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Persistence and Creativity Are Key to Success, Seminar Day Speakers Urge

Persistence and Creativity Are Key to Success, Seminar Day Speakers Urge

The Keyes Seminar Day, a lively day of speaking engagements for Upper School students, has been one of Milton’s most important traditions since 1977. It is named in honor of its founder, former faculty member Peter Keyes, a legendary promoter of student interest in political process as well as public and governmental affairs and service. In the Milton spirit of developing students’ confidence and competence to live by our motto, “Dare to be true,” Seminar Day brings to campus people who have made compelling choices. They are leaders making a difference in the world. Luminaries in the fields of science, public policy, technology, media, and beyond spent the 2024 Keyes Seminar Day sharing insights and ideas from their lives and careers.

Llewellyn “Llew” Smith ’72 Reflects on his Storytelling Career

Llewellyn “Llew” Smith ’72 Reflects on his Storytelling Career

Llewellyn “Llew” Smith ’72 returned to campus in April as part of the 2024 DEIJ Speaker Series. Llew is a leading filmmaker in the documentary industry who explores how misunderstandings in race, science, and history continue to perpetuate social and racial inequities. He has been the recipient of the Peabody, the duPont, and other honors. In 2021, Black Public Media named Llew one of the Top 40 Game Changers in public media over the last 40 years.

Math Team Crowned New England Champions

Math Team Crowned New England Champions

Capping off a nearly perfect year of competition, the Milton Academy math team finished first in the New England Math League (NEML). Milton was just one point shy of perfection, scoring 179 out of 180 possible points across six contests. 

Milton’s math competitors bested dozens of public and private schools for the championship—the runners-up scored 172 and 160 points. 

“We have a lot of really talented and intelligent people here,” said Vickie Mao ’26. “It’s very fun but we take it seriously, and it’s a good way to challenge yourself.”

Vivian WuWong Honored at Asian American Footsteps Conference

Vivian WuWong Honored at Asian American Footsteps Conference

A “trailblazer in raising the voices of the Pan Asian community,” veteran Milton Academy teacher Vivian WuWong was honored last month at the Asian American Footsteps Conference (AAFC). The AAFC Advisory Group announced the establishment of the Vivian WuWong Pan-Asian Student Leadership Award. The inaugural award will be presented in 2025 to a “student or students that have made a positive impact on the Pan-Asian community at their school or the local, regional, or national level.” The honor recognizes all that Vivian has done to develop programs for Asian American and Asian international students and faculty. 

Ms. WuWong, a member of the History and Social Sciences Department, has taught at Milton for 32 years and will retire next month. An engaging teacher and lifelong advocate for underrepresented communities, Ms. WuWong’s work in organizing began when she was an undergraduate at Stanford University, where she and her peers in the Asian American Student Association established Stanford’s Asian American Activities Center and its first Asian American History course.  

Farah Pandith ’86 Kicks Off 2024 DEIJ Speaker Series

Farah Pandith ’86 Kicks Off 2024 DEIJ Speaker Series

On April 2, Farah Pandith ’86 spent the day with our K–12 community as part of the 2024 DEIJ Speaker Series. Farah is an author, foreign policy strategist, and former diplomat. As a world-leading expert and pioneer in countering violent extremism, she is a frequent media commentator, and we were thrilled to welcome her back to Centre Street to share her insight and expertise with students.

Classes she took as a Milton student sparked her interest in world issues and ultimately led to her career in foreign policy, she shared during a “Fireside Chat” moderated by student leaders in the Upper and Middle Schools. “Seeds that are planted when you are very young help you to think about the world in a different way,” said Farah as she reflected on learning about ancient Egyptian history as a fourth-grader at Milton.

Throughout the assembly, Farah spoke about the importance of diplomacy, self-advocacy, public speaking, digital hygiene, the “us vs. them” ideology, knowing where you get your facts from, the difference between facts and opinions, and more. She shared, “If you leave today with nothing else, the bottom line is that you should never want to be duped. You should never let anybody tell you what to think and who you are.”

“Perspective is Everything,” Milton Grad Jake Thibeault Reflects on Life-Changing Injury

“Perspective is Everything,” Milton Grad Jake Thibeault Reflects on Life-Changing Injury

Milton Academy was a big part of the plan Jake Thibeault ’22 made for his own future.

The plan: Work hard, get into Milton, play hockey at Milton, work hard at Milton, get into college, play hockey in college, and so forth. Thibeault learned about the school when his older brother attended; he saw how driven Milton students were about their passions and, he said, “I knew it was going to take a lot to get there, but I knew I wanted to be part of this community. I put my mind to it and decided that this was the journey I was going to take.”

