Academic News

Governor JB Pritzker ’82 is the 2019 Graduation Speaker

Gov.-Pritzker-Official-Portrait-web-200x300JB Pritzker, Class of 1982 and the 43rd governor of the state of Illinois, will serve as Graduation day speaker on June 7, 2019.

“JB Pritzker is an extraordinarily generous spirit who has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of countless people throughout his community and beyond,” said Head of School Todd Bland. “Humble despite his huge influence, he is intelligent, relatable, and a kind-hearted leader—qualities to which we should all aspire. I am delighted to welcome him back to campus.”

Raised by parents who taught him to fight for progressive values from a young age, JB has spent his life advocating for social justice and working toward economic opportunity for all. He is a national leader in early childhood education, pursuing for decades the creation and expansion of early learning programs for low-income children. As a businessman and entrepreneur, he has helped create thousands of jobs. In 2012, JB founded 1871, a nonprofit small business incubator. 1871 brought together the educational and civic resources to support startup businesses, and so far it has helped entrepreneurs create more than 8,000 jobs and hundreds of new companies.

Committed to righting historical wrongs and fighting discrimination, JB has stood against hatred and bigotry throughout his life. He was a key supporter of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University, and he served as chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission. A descendant of Jewish immigrants, JB led the development of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, a nationally recognized institution where more than 120,000 students, teachers, police officers and others learn to fight bigotry, hatred, and intolerance every year.

JB was instrumental in helping to build Milton’s acclaimed Pritzker Science Center, providing students and faculty a state-of-the-art space that fosters inquiry and innovation. JB and his wife, MK, are the proud parents of a daughter, Teddi, and a son, Donny.

Symposium Kicks Off Night Of Science And Art

science-symposiumMilton students’ research projects were on display at the annual Science Symposium on Friday evening in the lobby of the Pritzker Science Center. The symposium kicked off a Science & Art night on campus, where students shared their work in scientific research, visual arts, performing arts and music—with some participating in a range of events.

“This is the life of the Milton student,” said Julie Seplaki, chair of the science department. “They’re skillful and talented scientists, artists, musicians and actors. Science and arts always had events on the same night, but this is the first year we’ve brought the two together as a way to recognize our students’ varied talents.”

The symposium featured research projects by students in advanced science courses, with topics in environmental science, physics, chemistry and biology. Students presented their findings with posters throughout the lobby, and visitors could scan each poster’s QR code to see each student’s full report. The evening creates a “buzz” in Pritzker as the presenters take pride in their work and younger students receive inspiration, Julie said.

“We have lots of examples of really creative and novel approaches to some of the research questions the students have developed,” she said. “This is a chance for them to see their own evolution in science, and where we see evidence of their conceptual and skill development.”

Some of the topics explored during the Science Symposium were:

  • Effects of historic, small dams on brook trout habitat, Milton, MA
  • Macroinvertebrate-based water quality index for Pine Tree Brook, Milton, MA
  • Separation and confirmation of lead in aqueous solution
  • Using polarimetry to determine proportions of enantiomers in a mixture
  • Photon wavelength impact on ejection speed of electrons from a metal surface
  • Impact of angular velocity and angle of precession on the orbital period of a bicycle wheel
  • Potential for E. coli as hemoglobin generators
  • Temperature effect of lysosomal activity in tetrahymena
  • Cytoplasmic streaming in slime mold as dictated by food proximity

The Science Symposium was immediately followed by Arts Night, as Milton’s visual artists displayed their work in the Kellner Performing Arts Center and concerts by orchestra students and vocalists lit up King Theatre. An improv show in King rounded out the night.

After a Season of Wins, Milton’s Robotics Team Takes on the World

roboticsCapping a year filled with resounding successes—including three high placements in a national tournament—Milton’s robotics team traveled to the VEX Robotics World Championship this week. Five students: Tony Tao (II), Christy Zheng (I), Avery Miller (II), Alexander Shih (I) and Dima Zayaruzny (III) competed in the world championship in Louisville, Kentucky.

Milton’s competitors have approached each match this year with positive attitudes, realistic about their chances against seasoned teams with more time to practice and work on their robots, Alexander said. That mindset has helped make their wins even more special.

“I am looking forward to seeing a lot of really cool robots and meeting really cool teams at worlds, including friends we met at nationals and states,” he said before the trip. “The most fun part about competing at these high-caliber tournaments, for me, has been meeting a lot of teams like ours, who are there to have fun and are not completely focused on winning.”  

The hectic and collaborative atmosphere at VEX competitions—competitors have to compete in intense matches as well as scout their opponents and the teams they pair with—has been easy to navigate because the team members work so well together, says Christy.

“I’m super proud of what Milton Robotics has accomplished over the last four years,” she says. “Every year, we’ve made significant improvement, but I never thought we would get the opportunity to compete at worlds. I can’t wait to see how big the robotics program will become in the future.”

Christy credits the team’s hard work with their success this year, as well as a renovated and expanded work space that was completed last summer, and the guidance of faculty members Chris Hales and Khizar Hussain. “They’ve also sacrificed much of their free time for Robotics, because they genuinely believe in us,” she says.

