Give Blood, Save Lives

In honor of the annual blood drive on campus on Nov. 12, math and economics faculty member Scott Wilson shared in assembly how he and his family have benefited from the kindness of anonymous blood donors. Read his reflection below. ​ 

Scott WilsonI always donated because it felt like a good cause and it made me feel like a good “doobie.” My motivation changed due to an incident a few years ago.

Some of you know that I have five children. My fourth child, and second son, Mackie, was born four and a half years ago in an emergency caesarean section.

It was an emergency because my wife noticed that the baby had not been moving. Upon birth, it was apparent that something was very wrong and he was barely alive. It turned out that he had transfused most of his blood back to my wife and was born with only one-third of the necessary blood volume.  This condition is rare, but it does happen and the causes are still unknown. The consequence was that Mackie suffered from oxygen deprivation, which meant his body was shutting down. Already, his liver and kidneys had failed, he had had a stroke and there was a significant risk of brain damage.

Scott Wilson and sonWe were fortunate in two respects: One, we were in the Boston area with a medical community that is the finest in the world​.​ And two, there was a ready​ ​supply of blood and within minutes,​ they were dripping blood into him as fast as they could, which was not very fast. Within 24 hours, Mackie had had three blood transfusions.

After 48 hours, Mackie had survived the birth, but his liver and kidneys were still not functioning. Some of you may know that life is not possible for any extended period of time without your liver and kidneys. I naively asked the doctors if they had a shot or something to stimulate the liver and kidneys back to action. They explained that despite everything we know in medicine, the best they can do for the liver, kidneys and brain is to restore the blood and then hope the blood does its job of re-oxygenating the organs.

MGH BloodmobileAfter a week of waiting, Mackie’s liver and kidneys turned on​,​ and he has thrived since. As he has grown, it has become apparent that the blood maintained oxygen to the brain​,​ and he has no apparent brain damage.

I thank those anonymous blood donors whose blood helped keep Mackie alive and allowed him to thrive.  If you find it in your heart and your body to give, please do so. Mackie and other Mackies out there will thank you.

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Technology in the Classroom

Alycia Scott-Hiser, director of academic technology, reflects on the state of technology at Nobles.

Technology ClassroomNobles has always been at the forefront of academic technology and never more so than this year. While the ISS (Information Systems and Support) department continues to provide robust and stable ‘back end’ support for the community’s day-to-day operational needs, the members of our academic technology team have been actively educating themselves, our teachers and students about numerous emerging technologies.

This fall, we launched three technology initiatives aimed at supporting teaching and learning at Nobles. These technology threads—Google Apps for Education (GAFE), Haiku Learning Management Systems (LMS) and 1:1 iPads in grades seven through nine—have led to a number of changes in how we communicate, share classroom content and demonstrate evidence of learning. It has truly been an exciting start to the school year in the world of academic technology.

First, we shifted from FirstClass to Gmail. Despite some initial fear of the unknown for both teachers and students, this roll out has been amazingly smooth. Gmail is only one of the powerful services of the Google Apps for Education suite, which includes Google Calendar and Google Docs/Drive. Less email and paper are generated due to the collaborative nature of these tools. Faculty and staff use Google calendars to schedule meetings with the ability to see when colleagues are available. Students are using Google Docs to work on projects with classmates and share work with their teachers. Teachers are posting homework assignments on class websites. This growing use of “the Nobles Cloud” is cutting paper consumption, leading to a greener campus.

Technology ClassroomWhile change, and disruption, can be good, it can also be challenging. We have a team of people whose job is not only to learn about the tools, but also best practices in the classroom. It always starts with pedagogy because academic technology should never simply be an add-on. The academic technology team works individually with teachers and in small groups to explore the ways in which these new tools and processes fit with what is already working at Nobles. How can emerging technology enhance the teaching and/or learning experience? Will it be effective and worth the change?

The second technology initiative this year is the adoption of the Haiku to manage classroom content. This online learning management system is fully featured; it allows teachers to post content (including videos and screencasts), collect homework, and engage students in online discussions and collaborative projects through a user-friendly interface. Most people have heard of Khan Academy and the concept of the flipped classroom and blended learning. Our growing use of classroom Haiku sites is leading us in that direction. It is no surprise that the Global Online Academy, where some of our students take online classes, and some of our faculty members teach classes, is also Haiku-based.

iPadWe continued our iPad pilot program with a 1:1 implementation in grades seven through nine. In the second year, we continue to explore how touch-screen mobile devices can enhance the learning environment, and we are just beginning to tap into the real potential of iPads. Part of this is due to the rapid pace of technological change. Over the course of the first few months of the school year,  Apple released a new iOS7 for mobile devices and a new operating system (Mavericks) for everything else. Not to mention the continuous cycle of app updates.

Change can be challenging. Yet both the operational and academic ends of the ISS team keep working to learn the new systems so that we can support the goals of our teachers. We have had pockets of success with the iPads in various scenarios, from a master teacher using an iPad to wirelessly project math problems to two science teachers who are using Haiku sites in conjunction with the iPads to creating completely paperless classrooms. We also have English, Latin and modern language teachers who created their own customized iBooks for the iPads.  Students are using iPads for standard note taking as well as documenting teacher instruction through photos and audio capture. Our middle schoolers are creating multimedia projects to demonstrate their understanding of concepts. The list goes on…

Our teachers are amazing, with or without technology. What technology can do, with the right support, is provide new avenues for instruction, sharing resources, designing collaborative work, communicating across time zones in synchronous and asynchronous spaces, and evaluating student learning through formative assessment. This is an exciting time, as there is much work to do, far more to explore, and a great deal to teach and learn.

