Milton has begun offering more “plant-powered” meals in Forbes Dining Hall, thanks to the advocacy of the student Sustainability Board and in partnership with Aramark, the school’s Dining Services vendor.
Melanie Forney ’24, Gus Vogel ’25, and Juni Brewster ’25 worked for the past year to expand the dining hall’s plant-based offerings, said Linnea Engstrom, a Science Department faculty member and Milton’s sustainability coordinator. Historically, the dining hall has offered a plant-powered meal during Earth Week.
“Eating less meat has a large impact on the environment,” Engstrom said. “The livestock sector is one of the leading causes of deforestation and there are a large number of resources needed to raise meat, both through land use in growing crops for the livestock to eat and drinking water for them. There is also livestock waste, which can pollute water sources.”
Sharing messages celebrating strength in supportive communities, this year’s Convocation speakers challenged Milton students to “Dare to be true” to one another and the world at large.
Convocation marks the beginning of the academic year for the Upper School. Students heard remarks from Head of School Dr. Alixe Callen ’88, Director of Restorative Justice Suzanne DeBuhr, co-Head Monitors Katherine Risden ’24 and Chris Amodeo ’24, and Principal Dr. Monica Benton Palmer.
Dr. Callen recalled starting at Milton as a sophomore: Coming from a small school in her New York hometown where she had been a standout student, she struggled initially. The other girls in Goodwin House already had strong bonds with one another and classes were much more challenging. Once she opened up and shared her vulnerability, the support she received from fellow students and her teachers helped immeasurably, she said.
“What saved me in those beginning months were the people, faculty, staff, and friends who watched out for me,” Dr. Callen said. “When I opened myself up to help and support from the community, when I admitted things were hard, when I allowed myself to cry, things got better. And that’s the power of community. My belief in the power of community started here at Milton, and it’s been a theme in my life and my work ever since.”
A lifelong love for writing and storytelling, stoked by English classes at Milton, propelled Neha Wadekar ’07 into a career in freelance journalism, she told students at the recent 44th Annual Laurence S. Persky Memorial Awards.
“I joined Milton in seventh grade, and I remember coming back for my revisit day and Ms. Simon was teaching Pride and Prejudice,” Ms. Wadekar recalled at the ceremony, which honors the best in student-published writing and artwork. “I was blown away by the level of back and forth discussion that the students were having about the meaning of the novel and the specific intentions of certain passages and the construction of particular sentences.”
Leah Li ’26 was selected as one of the top ten winners of the New York Times Student STEM Writing Contest this year, and her essay exploring what glass frogs can tell us about human blood clotting was published by the Times last month.
“I’ve always been interested in how nature gives us such a good handbook for dealing with problems, like how the design of bullet trains was inspired by birds because they’re so aerodynamic,” Leah said. “Nature tells us a lot about what we can do. In terms of the glass frogs, their ability to put all their red blood cells into their liver could give us some guidance on how we can prevent blood clots in humans.”
Leah, a boarding student from Texas who lives in Hallowell House, was one of more than 3,000 entrants in the contest. Competitors had to write about a stimulating discovery or topic that they found interesting and cite at least one source from the New York Times, Science News, or its sister site, Science News Explores.
In selecting her topic, Leah read through science articles she found fascinating and learned about glass frogs in Panama. The frog species, as Leah wrote, is “one of the few transparent terrestrial creatures.” As a result, the operation of its circulatory system was visible to scientists who studied the frogs during different activities. They found that while the frogs slept, almost 90 percent of their red blood cells traveled to the frogs’ livers, effectively allowing them to safely be translucent and better protected from predators.
Dare: The Campaign for Milton is about Milton’s people—our students, our faculty, and the power of their experiences together. This campaign—the most ambitious fundraising effort in Milton’s history—will raise $175 million to ensure that Milton Academy is a national leader in teaching and learning: connecting the most talented, motivated students in the world with the most innovative and dedicated faculty. At the public launch of Dare, the School is already 48 percent of the way toward that goal.
On October 24, more than 500 alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff celebrated the campaign launch on campus—under a tent on the quad, hearing personal stories about the life-changing effect of a Milton education. Lisa Baker of the English department—parent to three students in Milton’s Middle and Lower Schools—shared the story of Helson Taveras ’14 (now a sophomore at Columbia University) and Israel Moorer ’16, who connected to launch an app allowing Columbia students to donate extra meals from their weekly meal plan to students who cannot afford to eat. “Israel and Helson’s story is inspirational, not in small part because it exposes the truth that these two students would never have met had they not received financial aid to attend Milton,” said Lisa. “But it inspires, too, because it illustrates the profound connection between storytelling and change.”