the City College of New York, which qualified them for the regional New York City tournament on 9 March.
FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is a LEGO based robotics program for students age nine to sixteen years (nine to fourteen in the US, Canada, and Mexico) which is designed to get them excited about science and technology and teach them valuable employment and life skills. Visit http://firstlegoleague.org/ to learn more.
On 9 March 2013, at the FLL Championship at the Javits Center, the Raging Tigers placed second among the eighty teams from the qualifying tournaments in the five boroughs. The team included Arnold Nam ’18, Eli H. Schiff ’18, Jeremy S. Ben-Meir ’18, Alexander M. Sheen ’19, Deen Amanat ’19, and Jacob L. Cohen ’20. They earned exemplary scores in nearly every category with perfect scores in robot design and project presentation.
The Raging Tigers developed Text-Stop for the competition after the team met with seniors at a local community center. The seniors expressed concern about being knocked over by people walking and texting at the same time. Conducting research jointly with the New York City Department of Aging, the US Center for Disease Control, and Skyping with a wireless expert in the United Kingdom, the team came up with Text-Stop, which uses a phone’s accelerometer to cause its keyboard to freeze when a someone attempts to text while walking. The team has submitted their invention to the Global Innovation Award competition and hope to make it commercially available to help seniors and others avoid potentially dangerous collisions and falls. (http://fllinnovation.firstlegoleague.org/text-stop).
Congratulations to the teams!
Watch a video from the 19 January competition at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxhyXrBxmXA
Watch a video from the 9 March championship of the Trinity team placing second at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg7Dz510JM4
Trinity Senior Speaks During Lower School Chapel
This speech was given by Jennifer P. Romanello '13 during Lower School Chapel on 3 May 2013. A slideshow of photographs accompanied the speech.
Good morning Lower School! My name is Jennifer Romanello. I don’t know how many of you have seen me around school, but I am a student here at Trinity, just like you! I am in the twelfth grade and I came to Trinity in Kindergarten in the year 2000 when I was five years old. That was thirteen years ago and now I am eighteen. I will be graduating from Trinity later this month, and after the summer, when you come back for the next school year, I will be going away to college. Last month I asked Chaplains Barbaro and Morehouse if I could come talk to the Lower School to share with you what it has been like to grow up at Trinity.
I remember being a student in the Lower School really well! What really stands out to me about my time in the Lower School are the many fun traditions I was a part of.
Take a moment to look at the picture behind me. I’m going to count to three. After I say three, can all of you tell me: for what event is this Trinity student holding a dream catcher above her head? 1 – 2 – 3…
Yes! It is the Native American Festival! Do you know who the girl is? It’s me! I am dressed up as a possum and holding a dream catcher above my head on the day of my second grade Native American Festival. Each homeroom represented a possum, coyote, or spider. My whole grade worked really hard learning the dances and together we put on a great show.
I also remember the third grade egg drop. On the screen is a picture of me, my partners, and Mr. Warren as we opened our carefully designed box to find that our egg did not break. My partners and I worked together and respected each other’s ideas.
Celebrating different holidays is a lot of fun in the Lower School. I remember dressing up in a black and orange witch costume for the Halloween Parade when I was in first grade. I still remember a few of the songs from the Halloween Parade, including the one about the little green baby ghost. The Halloween Parade is a lot of fun for not only the first graders, but also for the other Lower School students and the teachers. The three traditions I’ve mentioned so far create a strong sense of community in the Lower School, which I think is very important. It’s great to feel part of something fun, but these traditions are so much more than just fun. They bring us together. When people feel united, they take the time to learn about each other. When people feel united, they are less focused on themselves and more caring for others.
For decades, Trinity students have been a part of these Lower School traditions. The first grade pancake breakfast, the second grade Native American festival, the third grade Immigration Simulation, and fourth grade Japanese Festival – these traditions create some of the best memories of our childhoods. They connect us to our school and to each other. They unite people who are now in the Lower School to people who are no longer in the Lower School – like me. I have been talking about traditions that I was a part of around ten years ago, and you guys know exactly what I’m talking about. I think that’s really special. Many of the important events of your Lower School experience were part of mine too. They have been a part of the Lower School for a very long time.
Just a show of hands… how many of you have seen this flag in real life? On the count of three, can you guys tell me where you’ve seen it? 1 – 2 – 3… Yes! This flag is in the Great Hall! It was actually created when I was in first grade. Each handprint represents a student in the Lower School during the 2001–2002 school year. I remember going to the Lower School kitchen to mix the paint and then press my hand onto the flag that you see everyday.
A few months ago I was in the Great Hall and I told Adele that I wondered which handprint on the flag was mine. She then revealed that she has a list of which handprint belongs to which student. I then knew that I just had to find out which handprint was mine! It’s the thirteenth from the left on the fourth row from the top. Here is a picture of me reunited with my handprint that I stamped onto the flag over ten years ago!
Even if you haven’t realized it, the past and present students of the Lower School are very much united by the flag you walk by everyday. About half of the Upper School students came to Trinity in the Lower School. The older students you walk by in the Long Hallway may have had the same teachers as you – my Kindergarten teacher was Mr. Parbst and my first grade teacher was Ms. Alvarez! Maybe these older students went on the trip to Dead Horse Bay, like you, or had a parent read to their class in the library. You certainly learned to read in the same rooms where some of them learned to read. You even see some of their handprints everyday without even knowing it.
Trinity from years ago and Trinity today are also connected in All School Chapel. I really like All School Chapel. My last All School Chapel ever as a Trinity Student is in thirteen days and I’ve already been to forty-seven of them! But I will definitely come to All School Chapel even after I graduate, especially the one at Christmas time. I really love how during All School Chapel, all the Trinity students and teachers, and even some parents are together in one room. We sit together, sing together, and listen together. Think of the Christmas All School Chapel. At the very beginning, nine twelfth graders walk down the aisle in white robes. They are called acolytes. They are joined by Chaplains Barbaro and Morehouse, Mr. Allman, the twelfth grade speaker and the eighth grade speaker. Three fifth graders sing “We Three Kings” and everyone joins in at the refrain. Four six graders sing “Once in Royal David’s City” as the first graders walk down the aisle holding their candles. Parents lean over the balcony with their cameras and video-recorders. Students of all ages stretch their necks to catch a glimpse of the angelic first graders. I think this part so beautiful. Later, the Upper School chorus sings, and of course you can’t forget the caroling at the end and the singing of “The 12 Days of Christmas”! I have been the first grade candle bearer, the sixth grade singer, and the twelfth grade acolyte. I have also sung in the Upper School chorus.
Being a student at Trinity really means being part of something larger than yourself. The Trinity community includes all thirteen grades, the teachers, parents, traditions, and even the students who have graduated and share many of the same experiences as you. And, by now, there have been Trinity students, teachers, and parents for 304 years!
The Lower School is not only a place where traditions bring us together as a caring community. It is also a place where we learn the independence that we will need in the Middle School and Upper School as well as our lives outside and beyond Trinity. Here in the Lower School, every student has a job to help out the entire class. Some of you are line-leaders or line-enders. You pick up snacks in the cafeteria, you speak during morning meetings, and, in fourth grade, you are ushers, snuffers, or readers in Chapel. You get the job done, even if your teachers aren’t there with you to get snack or usher homerooms to Chapel.
In the Middle School and Upper School, it is very important to be independent in order to do many things by yourself – although of course your teachers (and friends) are there to help you. In the Middle School, your classes are taught in different rooms by different teachers. After sixth grade, you independently travel from room to room instead of moving with your homeroom. You must make sure that you are not late to class. No one from your first class of the day will necessarily have their second class in the same room as you.