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Busking

Natalie Sellers ’14 shares a personal essay about her first experience busking and the fear of feeling invisible, written for her Unheard Voices/Unseen Lives English elective. By reading literature of the dispossessed and marginalized, the class explores what it means to be silenced and invisible. 

Natalie Sellers “Why am I doing this?” I thought, placing my guitar case on the street corner. I told myself that I could still walk away if I wanted to. Suddenly, I had hundreds of chores that needed to be done, even though five minutes ago those chores did not exist. I stared at my guitar, lying there peacefully, wondering if I should pick it up to play or flee while I had the chance.

For an entire summer, I had been telling myself that I would street perform, also known as busking.  I have always admired street performers, envied them even. The idea of turning a sidewalk into a stage thrilled me. Unfortunately, this thrill was also paralleled by fear. What if people didn’t stop to listen? What if no one paid attention? These questions raced through my mind every time I thought of busking.

Upon sharing this fear with my parents, they were shocked. They couldn’t understand how their daughter who once ate chicken feet and cow stomach out of pure curiosity, could be afraid to play a couple songs for passersby.  Furthermore, they’d seen me perform many times, so to them busking was just another performance. To me, busking was completely different. There was no guaranteed audience, no friends or family in the crowd to support you. In fact, there was no crowd at all, unless I created one. I feared that no one would hear me and that no one would see me—no matter how loud I played—which is why it took me until the final week of summer to busk.

I had been standing on the street corner just staring at my guitar for about 10 minutes. I thought that maybe if I glared at it long enough, the guitar would play itself and I would be free. Unfortunately, my guitar remained motionless and my telepathic skills nonexistent.  Strangers with their Starbucks and shopping bags in hand stared at me quizzically, as they passed by. I soon realized that the reactions I received could not be worse than singing a few songs, so I picked up my guitar and began to play.

I had never felt so nervous and alone than in those first few strums. I imagined that this must be what the infamous New York City Naked Cowboy must feel like because while I certainly wasn’t naked, I felt just as exposed.  However, as I continued to play, my discomfort diminished. It would be a lie to say that the stores became vacant as shoppers flooded the streets to hear me play, but people began to listen and soon enough, those few people turned into a small crowd.

While that day began with great discomfort, it ended with gratification. Better than the dollars and coins that lined my case were the moments I shared with so many strangers throughout the day. People sang “Rock me Momma Like a Wagon Wheel” right along with me, one girl singing the words back at me as she crossed the street. A little boy danced around me, dropping a small pink flower in my case before he left. A cluster of little girls approached me, advising me to keep singing and to audition for their favorite talent shows.  A duck tour full of tourists paused their tour to hear me, then applauded as they continued on.

That first day, I played and sang up and down the street until it became too dark to see the neck of my guitar. What I thought would be a 10-minute endeavor, turned into an all-day affair. Since that day, I have continued to busk, now addicted to the unpredictability and insecurity that once deterred me. Who would have thought that all it would take was some spare change and a flower?

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Striving for the American Dream

Genesis De Los Santos Genesis De Los Santos ’15 shares her poem in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15–Oct. 15). Sept. 15 marks the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize also celebrate independence day in September.  The month recognizes the contributions and important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States and celebrates the group’s heritage and culture. The 2013 theme is “Hispanics: Serving and Leading Our Nation with Pride and Honor.”

Dearest Mami and Papi,

Your goal is to never see us suffering.
You do not want us to face the struggles that you once went through;
that’s the American Dream.
Right, Mami?

I love and thank you,
but I am attempting to pick us up from nothing.
Red-bricked project buildings,
growing up amidst violence,
surrounded by people who weren’t believed in,
I desire to be everything that you couldn’t be
and sometimes you even hate me for it.

Attempting to prove to the world that a child who came from nothing,
with parents who did not have much,
could amount to something,
something much greater than the stereotypes.

Not just another statistic
or data that doesn’t attack the issue.

I’m digging down deep,
to the root,
to the crux of the predicament.

This journey will never be easy,
but nothing is impossible.

As long as Mami and Papi live to see the day that I shine,
as long as they make it to see me do big things,
then I’ll be content.

I’m an individual and a dreamer living in a society that tells me that I could never amount to anything.

I do not have to prove them wrong,
I have no obligation to prove anything to anyone.

My goal is to see the day when Mami and Papi’s dreams come true.

So please, Mami. Please, Papi.
Do not ever say that I do not understand.
I am 16;
I had my quinceanera.
I am now a “woman.”

Don’t forget that I will do everything I can, and more, to see the day that that American dream comes true.

Success is the goal, but there will be many times that I will fail.
Just remember that until I give up,
I am not a failure.
And neither are you, Mami, or you, Papi.

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A True Calling

In summer 2013, a team of educators, which included Nobles faculty members Dawud Brown and David Roane, founded the Print Academy, an arts mentorship program for Boston-area youth. The summer session ran every Tuesday afternoon and was based out of Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury, Mass. Plans are currently in place for a monthly component to run throughout the academic year and to provide students with internship opportunities. David Roane reflects on the Print Academy below.

