All BCD alums have played a part in shaping the legacy of the school and have undoubtedly left their mark on the world; each contributing and making a difference in their own unique way. Below are some extended profiles we’ve collected for our annual alumni magazine BCD Today. Please click the names to read them.
Alumni are always welcome to speak to our current students about their work and experiences, or to submit their own Alumni News or Extended Profile for the magazine. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org (alumni null@null berkshirecountryday NULL.org) for more information.
|Noah Elkin, BCD class of 1984
Years and grades at BCD: Preschool-9th grade (1973-84)
What are your fondest memories from BCD?
Where did you go once you left BCD?
Along the way, I cultivated an interest in Latin America, and that led me to spend the spring semester of my junior year in Lima, Peru, at the Universidad Católica. I traveled widely throughout Peru during the six months I spent there, despite a raging civil war that effectively closed off large swaths of the country. After my semester abroad ended, I went to Macchu Picchu (the highlight of my trip and still the most amazing place I’ve ever visited) followed by a five-week-long trip by train and bus through Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
In the year before starting my doctoral program in Latin American History at Rutgers University, I spent 10 months living in São Paulo, Brazil, learning Portuguese, working as an intern at a human rights organization and teaching English on the side. I was fortunate to be able to travel Brazil from top to bottom while I was there. I returned to Brazil in my fourth year of graduate school on a Fulbright fellowship to do my dissertation research, living this time in Rio de Janeiro for over a year. I finished my Ph.D. in January 1999.
Where are you living and what are you doing now?
Last year was a particularly busy year. In addition to living temporarily in Austin, Texas, where my wife Barbara was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas, I co-authored Mobile Marketing: An Hour a Day (published by Wiley/Sybex in December 2012). The idea behind the book is to offer insights and practical advice that readers of any experience level can absorb in an hour a day.
I am happy to say that both my children now attend BCD. Max, age 5½, is in Kindergarten in the same classroom where I went to Preschool (later the school’s first computer lab), and Zora, age 3½, is in the Beginner 3s program.
What are your plans for the future?
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made?
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for?
What advice can you offer current students at BCD?
|Lydia Chernicoff, BCD class of 2002
My name is Lydia Chernicoff, and I graduated from BCD in 2002. I remember many things about BCD, but what remains foremost in my mind is the close sense of community. I only attended BCD for 7th and 8th grades, but felt so immediately welcome that the transition was easy and natural. I loved learning French, a new language for me at the time, and one that I then studied for many years. I have fond memories of our 7th grade class trip to Baltimore and Washington D.C. I’ve lived in Baltimore for seven years now, and I often think back to that first visit.
After I left BCD, I spent two years at a public high school, where my violin teacher ran the music program. The music was fantastic, but the academic challenge at BCD had ignited an excitement in me, and I missed it. Looking for that level of intellectual stimulation, I decided to attend Bard College at Simon’s Rock for two years before heading off to music conservatory.
I spent six years studying at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where I received my Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Violin Performance, as a student of the violinist Violaine Melançon.
In 2008 I became a yoga teacher through Kripalu’s certification program. The training has influenced my music in many ways; in particular, it taught me how to keep my muscles stretched and injury free after many hours of playing the violin. It has also helped with the myriad mental and emotional challenges one faces in a performing arts career.
Besides my classical performances, I have had the chance to take part in some cool projects in other musical genres. As part of a string quartet, I played with a Pink Floyd cover band called Several Species at one of Baltimore’s largest outdoor rock venues. I was also able to collaborate with an up-and-coming band called That Noble Fury on their first album.
It was through the Peabody Conservatory that I met two colleagues (Andrea Casarrubios – cello, and Ronaldo Rolim – piano) with whom I formed a piano trio in 2007 by the name of Trio Appassionata. Our performances have taken us to Carnegie Hall, The Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Sedona, Arizona, Los Angeles, the Berkshires, and Spain. In August of 2013 we will be recording our first CD, with a program of all American piano trios, including a new work written specifically for our group by a great friend and colleague of ours, Thomas Kotcheff.
Also through mutual friends at Peabody, I met my husband Jaan! He is a marvelous classical guitarist, and is currently in law school. We were married at the Lenox Library in June 2012.
I am grateful to BCD for stimulating me intellectually, creating a wonderful environment in which to learn, and helping me realize that I wanted to pursue music, but not at the expense of a liberal arts education. And I am still grateful for being excused from lacrosse so I could practice my violin!
|Suzannah Zeif ‘84 Van Schaick, BCD class of 1984
Upon my family relocating to the Berkshires from New York, I attended BCD from mid-year in 7th grade through 9th grade graduation in 1984. I was terrified to join the class mid-year, but the students and teachers made my transition an easy one. Every class must hear from faculty and parents that they are a ‘special’ group, but we really were! We were the largest graduating class up to that point. By ninth grade the 20 of us were a wonderfully cohesive group. My kids attend BCD now (Toby is in 6th grade, Henry is in 3rd), and I delight in the dynamic I see in both of their grades. BCD is still providing that same sense of community to this generation.
After BCD I attended Berkshire School where I met the boy who would become my husband. A failed attempt at a large university taught me that I yearned to return to the community feeling of a small school. I wound up at Antioch College in Ohio and thrived! All through college Pieter and I stayed in touch and began dating after graduation. We married in 1997. We lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia for 16 years where I worked for Pottery Barn. Our 2 boys went to a wonderful school and I quickly became involved in volunteering at school and in our community, though we always dreamt of moving back to New England someday.
When the economy exploded Pieter’s company closed. It was evident to us that, rather than waiting for things to return to ‘normal’, we needed to invent a new normal for ourselves and our family. Someday was now. We decided to move to the Berkshires. I was so excited at the prospect of my kids attending BCD. I told them all about MY school and now, three years later, I am thrilled that BCD is truly THEIR school.
Last Spring I opened a business in Lenox called Second Home. It is a home-design shop featuring upcycled home furnishings and accessories. Finally my small business training and design experience have melded together into a satisfying career for myself! This is my new normal. I love living here, raising my kids here and being able to be involved with BCD and the community as a parent! There are so many ways to volunteer and be involved at BCD and by doing so I hope I am teaching my boys the importance of being a part of something.
I hope my kids, as BCD students and beyond, can gather the courage and the confidence to make their own path in life. To realize that it’s never too late to change their course, and that if they’re willing to contribute to a community then they’ll always be able to come home.
|Jim Brooke, BCD class of 1969
Greetings from Moscow!
I did Grades K-5 at Berkshire Country Day School, then my family started wintering near Philadelphia and I did Grades 6-7-8 there, before going to boarding school and on to college. Despite all my traveling, I have been back to the Berkshires every year of my life. I feel very connected to Lenox and to Berkshire Country Day School.
I had some wonderful teachers at BCD. The ones that jump to mind were Mrs. Moore in K and Mrs. Aronoff in Grade 5. We were in the group of kids that first went to BCD on Walker Street, and then had Grades 3-4-5 at Brook Farm. I grew up on Main Street in Lenox and walked with my brother and sisters (John ’67, Nini ’63 Gilder, and Louisa ’61) to Walker Street. The move to Brook Farm meant that our mother had to drive us down Rte. 183, but the campus was great – plenty of room to run around, with all new playground equipment!