Starting in the Middle School, you also must choose how to spend your time during the day. In both Middle School and Upper School, there are twenty minutes every day of free time after your second class. You could go to the cafeteria and have snack with your friends… you could play on the turf… or you could meet with your teacher if you have a few questions about what you’ve been learning in class. Every once in a while, you may find that, although you want to play soccer on the turf, you know that you really should meet with your teacher. In the Middle School, all the teachers are really nice and want to help you. And the Lower School is preparing you to have this level of independence, and I believe that when fifth grade comes around, you will be ready. And now after thirteen years, I believe that my entire time at Trinity has prepared me for next year when I will go to another school. And I know that when I get there, I will be ready to make good choices to balance my time between my classes and spending time with friends.
I knew even when I was in Kindergarten, back in the year 2000, that I’d be graduating in 2013, but the year 2013 always seemed like something I’d be moving towards and never actually reaching. It always seemed so far away. And now I am here after thirteen years, forty-seven All School Chapels, and nearly 500 weekly chapels – over 180 of them in the Lower School. I have had over 2,000 days of school here at Trinity. And now I have only twenty-one days left until I graduate.
Take a moment to look around at our ushers today! They’ve done a great job leading you all to Lower School Chapel! They should be very proud that they are carrying on a tradition that began many years ago and has included thousands of students. They’ve been very independent. And look at all of you in the audience! Together, you all sat and listened to what I have to say. We are sitting here together. We are sharing this experience today at Lower School Chapel.
From my thirteen years here, I have learned that: to be a member of the Trinity Community is to be part of something larger than yourself. When you are part of Trinity School, you are part of something that includes classmates, teachers, and parents. We develop thoughtful and caring relationships with one other here at school. And if you are a member, you are a member for life. You and me, no matter what age, are Trinity kids. Remember that my name is Jen and don’t hesitate to say hi if you pass me in the Long Hallway.
Thank you students, teachers, parents, Ms. Milliman, Mr. Allman, Chaplains Barbaro and Morehouse, Mom and Dad, and my brother Peter who is in the tenth grade… Thank you for the education, memories and friendships that I will take with me well beyond my time at Trinity.
Students From Trinity’s Grades Five and Six to Support a S...
The Empowering Children and Youth School (ECYS) in Freetown, Sierra Leone, serves a community of impoverished children in a slum called Congo Town. These children cannot take advantage of the public school system, as public schools are not free and the children cannot afford the fees. The director of ECYS, Ibrahim Kamara, provides an education for these children in a safe, well-run alternative that allows the children to attend school at no cost to their families. A former child soldier, Ibrahim has dedicated his life to serving the most disadvantaged children in his neighborhood. At only twenty-three years old, he has raised money to build a new building, he has hired teachers, and he has brought together many families in his community to help him pursue his vision.
"When I told this story at a recent chapel, a number of fifth and sixth graders approached me saying that they wanted to help support ECYS,” recalls Benjamin Stern, Middle School technology integrationist. “In my Computers class, the students came up with a number of ideas. They want to create instructional videos that help to explain math, science, and English concepts. They also want to plan and participate in a swim-a-thon to raise funds to support the school.”
The students hope to leverage social media and online outreach to solicit friends, family, and community members to support the students of ECYS. They will have a videoconference next week to begin to establish one-on-one relationships with the students in Freetown.
"I hope that the Trinity community will support these Middle School students in their pursuit of a better education and, therefore, a better life for the students of the Empowering Children and Youth School,” says Ben. From now until the end of the school year, Trinity students will be developing video tutorials, children’s books, and lessons in PowerPoint to teach the students at ECYS subjects such as math, science, and English. During the summer, the fifth and sixth graders will avoid spending money on ice cream, popcorn at the movies, and other expenses and they will contribute that money instead to ECYS. In the fall the students will host a series of fund-raisers to support ECYS and build upon their hard work.
Ada M. Guzman ’14 and Ozra Yazdani ’14 Read at N...
Students Ada M. Guzman '14 and Ozra Yazdani '14 performed their original poetry, to a very appreciative crowd, at an open mic night on 27 April 2013 at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe at 236 E 3rd St in New York City. The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, which was founded in 1973, is a renowned venue for poetry, music, visual arts, comedy, and theater. "We have serious young poets among us, and the city is noticing," says Cindylisa Muñiz, Upper School English teacher. Fellow English teacher and Upper School Class Dean Dr. J. Bradford Anderson was also enthusiastically in attendance.
Commencement Address Given by John G. Golfinos, MD ’80
Trinity Commencement Address, 24 May 2013
Headmaster Allman, Faculty, Trustees, Alumni and Alumnae, Parents, Family, Friends, Students and, in particular, the Members of the Trinity Class of 2013:
I honestly can’t tell you what a tremendous privilege it is for me to be asked to speak to the Class of 2013 at their commencement ceremony. I’m still trying to figure out why I was asked. Trinity has had the president of NYU where I work, John Sexton, give this speech. They’ve had Garry Trudeau who created Doonesbury. Two years ago, I think it was a Pulitzer Prize winner in poetry. So why am I standing here in front of you today? I’m hoping the reason is that I represent a lot of things, neurosurgeon being one of them, but the more important ones being an alumnus of Trinity (Class of 1980), a trustee of the School, and, most importantly, a parent of one of your classmates, Jason. Perhaps you will see in me a glimpse of your future—is thisreally what happens after Trinity? Perhaps you will trust that I might have something relevant to say, since I have in some long-distance way gone through many of the same experiences that you have gone through with some, I might add, of the exact same teachers. Perhaps, I will be a voice from the other side for you, proof-positive at this delicate moment in your lives that things do work out in the long run.
As a neurosurgeon for these past eighteen years, I will tell you, there are very few things that scare me, aside from uncontrolled bleeding. Trying to speak in front of the graduating class of Trinity is now on my list of terrifying moments. To that end, I’d also like to thank personally the eighty-six separate people who have asked me over the past month how my speech was coming. I am unfortunately reminded of the poor souls who come to speak as honored guests at our national neurosurgery meetings and have to address a room full of 2,000 brain surgeons, trying to say something that a neurosurgeon doesn’t already know or at least thinks that he or she knows. I was at your Virgil Academy and saw you go head-to-head with classics professors from Ivy League schools without blinking. Worse, in the age of the Internet, everyone knows everything that’s already been said in the good commencement speeches. At the NYU medical school commencement two days ago, the speaker mentioned how tempted he was to use Woody Allen’s fictional commencement address of 1979: "More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly."
So when I was asked to give this speech, my first fear-tinged thought was, "What can I say to 108 of the brightest, most well-educated and far-ranging young minds that will leave an honest mark?" My fear, I should note, was not assuaged last night at the baccalaureate when I learned that one of the lines in your class statement was, in fact, "I am always thinking, 'Why did they invite this guy to speak?'" But I’ll be honest with you. This is actually the second time I will speak at Trinity Commencement—the first was thirty-three years ago in June, 1980 when I was one of the senior class speakers for my own graduation. The keynote address that year was given by Leonard Lauder, the CEO of Lauder cosmetics and the father of Gary Lauder in our class. The chance today to try again was one I couldn’t turn down, although I hope you will appreciate what a precarious position I was given, speaking after Travis and Visala. It was in my contract that I would get to speak before them, but I guess that didn’t work out. Before I accepted, I of course had to ask my son, Jason, if it would be all right with him. My children think that my life mission at times is to embarrass them, so that I needed Jason’s approval to speak, which he gave willingly although I thought I caught a faint snicker cross his lips as he assented. I can say already that I know there is at least one person who is happy that I am speaking today. My daughter Chloë, who is in ninth grade, upon finding out that I would give the commencement address, was thrilled. "That’s great, Dad,” she said, “at least that way I can be certain you won’t be giving it at my graduation."
This morning, then, I thought I would speak to you about what I have learned as a neurosurgeon. The original title of my speech, in fact, was "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Neurosurgery School," but as I started to write I realized that so many of the lessons I had learned had their earliest roots at Trinity. My crystallized realization of what mattered came as a neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, but the foundations were constructed decades earlier in my twelve years on West 91Street. So, I thought I would let you know a little about my brain and what’s in it, and then tell you a little about your brains, and, with any luck , what I hope will end up in them. How long should this speech be? Well, that’s one of the things I learned at Trinity, from Mrs. Mallison, your and my English teacher. She would say it should be like a woman’s skirt—long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be interesting.