Accustomed to achieving his goals through a combination of determination and grit, Thibeault was well on his way in September 2021, when a collision on the ice during a pre-season club tournament changed everything. He awoke in the hospital two days later, with his parents and brother Drew ’19 by his side. He had suffered a spinal cord injury that caused paralysis; a doctor told the lifelong athlete that he may never walk again. 

“I turned to him and said, ‘Doc, I am going to fight this,’” Thibeault said. “I’m going to war with it. I’m still at war with it.”

Milton Alumni in the Big Dance

Milton Alumni in the Big Dance

Fans of college basketball have two former Milton Mustangs to look out for as March Madness kicks off this week.

Cormac Ryan, a senior guard for the North Carolina Tar Heels, set a career record earlier this month, scoring 31 points in UNC’s win against Duke to clinch the ACC title. No. 1-seeded UNC takes on Wagner Thursday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament. Ryan was a captain at Notre Dame before transferring to UNC this year.

Casey Simmons, a sophomore forward for the Yale Bulldogs, is in his first year playing for Yale. The Bulldogs face off against Auburn on Friday. Simmons was rated the No. 1 player in Massachusetts as a four-star recruit out of Milton, and was one of the top prospects in New England. He transferred to Yale from Northwestern this year.

From Facilities Services to Film Sets, Milton’s Mike Malvesti Shines

From Facilities Services to Film Sets, Milton’s Mike Malvesti Shines

He’s in two of the films nominated for Best Picture at this weekend’s Academy Awards—as well a movie still in theaters across the country—but you won’t catch Mike Malvesti on the red carpet.

You’ll catch him, instead, quietly working to keep Milton Academy beautiful and safe.

Malvesti, a member of the Facilities Services team, has found his niche as a film and television actor, a side job that has had him rubbing shoulders with some of Hollywood’s most esteemed stars. There he is in American Fiction, playing a police officer; in The Holdovers, hawking Christmas trees to Paul Giamatti; in The Town, playing the guard of an armored car that Ben Affleck targeted for a heist; in “Madame Web” as a trucker. Malvesti also scored a recurring role on the HBO series Julia* as Benny, Julia Childs’ cameraman. You might have seen him in popular commercials, as a detective in Boston Strangler, or going toe-to-toe with Rosamund Pike in I Care a Lot.

A Digital Opportunity for a Timeless Concept

A Digital Opportunity for a Timeless Concept

Ben Rhodes-Kropf ’24 has a message from his father. In order to receive it, he’ll have to travel to Spain.

That’s because his dad left the message through Trace, an app Rhodes-Kropf and classmate Benjamin Siegel ‘24 developed throughout their junior and senior years at Milton. The location-based service combines the functions of a messaging app with the thrill of an in-person treasure hunt, allowing users to “leave a Trace” wherever they are in the world. Messages for other Trace users (or their future selves) are delivered only when the recipient is physically close to the location where the message—in video form—was recorded.

Frustrated by the passive nature of existing social media, which users can idly scroll through for hours on end, Siegel and Rhodes-Kropf set out to create a different kind of messaging service that would foster more-meaningful connections and inspire users to travel near and far.

Milton Math Team Achieves Perfection

Milton Math Team Achieves Perfection

Nobody’s perfect—unless you’re talking about the Milton Academy math team.

Milton’s math competitors have maintained a perfect score through months of competing at the New England Math League (NEML) this academic year. Currently, the school sits atop the NEML rankings, which includes both private and public schools. Math contests give students opportunities outside of the classroom to flex their analytical muscles while proudly representing Milton.

“We have a lot of good mathematicians on our team this year,” said Devan Agrawal ’25. “One thing that’s nice about the NEML is that you don’t have to learn a lot of new concepts. You have to practice critical thinking and creative problem solving, and I think Milton Academy students in general already shine with that.”

Teaching the Fundamentals of Financial Literacy

Teaching the Fundamentals of Financial Literacy

“The future” can mean different things to teens: It could describe next weekend, or spring break, or college, or even a potential career path. 

One group of Milton students takes a decidedly long view that includes making sure that they (and others) are prepared financially for all the possibilities—college and housing costs, budgeting, building credit, saving, investing, retirement, and financial stability for their families. 

And planning for this future? The sooner you start, the better. The students’ passion for helping their peers and other young people achieve financial literacy has taken them from Milton to the Apple App Store and even the Massachusetts State House. 

To help young people learn financial literacy and investment principles, Hugo Eechaute ’24 created StockSense. The free app, aimed at users ages 15 to 21, teaches the basics through fun, easily accessible games. He’s gotten the app off the ground with the help of some Milton peers, including Simon Farruqui ’25, the COO of StockSense, and Isabella Alba ’26, its CFO.