After BCD, I went to Episcopal Academy outside of Philadelphia for three years. We returned to Lenox every summer, and I tried to keep up with my classmates as best I could. Then, as now, Berkshire Country Day School students were scattered around the county. I went to boarding school at St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH, then to Yale, where I majored in Latin American Studies. Restless by nature, I escaped boarding school twice, for study abroad programs in France and in Colombia. I also broke away from college to study and travel in Brazil and South America for nine months.
Since then, I have worked as a foreign correspondent – first for The New York Times in Africa, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Korea. Now, I live in Moscow, where I am the Russia/former Soviet Union bureau chief for Voice of America. For work, I have had the fun and privilege to report from at least 60 countries. Last month, I added a new one with a 10-day trip to Lebanon. Next month, I will make my first reporting trip to Armenia. So, there are always new challenges on the horizon!
Berkshire Country Day School and the Berkshires exposed me to the wider world around me, but also provided me the psychological anchor. I could globetrot, but also knew where I was from.
|Jay Crosby, BCD class of 1989
Years and grades at BCD – 1982-1988; 3rd-8th grade
What are your fondest memories from BCD?
Where did you go once you left BCD?
Where are you living now?
What are you doing now?
The mission of Leadership Exchange is twofold: to focus on the social, emotional growth of teenagers and adults through cultural exchange and service-learning trips, and to advance humanitarian work in developing nations through direct funding. Leadership Exchange is a global community network that connects individuals of various socio-economic backgrounds. Through service learning trips and exchange programs, participants are able to learn about and understand members of their own peer group who come from disparate backgrounds. Through dialogue, focus groups, team building, and shared experiences, students find similarities beyond their differences and identify the advantages and influence they possess to have a positive influence on their local and global communities.
What are your plans for the future?
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made?
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for?
What advice can you offer current students at BCD?
|Charlotte Jones ’79 Blome, BCD class of 1979
Charlotte Jones ’79 Blome – Charlotte is an award winning designer who has been creating landscapes since 1991, after spending four years in Japan apprenticing to a master gardener and studying traditional gardens. She started designing gardens and managing their care while attending the School of The Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned a BA in painting and sculpture. She was also a top designer at Chicago’s well-known flower shop A New Leaf. She spent two years working for the Ruth Bancroft Garden in California as garden manager. For the past year, though, it has been on a consulting basis, as she moved back to Illinois. To see photos of Charlotte’s work go to her website www.charlotteblome.com.
She writes: “It is an interesting challenge to manage a garden from 2000 miles away! I also do quite a bit of consulting work here too, but there is a lot of down time in the winter. So, I am starting an artisan chocolate (truffle) business to complement my seasonal garden consulting.
Meantime, with our not-for-profit www.whenigrowupiwanttobe.org, we travelled to Haiti for three weeks in January to establish contacts with reforestation and well digging efforts. We have developed strong ties with the Chicago Haitian community, stemming from my husband’s (nationally known sculptor Erik Blome) portrait of Chicago’s French-Haitian founder Jean Baptistery Pointe Du Sable. Artists do tend to lead interesting lives, I guess!
I have a lot of warm BCD memories. It was a wonderful little school then, as I am sure it is now and I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to go there if only for three years. If I lived in the area, I know where I would want to send my kids! I can tell you right now that the main thing I took away from BCD is an impression (a strong one) of what a good elementary school looks like. I have taken a lot of graduate level classes in education, and I often thought of BCD when we discussed great educators and educational philosophies. The kids who get to go to BCD are one fortunate bunch. That is for sure.”
Charlotte lives in Chicago with her husband and their two children.
|Christopher St. Clair, BCD class of 2010 2S
I am Christopher St. Clair, BCD class of 2010 2S. I came to Berkshire Country Day Secondary School as a ninth-grader in the fall of 2006 and left in the summer of 2007 with the closing of the high school. I graduated from BCD with High Honors.
When I first arrived at BCD, I was incredibly nervous: out of the entire school, I was the only new student. I had not made any close friends during my last three years in the New Lebanon Public School system, and now here I was surrounded by another school of strangers, most of whom had known each other for as long as they could remember. I quickly learned, however, that my experience at BCD would not be what I had expected.
Another of my fondest memories from BCD is of our end-of-the-year trip to China. I was in tenth-grade Social Studies that year, so the tenth-graders and I packed our bags and flew for sixteen hours straight from JFK to Beijing. We walked on the Great Wall, explored the Forbidden City, haggled with peddlers for five-dollar Rolex knock-offs, and quickly learned that actual Chinese food is nothing at all like what we have back home. We each even got to live with a foster family for a week. That above all else illustrated to me the greatest lesson that I took from our trip: no matter how different another person’s culture or traditions might be, we are all really the same when it comes to heart and home.
The experience itself, however, is not why this is one of my fondest memories of BCD. Instead, it is that I felt equally comfortable among the tenth-graders as among the students of my own year. While at BCD, I had friends in every grade. There was no segregation by age or sect whatsoever. The whole school was one big clique. Nowhere was this shown to me more than on the day when everyone was asked to come to the dining room for an all-school meeting. There we were told that BCD2S would be closing at the end of the year. Then, one by one, every student and every teacher spoke about what BCD meant to them. I have rarely seen such a wealth of emotion, grief, and actual love as I saw then. Nearly everyone was crying, and all at the loss of a school. It was only my second week, and I had only just begun to make friends among my classmates, but it did not take long after that for me to figure out why our school was loved so much: it was a family.
After leaving BCD many of my schoolmates and I enrolled in Bard College at Simon’s Rock and together we took the plunge into the life of early college. Four years later I graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance and Audio Engineering. I also had the privilege of designing my ideal thesis: I created an album. I gathered four of my classmates into a band and together we wrote four original jazz and fusion instrumental songs. I organized the rehearsals, arranged the material, and recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. I also transcribed each composition and wrote a dissertation analyzing their structure and recounting the process of creating the recording. Finally, we performed our compositions in front of a live audience, including my thesis committee.
Now, I am living in my hometown of New Lebanon, NY with my fiancée Amy. We are to be married this July. I work as a Studio Engineer at Muddy Angel Music & Arts in Richmond, MA (the same studio where I recorded my thesis and interned for my major). I also give private music lessons, which is the most rewarding work I have ever done. Finding more students to teach is currently my greatest endeavor. Whatever the instrument, they all speak different dialects of the same language, and teaching the intricacies of that language is my greatest passion. If you have a love for the language of music, either as a complete beginner or as a furthering of your passion, write to me at email@example.com. Whether or not you are seeking a teacher, I would be delighted to give you whatever assistance I can.
If I were to give any advice to the students at BCD today, I would say this: pay attention. There are not many places like BCD in our world, and you will have left sooner than you think. Stop and look. See the camaraderie, respect, and love you have for your friends and your teachers. They are family, and all that really matters is our time with our family. (photo by Jane Feldman, www.janefeldman.com)
|Ethan Flower, Class of 1983
Years and grades at BCD: 1st (1973/74) and 5th thru 9th (1978-83)
What are your fondest memories from BCD?
Where did you go once you left BCD?
