New Lower School Principal Frank Patti is spending this year building relationships with the faculty, students, and families who make up Milton’s kindergarten through fifth-grade community.
“I think that our youngest learners can be the most curious and excited learners,” Frank says of working with lower-school students. “It’s so incredible to be part of that process with them, when they’re asking questions and they really have the entire world at their fingertips. Being a part of helping kids get those building blocks that they will need in middle school, high school, and beyond is such a privilege, and it’s also a lot of hard work. Working with this age group, you’re beginning to see the kinds of young adults they will eventually become.”
Frank joins Milton after spending 15 years in New York City independent schools, beginning at the Collegiate School. Prior to arriving at Milton, he worked at the Hewitt School for seven years, where he served as the head of the lower school and dean of the faculty.
“I am delighted that Frank has joined us as Lower School principal,” says Head of School Todd Bland. “He is a gifted educator with extensive experience working with the faculty to assess and implement innovative curricula and has a proven record of advancing institutional diversity efforts.”
The move to Milton is a homecoming of sorts for Frank. He grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, and when he and his husband decided to move back to the Boston area with their daughter, he learned of the opportunity at the Lower School. Joy was palpable in the classes he visited, he says.
“The moment I stepped foot on campus, and the moment I was in the Lower School classrooms, it just felt very familiar to me,” Frank says. “There are a lot of similarities with Hewitt—everything from the quality of teaching, to the passion of the teachers I met, to the small class sizes and individual attention to students. It’s a rigorous environment but a nurturing one at the same time. I immediately felt at home.”
Milton’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion also attracted Frank to the School. Hewitt has been engaged in similar work, such as educating young students about social identifiers, providing multicultural education and activities, and working with faculty members on culturally responsive teaching.
Like Milton, Hewitt is a K–12 school, and Frank has experience with the benefits and challenges such a complex environment presents. The establishment of new traditions at Hewitt, including matching seniors with kindergarten “buddies” for moments throughout the year, has proved to be a unifying force at Frank’s previous school.
“At Hewitt, it had always been a goal to integrate the lower school into that K–12 experience,” he says. “Those partnerships between older and younger students can become really meaningful connections.”
Frank replaces Racheal Adriko, who led the Lower School for five years. Racheal is now head of school at Metropolitan Montessori School in New York City.
Undefeated and breaking records, Amanda “Ify” Ofulue ’19 wrapped up an amazing track and field season by winning the New England Championships (New England Prep School Track Association – Division 1) in both shot put (41′ 10″) and discus (129′ 10″). In both events, she broke Milton school records, and she set a facility record (Loomis Chaffee) in discus. Ify was also an ISL Champion in shot put, setting an ISL Championship record, and an ISL Champion in discus. She topped it all off with second place in javelin, scoring a total of 28 of Milton’s total 72 points, which placed the girls third overall in ISLs.
“In my opinion, she will be remembered as the greatest female throw athlete in Milton Academy’s history and in the ISL,” says Coach Steve Darling. “I don’t foresee her records being broken for a very long time, maybe ever. An athlete like Ify only comes around once in a lifetime. I’m just glad I was here to witness it.”
Ify was one of three captains along with Cianna O’Flaherty ’19 and Lily Wright ’19. “She’s been a great captain,” says Steve. “She’s always the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. Having Ify on the team is similar to having another assistant coach at practice, due to her maturity and her experience competing. Ify is very easy to coach, but what I enjoy most is that she is comfortable sharing with me her own thoughts and opinions regarding her technique, and therefore we both learn from each other.” Ify is attending Brown University this fall and will compete on Brown’s track and field team.
When people ask Josh Jordan ’11 how he came to know seemingly everyone at Milton Academy, the answer is a bit complex.
Many members of the Upper School faculty were his teachers, mentors, and coaches; now they’re his colleagues. He serves on the Staff Committee. He coaches several Upper School sports teams. He spent his college summers planting and landscaping the campus with the facilities department. He’s worked in the Middle School’s after-school program—a job his father, a Boston schoolteacher, also held at one point. Josh now spends every day in Lower School classrooms as a floating teacher and substitute, going where he’s needed by Milton’s youngest students.
“I like to joke with the kids that I have a stunt double,” he says. “I’ll pop into a classroom for a bit and then see the same kids minutes later when I’m on lunch duty. I’ll ask them if they’ve seen my twin anywhere. Having this versatility, I’ve been able to get to know every student from kindergarten through fifth grade, which I love.”
At the start of each school day, Josh helps students from kindergarten through Grade 2 get settled in, and he understands the importance of kicking the day off right. “A lot of times, I’m the first person they see at school in the morning. I realize how important that beginning of the school day can be, and if I can find a way to make them laugh and be silly, it’s the most beautiful thing. I want to get them off to a great start.”