Jason Bowen ’00 to Speak at 2024 Graduation

Jason Bowen ’00 to Speak at 2024 Graduation

This year’s Graduation speaker is actor and educator Jason Bowen, Milton Academy Class of 2000. Born and raised in Boston, Bowen has performed on Broadway, television, and film. Bowen’s notable and previous credits include The Play That Goes Wrong (Broadway), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), Blue Bloods (CBS), The Upside (STX/Amazon), and Mother/Android (Miramax/Hulu). In 2012, Boston Magazine awarded Bowen “Best Actor” honors in its annual “Best of Boston” issue. 

Chris Kane Named Prep Coach of the Year

Chris Kane Named Prep Coach of the Year

Great coaches, like great teachers, can have a life-changing positive impact on a young person. Milton Academy coaches focus not only on athletic excellence but the development of players as students and community members. 

One such coach is Chris Kane, head coach of Milton’s boys’ varsity soccer team, who has built a culture of development, positivity, inclusivity, and family—with great results. Coach Kane was named by the New England Soccer Journal as the Boys’ Prep Coach of the Year in its 2023 champions issue. He “did a masterful job preparing his squad throughout a season that resulted in a NEPSAC Class A championship, an Independent School League title, and a record of 19–1–2,” the journal wrote. Since 2011, his first year as head coach, Kane’s Mustangs have won four ISL championships and two NEPSAC Class A championships, had five undefeated regular seasons, and qualified for the Class A tournament every single year.

Milton Senior Luke Witkowski Qualifies for U.S. Figure Skating Championship

Milton Senior Luke Witkowski Qualifies for U.S. Figure Skating Championship

Luke Witkowski ’24 knows a thing or two about balance.

For one thing, he’s a figure skater, which requires a tremendous amount of balance—not to mention strength, dedication, and precision. For another, he’s managing a competitive skating career while navigating a busy senior year at Milton. Preparing for competition at his level is a massive time commitment; he trains about five hours a day, five days per week.

“I sleep very well at night with all the run-throughs I do during the day,” he said.

Luke finished in the top four in the U.S. Pairs Final last month. He and his partner, Sofia Jarmoc, won first in the short program and third in the long program, qualifying them to compete in the Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.

Robotics Team Continues to Amaze

Robotics Team Continues to Amaze

This past weekend, members of Milton’s Robotics Team joined schools from across the United States and Canada to compete in the fifth annual WAVE tournament, a three-day Vex competition hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“With almost eighty teams, it is a truly competitive tournament, which sets it far apart from other events we have attended this year, so far,” says Hailey Coval (I). “It demands hard work, long hours, effort, commitment, creativity, practice, and talents.”

Dr. Ilyon Woo P’25, Historian and NYT Best-Selling Author, Visits as Heywood Lecturer

Dr. Ilyon Woo P’25, Historian and NYT Best-Selling Author, Visits as Heywood Lecturer

This year, the History and Social Science Department hosted Dr. Ilyon Woo P’25 for the Henry R. Heyburn ’39 Lecture in History. The department tried a new model for the lecture; Dr. Woo spoke to American history students in an assembly November 9 and then visited individual classes to dive further into the content of her work as part of an in-house field trip. During the assembly, she shared her journey as a historical researcher and storyteller, from her early struggles to her New York Times best-selling book, Master Slave Husband Wife. On November 28, the Times named Master Slave Husband Wife one of its 10 Best Books of 2023.

Milton Student Films Shine at All-American Festival

Milton Student Films Shine at All-American Festival

Milton film students traveled to New York City for the All-American High School Film Festival, where two students, Yevgeniya Regent ’24 and Luke Witkowski ’24, had films accepted and shown. Yevgeniya’s documentary, “Prayer of the Birds” made it to the Best of Fest showing and was nominated for Best International Film and Best Documentary. 

Yevgeniya has earned accolades at several festivals for “Prayer of the Birds,” winning Best Picture and the Audience Choice Award at the Williston Northampton Film Festival and Best Film About a Social Issue in the Student World Impact Film Festival. The documentary chronicles the experience of a young Ukrainian refugee—Yevgeniya’s sister—as she adjusts to life in a new country. Luke’s film, “Bloodshed,” won Best Editing at the Williston Northampton Film Festival.

Milton Robotics Excels in First Tournament

Milton Robotics Excels in First Tournament

Milton’s Robotics Team dominated at its first tournament of the 2023–2024 season, with one of its four robots placing first overall and first in skills out of more than 30 competitors. The 17 Milton students who competed at Saturday’s Massachusetts STEM Week VEX Robotics Competition “showed amazing sportsmanship,” celebrating the success of their peers and excitedly planning for their next tournament in November, said Chris Hales, chair of the Computer Science Department and Robotics Team coach. Two Milton’s robots finished sixth and seventh on the skills list. 

Milton robot 1898A finished as tournament champion and skills champion, double-qualifying for the Southern New England Regional Championship and placing 58th on the world skills ranking.

