Adrian Anantawan has toured the world as a violin soloist and performed on some of its most prominent stages, but this year marks the beginning of a different kind of adventure: being a house parent to the boys of Forbes House.
“Sitting down at a dinner table and hearing young men talk about things that are really intellectual, at the same time they’re really having fun, is wonderful,” says Adrian, Milton’s new music department chair. “Getting to know them is a highlight.”
Adrian takes the baton from Don Dregalla, who retired last year after more than three decades of teaching music at Milton. Adrian is teaching the Middle School strings and winds, Upper School orchestra, Chamber Orchestra and general music in the Upper School.
Born in Canada, Adrian has been playing the violin since he was 10, and he performed professionally for the first time at 15. He has performed at the White House, in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in both Athens and Vancouver, and at the United Nations. Audience members have included Pope John Paul II and the Dalai Lama.
He received his undergraduate degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and earned graduate degrees from Yale University and the Harvard School of Education. His first teaching job was at the Conservatory Lab Charter School, a K-8 program in Boston. When Don announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2016–2017 school year, Adrian jumped at the opportunity.
“Positions like this are hard to find in music education, because people love working at schools like Milton. These positions rarely open up,” he says. “It was very happenstance.”
Adrian credits mentor Indu Singh, Milton’s dean of teaching and learning, with helping him to acclimate to life at Milton. The School has been accommodating of the performance schedule that he has had in place for more than a year, so he was able to go on a tour through Asia in the fall.
He describes his teaching style as one of modeling skills, not just in the technical aspects of music theory or performance: “One of the big things in music is modeling what listening looks like, how it feels, and what it means to have a dialogue. I’m much more interested in finding out where their interests might lie, versus prescribing things for them to think about. I want to give them the tools to express themselves in more forceful, meaningful ways.”
Adrian hopes to eventually increase student performers’ repertoire choices and explore different genres of music in classes, but noted there is a strong foundation in place at Milton.
“I think it’s important for the students to have a say in the work that they’re presenting to people,” he says. “I do think we’re going to have at least a year where we’re just doing minor tweaks and sustaining a culture that has been the legacy for Don Dregalla for the last 35 years.”
He also plans to continue his advocacy for music education for people with physical, cognitive and emotional disabilities, both at Milton and beyond. “Music should be a point in which those differences are actually strengths, not weaknesses,” he says.
Adrian, who was born without a right hand, started playing the violin at his parents’ encouragement.
“I think we started with the idea of me playing the recorder, but I didn’t have enough fingers. So, we thought maybe I could study voice? But I didn’t have a great voice,” Adrian says. “Trumpet? It’s too loud. I think we chose violin not because it was necessarily the most practical instrument to adapt to one hand, but my dad loved it and played a bit when he was younger. And I just loved the sound. The adaptations came afterward.”
Musicians with physical disabilities, especially when they’re just starting out, learn that finding adaptive instruments can be prohibitively expensive, but Adrian believes that the music world can be more inclusive. Increasing representation of different abilities in music can help.
“Sometimes, we need to look for precedent,” he says. “And that requires research, but it also requires people who are in this field with physical disabilities and are producing music to really get out there and demonstrate that journey for others.”
When George Luo ’18 wrote his first screenplay at the end of his freshman year at Milton, he rounded up about 20 people who said they’d be interested in helping him make the film. Over that summer, interest fizzled, and George never made the movie—which is OK, he jokes, because “it was probably the worst screenplay of all time.”
A few more attempts failed; it was hard to manage the process alone. So, during Class III, George and some friends founded the Hollywood Filmmaking Club, which has lent structure to film projects, he says.
Last year, the club, which includes actors and students interested in directing and writing, worked together to make George’s film, Under the Wound, which was accepted in several film festivals. Over Columbus Day weekend in 2017, six members of the club went to New York City, where the 20-minute drama was an official selection of the All American High School Film Festival, an event that honors the best of high-school films from across the country.