After graduating from Interlochen, I was awarded a full scholarship at Carnegie Mellon University to double major in Drama and Musical Theatre in 1986. Now keeping in mind that I go against the grain, I realized that fraternities held nothing for me. My favorite thing about CMU was that they used this form of communication where you could get onto a computer and message a fellow student in a simplified forum of inter-collegiate social networking. You typed a short message to them and it would be instantly sent to a personal virtual inbox stored for future retrieval. The drama course proved to me to be walking backwards, since I did not believe that artists needed degradation to then be built back up again. Artists by nature must be individual and unique. After 4 months I dropped out, left a lot of money on the table as they say, and said goodbye to my friends, the early form of email, and Bridget (my girlfriend from Wisconsin.)
Later that year, after teaching spring skiing at Butternut and landscaping for the summer in Stockbridge, I ended up on an airplane to London. I watched rehearsals at the National Theatre for a play called Entertaining Strangers with Judi Dench, and directed by Sir Peter Hall. I ended up 4 weeks later enrolled in the three-year course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. LAMDA. For a rebellious child I certainly ended up in a lot of Academies. I would watch from behind the stage as Tony Hopkins and Judi Dench played opposite each other in Anthony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre. I learned to be an English theatre actor. I lived there for 6 years, working on the stage.
Where are you living now?
What are you doing now?
What are your plans for the future?
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made?
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for?
What advice can you offer current students at BCD?
|Harrison Newman, Class of 2011
Life is Good!
I just spent almost a month in Tanzania, working (and playing soccer) in a remote village at the N’getaeu Secondary School. I traveled with the Safi School Project (Safi means Life is Good in Swahili) a foundation out of Seattle, Washington, that has built this remarkable school over a period of years. How did I end up there?My awareness of the global water crisis, specifically in Africa, came to light when I was a 6th grade student in Mr. Ashworth’s geography class. I was shocked and saddened to learn that clean water was a privilege for some, and not for others. During the process of researching my project, I discovered that 25,000 children die from water bourn illnesses each day, and that it was not unusual for women to walk 8 miles every morning to get clean, drinkable water for their families. I asked, how could this be?The following year, as part of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, I needed to choose my project for Tikkun Olam, the Hebrew phrase for “repairing the world.” No question, it was going to revolve around water. I decided to raise and donate money towards building a well somewhere in Africa. Well, that somewhere, was in Tanzania, because of the Hosokawa family, who are members of the BCD community.Instead of gifts, I asked my friends and family to donate money to The Safi School Project, the foundation that the Hosokawa’s support. It was a start, but not nearly enough to drill a well. Dorree, (currently a 6th grade student) and I did some tabling on the streets of Great Barrington and raised more. USA Rotary and the International Rotary got involved, through the foundation, and this past spring, after three years, the well was built on the school grounds.
They say little by little fills the pot. It is really the truth.
This summer, I was invited by Safi to join them on a volunteer trip to see what my efforts have helped to provide. It is one thing to look at a photo and another to actually drink the water and feel it going through my fingers. Amazing.
Now there’s a kitchen, so that the students and staff can have rice and beans for lunch. There are sinks in the chemistry lab, so that they can do real experiments. And all of the people in the village are welcome to walk up the hill and fill their buckets with water. Everything has changed for this community. And everything has changed for me. Safi will remain a part of my life. And so will the people of Tanzania.
I plan on starting a volunteer club at Proctor Academy, where I am now a junior. My goal is to raise money for Safi’s education program.
I sent Mr. Ashworth a facebook message while I was in Africa, letting him know how much he inspired me as a person and as a teacher. My dream is to go back to volunteer again, and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Who knows, maybe Mr. Ashworth and I will climb it together.
|Dr. Houston H. Stokes, PhD, Class of 1953
Graduation year 1953 from sixth grade
Where did you go to school after leaving BCD? I grew up on the AP Stokes place, in “Lake Cottage,” the first house to the south of BCD. I know every inch of the BCD grounds. I started BCD in 1945 in Kindergarten at Clipston Grange on the Lenox School Campus. My parents, William E. D. Stokes, Jr. and Lucia Stokes, were among the handful of families that started the school. Every year, the families and their kids all came together to put together the school. This meant moving boxes, cleaning rooms, etc. Right before my 1st grade year in 1946, I broke my leg and missed 50% of the year. As a result of getting behind, I stayed back in 3rd grade. I went to Lenox School in the 7th grade in the fall of 1953. I skipped 8th grade and graduated from Lenox “on time” in 1958. From 1958-1962, I was at Cornell University and graduated with a BA in Economics in 1962. In the period 1962-1964 I served in the US Navy. In the fall of 1964, I entered the University of Chicago, obtaining an MA in economics in 1966 and a PhD in 1969. Four of my teachers received the Nobel Prize in Economics. In the fall of 1967 I started teaching Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I later became the Department Head for five and a half years and am still on the faculty. I love my job. I stayed in the US Naval Reserve for 22 years and retired in 1984 with the rank of Commander.
Where are you living now? My wife Diana and I live in Chicago right across from the Museum of Science and Industry where there are many space capsules. On weekends we go to our house in Sawyer, Michigan. We have two sons. William is 29 and a computer software engineer working on an NIH Grant. He was a BS (2002) and MS (2004) from Cornell University. His wife Melissa is a BS from Cornell University (2002) and PhD (2008) from Rutgers University in Biomedical Engineering. She works for Uni-Solar and they live in Stanton, Michigan. Our other son Houston A. Stokes, 27, graduated from the University of Michigan (with a year at Oxford) in 2004 and Washington & Lee School of Law in 2007. He clerked for a federal judge and is now working in Chicago for Littler Mendelson, in the area of labor law.
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)? I plan to continue to teach and do research. My area is econometric software development, International Economics and Applied Econometric Research. I have 94 publications, many of which are on line at www.uic.edu/~hhstokes
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? During my time BCD was a warm place where the teachers really tried to help the student. Students in the upper grades helped those in the lower grades. The classes were small. While in the 5th grade, I was the only boy in the room. This presented no problem. In my 6th grade year, several boys came into the 5th grade. When I graduated in 1953 there were no girls graduating that year and I was the sole graduate of the school! By far the best teacher I had at BCD was Mr. Cowhig, who taught 5th and 6th grade.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? The most important thing is to dream big and never give up. Many small things are happening all around you and only in later years do you see their eventual impact. For example, in my life in 1954 the transistor was developed. In the fall of 1957 I tracked Sputnik on my Ham Radio 6 hours after it went up. In 1962 the US put up John Glenn in orbit around the earth and in 1969, when I obtained my PhD, I saw Armstrong walk on the moon. It was quite a period of which I was excited to be part. The rise of the personal computer has taken scientific research away from the monopoly of the major universities and into the world and has resulted in major gains that can be shared among all people.In my own experience, in the lower grades many of the tasks involved things such as penmanship and spelling and foreign language that are not my strong points. I was not at the top of the class and felt pressure to do better. At Cornell I started in Economics, a very abstract subject that I found both fascinating and at which I excelled. My ability to do abstract work well helped me in statistics and computer programming and in my applied economic research. Memorizing was not needed. (I still have problems with spelling and penmanship but it matters less.) In my opinon one should strive to do what one likes and what one can do well.Student(s) currently at BCD can expect to still be alive in the year 2100. My only regret is that I will not be here to see all the exciting things that they will experience. My life has been wonderful.