Milton Celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Milton Celebrates Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Milton’s K–12 community welcomed Larry Spotted Crow Mann, an Indigenous speaker, writer, artist, and advocate, for its all-school programming Tuesday in recognition of Indigenous People’s Day.

Mr. Mann, a member of the Nipmuc Tribe of Massachusetts, shared music, language, games, and storytelling with students, as well as some of the history of the people who have lived in the region since well before European settlers arrived. He told students the preservation of traditions and cultures—in the face of systematic oppression—is a testament to the endurance and resilience of Indigenous peoples, who have passed down stories and practices through generations.

“Everything starts with a story,” said Mr. Mann. “We have a language that did not disappear because our grandparents, and their grandparents, and so on, made sure that we still have our words.”

Dr. Alixe Callen Officially Installed as Head of School

Dr. Alixe Callen Officially Installed as Head of School

The Board of Trustees on Friday officially installed Dr. Alixe Callen ’88 as Milton Academy’s 13th head of school. 

In a ceremony attended by the entire K–12 community, Board members, faculty and students from all three academic divisions celebrated Dr. Callen’s installation. In her remarks, Dr. Callen emphasized her belief in Milton and schools in general as powerful drivers of good in the world. Thirty-five years after her own graduation from Milton, she said, “I feel like I’ve come home.”

“I have known since I was a kindergartener, just like you here in the front row, that I would be a teacher and that I would spend my life in schools,” Dr. Callen said. “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. I have long believed that the most important work of schools is to teach students to be active, contributing, inclusive members of their communities.”

Nesto Gallery Features Artists Michael Alfano and Erik Koeppel

Nesto Gallery Features Artists Michael Alfano and Erik Koeppel

Outside of the Art and Media Center, Michael Alfano has installed five of his surrealist sculptures in his exhibition titled Mind Made Visible. Mr. Alfano states: “I am sculptor and clay, both shaping and being shaped.” These sculptures will be on display through June of 2024.

In the Nesto Gallery—on the lower level of the Art and Media Center—painter Eric Koeppel presents his show, Landscape Painting in the American Tradition. Mr. Koeppel states: “In the act of painting, I have sought to discover that highest knowledge of Beauty, poetic and philosophical, that has been the common thread between all of the great masters of Art.” This exhibit runs in the Gallery through November 2.

Dining Services Expands Plant-Powered Offerings

Dining Services Expands Plant-Powered Offerings

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.”

Convocation 2023: “Dare to be True” as a Community

Convocation 2023: “Dare to be True” as a Community

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.” 

Fall Opportunities in Performing Arts

Fall Opportunities in Performing Arts

Class IV Follies: Monsters Among Us
Milton Academy Performing Arts invites actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and those interested in tech theatre from Class IV to join the Class IV Follies. The Follies is an annual tradition where Class IV performers and crew come together to create a unique showcase of their talents for the entire Milton community. No experience is necessary and all interested students will be featured. This year’s Follies, Monsters Among Us, will incorporate monster-themed scenes and songs handpicked for each performer. Behind the scenes, tech crew members will be designing, building, and painting the sets and props to create an equally monstrous world.

Board of Trustees’ Charge to Head of School Dr. Alixe Callen ’88

Dear Members of the Milton Community,

I am thrilled that Dr. Alixe Callen has begun her tenure as Milton’s 13th head of school!

As the Board of Trustees, we seek to align with the head of school on her priorities and also to perform our primary role—which is to partner with her as the leader of the institution—by offering guidance and support as we ultimately hold her accountable for achieving the school’s goals. During a leadership change, it is considered a best practice for a governing board to communicate its “charge” to a new head, setting expectations on both sides for the start of her tenure.

In the interest of transparency—and recognizing that an excellent school is the product of collaboration and effort by all members of the faculty and staff, students, families, and alumni—included below is our letter to Dr. Callen as well as her response.  

Alixe has exceptional qualifications as an educator and school leader and I hope you will join me and the Board in the warmest of welcomes as we continue to make Milton Academy the best possible community for our students.

Sincerely,

Claire Hughes Johnson ’90
President, Milton Academy Board of Trustees 

Milton Magazine Recognized for Excellence

Milton Magazine Recognized for Excellence

For the second year in a row, Milton Magazine, Milton Academy’s alumni publication, received a Gold award in the Circle of Excellence from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

The award recognizes Milton Magazine’s spring and fall 2022 issues. The Circle of Excellence celebrates “exceptional achievement in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising, and marketing,” according to CASE. “These are the creative, inspiring projects that impact institutions and their communities—and transform lives around the globe.” 

