Dr. Meika Tylese Neblett, Class of 1990, will serve as the 2021 Graduation Day speaker on June 11.
A physician executive at RWJ Barnabas Health, Meika earned a Bachelor of Science in biology and Spanish from Emory University, a Doctor of Medicine from Howard University College of Medicine, and a master’s in management from New York University.
Meika worked for many years in emergency departments throughout New York, and has traveled extensively to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Okinawa, and Ghana to practice medicine. She currently serves as the hospital chief medical officer, chief academic officer, and system lead for equity in clinical care at RWJ Barnabas Health in New Jersey.
Read more about Meika and her work confronting the COVID-19 pandemic in the Milton Magazine feature, Born to Lead.
Reflecting on an academic year of adaptations and changes, Milton faculty leaders are considering the upsides from 2020–2021 that may carry forward into post-pandemic teaching and learning.
“From my perspective, there are quite a few things that are worth keeping, including those skills around time management and how students navigate school,” Academic Dean Heather Sugrue said. “Did you communicate with your teachers? Did you ask for help when you needed it? We went down a path this year, which I felt was the right choice, of being flexible with deadlines. It felt like a key step because we were separating the ability to turn things in at a certain time from a student’s understanding of the material.”
In addition to some technological advancements and new approaches to teaching, the Upper School is preparing to launch a new schedule for the 2021–2022 school year that provides for deeper learning and more time for community building and work on issues of antiracism, diversity, equity, and justice.
Throughout this spring, parts of the Milton Academy campus have transformed into the fictional East High School, as performing arts faculty and students filmed scenes for the spring show, High School Musical Jr.
Opening virtually on Thursday, May 20, High School Musical chronicles the interpersonal comedy and drama behind the scenes of, well, a high school musical. The “junior” show is adapted from the 2006 Disney Channel movie of the same name, which launched the careers of actors Zac Efron, Vanessa Hudgens, and Ashley Tisdale, among others.
“Shooting this musical like a movie has been such a fun and interesting experience,” said Ingrid Krishnan ’22, who plays Gabriella, a shy transfer student who sparks a connection with star basketball player Troy, played by Ben Simpson ’21. “Before this, I did not have any experience doing film acting, so it has been exciting to work with the cameras.”
In preparation for the Gospel Choir’s annual spring concert, music director Briana Washington and choir director Lori Dow guided student musicians through a new exercise: Composition.
Working over Zoom, the student choir developed a song called “The Light,” an inspirational and urgent message calling for hope in difficult times.
Listen to a snippet of “The Light”
“Since we’re all dealing with this new setting of the pandemic, I thought, let’s do something original, something that shows our character,” said Washington. “Let’s write a song and see where it goes, no pressure. Once we got into the writing process with everyone in the virtual classroom, we thought of the message we wanted to send, which was uplifting and positive in the face of everything going on in the world.”
Lan Hai ‘23 participated in the Conrad Challenge, an international student-driven, project-based science and technology competition to solve problems with a global impact. Hai and two peers from her hometown of Shanghai developed, programmed, and retrofitted a sailboat to pick up plastic garbage while it sails. Their project, called SAIL-E, finished in the World’s Top Six in the Ocean Plastics Category.
Hai said their idea used “end-of-life boats,” which are sailboats that can’t be used by people anymore, but which contain fiberglass that is very costly, polluting, and inefficient to recycle.
History faculty member Steven Bachelor’s interest in history was sparked in fifth grade when a cousin, who was moving, gave him a collection of Mad magazines that covered the years from 1959 to 1975. “I was captivated by them, because they introduced me to U.S. history from a very satirical point of view, during a time when the U.S. was going through some monumental changes.”
In eighth grade, inspired by his Mad readings, he chose Watergate as his history research topic, much to his teacher’s delight. And this is when the idea began to form that he wanted to “just kind of read and think about history” and to teach it.
“The reason why I think history is so important is in a quote I love by Mark Twain: ‘History doesn’t repeat, but it often rhymes,’ because there are patterns to our behavior as humans that we can recognize over time,” he said. “The problem happens when people put these false distinctions in history, that they use as markers. For instance: This is the modern period. Or this is the pre-modern period. Or this is ancient. Those markers are actually the products of ideology and myth-making.”