Competition in VEX Robotics is a three-season effort, says Chris. The 2018–2019 school year started with 20,000 robots overall, and students competed in various qualifying rounds to advance to next stages. At the nationals in Council Bluffs, Iowa, early in April, Milton’s three robots placed in the top 32, the top 16, and the top eight.

“It’s a huge deal,” for a team like Milton’s to be this competitive, says Chris. “We compete against teams who have robotics as part of the curriculum. Our team puts in the time after school and late into the night. They’re very talented, and they also work very hard. Compared to what we’ve done before, they’ve been very successful. They’ve proven to themselves that they can make it this far. Now their goal is to keep getting better.”

Olivia Wang and Beck Kendig Elected Head Monitors

head-monitorsLast week, newly elected head monitors Olivia Wang (II) and Beck Kendig (II) took up the mantle as school leaders from outgoing head monitors Asia Chung (I) and Michael George (I). Olivia, who is from Shanghai, lives in Robbins House. She is a board member for the Asian Society, an opinion section editor for the Milton Measure, and on the editorial board for the F-Word. She competes on the swim team and the track team. She also served on the Self-Governing Association (SGA) as a Class II rep. Beck lives in Wolcott House and he is from Marblehead, Massachusetts. He is an OBK tour guide, a co-head of the Style Club, and a writer for the Milton Paper. He is also a captain of the ski team, a player on the varsity soccer team, and served on SGA as class rep his sophomore year.

Over the course of two weeks in April, eight students—self-nominated—made their case to all students and faculty that they should be one of the two head monitors for the 2019–2020 year.

Olivia and Beck are already planning for next year and are focused on exploring options for the morning assembly system. As class reps, both have had experience with planning and running assemblies and know the pros and cons of that responsibility. They want to draw on their knowledge and improve the assembly experience for all students.

Olivia says they also want to “create a Milton that allows for more cross-grade and cross-cultural interactions. Sometimes you get closed off into small groups of your close friends. We want to create opportunities for more random interactions between students.” Beck says overall they want to “make Milton better with measurable, achievable change.”

Exploring Their Interests: Seniors Begin Projects in May

“The opportunities are virtually limitless. The system to be employed offers the broadest sort of curriculum, the complete freedom of individual expression,” Milton senior Sam Harrington wrote in the Orange and Blue in February 1969.

The student newspaper was announcing the faculty adoption of a concept now treasured by Milton students: the senior project. Over the last 50 years, Milton seniors have completed their coursework at the end of April, using the month of May to go “on project” to pursue a topic of their interest through research, community service, arts and performance, and shadowing professionals.

“We have some professionals who have worked with our students year after year, like Dr. [Curtis] Cetrulo ’88 at Mass General Hospital, Dr. [Gregory] Kechejian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Milton and Irene Li ’08, who owns Mei Mei Kitchen in Boston,” says academic dean Jackie Bonenfant. “We’re always open to parents and alumni who want to share their work with our students, because it’s an opportunity for them to see what’s out there.”

Seniors embark this week on a broad range of projects, including:

  • Shadowing surgeons, restaurateurs, architects, biotech workers and other professionals.
  • Developing a comprehensive app for Milton students including schedules, food menus and student activities.
  • Researching the physics of soccer.
  • Shadowing the Boston Celtics’ chief marketing officer.
  • Creating an art show exploring the African diaspora in Boston.
  • Studying sustainable residential architecture.
  • Interviewing people about (then reading) the books that changed their lives.
  • Filmmaking; writing, recording and performing music; writing poetry and prose; photography and more.
  • Sharing Hispanic and Latino culture in Lower School Spanish classes.
  • Volunteering at Boston-area shelters, schools and other Community Engagement Programs and Partnerships sites.

Senior projects culminate in performances across campus on Tuesday, June 4. A senior project fair, held in the Fitzgibbons Convocation Center, will be held on Wednesday, June 5, beginning at 1:15 p.m. An opening reception for senior project artwork will be held in the Arts Commons of Kellner Performing Arts Center at 3:30 p.m. on June 5. Presentations will continue from 8:30–10:15 a.m. Thursday, June 6, prior to the Prize Assembly.

Milton Football Players Recognized as Outstanding Scholar-Athletes

football_scholars-webMilton seniors Eddie Duggan and Jiho Mun will be honored as top scholar-athletes at the 44th awards dinner of the Jack Grinold Eastern Massachusetts chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame on May 19. The Scholar-Athlete award is one of the most prestigious in high school football. Eddie and Jiho were nominated for the award by Coach Kevin MacDonald.

Eddie started playing at Milton his junior year. “The coaches and players were so welcoming and helped me transition from playing quarterback at my old school to playing linebacker. Then I was captain my senior year, and although there were a bunch of ups and downs this season, it was great to lead the team and I wouldn’t change anything,” says Eddie, who will be attending Princeton University this fall. He will play tight end on the football team.

“Although we fell a little short this year due to injuries and not enough depth, I liked that the seniors still were leaders with what we had,” says Jiho, who was the kicker/punter. “It was still a memorable season.” Jiho is deciding between two colleges where he will continue to play football.

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