|Cornelia ‘Nini’ Brooke Gilder, Class of 1964
BCD was still housed on Walker Street, in an old and historic dwelling, when in the spring of 1961, my sixth grade year, I had one of the most fulfilling learning experiences of my life. Our history class, led by Mrs. Dengler, suspended its fairly cursory progression past pyramids and forums of the ancient world to spend the spring semester on local history. That year Berkshire County was celebrating its bicentennial, and The Berkshire Eagle was filled with stories and photos related to the past. Our school assignments included assembling great clipping files on Herman Melville, Balance Rock, paper mills, lime kilns, iron mines, local fires, and local landmarks. It opened a new world to me! Here was history that explained the buildings, the street names, the natural landmarks around me.Now, I realize this class was the groundwork for everything I have done since then. Later, I majored in history at Vassar with 18 months “reading” history at New Hall, Cambridge University. I then worked for the New York State Historic Preservation Office in Albany and returned to England for graduate work at the Institute for Advanced Architectural Studies in York.For the last 15 years I have been writing and speaking about the wonderful historic buildings of Albany and the Berkshires culminating in several recent books: Houses of the Berkshires with Richard S. Jackson (2006) and Hawthorne’s Lenox with Julia Conklin Peters (2008). With a team that dates back to my days in the New York State Preservation Office, I am the principal contributor to a new book, Architects in Albany (Mt. Ida Press: 2009).
Thirty-some years after my own student days, BCD re-entered my life in the education of two of our children, Richard and Nannina. We still talk of the memorable teachers of their era—the Fawcetts, Geoff Ashworth, Gary Miller, Tim Gore, Steffi Fletcher, and Adrienne Cosel—who set high standards and opened academic and athletic doors for both of them. How fortunate we are in the Berkshires to have this remarkable school!
|Mary Talbot Fee, Class of 1972
Years at BCD: Grade 6 (1969) through Grade 9 (1972)
Where did you go to school after leaving BCD? Taconic High School and then on to American University and then San Diego State University for a degree in Modern Dance/Education. I attended graduate school at the University of San Diego and received a degree in Education.
What have you been doing since you left BCD? After having an incredibly satisfying stint as a figure skater while at BCD and Taconic High School, I decided to major in Modern Dance in college (first at American University and then at San Diego State University). Later, as an elementary educator, I also taught creative dance for young children, as well as writing and publishing Children Dancing, a step-by-step book with photography on teaching dance to young students. In addition, throughout my late teen and adult years, I have been pursuing jazz vocal music.
Tell us about your love affair with music. My love of music began with the exposure to my mother’s musical and theatrical career in the Berkshires. I was well versed in show tunes, light opera, and choral pieces by the time I started my own pursuit of jazz. I immersed myself in Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughn’s styles and learned scores (pun somewhat intentional) of Duke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim and Jerome Kern to name a couple. Recently, I recorded my debut CD called “Midwinter Night’s Dream” which has tunes in French (thank you Mme Grad!), Portuguese, and Italian written by such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Django Reinhardt, Lennon/McCartney, and Jobim. (Jobim’s “Angela” is a tribute to my mother, Angela, who passed away just after the last recording was completed.)
Did BCD play a role in your love of music? We had a weekly music class that was held in Furey Hall but as I remember it, it was mostly focused on classical music. [Music class] bolstered my knowledge of music but what BCD really did for me was to expose me to more independent and creative thinking, which made me a more well-rounded student and individual. I was immensely enriched by my BCD exposure – the nurturing and stimulating environment – it made me appreciate my creativity and music.
What have you taken away from your years at BCD? I started at BCD in the sixth grade. The experience was quite intimidating at first, coming from a small public elementary school in Richmond. I found that A’s were much more difficult to attain and that the intense caliber of teaching required much more of me. Suddenly, I was taking two languages, learning to read A Tale of Two Cities and delving into the Russian Revolution! It was a humbling experience that set me up for more advanced classes in high school (French 5 by junior year, as well as Honors and Advanced Placement classes), and an interest in life-long learning.I thank Mme. Grad for her persistence in requiring us to correct all of our mistakes and to use the new vocabulary many times to learn them. Mr. Bemis’ demonstrations of scenes from A Tale of Two Cities will be forever imprinted on my brain, and Mrs. Jones’ technique of using a scepter to organize class discussions is something I used as a teacher myself. I loved Mr. Potter’s Latin classes as well as watching him as he carved little wooden animals between classes and, of course, the BCD Fair every year! The stimulation, creative freedom, wonderful teachers and brilliant friends from all over the county were an invaluable experience for me. I didn’t quite realize it at the time, but BCD was the best overall educational experience of my upbringing. The enthusiasm and energy that the staff and teachers kept for the school made for bright, electrified students. I see that now and I see it in photos of the faces of today’s students. BCD raised the bar for me. The influence of my highly driven parents combined with BCD’s can-do environment has made me not afraid to continue to go for my creative dreams, even now.
Where do you currently live? In San Diego, CA. I am married and have one child who is 19 and a musician as well. He is into computer music.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Don’t be afraid to change your mind and to try new things. I’ve had a lot of passions and interests in my life and have tried new things as they came along – it’s important to keep your options open and go for the things that interest you.
|Joni Michelle Guerette, Class of 1988
Years and grades at BCD – Entered Nov. 1980, in second grade graduated in 88What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)?
I loved our ‘fateful’ trip to Cape Cod in seventh grade; we all went to the oceans edge at night with Mrs. Sadighi to see the sand ‘light up’ when we scraped our fingers in the sand as the waves rolled away. Something to do with algae. I also loved our girls’ varsity soccer team and the soccer banquets at the old Lenox House. Working on the yearbook in 9th grade was an eye opener; so much work goes into it. Canoeing and camping on the Housatonic (don’t get wet, PCBs!)was a blast, hot Tang!Where did you go once you left BCD? High School, College, Grad School, travels?
Miss Hall’s School, Pittsfield 1991; Skidmore College, BS, 1995; Lesley College, MEd, 1998.Where are you living now?
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)? Teaching at BCD, I am the B3’s teacher. I have 2 sons, Cameron, 10 in 5th grade at BCD and Trevor,9 in 3rd grade at BCD, this is their first year @ BCD; I am a Den Mother for their Cub Scout Troop. We love to travel and recently went to California and Florida and Cape Cod.
What are your plans for the future? To continue teaching at BCD! To spend time with my boys and watch them enjoy their childhood.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? BCD taught me to approach situations with an open mind, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover”.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? All of it. We were a little family and really loved each other. I felt save and felt like it was a judgment free zone.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Do your homework! Take time to get to know each other and if you say ‘keep in touch’ you need to take that first step and do it, or you could lose each other. Life is short, enjoy every minute!
|Amanda Rae Busch, Class of 1997
Years and grades at BCD: K-9 (1987-1997)
What are your fondest memories from BCD? Story time with Mrs. Underwood in the library. Rock-climbing the chimney of the science building during Spring Fair. Dipping candles and wax hands in Mr. Miller’s shop class every winter, and the first time I used a soldering iron, a chisel, and a pottery wheel. Constructing projects like a wooden pinball machine and a nightstand. Crafting Valentines for everyone in the class in Mrs. Rockwell’s art room. Collecting milkweed and tagging pine trees on nature hikes with Mr. Gore—and the time we found skinny dippers in the brook. Dissecting the owl pellet…and then the frog.