CASE judges noted: “Milton Magazine is a well-designed and well-written magazine. With its elegant design and smart writing, this magazine has all the hallmarks of a commercial publication. The variety of art and illustration, including the use of charts, boxes, numbers, and pull quotes, adds an extra level of interest and depth to the content. The feature stories written by the editor and associate editor were particularly enjoyable, providing insightful and engaging content that is sure to captivate readers.”

Milton Magazine was also a finalist for the 2023 Robert Sibley Magazine of the Year Award.

44th Persky Awards Celebrate Student Writers

44th Persky Awards Celebrate Student Writers

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.”

John Avlon ’91 to Speak at 2023 Graduation

John Avlon ’91 to Speak at 2023 Graduation

This year’s Graduation speaker is John Avlon, Milton Academy Class of 1991. John is an award-winning journalist and author of six books, including Lincoln & the Fight for Peace and Washington’s Farewell. He is a CNN senior political analyst and anchor, known for his “Reality Check” segments across the network. Previously, he was the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and chief speechwriter for the mayor of New York City during the attacks of September 11, 2001. He lives in New York with his wife, Margaret Hoover, and their two children, Jack and Toula Lou.

Humanities Workshop Hosts Student Conference on Public Health

Humanities Workshop Hosts Student Conference on Public Health

On Sunday, May 21, Milton Academy students participated in the Humanities Workshop’s Student Conference on Public Health hosted at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The goal of the Humanities Workshop is to show students how key themes prominent in humanities studies—in particular, the importance of empathy and compassion—can be instrumental in working to solve the world’s complex problems.

Urged by a COVID pandemic that has raised immediate concern about the safety and well-being of our school communities and forced us to consider the intersection of health and justice, the Humanities Workshop chose PUBLIC HEALTH/GLOBAL HEALTH as this year’s theme.

Head Over Heels Sets a Classic Story to an 80s Soundtrack

Head Over Heels Sets a Classic Story to an 80s Soundtrack

The spring musical, Head Over Heels, reimagines a 16th-century royal love tale—told mostly in iambic pentameter—and features the music of the 1980s rock band The Go-Gos. Its mash-up of music, visuals, and script work, however, to tell a story as old as time.

“It’s a great mix of elements,” said director and Performing Arts Department faculty member Peter Parisi. “It feels like they’re in this Shakespearean world and the characters are in a modified Elizabethan wardrobe, using the music of The Go-Gos, but it makes sense. They’re talking about issues that are both timeless and contemporary.”

The musical adapts the plot of The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia by Philip Sidney, which was written in the late 1500s. It tells the story of the royal family in a kingdom, Arcadia, whose future depends on the family avoiding four predictions by an oracle. Set to some of The Go-Gos’ most recognizable hits as well as their lesser-known songs, the show is magical, dramatic, and fun.

“The theme is love,” Mr. Parisi said. “It’s about loving who you want to love, status, power, responsibility, duty to family, duty to your country, duty to yourself. In the end, the message is that love is love is love is love, and no matter who you are, you deserve love.”

One Year Later: Remembering Kendall Chun

One Year Later: Remembering Kendall Chun

Eliot Hack ’24 arrived at the base of Mount Katahdin last summer ready to complete a technical climb in memory of beloved Milton Academy teacher Kendall Chun. Mother Nature had other plans.

Rain forced Eliot to ditch his plans for a technical ascent—using rock climbing gear and heading up a steep path to the summit—and he instead hiked the mountain on foot, completing his first effort to raise money for access to public lands and celebrating the massive influence Mr. Chun had on Milton’s adventure-seeking students.

“Mr. Chun did so much for our community and for me, personally. I really wanted to honor him,” Eliot said. “He was focused on getting people out there and breaking down any kinds of barriers to the outdoors.”

Mr. Chun, who died April 26, 2022 after a recurrence of cancer, ran the school’s Outdoor Program in addition to his work as a computer science teacher and role as a Robbins House faculty advisor. His love for outdoor adventures was infectious as he introduced students to hiking, rock and ice climbing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, and more—regardless of their prior experience or skill level. 

TextLess, Live More: Merritt Levitan’s ’13 Legacy Continues

TextLess, Live More: Merritt Levitan’s ’13 Legacy Continues

Just a few weeks after graduating from Milton Academy, Merritt Levitan ’13 was on a bicycle trip across the United States when a driver, who was distracted by texting, hit and killed her. 

Merritt, a passionate and active young woman who loved the outdoors and spending time with family and friends, left a legacy of adventure, humor, and love that continues today at Milton and well beyond.

Several of Merritt’s Milton friends—Emeline Atwood ’14, Abigail Lebovitz ’14, Kaitlin Gately ’14, and Erika Lamere ’15—joined with her family to form TextLess Live More, a nonprofit whose mission is to end distracted driving and, over time, has evolved and expanded to promote digital wellness. The national awareness campaign, which has a chapter at Milton Academy, educates people about the effects of digital distraction, including the safety risks of distracted driving along with the overall impact of digital habits on physical and mental health. 