As a student, Josh transferred from Randolph High School after meeting Milton football coach Kevin MacDonald during a summer football camp. The change was challenging at times, but as Josh settled into the School, he developed some lifelong friendships and had a transformative education with the help of strong faculty mentorship.
“It’s so amazing to come back and be able to soak up even more knowledge from these people who meant so much to me when I was younger,” Josh says. “I feel so lucky to see how they work together to make this place run.”
Josh’s best friends are fellow Milton alumni, and he sees similar friendships developing among the students he coaches. In the Upper School, Josh is the head coach of the JV boys’ basketball team, which finished the season in a tie for first place with a 16–4 record. He attributes their success to their dynamics as a team and their enthusiasm for supporting one another on and off the court.
“Most of them played together as freshmen, and some even played together in the Middle School,” Josh says. “They really all love not just the sport of basketball but being together. I could tell them, as an alumnus, my favorite times at Milton were with the friends I met in those moments. For this team, it’s led to success on the court.”
Josh is also an assistant coach for the varsity football team, head coach for the JV football team, and head coach for the freshmen boys’ tennis team. He helps out with softball when he can.
During summers at Salve Regina University, where Josh received a degree in elementary education, he came back to campus and worked in the facilities department. He loved the work and the crew, so he returned for the summer after graduation, and eventually a position opened with the Middle School after-school program. Substitute teaching opportunities brought him over to the Lower School, where his role has continued to evolve.
In the Lower School, Josh co-teaches CAFE (Cultural Awareness for Everyone), a weekly lunchtime drop-in session where fourth- and fifth-graders explore issues around different aspects of identity, such as ethnic and racial identities and privilege. This year, Josh presented a session on Afro hairstyles and textures, at which he shared a short film he and a friend made to highlight the significance of barber shops in black communities. He ended up sharing it across the Lower and Middle school communities.
Josh wants Milton’s youngest students of color to feel perfectly at home at school, which is why you might see him in Forbes Dining Hall having lunch with a group from the Lower School and some Upper School students he knows from coaching.
“There is a lot of power in that,” he says. “Having these older kids as role models feels really great. It’s not always formal, but being an alum and being able to make that space to form these relationships means a lot to me. And it’s an opportunity to build real connections across divisions, so the students can see this is a whole K–12 community.”
Writing awards were bountiful this spring for numerous creative and nonfiction writing students. Of the 28 Milton students who earned 45 regional scholastic writing honors in January, five were recognized at the national level. Caroline Bragg ’21 won a gold medal for flash fiction, Erika Yip ’20 won a gold medal for poetry, Sarah Hsu ’19 won a silver medal for flash fiction, and Clara Wolff ’19 won a silver medal for poetry. Notably, Akua Owusu ’19 won a silver medal with distinction for her writing portfolio, which consisted of nonfiction essays and eight pieces of poetry.
“One of the essays I wrote for my nonfiction class,” Akua says. “It’s about my father and his immigration story of coming to America from Ghana. It’s also about how I think about success and living up to expectations. When I first started writing in my English classes, it was hard to write about personal stuff, but now I’m comfortable writing about stuff closer to home. You gain confidence in yourself.”
Erika’s gold-medal poem was informed by her “new role as an upperclassman, inspiring me to rethink how previous years’ experiences shape my identity today.” “When We Are Old Enough” is an ode both to childhood summers and to mourning the loss of innocence as one grows older. The poem depicts scenes of purity and the speaker’s growing attraction to the mysteries of adulthood. As it progresses to the second stanza, the speaker describes fleeting feelings of love and lust. The short-lived moment is compared to “the fraying of telephone poles with the passing of countless summers.”
Malia Chung ’20 was recognized for two poems—“Digression” and “Seven Ways of Looking at Seven”—as a semifinalist for the Smith College Poetry Prize, an honorable mention for the Leonard Milberg Poetry Prize of Princeton University, and an honorable mention for the Nancy Thorpe Poetry Contest of Hollins University.
“‘Seven Ways’ is about my youngest sister, who was seven at the time,” says Malia. “There are seven parts; and each one offers a different perspective on questions she would ask me. It’s fascinating how the younger mind works: how she tries to understand big topics like politics or the passage of time. All the big and cool questions that little kids ask that you don’t expect.”
Evita Thadhani ’20 was also recognized by the Smith College Poetry Prize as a finalist for her poem “Life Rules.” And the poem “What My Mother Texts Me When I’m At School” by Hana Widerman ’19 will be in an upcoming issue of Washington Square Review, an award-winning literary journal published by New York University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program. Hana’s poem “Origin Story” will be published in Asian American Literary Review.