Print AcademyWhen we first considered starting an arts mentorship program for youth, it was a way to collaborate with some people on work we thought was really important. Budget constraints dictate the elimination of art programs in many of our most underfunded schools. We felt a deep concern about issues affecting public education. The creation of the Print Academy is an expression born from our need to act.

The Paradox of Progress: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse by Gregg Easterbrook asks readers to consider how modern levels of abundance and prosperity although may liberate us materially, can leave us unsatisfied emotionally and spiritually. Or, as Viktor Frankl once famously lamented in his philosophical treatise, Man’s Search for Meaning, “We have enough to live, but nothing to live for; we have means, but no meaning.”

By promoting art as a self-empowering tool for the creation of personal meaning, the Print Academy aims to combat such feelings of alienation among our youth. The easiest way for young people to make their place in the world is by making part of the world. Only through contribution do people gain their foothold, a true sense that, somehow, they belong.

Sadly, young people who find themselves squeezed out of the arts are often the ones who need it the most. Let’s face it, there are not a lot of safe environments where young people can express themselves freely. While there might be many different ways of being “smart,” art is apt to provide a voice for those who, otherwise, would remain silent.

Ironically enough, teaching at Nobles has only sharpened my awareness of the educational disparities current in society. And surprisingly, teaching at Print Academy has had reciprocal effects on my role at Nobles. It has clarified my need to be as intentional as possible in the classroom. While structure and premeditation are important, such concepts are only valuable if they promote the intellectual play, expression and freedom necessary for growing young minds. Learning institutions should value intentionality as a byproduct for reflection, contemplation and meditation—all hallmarks of the trade.

By affirming my identity as an educator, the experience of teaching this past summer in a high-need area of our city has jump-started my overall sense of purpose. Being an educator transcends academics and extends into realms of life that’s impossible to confine within the walls of a classroom. It even surpasses the reality of expediency—becoming something more than just a job and something greater than just a service. It actually achieves the poetic force of something very simple—a true calling.

 

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Surrounded By Books

I appreciate the great gift of working at a school so maybe I shouldn’t wonder that books are everywhere.

But bibliophiles can still appreciate good fortune, right? Three cases in point in as many days:
1) On the second floor of Shattuck where I work, I pass an evolving mini-library every day. booksRegistrar Judith Merritt established the tradition a year or so ago when she brought in good books that she did not intend to re-read. Others followed suit. Faculty members culled their shelves for duplicate copies. Now, I have the daily pleasure of seeing what’s new there. Recent treasures include John Knowles A Separate Peace. Sor Juana’s Poems de Amor and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The odd “how-to” volume or recent best-seller occasionally mix with classics. Pretty cool.

2) I just learned that we have a page of the Gutenberg Bible in our library’s special collections. This is—as a former English professor of mine once said with a wink—”a true fact.”  (In this case two positives do not equal a negative. Pretty strange and pretty cool and true. We possess a treasure.)

3) I just heard of another grad publishing an acclaimed novel. Corey Ann Haydu wrote a young adult novel OCD Love story. It’s getting great reviews on amazon. Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman just wrote Mission in a Bottle, a hybrid graphic-business book. Another grad Sara Farizan was interviewed this week on NPR about her recent book If You Could Be Mine. These are the community-related reads that recently came to my attention. Please let know know if you hear of others.

—Heather Sullivan, director of communications

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With the Help of Others

The beginning of each school year Senior Master Richard “Nick” Nickerson addresses the community with words of wisdom and his insight about the school’s motto “Spes Sibi Quisque.”  “Senior Master” is a title held by the longest tenured faculty member at Nobles.  See below for Nickerson’s assembly speech.

Nick Nickerson

I screwed up.  I was hiking this summer with my daughter and some of her friends and I screwed up.  We were camped in the Sierras and had spent a long day climbing Banner Peak, a beautiful remote summit that you get to via a short glacier and some airy rock scrambles.  It was so special to be on that favorite 13,000 feet summit with my daughter that I admit I broke into tears when we hugged on the summit.

Back at our campsite, cold and tired after 11 hours on the mountain, I discovered that I had forgotten to pack a necessary piece of our camping stove, and without it, the stove wouldn’t work.  Now, I am a fairly self-reliant camper, and so I ran down our options: We could just eat the next day’s lunch for our supper, then do the same the next day, and hike without food on the third day; or we could abort the trip, hike out back to the car through the night with flashlights; or I could ask for help.  There were, after all, others camping at the same lake that night, and so I swallowed my pride, and I went to ask the nearest group if we could borrow their stove.  “Absolutely,” they replied. They couldn’t have been nicer. The next night, at a different lake, the very first person we asked was more than willing to lend us a stove, and we ended up chatting with them and sharing some hot cocoa later.  Sometimes, you just need to ask for help.

A change of direction here:  I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but have you read the school’s mission statement?  The first line goes “Noble and Greenough School is a rigorous academic community dedicated to inspiring leadership for the public good.”  Wow, talk about aiming high. Do you feel that you are a leader for the public good?  Do you believe that you will become a leader for the public good? (We’ll get back to that….)