“It’s a big festival,” says performing arts faculty member Shane Fuller, who advises the club. “It was cool to see the students taking on the project as their own and doing all the work. They did all the scheduling, filming, casting, lighting and editing. The film itself is terrific. The attention to detail is really great.”
Under the Wound explores the damage that unfurls from a single lie. George wrote and directed it; he had been inspired by a critically acclaimed Danish film called The Hunt.
After early missteps in making movies, George felt motivated to learn everything he could in film classes. Shane’s advanced filmmaking class created a film called Abstraction, which was accepted into several festivals; George, Conor Greene ’18, and Joey Leung ’17 won the best cinematography award at the Hotchkiss Film Festival in the spring.
The All American High School Film Festival is an opportunity to hear from established filmmakers, visit a college fair with a focus on film programs, and absorb the work of other student artists.
“I know that there are films that are better than mine, and I want to watch them,” George says. “I know that my next project has to be better than the previous one. That’s the standard I’ve set for myself. And I think for people our age, watching great films that are created by young people is excellent motivation.”
Milton students mentored middle- and elementary-school students at HUBweek’s Girl Hackathon, a Boston event that encourages young girls to develop a love of computer programming and coding.
Jessica Wang ’18, Charlotte Moremen ’19, Amaya Sangurima-Jimenez ’19, and Jen Zhao ’19 served as hackathon mentors. It’s not a competition; it’s a chance for girls to explore the possibilities of coding in a collaborative and supportive setting, and to be proud of their creations, says mathematics faculty member Emily Pries.
“The girls from Milton pushed the teams to think about different methods,” says Emily. “They identified the challenges the teams faced and helped them think about where in the code they could find solutions.
“It was a chance for the younger girls to show off. There were some fun glitches that are part of the process in demonstrating what they built,” she adds.
Girls’ interest in programming continues to rise at Milton. This year, a group of Upper School girls are mentoring students in the Middle School, which now teaches coding at all grade levels.
“It’s really exciting to see,” says Emily, who started teaching at Milton this year. “Having coding in the geometry classes is a good way to show what coding actually looks like, which is something creative and collaborative and driven by what you envision, instead of something out of a textbook.”
What’s exciting about girls learning programming at younger ages is that they don’t have any preconceived notions about what the programming world is “supposed” to look like.
“A segment of the programming world explicitly prides itself on being a boys’ club,” she says. “There’s a mindset that they have this secret knowledge, but the reality is that anybody in the world can be a programmer. Anybody.”
Clocking in at a minute over four hours, Chris Mehlman ’18 placed third out of 650 riders in the Vermont 50, a grueling 50-mile mountain bike race that involves an elevation climb of 9,000 feet. To put his amazing finish into context, the top two riders are well-known veteran winners on the mountain bike race circuit.
Chris says he started mountain biking in fifth grade, but didn’t start racing until his Class III year. He started with races in the New England High School Cycling Association. This led him to Back Bay Cycling Club (B2C2), a competitive cycling team based in Boston, where he has a coach.
“What I enjoy about biking is that it’s a big challenge both mentally and physically,” says Chris. “The training is hard, but I love having goals and something to drive me on. I also love how scientific biking is; it’s a nerdy sport. There is a lot of complex data in the training.”
Chris says the Vermont 50 is such a popular race, the 650 spots fill up in five minutes once the registration opens online. Another Milton Academy community member, Middle School Principal Will Crissman, an avid biker, finished third in his division.
As Chris starts the college search process, he is also thinking about his biking options for the future. There is collegiate cycling, but Chris says he “might want to continue cycling outside of college and see where I can get to.” In the summer of 2017, he competed in his first nationals in West Virginia and finished 19th in the country.
This spring, four students represented Milton for the first time in the National Economics Challenge, after winning their division in the statewide competition. Class of 2018 students Jaime Moore-Carrillo, Dhruv Jain, Quincy Hughes and Jeffrey Cao were invited to the Massachusetts State House to be recognized as state champions. The first Milton students to compete in the challenge, they also placed 16th out of 35 teams in the semifinals of the David Ricardo Division in the national challenge.