Over March break, Alex Wang ’21 represented his home country of China at the Youth Forum 2019 held by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Alex was one of 42 youth delegates from 33 countries who gathered in Vienna over three days to share their experiences and ideas on topics such as drug-use prevention and rehabilitation.
“It was so interesting,” Alex says. “Although I’ve lived in a few different countries, I’ve never been to an event with people from around the world. It was refreshing and informative to hear their ideas, and then to share my ideas.”
The forum was composed of workshops and discussions, culminating in the writing of a formal statement. Alex was one of two delegates chosen to read the statement at the opening of the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the organization that supervises the application of international drug-control treaties.
“Our conclusions were that young people should be engaged in the process and that youths can play a part in communities regarding issues such as drug control,” Alex says. “Last year, the youth delegates created a guide for member states, so in our statement we encouraged members to use that guide.”
One important lesson he learned, he says, was that the reasons for drug abuse may vary depending on the economic circumstances of a country. “In places where there is an absence of food, some people turn to drugs. In other communities, drugs are just easily accessible.
It’s important to first encourage some countries to raise the quality of life. In countries where that’s not a problem, the work should be on spreading awareness and early rehabilitation, because just focusing on prevention isn’t going to work.”
Along with computer science faculty member Chris Hales, Milton’s programmers attended the Teen Hacks LI Hackathon in Long Island, New York. Aaron Lockhart ’21, Sebby Park ’21, Tim Colledge ’21, and Aaron’s friend built an app called BiParse, which indicates whether a given article has a liberal or a conservative bias. They earned first place in the competition. Sur+, built by Zack Ankner ’20 and Alex Rodriguez ’20, lets users donate a certain percentage of every payment they make to a charity of their choice. They earned third place. Miriam Zuo ’20, Kendelle Grubbs ’20, and Shiloh Liu ’22 built Find Your Reps, an app that allows Americans to learn about their local representatives. James Perreault ’21 built CensorFlow, a parental-controls app for Google Chrome. Ben Botvinick ’21 teamed up with a friend from Philadelphia to build Charity Banner, which allows web developers to donate income from their web traffic to charity.
Students celebrated the Lunar New Year in February in Hathaway House by making dumplings, playing games, and spending time together. Joining them were nine Chinese students and their chaperone, who had all arrived from Shanghai as part of Milton’s new China exchange program. The visiting students attend the No. 2 High School of East China Normal University and were staying with student host families for their two-week visit.
This exchange program was organized by Shimin Zhou, a modern languages faculty member. During their stay, the Chinese students visited Boston sites including the JFK Presidential Library, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and Faneuil Hall. They also toured the campuses of Boston College and Harvard University, had lunch at Head of School Todd Bland’s home, and spent time attending classes with their student hosts.
In late May, nine Milton students traveled to Shanghai and shadowed their counterparts during classes and school activities, attended a variety of cultural events, and explored the exciting historical and cultural sites around Shanghai. In the third week, students traveled to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang and to Beijing to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. Shimin and faculty member Xiaolu Shi accompanied the students on the trip.
On a quintessential spring afternoon, the ultimate disc team warms up on Headmaster’s Field. White discs shoot back and forth as the players practice passing and wait for the return discs from their opponents. In the second year of an official intramural co-ed team, the majority of team members are new players. Coaches Martin McDermott and John Lee say Milton’s program is young compared with some of the more established school programs, but the students are having fun learning the game and improving with each practice and competition.
Alexander Shih ’19 is the captain and one of two seasoned returning players. “I like playing ultimate Frisbee because the whole sport is based around good sportsmanship and honesty, something called the ‘spirit of the game.’ It is the only sport I know of that is self-refereed. This is a testament to the honest and friendly people who play the game.”
Developed in the late 1960s, ultimate disc is similar to soccer in having the goal of moving the disc down the field in the air, and then into the end zone to score a point. The opponent can intercept or knock it down to stop the progression. The first team to reach 15 points wins. At practices, teams work on their offensive and defensive strategies; this is the area that Milton is focused on improving. Milton competes against a couple of ISL teams and also public high schools from surrounding towns.
“Most of the teams we are playing against will play us again later in the season,” Alexander says. “I am confident that we will show improvement from the beginning of the year. Everyone on the team is open to learning and working hard to become more well-versed in the strategies that we use in games. The biggest reason I enjoy playing on our team is because no matter how we are doing, everyone keeps a light attitude and we have fun. But at the same time, we are doing our best to improve.”