If you ask one of my best friends in the world when it was that I decided to be a neurosurgeon, he will tell you that it was in first grade. That’s right, I met one of my best friends, David Saltzman, on the first day of first grade at Trinity School (there was no kindergarten then.) I showed up to the first day of school with a broken arm, and David was the first kid to come over and ask if I was okay and if he could help in any way. He was the first at Trinity to sign my cast and we have been fast friends ever since. Through high school and even medical school, I thought that being a neurosurgeon meant having an opportunity to finally understand exactly how the brain works. That’s why I wanted to do it. I thought I would understand directly how it is that we know things, how it is that we remember things, how it is that we create things, how it is that we can deliver speeches like this and talk about the process even while doing it. But the reality was quite different. It is only in the last five years, really, that neuroscientists have started to look at the parts of the brain beyond sensation, movement, language, and vision. In fact, to this very day in neurosurgery, any part of the brain not involved in movement, sensation, vision or language is called "non-eloquent." That part of the brain can’t speak for itself. We freely plan surgical approaches to tumors that transverse and, of course, damage these "non-eloquent" areas of the brain. For virtually all of us right-handers and non-familial left-handers, that includes the entire right hemisphere of the brain except for the motor strip and visual areas. But we are now on the cusp of understanding how crude an approach that is. It is becoming clear that every part of the brain, as we suspected all along, is eloquent if you know how to test its functions adequately. Neuroscientists now use MRI scanners that show real-time activity in the brain to plot out which previously ignored areas of the brain are responsible for such things as fear, anxiety, bargaining, and even altruism. A tiny area of the right (non-dominant) hemisphere where the temporal lobe of the brain joins the parietal lobe seems to be important for assigning guilt and ethical responsibility to our own and other people’s actions. A good friend of mine studies what he calls neuro-economics, using the same MRI scanners to understand how people decide when to gamble or when a price is fair. We are starting to place electrodes deep in the brain to improve mood in chronic depression. In Toronto, neurosurgeons there were placing stimulating electrodes to curb appetite in massively obese patients. In one case, they missed and placed the electrode instead in memory structures of the brain. When the electrodes were turned on, the patient’s memory improved, and this has led to a trial in Alzheimer’s disease.
For me, though, the reality of being a neurosurgeon was far different from my medical school idealism of figuring out the brain. It turns out that being a neurosurgeon is one part surgeon, one part psychiatrist, and one part priest. You are with people at the extremes of happiness and despair in their lives. You see families tested by profound loss and sadness. You learn to judge quickly who will bear up and who will not. You become an acute judge of resilience. I thought that I was going into a technically demanding specialty. But the most demanding part of being a neurosurgeon is emotional, not technical. We all know the typical jokes about neurosurgeons: "It’s been another long day at the pearly gates and St. Peter is dutifully processing people. An amazingly long line of people waiting to get in stretches for miles before him. Then, from the back of the line, a lone figure starts to walk toward the gates. He’s clean cut, dressed in scrubs and a white coat, and has the words 'Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery' stitched under his front coat pocket. He smugly walks to the front of the line, winks at St. Peter, and strides into heaven. The people in the line are dumbfounded and outraged. 'Just because he’s a neurosurgeon, he doesn’t have to wait in line?!?' the people start to yell. St Peter looks back at them and answers, 'No, that’s just God. He likes to pretend he’s a brain surgeon sometimes.'" Well, I will tell you that nothing makes you humble more quickly than neurosurgery. All of the mistakes I make are permanent and irrevocable. The nervous system doesn’t repair itself like other organ systems. My patients live with the neurologic complications I give them for the rest of their lives. It’s impossible for me to have an ego given that truth. Many of my patients have malignant brain tumors. I am most often the one to tell them that they only have a year, perhaps two, to live. That has taught me how desperately precious life is. The strangest thing about our lives is that the arrow of time points in only one direction. You can never reverse it. There’s a reason we have so many ways to say it. You just heard one in the last hymn we sang: "Time like an ever-flowing stream, bears all our years away." Carpe diem; from Virgil—Fugit irreparabile tempus (time flies without recall); Gather ye rosebuds while ye may (Robert Herrick); to the ancient Greeks, Ta panta rhei (you can never step in the same river twice). The musical, Pippin, is on Broadway now and in a wonderful song the grandmother sings, "Spring will turn to fall, in just no time at all." Well, that has been the hardest lesson that neurosurgery has taught me. There is not enough time on this earth. As a surgeon, I have done heroic operations to secure only another two months of life sometimes. My patients will say to me, "Just be sure I am at my daughter’s wedding." Or, "I need to see my grandchild born." Or as one of my patient’s said when I talked about the risks of surgery with her, "That’s okay, Dr. Golfinos, you know—not walking beats not breathing."
It was being a neurosurgeon that led me to realize, in the face of our fragile lives, that we have to find happiness in every possible moment. When I was recruiting a faculty member from the University of Pittsburgh recently, he remarked anxiously that he was taking a gamble by coming to New York. I told him not to worry: I have a pathological need to make everyone around me happy. I got it from my mother (who is here today). It was my friends the neuroscientists who showed me how to do it, and this is what I want to impart to you now. What we call happiness, it turns out, correlates with levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, in the frontal lobes of the brain. There are only three things to date that have been proven to raise dopamine levels on functional MRI scans in the frontal lobes: antidepressants (naturally), exercise, and shared social experiences. The last is the one I want to concentrate on. Actual experimental trials show that social experiences in groups, especially with family and relatives, will raise dopamine levels in the brain as measured by PET scanning. This is the basis, it turns out, of psychoanalysis—the talking cure. It is why church works. It is why being a part-time priest as a neurosurgeon is its own reward. It is probably the basis of altruistic behavior as well. The origins lie deep in our genetic history as social primates, and more importantly lie in specialized neurons in our brains. These neurons, called mirror neurons, respond to other people’s actions. They allow us to empathize with another person. They are how our brains make sense of what is going on in another person’s brain. Our mirror neurons crave contact with other mirror neurons in other brains. It’s why social contact is so critical to humans. The military stresses the Rule of 3s in survival. You can survive three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, three weeks without food, and only three months without social contact. Solitary confinement in prisons is, for this reason, a cruel and sometimes lethal punishment.
Furthermore, the cognitive psychologists teach us that social activities create longer-lasting happiness than material goods. This has led to an entire field of study called hedonic psychology. Daniel Kahneman from Princeton won the Nobel Prize in economics for showing that beyond $60,000/year in income, there is no additional gain in happiness in families in the United States. More material goods do not create additional pleasure; only shared social experiences can do that. This was driven home for me in a wonderful way by Professor Kahneman himself. I went to a fundraiser for my twenty-fifth college reunion, and he was the featured speaker. It took place in early 2009, right after Lehman Brothers had collapsed. The location was an all-white penthouse at the very top of the Time Warner Center. The drapes were white, the furniture was white, even the cat was white. The host was perched at the time at the lip of financial ruin in the real estate markets. In his brief remarks, Daniel Kahneman looked around him at the wonderful views of the park and told the host not to worry. Even if he lost these material things, he would still be happy with his wife and children, and he cited his own studies to prove it. His advice to the host was to create more happiness by spending more time with people he liked.
As a neurosurgeon, learning what neuroscientists knew about happiness was my antidote to the fragility of life. Shirley Tilghman was a full-time working molecular biologist before she became president of Princeton. She was asked how she had time to do research and administrate while being the single mother of two adolescent daughters. She said that her answer was to make vacation times sacrosanct so that every minute was shared with her children. That’s what I have tried to do in my family. I even look forward to being trapped in traffic for hours with my family in the car, though I am not honestly sure that they would say the same thing.