Where did you go once you left BCD? I went to Taconic High School in Pittsfield before attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, from which I graduated in 2004 with a dual degree in Magazine Journalism and Psychology with a minor in French. (Thanks to BCD’s Mme. Zaffanella and our ninth-grade exchange program with students from Lyon!) Second semester of my junior year, I studied abroad in Strasbourg, France, followed by a thirty-day backpacking tour of Europe and a summer internship at the BBC in London with Good Food magazine. The summer after I graduated from college I joined a fledgling Berkshire Living magazine, where I was an editor for seven years until the publication folded in May 2011.
Where are you living now? After my apartment in Pittsfield burned down in May 2011, I set off on a solo journey across the country, and I’ve been chronicling my experiences at AmandaRaeWasHere.com ever since. So far, I’ve visited 30 states, more than 200 cities, and dozens of national parks, museums, monuments, farms, and factories—you name it. I’ve enjoyed an amazing series of new experiences, but the best part has been reconnecting with so many old friends—including a few BCD classmates! I plan to settle somewhere soon, likely out West for a bit.
What are you doing now? I’m currently working on freelance projects, including editing for CULTURE: The Word on Cheese, a niche magazine available at Whole Foods stores across the country, and I’m pitching articles inspired by my travels to various publications. I’ve taken thousands of photographs on my journey, so I’m excited to turn those into something more than just blog posts.
What are your plans for the future? I’m working on a book based on my adventures—the more exciting stuff that never made it to the blog. And while I hope to continue writing professionally, I’m also exploring other creative avenues. I’m passionate about food. I feel at home in the wilderness. After seeing so much of our magnificent country—studying its social history, traversing its vast and varied landscape—I can’t seem to shake the adventuress in me. The future is nothing if not a surprise.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? I remember the day we learned about similes, alliteration, and onomatopoeia in Mr. Fawcett’s English class and I knew I wanted to become a writer. Mrs. Fletcher’s gentle encouragement and guidance in creative writing and poetry helped me immensely. One year, I won the BCD spelling bee and advanced to the Berkshire Museum—I was so proud! Finally, working on the school yearbook—and in the darkroom—cemented my fascination with packaging words with imagery.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? Mandatory French, Latin, and sports; field trips that exposed us to so many arts, cultures, and regions.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Respect your teachers—you probably don’t realize it now, but they are giving you the tools to become well-rounded and confident individuals as you grow up. Also: take advantage of the activities, and try new hobbies often. Be interesting! You’re only bored if you’re boring.
|Doug Altshuler, 1985
Years and grades at BCD: 1981-1985 (Grades 6-9)
What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)? I cherish the campus and its surrounding forests as well as the close community I experienced at BCD. Whether playing soccer on a sunny fall afternoon or tromping through the snowy woods on a natural history lesson with our Science teacher, Sandy Whidden, the beauty of BCD’s campus inspired a sense of personal and intellectual discovery. I also have fond memories of the time I spent with my four closest friends, and of the camaraderie I felt with my classmates as we all prepared to leave BCD.
Where did you go once you left BCD? High School: Northfield Mount Hermon SchoolCollege: University of California, Santa CruzGraduate School (M.Sc.): Purdue UniversityGraduate School (Ph.D.): University of Texas at AustinPostdoctoral Training: California Institute of TechnologySignificant travels: College junior year abroad in India (1990-1991); Master’s research in Panama (1994-1995); Ph.D. research in Peru (1997-2001).
Where are you living now? Riverside, California.
What are you doing now? I am an Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of California, Riverside. I live there with my wife, Sylvia and our two sons, Daniel (age 5) and Gabriel (age 2).
What are your plans for the future? I have accepted a new faculty position in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. We will be moving there in July of 2011.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? I have a crystal clear memory of my English teacher, Jim Fawcett, telling us that he had given each of his children two important gifts – a dictionary and a thesaurus. I thought about this over the years and it has inspired two beliefs; first, knowledge is something you need to strive for every day, and second, there is a stunning amount of information available as long as you know how to find it.
Another experience that is influential in my daily life occurred in Ned Douglas’ History class. I was loose with rules in those years and once let a friend copy my homework essay. Ned caught us because the word “rough” was identically misspelled on both papers. He met with just the two of us – no parents were called in – and it was the first time I was held personally accountable for my actions as a scholar. I came to understand that helping someone else cheat devalued my own work and compromised my integrity. When I am confronted with difficult choices as an adult, I aim to uphold the ideals I learned that day.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? I am deeply grateful for the intellectual vigor and spirit of inquiry that I experienced at BCD. When I talk about my education with students and colleagues, I always say that it was the best education I received up until an inspiring four years of postdoctoral scholarship at Caltech.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? Take full advantage of the outstanding education available at BCD. Remember that for every fact presented in a textbook, there were years of painstaking scientific experimentation or scholarship. In all of these cases, the failures outnumbered the successes. Keep asking how we know what we know. It’s an important tool for life, and it’s a very important tool if you choose to pursue a career in academics.
|Hunter McCormick, 2005 2S
Years and grades at BCD:2001-2005, 9-12
What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)?Every other year, the Secondary School had one Head of School day where the entire student body arrived at school and then departed to do something fun. One year we climbed Bear Mountain in Sheffield, MA and the other year we went bowling at the Cove Bowling Lanes in Great Barrington.
Where did you go once you left BCD? High School, College, Grad School, travels? I graduated from Stonehill College in 2009 with a BSBA in Management and a BA in Systematic Philosophy. In May of 2009, I began working for the Boston Minuteman Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Where are you living now? Great Barrington, MA
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)?I currently serve as a District Executive with the Western Massachusetts Council, Boy Scouts of America. In this capacity I provide support to volunteer leaders throughout Berkshire County and four surrounding towns in Massachusetts and Vermont. My primary responsibilities include fundraising development, membership growth, and adult volunteer engagement. I continue to have a passion for spending time in the outdoors. I try to go camping every month and I find the time to complete regular outdoor projects both at home and around the area.