Community Engagement Programs and Partnerships (CEPP) students have been hard at work this spring, volunteering with local public school students and senior citizens and helping meet important community needs.
The Taylor Elementary School in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood is a popular volunteer site for Milton volunteers in an ordinary year, but the challenges of COVID-19 have created an even bigger need for classroom help, CEPP Director and faculty member Andrea Geyling-Moore said.
“We’ve had additional requests for volunteers for the guided reading program at the Taylor School,” she said. “It’s called ‘Book Nook,’ and it was actually developed before COVID for the elementary students to read with a mentor side-by-side, but it works pretty well on Zoom. We have more than 50 volunteers working with the Taylor School.”
As the school year winds down, Milton speech and debate students are busier than ever preparing for the upcoming national tournaments at the end of May and mid-June. The National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Grand National Tournament will occur virtually over Memorial Day weekend with 18 Milton participants. The National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA) National Tournament will take place in mid-June, this year hosting 11 Milton students in the week-long competition.
Milton is coming off an impressive showing at the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League (MSDL) State Tournament where the team captured Second Place Sweepstakes overall, while earning several second-place honors in individual speaking categories. Student debaters also earned first place speaker awards in the junior varsity and varsity divisions of public forum debate. Additionally, in a separate competition, Can Yildirim ‘23 earned first place in the Northeast Qualifying Great Communicator Series, winning every round of competition (8-0) and securing the right to represent Milton Academy this coming summer in its national tournament.
The objects, photos, people, and places we choose to hold dear can help us keep memories alive and anchor us in our identities, students in Project Story: Narrative Journalism and Performance demonstrated last week.
Four students, Jack Burton ’22, Tanisha Dunac ’21, Amelia Solomon ’23, and Nate Stewart ’21, narrated the transcriptions of interviews they conducted with peers and adults at Milton. They compiled the narrations into a 30-minute original performance called Keepsakes, which was shared via video.
The difference between a good jazz musician and a great one comes down to one thing, award-winning jazz pianist Aaron Goldberg ’91 told students: “It’s the ability to play and listen at the same time at a really high level.
“It’s an experience you can only have by playing with other people,” he said during a webinar supported by the Melissa Dilworth Gold Visiting Artist fund. “The best jazz musicians can hear everything that’s going on around them and react and interact in the moment. The most important thing you can do to develop that skill is to play with your friends and concentrate more on what they’re doing than what you’re doing.”
When Heather McGhee ’97 left her dream job to set off on a journey around the country to explore racism and inequality, she was driven by “frustration with nearly 20 years of working to bring more nice things to more people in this country,” she said. “By nice things, I mean universal healthcare; childcare; paid family leave; reliable, modern infrastructure; a real, robust public health system; and well-funded schools in every neighborhood.”
Watch Heather McGhee’s presentation
Newly elected head monitors Emma Tung ’22 and Jack Burton ’22 took up the mantle as school leaders from outgoing head monitors Eliza Dunn ’21 and Garvin McLaughlin ’21. Every spring, Class II students self-nominate for head monitor. This year, eight candidates participated in a live Zoom Q&A with Upper School students to speak about their goals and ideas for the upcoming school year. Following the Q&A, candidate speeches were released on myMilton for students to view before voting online.
Both Burton, a day student from Boston, and Tung, a boarding student from California, said rebuilding a sense of community on campus is one of their goals. In his speech, Burton said he spoke about “how COVID-19 has been tough for our community, so it’s important for us to come together next year, meet and get to know new people, and bring back the traditions that we love.”
Tung said, “We want to focus on rebuilding our sense of unity as a whole Upper School, and bring back our school spirit because we lost that.”
Tung said another big focus is equity. “Equity in terms of students who want to speak out about unrest in the world,” she said. “Next year, we want to educate our community and make sure students feel comfortable and secure in the environment.”
Dear Upper School Parents:
Thank you so much for all of your generosity and support throughout the school year toward USPA meetings and events. We are most grateful for your time, attendance, and questions at meetings.
The following are the remaining meetings and events this year:
Wednesday, May 12, at 12 p.m. is the USPA Faculty and Staff Appreciation Luncheon.
Tuesday, May 18, at 7 p.m. is our last USPA meeting this school year. Rod Skinner will present, followed by our last board meeting at 8 p.m.
Monday, May 24, at 8 p.m. is a Class IV parents trivia night.