I hope that you members of the Class of 2013 will learn to pursue real happiness when you leave here. Realize that there are mountains of evidence showing how fleeting the happiness of material objects is and how conversely permanent is the happiness of shared social memories. You will have to know your priorities since there will be so many demands on your time. My predecessor as chairman at NYU was a crusty but brilliant neurosurgeon of the old school. He was asked once what his priorities were. He replied, "My priorities? I’ll tell you what my priorities are—1) God Almighty 2) My family 3) That poor bastard on the operating room table 4) My residents and somewhere down around #99, medical school administrators." He had it right. He is in retirement, sailing now, spending all of his time with his wife and daughter.
At this point, I suppose, it’s traditional to close with some pithy aphorisms that you can take with you, sort of like a verbal gift bag. I hate to deprive you of that. The safety of your brain goes without saying—wear helmets at all times in hazardous activities. Mel Brooks noted in The 2000 Year Old Man that the brain was far more important than the reproductive organs, otherwise God would have put a skull around the testicles. At age forty, neuropsychologists can begin to measure memory and cognitive decline in normal people. That’s right. You, the Class of 2013 are close now to your maximum intelligence in your lifetime. Is there any way to stave off decline? This week, the University of Iowa showed for the first time that a specific video game could improve working memory in older adults. It is based on a single training exercise that improves working memory (the basis of IQ), although it’s not clear how long the improvement lasts. The only other proven way to prevent cognitive decline is, of course, exercise. Have a motto—it helps to keep your mind focused. In our neurosurgery department we have two—Grace under pressure. That was Hemingway’s response to Dorothy Parker when she asked him what courage was. "Courage," he said, "is grace under pressure." Having gone to Trinity, I thought we should have a Latin motto as well, so I included Aut inveniam viam aut faciam (Either I shall find a way or I shall make one, apocryphally attributed to Hannibal when he was told there was no way across the Alps). I thought it appropriate for neurosurgery. And by the way, never apologize for your Latin training. Ceteris paribus, it’s a wonderful thing to have. It’s not your fault if other people didn’t go to a school that had seven years of Latin. Similarly, have a sound track for your life. You millenials are particularly adept at that. I use classical music in the operating room for opening and dissecting, and rock and roll for closing. Finally, smell nice. Olfactory memories (those created by the sense of smell) are among the strongest of all memories. The olfactory bulbs themselves are not nerves but specialized parts of the brain, and one of the few parts of the brain where new neurons and connections are continually formed. They connect directly to deep emotional centers of the brain. It explains Proust’s memories involuntarily triggered by the smell of fresh-baked madeleines. Exploit all of your senses, not least your sense of decency.
I hope you will go on in your lives to do great things. I didn’t want to say it, but one of the other reasons I became a neurosurgeon was so that I would help other people without having to even think about it—it would always be the nature of the job. That first grade friend I mentioned early on? He’s helped millions of children and adults in New York City as the head of the Robin Hood Foundation. Take the enormous head start that Trinity has given you and go out to change the world. Change other people’s minds, or, even, their brains.
Thank-you so much for letting me speak, and may you fill your own lives with the most profound happiness. Start with the memories you have all created together here at Trinity School.
John G. Golfinos, MD ‘80
English Teacher Saul Isaacson Wins Greenberg Family-Alumni A...
The Distinguished Teaching Endowment was created in 1983 as a tribute to Clarence Bruner-Smith, Dudley M. Maxim ’32 and Frank G. Smith. In 1988, the Alumni Association decided to establish an annual award to a teacher who has taught at Trinity for ten years or more, exemplifies the history and traditions of the School, and who has demonstrated excellence in teaching. The prize, now known as the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize, was increased to $10,000 in 2004.
Since its inception, twenty-six teachers have received this honor, their names displayed prominently on the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize Plaque in the Great Hall.
The 2013 award was given to Saul Isaacson. Saul has taught English at Trinity since 1989. He served as class dean from 1994-2004 and again from 2006-2008. He’s been noted by parents as a “teacher whose outstanding contribution to our children’s education through his love of teaching and ability to inspire, merits Trinity's recognition and praise.” Colleagues have called him “a master in the classroom” Someone who brings “rigor, passion and patience” to his teaching. Saul was nominated in 2004 to “Who’s who among America’s teachers” and was awarded a faculty travel grant in 2008.
Trinity Alumni and Alumnae Association Board Member Janna I. Levine ’03 presented the award at the end of year faculty luncheon.
Trinity Student Awarded Scholarship to Writing Workshop
Trinity Student Selina Liu ’15 recently spent two weeks in Iowa City, Iowa, from 13-27 July 2013, where she participated in Between the Lines (BTL) Russia, a creative writing and cultural exchange program that brings together twenty talented sixteen-to-nineteen-year-olds—ten from Russian, ten from the United States—for intensive creative study. The workshop is hosted by the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the United States Department of State. The only student from New York, Selina was also one of only two participants awarded a full scholarship to attend the program.
During the two week program Selina and the other students participated in writing workshops and seminars, attended literary events, and gave a public reading at the Haunted Bookshop, a local literary landmark. Classes were led by the Russian novelist, Alan Cherchesov, and American poet, Kiki Petrosino. To inspire their writing, the students toured the Figge Art Museum, attended rodeo and mutton busting events, and sampled fried Jell-O at the nearby Washington County Fair. The students stayed in dorms on campus; the Russian students got a taste of US campus life, and the American students learned about Russian life and were able to sample Russian foods and learn traditional games.
“The people we meet inspire us to write…and BTL gave me an opportunity to meet people from all around the world, broadening my understanding of different cultures and allowing me to share my culture with others,” says Selina, whose parents came to the US from Taiwan.
For more information about Between the Lines, visit: http://iwp.uiowa.edu/programs/between-the-lines.
In Memoriam: Richard H. McLeod
Richard Harvey McLeod, who taught Grade Five at Trinity School from 1946 to 1953, passed away on 20 March 2013 after a short illness. He was ninety-two years old.
Mr. McLeod was born in Albany, New York, on 8 July 1920. He attended Albany Academy, where he served as president of the Joseph Henry Society (for students interested in the physical sciences), played varsity tennis, managed the hockey team, marched and drilled, and graduated in 1939. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 1943 with a BA in government. He was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity and played on the tennis team.
Upon graduating from college, Mr. McLeod enlisted in the US Army and trained at bases in Florida, Virginia, South Carolina, Missouri, Oklahoma, and New Jersey. He also studied the language and geography of Germany at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1944, after shipping out to England, he crossed into Normandy days after D-Day. For most of the next two years, he served with the 129th Signal, Radio, and Intelligence Company, listening to German radio transmissions and forwarding possible intelligence to Allied commanders.
After returning to New York, Mr. McLeod began teaching at Trinity School in 1946 while studying at Teachers College Columbia University. He received his MA in education in 1948. At Trinity, he met Barbara Price Birmingham, who taught Grade Three. In 1953 Mr. McLeod began working at Buckley School. Mr. McLeod and Barbara married on 11 September 1954 in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and spent six weeks on honeymoon in Scotland and around Europe.
Of Scottish heritage, Mr. McLeod first traveled to Scotland and the Isle of Skye, the ancestral home of the MacLeods, while stationed in England during the war. In 1954 Mr. McLeod witnessed the creation of the Clan MacLeod Society of America at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, and Mr. McLeod and his brother, Andy, would each later serve as president of the society. Mr. McLeod and his family attended several Clan MacLeod “parliaments” in Scotland. He also served over twenty years as “Chief of the Clan” at the annual Boar’s Head Festival at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut.
Mr. McLeod and Barbara’s three children, Suzanne, Doug and Andy, were born in New York City. Dick taught at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, for two years before the family moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, where he was appointed an English teacher at Renbrook School in 1963. He worked there for twenty-nine years, as homeroom teacher, middle school head, director of admissions, and as assistant headmaster. Upon his retirement in 1993, the family established the Richard H. McLeod Scholarship, which provides tuition for a deserving child.