What are your plans for the future?While my plans are relatively uncertain, I have spent the past 17 years involved with the Boy Scouts and could easily see myself spending my entire working career with them. This does mean a lot of travel, as a frequent assignment in any given area lasts only 3-8 years.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? My time at BCD helped me develop a passion for working with people and serving others. In fact, there were many opportunities I took advantage of at 2S that developed further while at college. I enjoyed spending four years with the 2S student council, making some gains in the student voice within the school and working to challenge some of the points of the student handbook. At Stonehill I served at Class President in my junior year and Student Body President in my senior year. At 2S, I helped to start the Ham Radio Club that, at its prime, boasted 8 members. I still remember a group of that size huddled into a room in the back of the second floor beyond Mrs. Clifford’s English room trying to tune in to conversations around the world. At Stonehill, I founded the High Adventure Club on campus during my freshman year and served as its President for the four years I was there. The club, to this day, has over 30 members. I also enjoyed showcasing BCD to prospective students and supporting the students already there in any way I could. I still work hard to represent other people’s interests and enjoy the opportunity to meet and work with many different people.BCD also taught me the importance of standing up for something in which you believe. 2S did not escape the growing pains that any new entity goes through when it comes to policies, discipline, and student environment. While I was a student there, it was very important to me that I share my thoughts and concerns and do everything within my power to encourage change when it was needed. This process has helped me more accurately articulate my point of view and demonstrated that, in some cases, a strong support of change can actually affect change.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? At the end of the day, BCD is still a school. It is a small school in southern Berkshire County unique in its caring toward students and families, drawing people in and making them feel at home, but it is still a school. You may spend most days wishing you weren’t there, dislike doing homework and see no value in tests (I distinctly recall that sentiment throughout my academic career). Given that, I would challenge you to remember that a lot of what you learn in school is not directly tied to the academics. Looking back on my time at BCD, I find myself being thankful for the friends I made, the interests I developed and fostered that have turned into life-long passions and the life lessons I learned. Take the time to find the parts of your BCD experience that you truly enjoy and you will find what makes BCD truly unique.
|Jessica Ryan ’03 2S
Years and grades at BCD2000-2003 (BCD2S, grades 10th-12th)
What are your fondest memories from BCD?My most cherished memories from my time at BCD come from the two language trips we took to France and Spain my sophomore and senior year. I had never traveled without my parents and I had certainly never been as far away as Europe. I used my Spanish skills outside of the classroom for the first in Spain and I saw my first castle in France. Through these trips, BCD brought to life for me a world previously known only through books and movies. To stand alongside my friends on top of the Eiffel Tower and overlook the entire city of Paris or to eat tapas and watch a flamenco performance in Seville were life changing experiences. BCD awakened in me a passion for travel and adventure—a passion that has significantly guided the direction of my life ever since.
Where did you go once you left BCD?After BCD I needed a break from academics, so I took a gap-year and traveled to India where I volunteered in the slums of New Delhi teaching Kindergarten. During college I spent two summers volunteering at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador. In 2008 I graduated summa cum laude from Smith College with a BA in Spanish. I received a post-graduate fellowship from the Spanish Ministry of Education to teach English for a year at a language academy in Cadiz, Spain. In 2009 I returned to the Berkshires and had the privilege to work for several months at BCD in the Admission Office. Since 2010, I’ve proudly served with the Peace Corps in El Salvador doing youth development work.
Where are you living now?You’ll currently find me in the rural farming community of Cuisnahuat, Sonsonate, El Salvador. The name Cuisnahuat comes from the indigenous Nuhuat language and, according to locals, means “Place with three springs of water”. I live with a Salvadoran host family, my seven aguacateros (street dogs) and one gallina(chicken) named Carlota.
What are you doing now?The focus of my Peace Corps work is youth development. I design, organize and manage activities to help children and adolescents: develop healthy lifestyles, gain life skills, learn strategies to successfully navigate the workforce and generate income, and be more active in their community through involvement in local organizations and public service. One of my favorite projects was an empowerment camp I helped design, organize and manage for nineteen at-risk Salvadoran girls. I taught lessons in goal-setting, leadership, self-defense, sexual health, family planning, HIV/AIDs prevention and self-esteem. I am currently working on a parent-child reading program in the local school to help combat the 60% illiteracy rate in my community, and mentoring five recent high school graduates to receive USAID scholarships in order to go to college in the United States.
What are your plans for the future? My time as a Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer is scheduled to end in April, 2012. However, I’m hoping to stay with the Peace Corps in El Salvador for another year as a regional leader. I’ve also applied to work in consular affairs for US embassies in Latin America. Either way, I’ll be south of the boarder for awhile longer.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? My three years at BCD were the most demanding three years of my life. In fact, my first few semesters at Smith College were easy because I had already done equivalent academic work in high school. However, BCD taught me more than just the quadratic formula or to appreciate the poetry of Emily Dickinson—I was taught how be active in my own learning and to solve my own problems. BCD provided me with a supportive environment and then challenged me every day to step outside my comfort zone and take intellectual risks. I learned how to think analytically and creatively and, most importantly, trust my own judgment. Furthermore, BCD made me realize that self-development goes beyond the classroom. I was encouraged to get involved in my local community through public service and also to explore the world beyond the Berkshires. If it weren’t for BCD I might have never started doing community service or traveling the world. I credit BCD for inspiring me to join the Peace Corps.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? I am thankful to BCD for giving me some of the best teachers in the world. It wasn’t until later that I realized how lucky I was to have teachers who were both experts in their fields and accomplished educators dedicated to their students. BCD faculty were more than just my teachers, they were also my mentors and cheerleaders who never doubted my potential for excellence even when I was overwhelmed with self-doubt. I will forever be grateful to Señora Dockery-Perkins who encouraged me to be “a person in the world and of the world” and Mr. Clifford who taught me to not let fear of failure stop me from trying something new or difficult. Whenever I teach now, I remember the way my BCD teachers made learning interesting and the material relevant to my world, and I try to emulate their style as much as possible.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? BCD is a very special place. I’ve visited many schools and communities throughout my travels and no place is equal to BCD. My advice to current students is to take advantage of everything BCD has to offer. You won’t like it all or be good everything, but you’ll never know if you don’t try. Also, be in competition with yourself and not with your friends. When life gets rough it won’t matter who scored the winning goal or got the best grade— what matters most will be the support of your friends and the good times you’ve shared together.
|Tarsi Dunlop, 2005
Years and grades at BCD: 9th-12th(fall 2001 – spring 2005)
What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)? Deciding what to write here was actually quite difficult; however these memories rank among some of my favorites.In ninth grade English class, we had weekly vocabulary quizzes on Friday. Once a trimester, Mrs.Cosel brought out her buzzer boards and we had a vocabulary game. She divided us into two teams, and she’d call out a word, whoever hit the button and answered correctly got a point for the team. It was a wonderful way to learn words, and a great incentive because she also gave each member of the winning team a pint of their favorite ice cream.Every fall, beginning my sophomore year, I was on the crew team. I rowed some the first year, but because I was so short, I was quickly assigned the role of coxswain. During my junior and senior year, I was put in charge of teaching the “newbies” – usually freshmen and sophomores who were just learning how to row. It was so rewarding teaching them the terminology, how to balance the boat, how to turn the boat, the different types of strokes, and watching their progress throughout the fall. It was also especially beautiful out on the Stockbridge Bowl in the fall, I looked forward to getting out on the water after a day in school.Although the students in my class were quite diverse and did our own respective things in school, we were one-hundred in unison when it came to our senior prank. Turning Mr. Peterson’s office into a forest was a labor of love, but we were careful to put down plastic first, and we cleaned it up later. In addition, we also took all the toilet seats off around the building and hung them on the wall in the front entry way, we wrapped up all the junior cubbies in plastic and put their stuff in bags, we also hung hot dogs from all the fans in the lunchroom. It was truly a wonderful and delightfully devilish evening.