On the first day of school, new President of the Board of Trustees Beth Reilly talked about resilience; she mentioned about an advisee who struggled with this issue, and Beth said how it would be important for students to develop self confidence this year in order to be able to overcome the inevitable minor setbacks that occur for all of us. In fact, the school’s motto is “Spes sibi quisque,” a passage from Vergil’s Aeneid, which roughly translates as “Each person finds hope within him or herself.” Our school historian has noted that this motto first appeared on athletic medals awarded in the early years of Nobles competition, but it is not only in athletics that such belief is needed.

To succeed at Nobles, you will need to put yourself out there, both in the classroom and in your activities, and if we [faculty members] do our job correctly, at times you will be pushed beyond what you think you are capable of.  At such times, you will need to trust and have faith in yourself, something that Beth Reilly felt her advisee lacked at the end of her time at Nobles, and why she gave her that book.  No significant achievement is possible, no hurdle successfully mounted, unless you first have a deep core belief in yourself.  Spes sibi quisque.

Here is the thing and I can’t stress this enough, you don’t have to develop this core belief totally on your own.  In fact, I believe that we often gain confidence in ourselves only after someone else believes in us first. We seek out the hope that is within ourselves only because we are first inspired by the examples and opportunities that surround us.  And so as a companion piece for “Spes sibi quisque,” I propose the following motto this year: “Per alios nos meliores fimus,” which translates,  “Through others, we become our better selves.”  We are not meant to do this journey alone. It is through others that we become our better selves.

Last year, I taught a student who was one of the most capable, talented and motivated students I have ever taught.  She was about as self-reliant as they come:  hardworking, organized and smart.  She never needed any help in my honors math course.  She was a spes sibi quisqueen.  That is, until she suffered a concussion.  This was a student who would never think to ask for an exception to be made on her behalf, but last year, she really had no choice.  She needed to ask for help. Accommodations had to be made, tests needed to be forgiven never to be made up, extra help sessions had to be scheduled to help her catch up on what she had missed, etc. There will be times this year that you will need to ask for help for whatever reason. So yes, find hope within yourself, but also let others help you along the way when needed.

Per alios nos meliores fimus. Through others, we become our better selves.

I will be honest with you that I have grown in so many ways because of the people at this school. Through others, I have become a better self (and yes, I still have a long way to go). For example, I now write more thank you notes. Why? Because I have received such notes from Ben Snyder, Mark Sheeran, Vicky Seelen, Sandi Macquinn, Fred Hollister and many others.  I am now more conscious of picking up litter when I see it around campus. Why? Because I have been walking to Castle lunches with Bill Kehlenbeck for 39 years, and he always stops to pick up litter.  And I try to prepare my classes well, and meet all of my obligations because I am inspired by and see that in Tilesy Harrington and Steve Toubman and so many others.  I try to be as cheerful and helpful and competent in my job as Dianne Balfour in human resources and Al Dull in Building and Grounds. We learn from others in this community, and we are inspired by those around us.  This place is not normal.  We expect great things at Nobles. Don’t ever underestimate the impact that you have on those around you in the alcoves, in your classes and in your programs.  Through others, we become our better selves.

This leads to my final story, a true story about the headmaster who hired me so many years ago, the Rev. Ted Gleason, a man who was and is to this day an important mentor to many of the older faculty in this room. As a young boy, Ted Gleason spent his summers at a lake in New Hampshire, and at this lake, he had a small open boat with a little outboard motor.  One summer day, when Ted was just about the age of our new sixies, that outboard motor died.  Not knowing what to do, Ted brought the motor to the camp’s caretaker and asked if he could fix it.  Over the course of the new few weeks, with Ted eagerly looking on, this man carefully took apart all of the pieces of the outboard motor, cleaned some of them, adjusted others, fiddled with things and then put all of the pieces back together again.  And sure enough, the motor worked.  It was some years later that this man finally told Rev. Gleason that that was the first and only time that he had ever repaired an outboard engine, and that he possesses no knowledge whatsoever about the inner workings of a motor.  When Rev. Gleason asked him, “Well, how was it that you were able to repair the motor?” the man gave Ted an answer that he remembers to this day—“The only reason that I was able to fix that motor is because you so clearly believed that I could do it.”

And so we sit here at the start of another exciting school year, poised with our new notebooks and our list of things we hope to accomplish. Each of us in this room will play both the part of the young boy and the part of the older caretaker from the story during the course of this year. We will believe that others can help fix our motors when we need them, and we will achieve great and good things because that is what others around us believe we can do.

We must find hope within ourselves, strengthen our core belief that we can cope with whatever challenges come our way (what Beth Reilly called resilience and which I refer to as Spes Sibi Quisque), and we must also accept both the help and the inspiration of those around us at this wonderful school.  Per alios nos meliores fimus.  Through others, we become our better selves.  The school’s mission is ambitious; it is intentionally so. But yes, you can become a leader for the public good, and make a difference in this world because at this school, at Nobles, we clearly believe you can do it.   So yes, you will become a leader for the public good because, if we do things right, you will see examples and inspirations of such around you each and every day.  Through others, we become our better selves.  That is what this wonderful school is really about. Through others, we become our better selves.  Let’s get started.