“Merritt set an example for all of us to live life to the fullest and to be present for others and ourselves in everything we do,” said Head of School Todd Bland. “A decade after she was taken—far too soon—from her beloved family and friends, we can still find inspiration in her joy, excitement for life, and her deep care for others.”

Multimillion-Dollar Gift Supports Math Education

Multimillion-Dollar Gift Supports Math Education

As the parents of two Upper School students, trustee Shadi and Omid Farokhzad P ’23 ’25 know the importance of having a space that inspires a modern approach to teaching and learning. That is why they made a multimillion-dollar commitment to create a new home for math at Milton. The new Farokhzad Math Center will move the Math Department from the cramped attic of Ware Hall to a modern, light-filled, renovated building currently occupied by Cox Library—which is moving to Wigglesworth Hall this year.

Humanities Workshop Panel Details Key Roles of Empathy, Community Connections in Public Health

Humanities Workshop Panel Details Key Roles of Empathy, Community Connections in Public Health

Welcoming experts in public health, two Milton Academy faculty members recently convened a forum to examine challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of supporting mental health—particularly among young people in our communities. 

The Feb. 6 panel discussion, hosted by Boston College High School, was the latest event in the Humanities Workshop series. A collaborative initiative connecting public, private, and charter schools, each biennial program explores a single social justice issue through the lens of the humanities—the academic disciplines including arts, literature, languages, history, society, and culture. Created in 2018 by Milton faculty members Lisa Baker and Alisa Braithwaite, the initiative currently involves hundreds of students and faculty across eight area high schools. 

The goal of the Humanities Workshop is to show students how key themes prominent in humanities studies—in particular, the importance of empathy and compassion—can be instrumental in working to solve the world’s complex problems. 

Awareness is Key to Racial Literacy, Says Dr. Howard Stevenson

Awareness is Key to Racial Literacy, Says Dr. Howard Stevenson

“Racial stress is observable and resolvable because we can see it,” Dr. Howard Stevenson told Milton students recently. “And if we can see it, we can do something about it, but only if we face it in our own racial stories. Courage is in how much we ask about what we don’t know.”

Stevenson, the first of Milton’s 2023 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) speakers, gave Upper and Middle School students racial literacy strategies to handle the inevitable discomfort of situations involving racial stress and threat present in our everyday lives. When people are prepared with tools—including reading and recasting scenarios, locating where stress manifests in our bodies, communicating with ourselves and others, and deploying calming breathing techniques—they are better prepared to make just decisions. 

When people encounter conflicts related to race, they’re not just facing the facts of the moment: They’re bringing in a lifetime of internal and external factors that may influence their reactions, so awareness is necessary for a good resolution, Stevenson said. 

A Brave Space: MLK Jr. Day Speaker Régine Jean-Charles ’96

A Brave Space: MLK Jr. Day Speaker Régine Jean-Charles ’96

“In my view, the job of the formative educator is to make justice irresistible.”

So writes Régine Michelle Jean-Charles ’96 in her 2021 book, Martin Luther King & The Trumpet of Conscience Today. In the same passage, she describes helping a group of students process an act of police brutality they witnessed in Paris at the tail end of a course she taught there.

Jean-Charles, a Black feminist literary scholar, cultural critic, and university professor, had led students in a summer course called Paris Noir: The Literature and Culture of Black Paris, which covered Black culture in France from the 1930s to the Black Lives Matter movement. During their final week in Paris, students were unwinding at a nightclub when they saw French police officers violently detain a Black man. Following the incident, Jean-Charles asked the students to reflect on what they’d seen. It was a moment not only to care for their well-being but also consider the role they play in making a more just world.

Hong Kong Speaker Lisette Le Shares How Asian Immigrants Have Shaped Massachusetts

Hong Kong Speaker Lisette Le Shares How Asian Immigrants Have Shaped Massachusetts

Born in Vietnam, Lisette Le moved with her family to Akron, Ohio, at the age of 6, and was one of just a handful of Asian American students in every school she attended. She had to quickly learn English, losing some of her Vietnamese language skills except when she translated for her parents.

“There’s a major intersection among race, immigration, and class that shapes our country and our familial structures,” said Le, this year’s Hong Kong speaker. “My story is an individual’s story, but it’s in the context of systems and policy.”

Now a nonprofit leader with more than 16 years of experience in community organizing, civic engagement, and advocacy at the local, city, and state levels, Le shared her personal immigration story and provided some history of Asian communities in Massachusetts. Milton is situated just a few miles from several communities with strong Asian and Asian American populations, such as its neighboring city of Quincy and the Dorchester and Chinatown neighborhoods in Boston. Massachusetts has several enclaves of Asian communities, including Nepalese families in Somerville, South Asian communities in Central Massachusetts, and Vietnamese families in Dorchester’s Fields Corner. 