Questions in the competition focused on economic theory, micro- and macroeconomics, and current events. Only one member of the team has taken a formal economics course at Milton so far. Jaime, for example, grew up learning about economics from his parents. For Jaime, the subject is the perfect combination of math, history and social science. “I’m interested in the decisions people make, and the factors that play into why they make them,” says Jaime.
Math faculty members Michael Wood and Susan Karp, along with history faculty member Mark Heath, helped the students prepare for and enter the competition. The team developed a study guide and worked together to prepare for the broad range of topics.
The study of economics “simplifies life,” says Quincy. “It’s an interesting study of how the world functions. It helps you understand and predict things that should happen under a certain set of circumstances.”
An epic sailing season ended on a high note when Milton placed third in the ISSA Baker Team Race Championship held in Norfolk, Virginia. The national race consisted of the top 12 teams from around the country. Milton qualified for the race after placing second at the New England team racing championship held at Bowdoin College.
The team also had great success in fleet racing—placing third in both the New England championships and the national ISSA Mallory Doublehanded Championship. The number-one-ranked team also won the Massachusetts State High School Championship. These accomplish- ments capped off an undefeated regular season in which the team went 20–0, losing only four races the entire season and winning every meet.
“Going undefeated was my proudest moment,” says Eli Burnes ’17, one of the co-captains of the team. “We had to be very focused all season, because every race counted.” Co-captain Ginny Alex ’17 said their biggest meet win was against St. George’s School.
The appearance at the Baker race was the first time for Milton Academy since 2007. The weather was not ideal, with low wind and intermittent storms. “We were disappointed that wind wasn’t better, but we have strong skills so that it didn’t hold us back too much,” says Ginny. “We all went in really wanting to win, but coming out of it we were still happy with our third-place finish. We’ve grown so much as a team. During our freshman year, our goal was to make it to New Englands by the time we were seniors, and now as seniors, we made it to team racing nationals once and to fleet racing nationals twice.”
For the first time, the Robotics Team competed in a national champion- ship, traveling to Council Bluffs, Iowa, for the CREATE U.S. Open of Robotics, one of the largest robotics tournaments in the world. Chris Hales, math and computer programming faculty member, accompanied six students from the team and said it was a great experience. Milton’s team came in 70th out of 250.
Senior co-heads Anne Bailey ’17 and Isabel Basow ’17 said one of the biggest surprises was the team spirit and enthusiasm displayed by all the attendees. “I expected it to be very serious. You work on your robot, compete, and just get it done,” says Isabel.
“But everyone was really into it,” says Anne. “They decorated their areas, hung state flags. There were ‘spirit bots,’ robots that were just for fun and would high-five you or throw candy as you walked by.”
The team competed with their robot “Tokyo Lift,” and despite a few technical issues that cropped up during competition, the team was happy with their performance. Anne and Isabel said they also took away some inspiration for the future.
“We got a lot of ideas for robot design,” says Anne. “And for the team in general. We learned a lot about team dynamics by observing how other teams work together. We saw different ways to distribute tasks and help rookies.”
Junior co-heads Truman Marshall ’18 and Carson Prindle ’18, along with Thomas Elliott ’18 and Sarah Hsu ’19, were the other members of the team at the championship.
John McEvoy ’82 is the managing partner of Neponset Bay Capital LP, a private investment fund. From 2003 to 2016, John managed corporate and asset-based investments in the aviation, shipping and paper industries for Wayzata Investment Partners, of which he was a founding partner. Prior to that, John was managing director and London group head of Lehman Brothers Communication Fund. He previously served as principal and partner of Soros Fund Management, after holding several credit-related positions at Prudential Investment Corporation.
John earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University and his master’s in management from MIT. He currently sits on the Americas Executive Board and Sustainability Initiative Advisory Board of MIT Sloan School of Management. He also serves on the board of directors and as a trustee of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities and Boston.
Father to Alex ’19, Leydn ’20 and James ’25, John and his wife, Aedie, live with their family in Milton.