Since 1954, Mr. McLeod spent part of every summer in Weekapaug, Rhode Island, at Skye Cottage, designed by his brother and built on land purchased by his mother. He continued to play tennis and co-founded the Weekapaug Tennis Club. Mr. McLeod and his family and friends loved spending time at the cottage.
After retirement, Mr. McLeod kept busy serving and participating at Asylum Hill Congregational Church, West Middle School, American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels Association of America, the Old Guard, the “Renbrook Readers” book club, and other groups. He and Barbara moved to the Duncaster Retirement Community in Bloomfield, Connecticut, in 2003.
Mr. McLeod was predeceased by his beloved wife, Barbara, in 2011. He is survived by his daughter, Suzanne Warren McLeod, of Arlington, Massachusetts; sons, Douglas Birmingham McLeod of London, England, and Andrew Harvey McLeod of Tallahassee, Florida; daughters-in-law, Bette Anne Berg and Kathy Baughman McLeod; granddaughters, Eleanor McLeod Maybury, Jillian Augusta Jayne McLeod, Fionna Nilsson, and Fiona Hester Cronin; his brother and sister-in-law, David B. and Betty McLeod, of Appleton, Wisconsin; sisters-in-law, Mrs. C. Anderson (Jean) McLeod of Essex, Connecticut, Mrs. Frank (Helen) Keenan of Vero Beach, Florida, Mrs. Henry (Nancy) Jamison of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, and Suzanne Birmingham of Greensburg, Pennsylvania; sister- and brother-in-law Mr. and Mrs. H. Ross (Margot) Perot, of Dallas, Texas; and twenty nieces and nephews.
Trinity’s Science Club Competes in Interschool Science Bow...
Congratulations to Trinity’s Science Club for placing second at the Interschool Science Bowl Hosted by Brearley School on Saturday, 16 November 2013. The Trinity team made an excellent showing, with team members, Clio E. M. Meghir ’15, Justin J. L. He ’16, Eric Chen ’16, Corin I. Bronsther ’14, Matt J. Leifer ’15, Maxwell L. Mitchell ’16, Jennifer W. Bi ’15, Valia P. Leifer ’15, and Nivita Arora ’15, participating.
A couple of sample questions from the day:
Which one of the following is found in BOTH plant and animal cells?
X. central vacuole
Y. golgi apparatus
Your nose is 5 centimeters from a concave mirror that has a focal length of 12 centimeters. Your nose appears:
W. upside down and smaller
X. upside down and larger
Y. right side up and smaller
Z. right side up and bigger
In Memoriam: Mary Evelyn Bruce
Mary Evelyn Bruce, Lower School music teacher emerita and pillar of the Lower School faculty for two generations, died on 29 December 2013 after a brief but intense battle with cancer at seventy-nine years of age.
Already a skilled soprano with professional credits to her name when she arrived at Trinity in 1967, Mary Evelyn was always a Virginian but also quite at home with the hurly-burly of a performing and teaching life in New York. In a distinctive Trinity career that spanned forty years, she made a real difference to the School and its students in every year of her tenure, and it is no exaggeration to say that her influence continues beyond her retirement in 2008 to this very day. Her colleagues and students remember her high musical standards for people and programs, her wry wit, and her ability to coax expert performances out of even reluctant pupils. Understanding that musicians need performances to push forward their training, she encouraged regular instrumental performances in chapel and founded the Lower School Trinity Tones as a way to allow Grade Four to work together at choral singing. Knowing that clear public reading and speaking are hallmarks of any effective chapel program, she trained thousands of students to speak and listen expertly to each other in chapel each week. She composed the text for and organized many programs and events that have now become traditions in the Lower School. When today's Lower School parents marvel at how all of these efforts have blossomed and grown, Mary Evelyn's legacy surely lives on.
The Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture with Mr. Ernest Green
We must give [our students] the tools of rigorous and passionate intellectual inquiry and self-expression so they can grow…We must lead them to distinguish right from wrong and then do what is right so they can be persuasive and courageous citizens.
These words from Our Idea of Excellence, Trinity School’s mission statement, provide the framework for The Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture. Through this annual program, the entire Trinity School community—students and faculty, parents and grandparents, alumni and their families—has the unique opportunity to interact, formally and informally, with outstanding scholars, artists, writers, and social and civic leaders. Trinity School is particularly grateful to Jack Rudin, father of Eric C. Rudin ’71, for the opportunity to create this important initiative.
This year’s Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecturer was Ernest Green, member of the “Little Rock Nine.” Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, on 22 September, 1941, Green earned his high school diploma from Little Rock Central High School. He and eight other black students were the first to integrate Central High, following the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education that declared segregation illegal. They later would become known as the “Little Rock Nine.” Green then went on to receive his bachelor’s in social science and master’s in sociology from Michigan State University. He also received honorary doctorates from Michigan State University, Tougaloo College, and Central State University.
Since 1985, Mr. Green has been with Lehman Brothers, where he is the managing director of public finance in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife, Phyllis, and three children. Previously, he was a partner in the firm, Green and Herman, from 1981 to 1985, and owned E. Green and Associates from 1985 to 1986. He also directed the A. Phillip Randolph Education Fund from 1968 to 1976. During the Carter Administration, Mr. Green served as assistant secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. He was appointed to serve as chairman of the African Development Foundation and chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Advisory Board during the Clinton Administration.
The recipient of numerous awards, Green was the youngest recipient of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Spingarn Medal, at the age of seventeen. On 9 November, 1999, President Clinton presented Green, along with the rest of the “Little Rock Nine,” the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor given to a civilian, for outstanding bravery during the integration of Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
On Monday, 27 January 2014, Mr. Green spent the day at Trinity speaking and visiting with Middle and Upper School students and faculty during morning assemblies followed by a “lunch and learn” discussion with the Upper School students. The day culminated with the annual Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture given to alumni, faculty, parents, and members of the public in the Hawley Chapel.
The Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture, inaugurated in 2004, is supported by a generous grant from Jack and Susan Rudin.
To read more about Ernest Green and the Little Rock Nine® Foundation visithttp://littlerock9.com/ernestgreen.aspx.
Two Seniors are Candidates in the Presidential Scholars Prog...
Update on 24 April - Gabriella has advanced to the next level in the Presidential Scholars Program and is now one of 560 semifinalists chosen by a distinguished panel of educators.
Seniors Gabriella E. Borter ’14 and Adrian Ivashkiv ’14 are two of more than 3000 candidates in the 2014 United States Presidential Scholars Program. They were chosen from nearly 3.4 million high school seniors in the US, selected for their exceptional performance on either the College Board SAT or the American College Testing Program ACT Assessment. In addition, candidates were also nominated by their Chief School State Officer in their jurisdiction.
Now in its fiftieth year, inclusion in the US Presidential Scholars Program is one of the highest honors bestowed upon high school students. Scholars are selected based on superior academic and artistic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.
560 semifinalists will be chosen by a distinguished panel of educators in early April. In May, the US Department of Education and the Presidentially-appointed White House Commission on Presidential Scholars will announce the Scholars—one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and US students living abroad; fifteen students at large; and up to twenty students from the creative and performing arts. Finalists will be invited to Washington, D.C. the summer after they graduate from high school to receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion, participate in events and activities, and meet with past Presidential Scholars, elected representatives, educators, and other leading individuals.
Good luck, Gabriella and Adrian!
For more information about the US Presidential Scholars Program visithttp://www2.ed.gov/programs/psp/index.html.
Trinity Hosts HackTrin – A Computer Coding Competition
On Sunday, 9 February 2014 Trinity’s computer coding club, HackTrin, hosted a hackathon, a competition in which teams worked collaboratively to create applications. Forty students from seven New York City schools competed for three cash prizes and three special merchandise prizes offered by corporate sponsors. One Trinity team that included Justin J. L. He ’16, Maxwell L. Mitchell ’16, Samuel B. Schiff ’16, and Grace Y. Zhang ’16 was awarded an honorable mention for their project, Syntaxtic. The event was organized by HackTrin’s president, Virginia Cook ’14; vice-presidents, Michael S. Chess ’14 and Daniel M. Ernst ’15; and the club’s faculty advisor, Justin Gohde.