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Not Quite Ready for Goodbye

This May, I became a graduate of the Class of 2013 from Noble and Greenough School, my home for the past six years since I started off as a Sixie. While many of my classmates were ready to leave and move onto the next stages of their lives, I was not ready to walk away when I received my diploma. I sat through graduation in my white dress in a complete haze. As I walked through the faculty receiving line, I was overcome by emotion as I said goodbye to so many people who, pardon the cliché, have changed me forever. My brain didn’t even register until my return to campus as an intern in the communications office that I’d entered the tent as a senior and exited as a graduate. I was suddenly incredibly grateful for my summer internship in the office as well as my work for Achieve. I was able to eat lunch in the castle, take photos of Achieve and Nobles Day Camp kids enjoying the facilities, and work at Nobles from a different perspective as a graduate.

My summer on campus awarded me time to reflect and realize just how grateful I was for the school that built me. Like so many other Nobles students, my experience here was more than just classes and grades. Chris Burr encouraged me to allow life to lead me on an exciting adventure, all while teaching me literary analysis skills in Class IV English. Amanda Wastrom taught me how to make decisions independently, taking the time to weigh consequences thoughtfully. Violet Richard shared her love for Spain with me on a Nobles exchange trip to Toledo, Spain, a huge factor in my decision to study there for a semester before starting college here in the states. Tim Carey read every single one of my college supplements, sometimes reading up to five drafts, and demonstrated the power of giving up ones’ time for others.

I was pushed and encouraged, nurtured and challenged, and most importantly, prepared to handle the trials and triumphs of school, work and life with dignity and grace. Even though I recognized the transformational properties of my time at Nobles, the last weeks of my senior spring were too full of events and goodbye letters to allow these truths to sink in. However, this quiet summer on campus (despite the Owls Nest campers right below our office) gave me the closure I’d been hoping for all year long.

–Maya Getter ’13

 

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Class of 1988 Reflects on 25 Years Gone By

In the months leading up to the 25th reunion of the Class of 1988 in May 2013, members of the reunion committee wrote to their classmates, encouraging them to reconnect. Below is a selection of the missives.

Emi Bague Wieczorek
I wanted to share my “reunion story” with you as our N’88 25th is just around the corner. Once a week, from now until May 11, you’ll be hearing from one of us on the Reunion Committee about why we are going, why we’re on the planning committee, and why we hope everyone comes back. Personally, I have gone to nearly all of our 5-year-mark reunions and several in-between years for Reunion Weekends. It turns out that I’m sold out on reunions of all kinds, but especially for our Nobles ones. But why?

For those of you who knew me even a little bit during high school, I was pretty quiet. I found myself on the edges of social groups, not the best student, and (while I’m on a roll here), not known for involvement in sports. Not many knew that after I had sprained my ankle in the fall of sophomore year, I could no longer play field hockey and thus took on team management (Varsity Boys Wrestling for three seasons and Varsity Boys Soccer for two!), community service, independent art, music, and theater. Always involved, but always low key. Graduation itself was bittersweet. I had friends in several classes, older and younger, during my time at Nobles, but just a (precious) few in own class. So, what drew me back to our class-specific reunions? It would seem like “not much”.

However, in the spring of 1993, that changed. I had received the traditional announcements and invitations in the mail for our upcoming 5th reunion, as well as calls for the Nobles Fund. I hesitated big time. I had not gone back much, if at all, in the years since our Class Day. I was at BU on Commonwealth Ave., standing at a B-Line T-stop. I knew that our 5th reunion pre-party (Friday night gathering) was going to take place at The Black Rose at Faneuil Hall. I deliberated at that T-stop. Should I? Who would be there? What would we talk about? Am I going to feel as outcasted as I had during high school? Am I going to regret it? Eventually, the T came and the doors opened not two feet away from me. I figured, What the heck? It’s once in a lifetime! and climbed aboard.

The rest is history. I’ve had a wonderful time at each gathering of our class and with other Nobles grads in the in-between years. I’ve also been able to meet spouses of our classmates, and enjoy watching our kids interact at reunion events designed for them. We’ve allowed our lives to connect by sharing both life’s hardships and successes, in the realms of family, work, health, hobbies, adventures, etc. I have always felt warmly received and have in turn welcomed others. I’ve enjoyed talking to classmates whom I barely spoke a word to during our years together at Nobles. I’ve also been able to reconnect with favorite teachers, who invested and shepherded me in ways I didn’t see then, but that I truly appreciate now 25 years later as I guide my own children. These reunions have been opportunities to both enjoy old friends as well as to make new ones, to reflect on and be thankful for things gained at Nobles, and enjoy the company of those who walked the halls with us and experienced what only we share, and that is being N’88.

Because my experience at our reunions has been so positive, I decided to engage in a way I hadn’t before, which was to join the planning committee. I’m glad I did! Together we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on May 11. If you’re still on the fence, it’s time to hop off it and just come! I personally look forward to welcoming each of you. It’s going to be a great time. Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to hear from you.

Meredith Johnson
Life Happens.
We are frequently faced with situations and can do nothing about them but sometimes we have the pleasure of making choices. Chose Reunion and you’ll be surprised of the impact it will make on you and our classmates.

So selfishly I want everyone to come to Reunion and even though I realize that it is highly improbable. Just for a moment, I want to live in a surreal world where we could just dial everyone in from near or far and catch up. My hunch is that there are so many facets of each of us that are greatly unknown and I would like to have the time to unpeel some of it. I feel like this is a chance.