Holidays Mean Music

Holidays Mean Music

Join Milton Academy—either in-person or virtually via a live stream—to experience the Jean McCawley Orchestra and Chorus Winter Concert. This annual event is a celebration of music by the students of Milton Academy’s vocal and orchestral program. The concert features seasonal tunes to celebrate the holidays, alongside repertoire ranging from Baroque to Contemporary, and classical traditions representing a diverse range of cultures and geography.

Heyburn Lecturer Elizabeth Hinton Discusses Race and Protest

Heyburn Lecturer Elizabeth Hinton Discusses Race and Protest

Acts of rebellion and resistance in American social movements have received vastly different responses from police and mass media—based on the race of protesters—since the foundations of the country, this year’s Heyburn lecturer Elizabeth Hinton told Milton students. 

Hinton, an author and Yale professor who researches poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence in the United States, described the history of Black protest movements and their characterization as “riots,” even when they were peaceful in origin. In order to understand the disproportionate response to Black social movements, we have to look at history, she said. 

Milton Robotics Is On a Roll

Milton Robotics Is On a Roll

This past weekend, Milton’s Robotics Team—comprised of 11 students and three robots—attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s WAVE Tournament, a three-day competition against 78 other robotics teams from across the United States and Canada. One of Milton’s teams, self-dubbed Duct Tap & Dreams, advanced to the eliminations round and finished 16th in robot skills. Another of Milton’s teams, under the name of Moonrise, won the Innovate Award, one of the top three awards given to a team based on overall performance, organization, and teamwork.

In November, Milton’s Robotics Team also attended a VEX Robotics tournament in Framingham, Massachusetts, where our students competed against 45 schools from across southern New England.

Milton Academy’s Performing Arts Department Presents Lobby Hero

Milton Academy’s Performing Arts Department Presents Lobby Hero

This fall’s 1212 play is Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero, a dialogue-rich play set entirely in the lobby of a Manhattan apartment building. Directed by Performing Arts Department faculty member Darlene Anastas, the show features four main characters whose lives intertwine during the investigation of a crime.

“Lonergan is a Tony-award winning playwright who is known for his dialogue and how he integrates ideas and action into his dialogue,” Anastas said. “It’s a very naturally flowing play. It’s fitting to set it in the lobby of a residential building in Manhattan, where people from all walks of life are passing by. It deals with interpersonal interactions, some social issues with policing, and the personal issues of the ‘lobby hero’ whose life is on display for the whole show.”

It is the first 1212 play for Anastas, who has taught at Milton since 1981—she has always worked on the larger, main-stage productions. “It was exciting to me to work in depth with just a few students and to explore the issues the play has, which are very relevant today.”

King Theatre Gets Wicked Sketchy

King Theatre Gets Wicked Sketchy

On the main stage at King Theatre for the first time, the fan favorite sketch-comedy show Wicked Sketchy will feature funny sketches and musical numbers written and performed by students.

First performed in 2014, Wicked Sketchy began as a 1212 play—a Milton tradition named for the former room in Warren Hall where pared-down, intimate performances were staged—giving students an opportunity to flex their comedy muscles. Last fall, the show moved to an outdoor tent to accommodate audience restrictions during the pandemic; for the first time, the show had a stepped-up production, said director and Performing Arts Department faculty member Peter Parisi.

“We were able to see the impact that lighting and sound design had on the show, and it just raised the stakes,” Parisi said. “It’s certainly evolved.”

This year, the show has about a dozen sketches, including some musical numbers. Students brought their ideas for sketches to the group, and together they fleshed out the ideas. Writing comedy is hard work, particularly for a show with a broad audience of students and adults.
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TEDxMiltonAcademy Takes the Stage

TEDxMiltonAcademy Takes the Stage

The inaugural TEDxMiltonAcademy event filled King Theatre with ideas about belonging, health, climate, identity, and psychology, as six speakers from the Milton community shared carefully crafted and passionate talks on subjects of their choosing.

Milton junior Benjamin Siegel ’24 had the idea to bring TEDx to Milton after attending a TEDx conference years ago. Siegel, along with Bea Becker ’25, Grace Grady ’23, and Alexa Burton ’24, organized the event, licensing it through TEDx and soliciting applications from potential student, alumni, and faculty speakers. Together, they narrowed the speakers to six.

“Tonight is about community,” said Siegel as he introduced the event. “We were inspired to put on this event to shine a light on all the talent, creativity, and knowledge in the Milton community. Milton is full of people with diverse backgrounds and inspirational stories, some of which we bring to the stage for you tonight.”