Learn more at https://www.hacktrin.com/.
Hannah M. Sherman ’11 is a Recipient of the 2014 Harry...
Hannah M. Sherman ’11, a junior at Bowdoin College, is a recipient of the 2014 Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The Truman Scholarship Foundation was established in 1975, in lieu of a statue, as a living memorial for the thirty-third president, Harry S. Truman. The Truman Scholarship is awarded to United States college students, mostly juniors, who have demonstrated a commitment to public service leadership. Between fifty-five to sixty-five students are chosen each year. This year, fifty-nine Truman Scholars were selected from among 655 candidates.
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is highly competitive and prestigious, and Truman Scholars receive up to $30,000 for graduate study. Perhaps more importantly, they also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some graduate institutions, career and graduate school counseling, leadership training, networking opportunities, and special internship opportunities within the federal government.
Hannah, who is pursuing a double major in government and Spanish, applied for the scholarship while working in Guatemala from June through December of 2013. “I was first nominated by my college. I sent in in my application, which included various essays on what I’ve done, what I’d like to do within public service, and a mock policy proposal. I had to do this all from abroad, and the Bowdoin scholarship office was incredibly helpful to me during the whole process. My application then went on to the national round where I was chosen as one of nine finalists for New York State, and, in March, I came to New York City for an interview in front of a panel of distinguished people.”
Hannah feels honored to be one of the nearly 3000 Truman Scholars. “The scholarship money will be a huge help for graduate school, but, for me, the really big draw was the community that I will join. Being a Truman Scholar gives me admission into the network of Truman Scholars, a community of hundreds of people who are working in public service all over the world, and I can now connect with them.”
Hannah grew up in Brooklyn, and attended Brooklyn Heights Montessori School through eighth grade, before attending Trinity’s Upper School. “I know that I’ve been incredibly lucky and privileged. I always knew there were people out there not as fortunate as me, especially living in New York which has so much diversity, but I didn’t realize that I wanted to work towards empowering women until the summer before my senior year at Trinity. I was interning in the Netherlands. My mom is Dutch and I wanted to spend the summer there with my family. My internship was in The Hague at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, a network of international organizations with many focused on empowering women. One of my responsibilities was helping to set up a conference they were organizing about empowering women in Africa. I was reading about women growing up there, often in war-stricken zones, and it was eye-opening. It was the first time that I saw how many women were not like me. While growing up, my parents were always telling me I could do and be whatever I wanted. But there are so many girls all over the world whose parents are not telling them they can do whatever they want, who have so many constraints placed on them, so many expectations for them, and their lives are not their own. I want to help them.”
In Guatemala, Hannah was working at a primary school in Quetzaltenango for the summer, and took the fall semester off so she could continue. The school provides room, board, and education to high school-aged students from poor rural regions. Hannah was teaching English and math, tutoring, and was also helping with the school’s publicity. “It really struck me—in Guatemala there is some expectation that girls will make it through high school, but very little expectation that they will go to a university. The girls at this school were trying really hard to break this cycle. Some of them didn’t have the full support of their families, but they were doing it anyway because they wanted to do more with their lives.
“What was most interesting for me was the grass roots aspect of the school. What are the different ways that people can be provided with the tools that they need to start their own businesses and be successful? I’m specifically interested in microfinance.”
Hannah is interested in using social entrepreneurship as a way to empower women and begin to alleviate poverty for women, especially in Latin America. “This summer I’m interning with FINCA International (the Foundation for International Community Assistance), a microfinance organization. I will be at their Honduras office for ten weeks, and I’m incredibly excited to learn more about microfinance in low-income communities.”
After graduating from Bowdoin, Hannah is planning to take a couple of years off to continue working in microfinance in Latin America. For graduate school, she is considering a MBA with a focus on international business with a joint MA in international studies. “After that, I’d like to continue working in microfinance or in a different kind of social entrepreneurship area. I don’t want to be in politics, but I can see myself working for a government agency.
One of the questions I was asked in my interview was why I wanted to help women in Latin America and not in the US. There are women here facing similar challenges, but the relative amount of poverty in Latin America is so much higher. I made many connections with women there and the relationships I built with them are pulling me back. I want to start in Latin America, but eventually I want to end up back in the States, possibly at an international organization. I’d like to find a way to work internationally and domestically.”
Read more about the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation at www.truman.gov.
Grade One Teacher Johanna Stadler Wins Distinguished Teachin...
Since its inception, twenty-seven teachers have received this honor, their names displayed prominently on the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize plaque in the Great Hall.
The 2014 award was given to Johanna Stadler. Ms. Stadler started at Trinity as an assistant teacher in Kindergarten in 1993, before becoming head teacher of Grade One in 1996. During her time at Trinity, Ms. Stadler has served as Lower School team communications coordinator on several occasions, as well as scheduling coordinator for the Lower School. Ms. Stadler has also served as a Lower School diversity coordinator. During Ms. Stadler's tenure as a diversity coordinator, the workshops on micro-aggressions that she helped to develop for the Lower School faculty were so successful that the team was invited to make the presentation to other divisions, to Parents' Association meetings, and at workshops throughout the city. Parents describe her as “thoughtful, attentive, responsive, calm, and able to see the good in every child and person” a teacher with great insight into all students and someone who “students receive strong support from.” Colleagues see Ms. Stadler as a peacemaker—someone who is always willing to see both sides of the story and willing to support give and take in all situations. Ms. Stadler is a team player who can be counted on to contribute positive energy and outcomes to any shared endeavor. Lower School Principal Dr. Rosemary Milliman describes her as, "Approachable, flexible, authentically warm, and easy-going—Ms. Stadler is a saint. She has contributed quiet leadership and unfailing support for any and all Lower School endeavors. A true colleague, Ms. Stadler understands life and brings inspiration and hope to the most discouraging of circumstances. She is a true friend and a sought after colleague."
Aaron Smithson ’15 Wins Essay Contest
Aaron Smithson ’15 is the New York State winner of the United States Institute of Peace National Peace Essay Contest for 2014. A rising senior at Trinity, Aaron has been interested in international relations for as long as he can remember. He discovered the contest by searching online, looking for something additional to do his junior year at Trinity. He decided that it would be interesting, and challenging, to write about security sector reform in Somalia and Sierra Leone.
Listen to his interview about his essay here. His essay is included, in full, below.
Cooperation, Reintegration, and Civil Oversight: Strategies in Efficient Security Sector Reform
In 1991, two civil wars erupted in Sierra Leone and Somalia, both engendering government collapse and horrific violence. Twenty years later, though, Sierra Leone would pledge 850 troops to the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in conflict-ridden Somalia, demonstrating the nation’s growth as an active participant in maintaining continental peace. The countries’ dissimilar fates reflect divergent paths in the transitional process of security sector reform (SSR) and ultimately exemplify the effectiveness of three central reform strategies.
First, active and long-term international engagement is crucial in providing a stable environment for SSR and in preventing the spread of militants and weapons. Second, the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of opposition fighters and civilian victims allows for reconciliation between conflicting groups that could otherwise disrupt future peace. Finally, capacitating civil society to oversee and scrutinize the security sector allows transitioning nations to validate and sustain their own reforms, often leading to a cleaner exit for intervenors.
In March 1991, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebelled against the tyrannical Sierra Leonean government. Six years later, the RUF joined the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council in launching a military coup that forced President Kabbah to flee to Guinea, then formed a junta to rule Sierra Leone.
In January 1998, the Nigerian-led West African military observer group ECOMOG retook the capital Freetown. Sierra Leone and Guinea held bilateral discussions to prepare for rebel penetration of their shared border while regional partners aimed to cut ties between the RUF and Liberian President Taylor through sanctions. To reduce the risk of recurring conflict, the U.S. led the Kimberley Process, an international initiative to end the trade of ‘conflict diamonds,’ which often exacerbate violence in unstable African countries.