Recently, I have missed several chances like talking with Luby Coggeshall or G.K. Bird or Kim Smith but luckily have had wonderful others. I saw Pippy O’Connor last week and had lunch with Amy Freedman the week before. They were delightful.

Delightfully, there is NO work to do. There is no dinner to plan. Nobles has already done that and our reunion committee has great events lined up. All we need to do as classmates is to show up. We were a great class. We are a great class. I hope you realize how many people want to see you and converse with you.

Several classmates have written great pleas or stories before me and there will be several after me. Hopefully for those of you on the fence, perhaps one of these vignettes will hit a chord and encourage you to come. For those coming, I cannot wait to see you.

Todd Bourell

I have nothing particularly profound to offer with respect to my motivation for attending our 25th reunion.
 
Since I now live about 4 miles from the Nobles campus, I have no excuse not to attend. And I live even closer to Dave Gerber’s place, so I suppose I’ll be showing up there on Friday night as well. Furthermore, George Cadwalader and his family will be staying with us over the reunion weekend. So in the event that I was simply to forget that our reunion was taking place, George’s arrival in my driveway would be a convenient reminder.

I also must admit that the increasingly rare occurrence of an open bar is no small enticement. On the other hand, if I average my already-paid class gift pledge over the beverages I consume during the course of the evening, these could well be the most expensive drinks I’ve ever had. I shall therefore seek aggressively to work down my average per-drink “pledge” over the course of the evening.

In all seriousness, I will attend the reunion simply because I greatly enjoy my frequent encounters (some planned and many others unplanned) with our classmates. Here is a sampling just from the past year:

• Seeing Lee Wexler at our 20th college reunion last year. I was so pleased to see Lee I asked if I could give him a hug. He consented.
• On the same day, Therese Flynn, her excellent husband and their 3 rambunctious sons managed to make it to our place for burgers.
• Frequent encounters with the Cadwalader family. George’s twin sons and my oldest, 2 weeks apart in age, have become partners-in-crime over the years.
• An extremely well-dressed (wasn’t he always?) Geoff O’Malley stopped by my office earlier this year in the course of one of his visits to Boston.
• And last but not least . . . I was exiting Symphony Hall in Boston this past December and passed a distinguished looking gentleman. He and I both did an “I know that guy” double-take. In a split-second I found myself wondering if was appropriate to address someone as “Beast!” in front of his wife and two daughters, neither of whom I’d ever met. I concluded it was not. But I did manage to blurt out “Keith” a second later. (Dr. Robinson and family had come down from Maine for the Pops Christmas concert.)

In short, given how enjoyable all of these encounters have been, I cannot pass up the opportunity for more.

Curt Stevenson
I liked public school in the early 1980′s. I got pretty much all A’s until about 6th grade, then I became a classic underachiever starting in middle school. My parent were getting frustrated. “Let’s go look at some private schools”. Whatever (re-read that in a really apathetic 13 year old boy’s voice). OK. I looked at two – Roxbury Latin (I knew a couple older kids from my summer job who went there – they weren’t so bad) and Nobles (the tour was pretty cool, as was my half-day with Rick Bates, and the lunch in the Castle was wicked pissah compared to my middle school cafeteria – all the rolls I can eat?). But still – whatever – I was in 8th grade with my best friends in the world and wasn’t really too excited about leaving them. But – out of respect for my parents, I applied. I got rejected from RL and wait-listed at Nobles. Whatever – I get to go to Needham High with my friends now…but I would miss that whole lunch in the Castle.

So – summer of ’84 went on. I worked cleaning pools, mowed a bunch of lawns, and eventually started my first day of cross-country practice at Needham High School, the day before classes were supposed to start. I got home that first day after practice and my mom said, “Ned Bigelow from Nobles called. You got accepted off the wait list. How would you like another week of summer vacation?” Sweet. Another week of vacation. Maybe this private school thing would work out OK.

Regardless of how twisted my thought process was that landed me at Nobles at the very last minute, I think a lot about how my life might have been (or in some cases, would have been) different if I hadn’t been so fortunate to get that call:
• I would probably still think that squash was just a vegetable, not a great sport that I learned at Nobles and still play 29 years later
• I might not have gotten involved in a cappella music, which was an important part of my life at college and beyond (I probably would still have done chorus/glee club, as I was a Gleek even in middle school – way before it was cool)
• I might not have developed a love for acting
• I probably wouldn’t have played lacrosse (Thank you Nobles for mandating a sport every season) – a sport that I picked up again five years ago through the Nobles Alumni game and still play now at age 43 with some of my Nobles friends who convinced me that it would still be fun (and John Hauck – you were right)
• I probably wouldn’t have ended up at Colby, which also had a huge impact on my life
• I might not understand words like egregious, myriad, plethora, or disingenuous
• I might not have started my own business. This might be a stretch, but I think a lot of my teachers and coaches at Nobles helped me to find a self-confidence that encouraged and enabled me to take calculated risks
• I wouldn’t have met the woman (the girl at the time), who I have been very happily married to for 18 1/2 years
• I wouldn’t have made some of the best friends in the world – who I can still count on today to be there if I need anything, and they know the same about me.

I’m looking forward to seeing you all at reunion.