Where did you go once you left BCD? High School, College, Grad School, travels? After graduating from BCD2S, I attended Middlebury College beginning in the fall of 2005. I interned at the National Center for Law and Economic Justice in NYC for the summer after my freshmen year, and spent the following summer working in the personal office of Senator Edward M. Kennedy. After that, I attended the London School of Economics in England for my junior year abroad, and also got to travel to Germany, Denmark, Italy and France. I returned to Middlebury for my senior year and graduated in May 2009 with a B.A in Political Science. I am now working in Washington D.C, where I have a year-long position with the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, a national student policy organization, as their National Network Coordinator.
Where are you living now? I’m living near Rockville, Maryland
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)? After graduating from Middlebury, I took a two month respite on the west coast to visit family. While there, I began to read novels again, watched tons of movies and slowed down my living pace quite a bit. I also took the time to start arranging my post-graduation plans. Much of my life currently revolves around work, but I also plan on doing volunteer work in D.C once I get settled into my new surroundings and develop a routine. Despite going off into the world to start a new chapter in my own life, I remain close to my family, friends and the community in the Berkshires. I write a local column for the Monterey News once a month, and will continue to do so after I move. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and I plan to visit my village often.
What are your plans for the future? Future planning is something that I’ve found to be difficult – due to the flux in daily life, I prefer having long-term goals; the path by which I get there is something that gradually makes itself clear. Thus far, my post-BCD plans are right on target, complete with a college choice that proved perfect for me. My desire to spend time abroad was fulfilled and my dream of plugging into the political Washington D.C is being realized. At this point, I hope to spend the next few years working in D.C, perhaps in different locations to accumulate experience. I then hope to pursue post-graduate work, but the field is dependent on my adventures between now and then. After my graduate degree is complete, I hope that the work I do has a positive impact on others in some way, shape, or form.
How do you think your time at BCD influenced the choices you’ve made? My time at BCD increased my efficiency as a student and the interactions with my teachers helped build my self-confidence up over time. Thanks to Timmy Bullock’s encouragement to apply to Middlebury, even though it was a “stretch” school, I ended up applying and being accepted in the early decision round. BCD challenged me to push myself academically; it broadened my horizons, and helped me pursue goals and dreams that were of my own making.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? I’m thankful for the relationships with certain individuals that developed while I was at BCD2S, with students, but also teachers; I’ve been lucky enough to maintain many of them. I am most thankful for the incredible support and individual investment that teachers at BCD2S provided for students. Such connections and the feeling of empowerment I derived from them are truly priceless and precious gifts.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? When I look back at my high-school days, I remember not liking school a great deal. Honestly, at times it was quite difficult, just because I enjoyed academics and learning did not mean everything was smooth sailing. I know a lot of you might be feeling something similar, even if you are successful students. I would advise you to pursue what makes you, as an individual, feel alive. Although I absolutely loved college, it was only recently that I’ve started to understand what really inspires me. Yes, you are fortunate to be in a school of BCD’s caliber, but in the long-term, most experiences are what you make out of them. Despite the up-and-down dynamics that inevitably exist in school, the whole journey is a tool that can and will empower you to pursue your life dreams and goals. When you start to realize your greatest ambitions and discover your true passions in life, it makes all those more challenging and difficult moments fade away; they will not vanish, but they become part of your greater and fuller life story. Do not let yourself get bogged down, and do not constantly deprive yourself of the things you enjoy doing for the sake of school. The sooner you find a balance, the better.
|Matthew Van Meter ’03 2S
Attended BCD: 1994-2001, Grades 4-10
I decided to become a teacher of literature in Adrienne Cosel’s eighth-grade English class. I had been an interested student of history and science before that time, but from the first day of school in 1998, I had a completely transcendental experience through the reading and discussion of books. I glimpsed for the first time a world in which the pursuit of truth was the intellectual currency of the classroom, in which I was challenged and encouraged. Nowhere was this more evident than in Mrs. Cosel’s commentary on my writing; I still aspire to the level of detail and precision in commenting that she was able to give on draft after draft.The salient point about BCD is the high level at which we were expected to perform. I came to realize, as I moved into adulthood, that the level of intellectual engagement demanded of me in Geoff Ashworth’s sixth-grade geography class – another formative experience – was something that I would not experience again until college, and not always consistently even there. In my work, I try every day to live up to my role models at BCD: Tim Gore, Ned Douglas, Adrienne Cosel, Geoff Ashworth, and Eugénie Fawcett.I left BCD when my family moved to southern New Jersey, and I graduated from Moorestown Friends School, going on to study at Middlebury College in Vermont. I acted on my passion for the humanities there by majoring in Comparative Literature and Russian. The Russian major came about by happenstance but became a huge part of my life. I studied for a year at Irkutsk State University in central Siberia, also interning at a local theatre (another passion developed at BCD, this time at the secondary school with John Haddon).After graduation, I began my teaching career at St. Andrew’s School in Delaware, but I moved on after two years to the Slavic-Anglo-American School “Marina” in Moscow, Russia, where I taught literature and social studies in middle and high school. The school is Russian-speaking, but has an exceptional English program, so I was able to teach roughly the same sorts of books in high school that I would in the United States. Living in Moscow afforded me the ability to cement my knowledge of Russian language and to explore a fascinating part of the world. Partway through my time there, I was picked up as a weekly online columnist by Russia Profile, an English-language news magazine; I still write for them.I moved this past summer to Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I began teaching English and History in September at University Liggett School, north of Detroit. Everywhere I’ve lived since high school has been snowy – Russia in particular, but metro Detroit is no exception – which has allowed me to continue indulging my passion for Nordic skiing, an interest I developed first at BCD with Gary Miller, and which became a lifelong obsession. I caught the ski marathon bug in college, and have competed so far in five races longer than 50 kilometers in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Estonia, and Norway. I’ve also, inspired by Geoff Ashworth, become an avid home brewer.Since leaving BCD, I have lived in five places, and I have taken everywhere with me (the binders of readings, essays, and handouts) from Mrs. Cosel’s 8th and 9thgrade English classes. They have provided me with the model of good teaching that I aspire to. The essays, dripping with red ink in her angular script, help put me back in the shoes of my students, so I can be a more effective teacher by reliving the struggles of learning to articulate myself fully and forcefully as a student. Sitting next to me in my office, as I write, is the cabinet where I keep them, and have kept them since college. They have been my constant companions and guides since leaving BCD in 2001.I only hope that I can live up to the education I received there.
|Curt Buttenheim ‘72
Years at BCD: 1970, 1971, 1972 for Grades 7th, 8th & 9thAfter BCD, I went to Northfield Mount Herman then to Simon’s Rock College.
My fondest memories of BCD are, in scrambled order: Madame Grad giving treats during French finals when she espied a correct answer and slashing a Magic Marker across the back of the hand for an incorrect one. Mrs. Jones, in trying to stop a case of classroom giggles, warning us: “If you’re reading moods, you’d better read mine.”
I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 30 years where I am a founding partner of Premeditated Productions, a theatrical production company specializing in casino and corporate entertainment. We create live entertainment for showrooms, theaters and concert venues across the USA and abroad. It sounds like spotlights and the glam life but really I lug a lot of luggage for a living.