We are still seeking USPA volunteers for the 2021–2022 school year. If you are interested, kindly complete the survey that we sent to parents on Monday, April 26.
Many thanks and have a safe, restful, and relaxing summer.
Lee Peterson, USPA President
Teena Kamal, USPA Vice President
Graduation will be held on the lawn in front of Robert Saltonstall Gym on Friday, June 11, at 10 a.m. Each graduating senior may invite a maximum of six guests to attend the ceremony, all of whom will need to register prior to the ceremony and also attest to their health upon arrival to campus. This year, the School will assign seats and specify arrival times for each group of attendees. As with each year, Milton will stream the event live online for those who cannot attend. There will be no reception after the ceremony.
Guests will not be permitted to leave their assigned seats to take photos. A professional photographer will take pictures of each graduating senior. You will receive proofs over the summer, at which time you can decide whether or not to order copies. You are under no obligation to make a purchase.
Parking and traffic
We will make special arrangements for parking and traffic for Graduation. Please do not park on Voses Lane, Randolph Avenue, or Centre Street.
We have entered the season of celebrations. Each year we ask families to stand firm in discouraging risky behaviors, including the use of alcohol and drugs, that risk the well-being of those we celebrate. This year, we write with even greater urgency: Please comply with all laws regarding substances and with all guidelines for social gatherings. Individuals, including members of Class I, may not attend the Graduation ceremony if they are required to isolate as a result of a positive test or they must quarantine as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
Advanced Science Projects
Normally at this time of year, Milton’s Advanced Science students present their final projects at the annual Science Symposium hosted in the Pritzker Science Center. In lieu of the in-person event this spring, students instead created a website to share their work from this year’s courses. Visit the website here.
Milton’s athletes are competing on the fields, courts, track, water, and golf course. Under new guidelines, up to two family members of Milton Academy student-athletes may now attend outdoor on-campus home games. To view the athletic contests left in the season, visit the online athletics calendar.
Members of the Milton Academy Orchestra virtually recorded Elgar’s String Serenade, a piece composed in 1892. “This piece has a swaying lilt, starting with the march-like rhythmic figure with the viola section, followed by a sweeping melodic fragment that is developed throughout the rest of the strings,” says Music Department Chair Adrian Anantawan. “The piece is dark, nostalgic, and runs a gamut of emotions that has allowed our string section to challenge themselves technically and musically.”
On Friday, May 7, Milton hosted a film festival featuring the work of students in Shane Fuller’s filmmaking course. Written and directed by Dylan Arevian ’22, “Kinda Famous” is one of the short films featured at the event. To view more of the students’ work shown at the festival, visit here.
Parity in the Nesto Gallery
Emergence, Oil on canvas
Alumnus Mikel Glass, Class of 1981, exhibits several life-size, full-length portraits in Parity, the latest Nesto Gallery show running through June 10. Parity is about a show of contrasts within traditional portraiture—once an honor primarily bestowed upon those of power and privilege, Glass focuses equal attention on those without status to reveal their inner dignity to those who might otherwise choose to ignore them. View more photos of his work on display. Photos courtesy of visual arts faculty member Scott Nobles.
Giving Day 2021
Thank you for making Giving Day 2021 such a smashing success! Together, 866 parents, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends raised more than $1.3 million to support teaching and learning. Special thanks to our generous challenge donors, who galvanized donor support to make this one of our most successful Giving Days: Jason ’97 and Mary Dillow; Douglas ’58 and Cynthia Crocker; Molly de Ramel ’88 and Guillaume de Ramel P ’24; Yeng Felipe Butler ’92 and Charles K. Butler P ’25 ’33; and Ivan ’92 and Angie Ting P ’22, along with anonymous donors.
A Generation Looks Ahead
The past year has brought about difficult new realities. For those entering adulthood—dubbed Generation Z—a return to “normal” will involve fundamental change. In this issue, the Milton community looks toward the future and discusses how we will work, learn, laugh, cry, and live together in the decades ahead. Visit miltonmagazine.org or view the print version here.
La Voz is Milton’s student-run Spanish newspaper that includes news, opinions, regular departments, and reviews. The genre alone makes La Voz rare among school publications across the country, as does its continuous publication—four to five times over each school year—since the first edition in 1986. Visit the online student publication at lavozdemilton.com