Paola Buchbinder Cross

I hope all is well and look forward to seeing you at our 25th Reunion on May 11th! When I signed up to be on the reunion committee, I promised I would help with whatever it takes to have the best reunion yet! In my opinion, the only way to do this is to have a great turnout! So, here are my reasons as to why I am going back and hopefully it will remind you why you should come back too:
-Friends: Nobles was such a special part of my life- I have such fond memories- it’s so much fun to think of all of them!!!! Some of my dearest friends then are my dearest friends now and that is priceless. We all hold a special bond to each other, at least a couple of times a year I bump into a fellow Nobles grad and there is an instant connection. It doesn’t matter if we were close friends or not, the bond is still there and it’s so much fun to catch up and see what everyone has been up to!
-Teachers: there are so many teachers that made a positive impact on my life: from Dick Flood to Nick Marinaro to Fred Sculco to Mr. Freedman (and many others) – what incredible people we had teaching, inspiring and pushing us to our limits. I have such an appreciation for what they did for us-especially now that I have kids! I am so looking forward to seeing some of them.
-New Beautiful Campus: I got a glimpse at our first committee meeting and oh my gosh- it’s nicer than any other school that I have seen. It will be such a treat to have dinner in the new, gorgeous Nobles castle!
-Feeling Young Again: I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it has been 25 years since we graduated! Maybe going back to campus and seeing everyone will bring us back to those days and, for a few hours, we can really feel young again :)
-Family: I would love to show off our school to my husband and kids that hear so much about my Nobles years.

I am so excited to return to Nobles for our 25th Reunion — I truly hope to see many of you there. Time has passed, things have changed but one thing we all have in common is our Nobles roots and that is something to come out and celebrate. Don’t wait until our 50th to come back- then we will really be old;) Come and make new memories- you won’t regret it! I look forward to seeing you in a couple of months!

George Cadwalader, Jr.
It’s my turn to join the chorus of voices encouraging you to come to our 25th reunion on 11 May 2013. In the quarter century since we graduated, I have grown to appreciate Nobles and what I learned there more every year. I am sure we all remember certain teachers who made an impact on our lives. Since I have you as a captive audience, I will share some of my own memories.
 
-Rev. Gleason, Mr. Baker, and Mr. Flood were exceptional role models of leadership.
-Dr. V.P. O’Brien and Mr. Paine inculcated me with a love of history (and I can still clearly hear Dr. O’Brien saying “Cadwalader, open the window so I can see the wind blow through those little stalks of hair” following an unfortunate haircut).
-Mr. Coggeshall and Mr. Mansfield opened the doors to great literature (and I am now reminded of Mr. Mansfield’s remark to an unruly classroom that “youth is too good to be wasted on the young.”)
-Mrs. Fiechter and Mr. Sculco were exemplars of patience, kindness, and wisdom as my advisors.
-Mr. Toubman, Mr. Marinaro, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Lyman taught me about sportsmanship, fitness, and hard work. Their coaching and mentorship, even for those of us who were not destined for athletic greatness, underscored their commitment to a well-rounded education predicated on healthy mind and body.
-The faculty members who served as “in loco parentis” for the boarding department made the Castle feel like home, a feeling I have carried to this day.

All of these lessons have served me well and I am deeply indebted to those who provided them. More importantly, the friends I made at Nobles, even those who I have fallen out of touch with since graduation, have added immeasurably to my life. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend my high school years surrounded by Nobles and all of its majesty.


At any rate, that’s why I am going back for reunion. The other reason is it sounds like it will be a great party. And – at our age – there aren’t many of those left.

I join the 25th Reunion Committee in expressing my hopes that you will come back to Dedham this May.


Dave Aznavorian
In search of an elusive celery kernel, I once single-handedly devoured 37 lukewarm Castle rolls.

On more than one occasion, Dick Baker’s gone out of his way to approach ME, seeking advice on syntax and grammar.
Out of sheer boredom, I’ve body-surfed the Class of ’57 staircase from the Nobles upper campus down to the gym. (Backwards.)

Okay, so does any of this sound familiar?
I mean, haven’t we all had similar experiences since we left Nobles in June 1988???

The truth is – in spite of several days when I aspire to be – my life in no way resembles that of the highly publicized “most interesting man in the world”.

In fact, I’ve done none of these things since our days at Nobles.

Still, I have some great memories of Nobles friends, feel a true sense of loyalty and appreciation for everything Nobles offered me while I was there, and – to this day – value the depth and breadth of the Nobles community as it’s evolved to become more expansive and welcoming over time.

These are the real reasons why I’m part of our Reunion planning committee and why I’m planning to be there for our 25th, May 10th – 12th.
(*That, and what’s shaping up to be a memorable Saturday night of entertainment just ahead of our class dinner …*)

Hopefully any of you unsure about coming back will try and make it.

It’d really be great to have everyone together again.

Oh … and you won’t have to look far to find me.

I’ve attached my pic: I still have black hair, glasses and deal with vertical challenges.
And – as I vie to become the “most interesting man in the world” – I’ll be the guy holding the bottle of Dos Equis.