In 1999, the international community organized peace talks, formed the U.N. Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and committed peacekeepers to maintain order. The Sierra Leonean government and rebels eventually agreed to form a unified government and curtail hostilities.
When militants attacked U.N. forces in 2000, the U.K. sent 800 soldiers to Sierra Leone to reestablish order. The soldiers fought confidently, swiftly restoring peace. The British government and Sierra Leoneans alike commended the operation for its efficiency. Evidently, when international partners show commitment to reconstruction, the likelihood that locals will embrace it increases proportionally.
The number of participants that responded to this crisis and cooperated with Sierra Leone, whether due to geographical proximity, post-colonial commitments, or international responsibility, was admirable. Following conflict or governmental changes, combatants and weapons can move and operate within criminal networks that do not necessarily respect national borders. Regional engagement is important in managing their spread and initiating DDR while international intervention is vital in temporarily maintaining peace as reforms begin.
The UN, in consultation with Sierra Leonean and international authorities, executed a phased approach to DDR. Over four years, the National Committee for DDR (NCDDR) worked with ECOMOG and UNAMSIL to collect and destroy almost 50,000 weapons and more than 1,000,000 pieces of ammunition. Disarmed soldiers underwent post-conflict reorientation into the economy, often receiving formal education and vocational training. Sierra Leone’s DDR program ensured social reintegration through promotion of forgiveness and reconciliation. The NCDDR also worked with the Community Reintegration Program to train civilians affected by conflict in skills that could improve quality of life. UNAMSIL completed the disarmament and demobilization of over 75,000 combatants by 2002, when the government officially declared the war over.
A coordinated approach to DDR is essential in effective SSR. Unifying a country under the control of one group is seldom an enduring solution to conflict, so DDR programs in Sierra Leone successfully reorganized security forces and transformed rebels into constructive members of society.
In a constructive society, the media is an important vehicle for civil oversight. While the Sierra Leonean government limits media criticism of authorities, access to information has been expanded and international training of journalists has raised scrutiny capabilities. By expanding media freedoms and education, Sierra Leone is developing its citizens’ political competence and, therefore, civil oversight capabilities. Ultimately, achieving these goals will allow intervenors to exit more seamlessly.
In Somalia, civil conflict beginning in 1991 produced contrasting outcomes. After a coalition of clan warlords ousted President Barre, a power vacuum engulfed the country’s governance. The U.S. and U.N. organized a military operation to maintain peace in the collapsing state. When eighteen American soldiers died in battle in 1992, the resulting media firestorm eliminated public support for the operation. U.S. marines and U.N. peacekeepers abandoned the operation and left Somalia in utter chaos by 1995. Similarly, in 2009, Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia amid local discontent that had caused conflict among Islamic insurgents.
This disorderly and apathetic international intervention, which President Bush described as not open-ended, failed to provide a secure environment for DDR to begin. While neighboring states showed interest in promoting Somali peace, the undertaking lacked long-term support from major international players. Furthermore, unlike UNAMSIL, UNOSOM (UN’s mission in Somalia) was formed without consent from local authorities, which alienated Somalis from the SSR process. The absence of commitment and cooperation, contrary to experiences in Sierra Leone, caused locals to disengage with reconstruction processes.
Without global commitment to provide temporary security, DDR in Somalia has been ineffective. Forming a harmonious society is inherently difficult in Somalia due to factional animosity. Still, intervenors became too involved in factional fighting and did not establish traditional inter-clan power-sharing mechanisms that could have fostered cooperation. Instead, the U.S. sided against warlord Aideed and showed few signs of offering reconciliation, which caused Somalis to view disarmament as surrender and ultimately prevented clan cooperation.
While Sierra Leone incorporated civilians into reintegration programs, Somalian DDR failed to respond to local needs. Because intervenors paid insufficient attention to these needs, dissonance developed among Somalis, who consequently have taken little responsibility over the outcome of SSR. Civil oversight of the security sector in a failed state is unconventional at best and nonexistent at worst. Somalis rely primarily on local and international radio broadcasters for information. However, freedom of information is limited by insufficient funding for local broadcasters and by the peremptory influence of terror group Al-Shabaab in southern regions, which frequently dismantles radio stations. Pervasive radio culture, though, provides opportunities for oversight capabilities. While contingent on the formation of a legitimate government with full national control and on the establishment of press freedoms, formation of civil oversight in Somalia is plausible. Without ordered governance, though, Somalia presents few options for the productive exit of intervenors.
Whether instability is caused by transition from war to peace or from dictatorship to democracy, SSR remains critical for development. The two types of transition are closely intertwined, both frequently causing power vacuums that provoke conflict. While each situation requires some customization, the basic strategies are universal. Failure to complete SSR, though, also has universal consequences. Without proper execution, transitioning countries can enter inextricable cycles of state failure, violence, and economic collapse.
Internally, Somalia’s lawlessness has produced appalling poverty and continued violence. The U.N. has confirmed six Somali regions as famine zones, infant mortality has reached levels higher than in any other nation, and civilian attacks have inflicted enormous damage, reducing hopes for the emergence of sustainable democracy.
Realizing stability through SSR is not only of domestic, but also of regional and international interest. Regional failure to counter spreading militant influence has allowed Somali violence to spill into nearby countries. In a siege on a Nairobi mall in 2013, Al-Shabaab killed 61 civilians. This and other attacks on Somalia’s neighbors seriously threaten regional stability.
Internationally, Somalia’s anarchy has widespread implications. Somali pirates have terrorized global trade in the Gulf of Aden, costing several countries billions in security spending to protect the commercial passage. Meanwhile, international Al-Shabaab pipelines recruit Somali emigrants, usually disenfranchised adolescents, for terrorist activity.
Sierra Leone’s relative stability has raised hopes for further development of a reliable democracy with a viable economy. While overburdened infrastructure and a low ranking of 177th on the Human Development Index still limit the economy, prospects for international investment and growth have improved. Between 2005 and 2012, Sierra Leone’s economy received praise for improvements in ease of doing business while expansion in mining, agriculture, and services contributed to astonishing 15.2% growth in 2012.
Corruption and substandard education preclude full democratization, but Sierra Leone has developed politically, too. International observers, for instance, deemed the 2012 presidential elections impartial and transparent.
Conflict resolution and the collapse of authoritarian government are typically viewed as great victories for peace and democracy, but the ensuing years are often ones of great volatility. Societies emerging from war and dictatorship confront highly fluid circumstances with countless potential outcomes. Some grow and prosper from these predicaments while others collapse into chaos. Somalia and Sierra Leone demonstrate the benefits of committed international cooperation, inclusive reintegration, and civil oversight in creating self-sufficient security sectors for transitioning societies. In learning from such successes and failures, other struggling countries may one day contribute to an international community dedicated to peace, prosperity, and human progress.
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In Memoriam: Margit Ulrich
Margit Ulrich, longtime Lower School receptionist and transportation coordinator, died peacefully in her home on Monday, 23 June 2014, after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease.
When she arrived at Trinity in 1982 to work as an accountant in the business office, it may have been difficult to imagine what a generous and public role Margit would come to inhabit at Trinity. Happily, for a generation of our students, in two or three years she moved to the Great Hall and began to account not only for school busses but for Lower School students as well. With sixty pictures of every new Kindergartener on her desk each year, Margit came to know every student in the Lower School individually and called them each by name as she shepherded them to and from their extracurricular responsibilities. Fourth graders in particular remembered with respect, and a certain reverence, the dignity, care, and concern that Margit brought to classes as she taught them about growing up as a young Jewish girl in Germany during the Holocaust and about immigrating to the United States. She loved our students, worked with and admired our teachers, and, by the time of her retirement in 2009, many of us at Trinity thought of Margit Ulrich as the kind, sensible, and well organized grandmother whose oversight of the Great Hall had transformed it from a transfer space into a home away from home.