Convocation Kicks off Academic Year with Celebration of Togetherness

Convocation Kicks off Academic Year with Celebration of Togetherness

Hope and unity emerged as the central themes of Monday’s Convocation, marking the official start of classes for the 2022–2023 school year. 

Co-head monitors Victor Chen ’23 and Robin Storey ’23 both encouraged their peers to make meaningful friendships and be themselves. Following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, such sincere connections are more precious than ever, both said.

Chen described feeling alone during his Class IV year, and said he started to build a sense of belonging after he came out of his shell and sparked a silly debate (orange juice vs. apple juice) in his U.S. History class that “put the Constitutional Convention to shame.” He encouraged students to embrace the things that make them unique and to pursue their passions.

“One thing I’ve learned in my time here is that whatever I put into this community, Milton will give back,” he said. “If you give this community your most genuine self, you’ll find the love and support that Milton provides.”

Milton is an ever-changing place, which allows students to grow, said Storey, who encouraged students to take advantage of the time and space they get to share.  

“Stick with what brings you hope, what pushes you to keep pushing, and will hold you when you fall,” she said. “The stress of life is inevitable, but the people you’re around make it worthwhile. I want us to find comfort in letting our guard down. We all have things to learn and mistakes to make. Let’s be the people we need, for ourselves and for others.”

In Memory of Mr. Chun: Arcade Games for All

In Memory of Mr. Chun: Arcade Games for All

If it was mechanical or electrical, Kendall Chun tinkered with it: He restored vintage radios, brought failing home appliances back from the brink, built his own electric guitar. If something he made or fixed could bring happiness to others, even better.

Chun, the electrical engineer-turned-Milton computer programming teacher, always had multiple projects going at once. His joy of creating something by hand was infectious, leading him and a handful of students to the off-campus Milton Makerspace, a warehouse where they could work on builds that extended beyond classroom projects. Notable creations include last year’s augmented-reality sandbox, and an arcade cabinet with a functioning program that would allow users to play thousands of classic arcade games.

“It started with Mr. Chun,” said Austin Kinnealey ’23. “He loved arcade games and he was so enthusiastic about this idea, so it caught on. It’s something that everyone can enjoy.”

Alixe Callen ’88 Appointed 13th Head of Milton Academy

Alixe Callen ’88 Appointed 13th Head of Milton Academy

Alexandra (Alixe) H. Callen ’88 has been selected by the Board of Trustees to be Milton Academy’s 13th head of school, effective July 1, 2023. 

Callen, a Milton graduate with extensive teaching and leadership experience in both public and independent schools, currently serves as the head of St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, a position she has held since 2017. 

Three Milton Football Players Recognized as Scholar-Athletes

Three Milton Football Players Recognized as Scholar-Athletes

For the first time, three seniors on Milton’s varsity football team were named Scholar-Athletes by the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame. Sam Jaffe ’22, Luke Thorbahn ’22, and Jackson Smith ’22 were recognized for excellence on and off the field.

“The award honors athletes who are not only great football players, but great students, and great kids,” said head coach Kevin MacDonald. “It’s also about the contributions they make to the school and the community at large.”

Lisa Donohue ’83 Recognized with Milton Medal

Lisa Donohue ’83 Recognized with Milton Medal

On April 30, the Board of Trustees honored its outgoing president, Lisa Donohue ’83, with the Milton Medal, recognizing her years of leadership and dedication during a significant period of growth for Milton Academy.

“Lisa’s incredible service to Milton clearly makes her deserving of this important honor,” said Board member Claire Hughes Johnson ’90, who will succeed Donohue as president on July 1. “Lisa served Milton during a critical period, and every time the school needed more from her, she increased her level of time, energy, and dedication to Milton’s success. Although Lisa credits Milton for its positive role during a formative time in her life, what is most impressive is her ability to separate the Milton of the past from what the school and the students most need today. Constantly guided by what’s best for the students, Lisa set an example for all of us.”

The Milton Medal recognizes extraordinary service to the school. Donohue’s integral guidance in the implementation of the school’s strategic plan—including its historic capital campaign Dare: The Campaign For Milton—has positioned Milton well for the future, said Head of School Todd Bland. In addition to her oversight of Milton’s strategic plan, Donohue provided sound advice and leadership during the school’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its transition to and from a remote-learning model.

Chicago Comes to King Theatre

Chicago Comes to King Theatre

The magic of musicals returns to King Theatre this month with a production of Chicago, Milton’s first live musical since the fall of 2018.

Director and Performing Arts Department faculty member Eleza Kort said the show—a satire of sensationalized crime in 1920s Chicago—was chosen for its spectacle and potential for escapism.

“We wanted to do something big, something fun, something with amazing music and cool and interesting dancing, and something with an intriguing plot,” she said. “I wanted a show with a little darkness, but that’s not too dark. We wanted to invite people back to the theater with something that will razzle-dazzle them.”

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