Missy Daniels Madden

It is my turn to tell you why I am coming back to Nobles for the 25th. First, it is nerve wracking to go to these things after so many years, regardless of what your high school experience was like for you. Let’s face it: high school years are hard! Friendships, hormones, bodily changes, pressures on you, etc. I found it almost a relief it some ways to get to college. But now all of that is behind us! And at the last reunion, I really enjoyed chatting with a few people who I was not as close with in high school. We either had more in common now or thought we did. That was really fun. Secondly, Nobles is a really special place that I don’t think I appreciated until after I left. I really took for granted the great teachers, quality learning, tight knit community and incredible campus. It was simply where I went to school. I have come to really appreciate it as I have gotten older and looked for quality education for my own children. I was so fortunate -and didn’t work quite as hard as I should have.

Furthermore, I am blessed to be a part of the reunion committee this year and connecting to this group as a starting point is getting me excited to see all of you. Yes, we are way older than I would like. I really feel like Nobles was a second ago. But, if I have to get older, I might as well share it with you! So even if there is one person you want to see or one teacher, it is worth it! If there is no one, the castle is AMAZING to see!!!!

Steve Spengler
 I hope this email finds you all well!  It is my turn to share a bit of why I am involved with our 25th Reunion.  For me, it is pretty simple.  My Nobles experience was and is about the people I went there with.  I was a decent student and loved playing soccer, but it was my class mates and team mates that made both endeavors important.  This is probably why I was only a decent student!  I knew how lucky I was to be going to Nobles with all of its opportunities, but it was participating in these opportunities with you that made them so rewarding.
I am fortunate to still see some of you occasionally.  I even go to the Alumni soccer game against Milton to see some more of you.  I wanted to be involved with the 25th Reunion Committee, it was a no brainer.  It was a scheduled time to see a group of you and plan the Reunion, an event where I get to see even more of you!  I am very much looking forward to seeing all of you and reminiscing about 25 years ago.  I am also looking forward to seeing who you all are today and reconnecting with you.  Please come to the Reunion if you can.  It will be a great event made by the people who attend!

Craig Pfannenstiehl
Why am I going to reunion? I don’t know. Why not? I always get excited when I go to campus – I get that touch of nostalgia for great days gone by. I envy the students who go there now and the resources they have to be successful leaders of tomorrow. Blah, blah, blah. No, really. I’m going to reunion to connect with old friends. The chance you get every five years to say hello and reminisce. The chance you get to leave after a couple days and realize that the people we went to school are good people – people we should keep in touch with, but don’t (very well) because we are all too busy. It’s that simple. I want to re-connect with classmates, teachers and coaches. I want to pause my life for a few hours and go back in time. Then, its back to the same running around and craziness that makes each one of our lives great. But, to not go to reunion is to miss the opportunity that only comes around every half-decade. With that said, I urge you to make plans – pause your craziness and make the commitment to go and re-connect. You won’t regret it.

John Hauck
I am writing this 100% un-solicited message after reading some of the emails from our classmates. I thought I would add a different perspective to the same message on why you should come back to our 25th reunion. Let me begin by admitting the passing of time that I currently have a child attending Nobles. I can safely say both my experiences as a student and now as a parent have contributed to my perspective.

As a student, my experience at Nobles was a bit different than most of you and was a mixed one. I enrolled as a sophomore and did not have those early and important relationships built in middle school or as a freshman. I do feel fortunate that I was able to build and maintain some good relationships with some of our classmates over the last 25 years.

As a parent, the Nobles middle school is a wonderful place, my daughter loves it. Every night it’s, “I did this”, “we did that”, she just walked into my office this past Monday beaming with pride about her most recent report card. My daughter has given me an appreciation and a new perspective on Nobles I am not sure I would have ever found on my own.

So here it is, I am returning for our 25th reunion because of this “enhanced” perspective. As Paola said, we will always have a connection as graduates of the class of 1988. For me, there were a lot of good people I did not get to or take the opportunity to know. So if you are on the fence about coming, I hope you will. I have some gray hair now and as I get older I very much appreciate my relationships both old and new.

I look forward to seeing you in May.
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Finding Your Landscapes

English teacher Vicky Seelen recently shared this personal reflection with the Nobles community during morning Assembly. She spoke about how using her hands to create things, bead and knit inspires her in ways she never realized she needed. Now, she can’t imagine life without these passions and encouraged students to find that same source of joy within themselves.

I like to think that we inhabit many landscapes, and today I am not going to focus on my love of literature or even the landscape of my many classrooms. What I want to share with you is my deep passion for the landscapes that I have been creating with my hands.

It seems an appropriate time to talk about making poetry of pain, and, by poetry, and by using the word landscape, I am, of course, talking about metaphors. Eighteen years ago my brother, Geoffrey, died of AIDS at 35. How does one answer such a loss? Less than two years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer (I am fine now)—then my beloved father-in-law died and, a year later, I lost my fabulous father this past October. These are my pains and my losses. But I always return to color, to my hands, to work through the process of healing. To work through the process of healing.

I heard a few weeks ago that there is a wonderful Native American expression. How does one know how far to walk? The response: walk until nature shows you something. Walk until nature shows you something.

Somehow, this relates to the work I am sharing. Much of it is inspired by what I see, which then, in some wonderful alchemy, speaks to me and becomes what I need it to become.

What I am sharing with you is some of what I have created in the past seven years, since my sabbatical from Nobles.

Here are a just a few photos of the ones Ms. Seelen showed in Assembly:

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