In between working for my company’s productions, my “day job” is entertainer/emcee for Las Vegas casinos that contract me to create, costume and perform as any number of characters. I have 50 wigs and 100 tuxedoes – or maybe it’s the other way around. I’ve been requested to transform into every celebrity from Richard Simmons to Michael Jackson to Dean Martin. I’ve been asked to perform as German, French, Mexican, Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Jamaican and other characters. At BCD, I loved learning Latin with Mr. Potter and being immersed into Madame Grad’s French. It gave me a great advantage for learning languages which has been invaluable not only in my work, but also at home. Spanish is everywhere in Los Angeles y tengo muchos amigos Latinos.
After the 9th Grade production of Winnie the Pooh at BCD a friend told me I was the worst actor in the cast, so it’s been a real uphill battle to become the hack I am today. I’ve had great stage fright for as long as I can remember and always wonder at the predicament I’m in before going onstage. That hasn’t changed much. Whether wearing Christopher Robin’s shorts 40 years ago or being costumed as Rip Taylor in some showroom on the Las Vegas strip today, it gets a little chilly when the orchestra plays my entrance.
I’ve been writing a concept for children’s TV using my characters that I created for Las Vegas. An audience of children isn’t much different from the casino crowd in regard to attention span. You have to keep surprising them. I’ve been a spider, a skunk, a dog and a duck. I’ve been brave enough to wear Cupid’s diaper. In 8th grade, Mr. Bemis taught me to laugh in the face of humiliation and sneer my lip at shame. Both teachers and actors perform in front of an audience and I love to teach kids through entertainment.
BCD was the best scholastic experience of my life. All of the classes were accelerated and always seemed advanced to me. Mr. McNaught taught us to try our hardest regardless of the final outcome or grade. I learned not to hold back any effort or conviction when it comes to trying to create the impossible and see it realized. I wish you could see my Dancing Octopus act. And I have this amazing knife throwing illusion locked up in storage…
My advice to students at BCD:
|Carl Nicholas (“Nick”) Arienti, Class of 1990
Years and grades at BCD: I attended BCD from Kindergarten (1980) through Ninth Grade (1990)
What are your fondest memories from BCD (events/teachers/trips)? Naming just a few of my fondest memories of BCD is a difficult task since it encompasses nearly my entire childhood. However, a few highlights do come to mind. I have vivid memories of the BCD Fair while I was a student, which was much different than it is today- high speed dune buggy rides and the dunk tank were particularly memorable! I had many wonderful teachers over the years, but the ones that really stuck out were Mrs. Heady for gym, Mr. Fawcett for classical studies (5th grade) and later on for English, Mrs. Jones for Latin, and especially Mrs. Sadighi for science- she truly made learning fun and taught me how to believe in myself in the classroom. I will never forget my 9thgrade class trip to Montreal either- we explored the Old City, visited Olympic Park and swam in the Olympic pools, went to a disco, and cruised through the St. Lawrence rapids in a flat bottomed boat- it was a great way to bond with classmates and to cap-off a long journey.
Where did you go once you left BCD? High School, College, Grad School, travels? After BCD, I attended high school at Salisbury School in Salisbury, CT. From there I went to the University of Vermont, in Burlington, which is one of the greatest towns in the northeast. I was lucky to have Stowe as my home mountain for skiing and training, and raced all over New England and New York during my four years at UVM. After graduating in 1997 I moved to Boston where I worked in the architecture field for roughly four years until I had a change of heart regarding my career path. I decided to attend Suffolk University Law School, graduating in 2005, and until recently concentrated my work on construction and employment law in Boston.Where are you living now?I moved to Lee, MA, in June 2009, with my wife Francine.
What are you doing now (work/family/personal projects)? My life has been a bit of a whirlwind for the past year. Fran and I were married last September in Egremont, and we enjoyed a wonderful honeymoon on Martha’s Vineyard. We decided to buy a house in Lee this past spring, and then in July I was hired by McCormick, Murtaugh & Marcus, a general practice law firm in Great Barrington. Between buying a new house, moving from Boston to Lee, and starting a new job both of our heads have been spinning. However, we are very happy to be living in the Berkshires and look forward to settling down and starting a family.
What are your plans for the future? My future plans are to take advantage of living in the Berkshires in every way possible, to raise a family and to become involved as much as I can in our community.
What about your time at BCD are you most thankful for? I’m most thankful for being challenged academically at BCD. Achieving athletically was something that came very easily for me, but in the class room I had to be pushed, prodded and coerced to understand that learning was fun and interesting if you put forth the effort to become engaged in your subjects. While this transformation did not happen overnight, I eventually learned what it took to succeed in the classroom and to expect a lot from myself both athletically and academically. The BCD faculty, as well as my parents of course, are to credit for my later achievements in school, and I truly appreciate the motivation that was instilled in me from the beginning of my academic career.
What advice can you offer current students at BCD? The best advice I can give current students is to enjoy and appreciate their time at BCD. The school provides such a great framework for achieving academically, athletically, as well as socially because of its small size and the role the faculty and staff play in a student’s experience. There will rarely be times in the future that students will have the chance to establish such strong bonds with their teachers and friends, and current students should not take that for granted. My best memories of BCD are truly about the relationships that I established and the friends that I made during my time as a student. So current students should not only enjoy the moment, but they should realize that they are lucky to be able to take advantage of such a wonderful learning environment.
|Rachel Siegel ‘89
K-9 at BCD (a lifer)Attended Phillips Academy Andover, Harvard University, and The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Currently live in: Great Barrington, MA with husband John, a teacher of French at BCD, and son George, 14 months.
Professional experience: Acting, teaching at BCD and elsewhere, directing student plays, brief stints in marketing and editing.
Favorite BCD memory: Out of so many that friends and I still recount, Nina Sisselman crawling on Mr. Fawcett’s lap and calling him “Frufina Chrysanthemum.” I still laugh thinking about it.
Other favorite memory: Meeting my friend Sara Monsonis on the first day of kindergarten. I went up to her and asked her if her name was Susan. I just thought she looked like a Susan. We are still very close friends.
Favorite intellectual gift from BCD: Learning to articulate interior experience from Mr. Fawcett.I always knew somehow I’d come back to BCD. I think I must be a person of great contrasts, because I wanted to become a great actress in the old-fashioned style, preferably on the London stage (and screen), and then come back and teach Latin at BCD. I think I wanted to be a combination of Katharine Hepburn and Mrs. Fawcett.
When I think of my time as a student at BCD, I think of the teachers who shaped and supported me. I felt like everything I did, everything I tried, there were supportive adults there with encouragement and challenge. I was a lousy athlete, but Mr. Miller and Mrs. Heady encouraged me to do my best and praised me when I did. Mrs. Hendrix had a great way of giving a critique without criticizing. As a teacher, I try to emulate Mrs. Addicks’ easygoing humor, and Madame Veillette’s views on animal rights influence me to this day. But my intellectual foundation is pure Fawcett—I am an unreconstructed humanist, with a belief in the power and beauty of words, and ideas, and the rewards of old-fashioned rigor. I feel very fortunate to have worked alongside them.
Advice to students at BCD: I would say keep in touch with your classmates, but Facebook has made it impossible not to. Having shared so many experiences over so many formative years, my BCD classmates and I are still a community. We have made lots of different life choices, but our time at BCD remains a very strong bond.
Most cherished goal: Being as cool as the Fawcetts one day.