Margit is survived by her daughter, Nancy J. Ulrich '81, Nancy's husband, Michael, and their son, Adin '21; and her daughter, Lisa S. Ulrich '80, Lisa's husband, Seth, and their son, Lucas. Margit was preceded in death by her husband of fifty-three years, Ernest Ulrich, on 26 November 2013.
A memorial service for Margit is planned for the early fall, at which all Trinity friends and colleagues will be most welcome.
-The Rev. Timothy L. Morehouse
Maxwell S. Chung ’17 Wins Two National Fencing Championshi...
Congratulations to Maxwell S. Chung ’17, who competed in the 2014 USA Fencing National Championships in Columbus, Ohio, from 22 June to 3 July 2014. He is the national champion for Division II and Division III in men’s foil.
Maxwell began fencing seven years ago at Fencers Club in Manhattan, with coaches Simon and Irene Gershon. Maxwell’s sister, Isabella, a Greenwich Academy student, is also a nationally ranked fencer.
Training as a fencer would be considered to be grueling by many, but Maxwell enjoys the challenge, “I am grateful to the administration and faculty at Trinity School who have allowed me to train throughout the week. I go at least four to five times a week for a minimum of three hours for each session. I have a two hour training session with a group, then a thirty minute private lesson with my coach, and then another thirty minutes of free fencing afterwards.
“Fencing is a burst sport. There’s a lot of energy exerted in a very small period of time. During a tournament, even though there are breaks, you know that one mistake can cost you the touch or the match. Stamina is a key component in fencing, and you have to quickly size up your opponent, because you don’t want to waste energy on an opponent who you can beat with simpler moves. The three strongest aspects of my fencing are agility, speed, and thought.. Fencing is a mentally, as well as physically, challenging sport and every match is different.”
Maxwell often trains with his sister, Isabella, but sibling rivalry does not interfere in their relationship. “Men’s and women’s foil are vastly different. Our presence in training with each other, and then supporting each other during tournaments, really helps us to push ourselves to the best of our abilities. We always know that no matter what happens in the fencing world, whether we win or lose, we have each other’s back. My family’s support is very important to me in my fencing career.”
After a few years of being disappointed with his results, Maxwell has been working on his concentration, not letting outside variables distract him from a match. “I listen primarily to rap music, but also some trap, mashups, and occasionally dubstep-electro to help me focus and eliminate thoughts not about the bout. I try not to think about whether I’m going to win or lose. You have to block out all thoughts except the match, because otherwise you are blinded to your decisions in the current moment. In the past, I have let my mental guard down and lost. If I lose, I want to lose because we both fought well but the other person was better at that time, not because I let myself get lost in my mental state. Fencing has taught me to truly learn from defeat. When you put so much training in, you expect to see results. But I learned to accept defeat and grow from it.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect at nationals this year. I have been putting a lot of effort into my training and reforming my style. I am aggressive and I would always rush into things. But this time I tried to keep a strong mental focus. I made sure I understood my strengths and weaknesses relative to my opponent’s, and I was much more patient. I knew that I had the potential to do well."
Maxwell also had the added challenge of competing against a good friend and fencing teammate in both final matches. “We see each other training and we know each other’s style. But no matter how close you are, you have to block that from your mind. It’s a high-stress situation for me. Just because you are close friends, doesn’t mean that you should let go of the spirit of the competition. You push them to do their best, and they do the same for you.
“When I won Division III, which came first, I truly felt that it was a blessing from God, but also a reflection of my own hard work. I realized that all the hard work you put behind something really pays off. It was an indescribable feeling of happiness and self-fulfillment. And then I won Division II the next day. It showed me that anything was possible, as long as I kept fighting for what I wanted. I have never been a national champion before. It has been such a journey and I know there is so much more in front of me. I’m proud to represent my school, my club, and my family. My achievement motivates me to work harder and achieve even more. I view these events as pivotal moments in my fencing career, as well as focal learning points from which I can improve.”
See photos from the Division II men’s foil gold medal final:
Cindylisa “Cindy” Muñiz wins Distinguished Teac...
The Distinguished Teaching Endowment was created in 1983 as a tribute to long-serving and distinguished faculty members Clarence Bruner-Smith, Dudley M. Maxim ’32, and Frank G. Smith. In 1988, the Alumni Association decided to establish an annual award for a teacher who has taught at Trinity for ten years or more, exemplifies the history and traditions of the School, and who has demonstrated excellence in teaching. The prize, now known as the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize, was increased to $10,000 in 2004.
Since its inception, twenty-eight teachers have received this honor, their names displayed prominently on the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize Plaque in the Great Hall. The 2015 award has been given to Cindylisa "Cindy" Muñiz . Ms. Muñiz started at Trinity as a teacher of English in 1990. During her time at Trinity she has served as Upper School class dean (1998-2004), cohead of the English Department (2004-2007), Upper School multicultural coordinator (2008-2010), and chapel coordinator (2014-present). She was listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in 2000 and was a recipient of the 2006 Summer Curricular and Pedagogical Fellowship. “Phenomenal teacher,” “intellectual fire,” “questing spirit,” “unabashed determination”—a teacher whose “commitment to the community of her classroom is palpable as is her passion for her craft”—are among the ways her colleagues and peers describe her.
Upper School Principal and Assistant Head of School Jessica Bagby shares about Cindy: "Cindy Muñiz is a rare spirit whose artistry as a teacher is rooted in her own moral conscience, her deep love of literature, and her belief in the power of writing to transform us and enlarge our humanity. James Baldwin writes that those of us who teach, who engage with the minds and hearts of young people, must be prepared to 'go for broke.' Cindy Muñiz has made not just a career, but a life of 'going for broke' in furthering her students. Daily, hourly, she gambles it all on her faith in them, their gifts, and their power to make the world better--more just, more humane, more beautiful."
In Memoriam: Kevin Bleakley
Kevin Bleakley worked at Trinity from 1974 until 1993, as the dean of faculty, as well as a chemistry and physics teacher. After leaving Trinity, he and his wife, Glenys, returned to their native Australia where Mr. Bleakley continued his successful career in schools, and Glenys continued her career as a well-known operatic soprano. Mr. Bleakley is remembered by his colleagues of the time, not only as a master chemist and a mathematician of keen insight, but as an able sportsman and fierce competitor on the tennis court. Most of all, his contemporaries say that he was incredibly devoted to Trinity students. In his time at the School, he assisted with the student-faculty senate, student government, and assembly committee. He was the sort of colleague whose faithful work with students and faculty made the School a warm and welcoming place.
Kevin Bleakley died on 22 December 2014. He is survived by his wife, Glenys, his sister, Anne, his brother, Gary, and brother and sister-in-law, Geoff and Janet.
In Memoriam: John Dooley
John Dooley, longtime head of the Visual and Performing Arts Departments, worked at Trinity from 1970 until his retirement in 1999, and during his tenure mentored generations of Trinity students and faculty alike. In addition to his classes in studio art and art history, he headed up the film club for many years and served as the artistic director of the Morse Center, working with the fall musical and the spring cabaret. His legacy at Trinity is not only humane but humanizing. Mr. Dooley designed the Brass Arts Wing, creating the large seminar room that the Upper School now uses for classes as well as for faculty meetings, to the Visual Arts Department classrooms that we all envy, full of light and air.
John Dooley died on 30 December 2014. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and son, Brendan ’84.
Anne Subrizi Mckee Wins Distinguished Teaching Prize
Since its inception, twenty-nine teachers have received this honor, their names displayed prominently on the Greenberg Family-Alumni Association Distinguished Teaching Prize Plaque in the Great Hall. The 2016 award was given to Anne Subrizi Mckee. Anne started at Trinity in 1981 as a Teacher of Physical Education and Fitness for Lower, Middle, and Upper School. During her time at Trinity, she’s coached swimming, gymnastics, softball, track and field, volleyball, tennis, and cross country. Anne is an inaugural inductee into the Trinity Coaches Hall of Fame, and recipient of the Smith Award in 1997 and 2009, the Parent’s Association Award in 1989, and the Spirit of Trinity Award.