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On Centre

Seminar Day Connects Students with Thought-Provoking Experts and Activists

Journalist, author and cultural critic Touré ’89 returned to campus as the Sally Bowles ’56 Keynote Speaker for Seminar Day 2018.

“As journalists, our integrity is under assault,” said Touré, who hosts The Touré Show podcast. “Media people are deeply aware of the importance of trust; we are the cornerstones of democracy. Media people are obsessed with getting to the truth. These are people of high integrity and they take their duties seriously.”

Touré discussed his time at Milton and his rising activism at Emory University, where he started a black student newspaper. He told stories about getting his start as an intern at Rolling Stone magazine, eventually becoming a writer for numerous publications covering a wide range of artists from Eminem to Kanye West, Zadie Smith to Jay-Z.

“In my career it’s always been about truth, particularly adding complexity to black people. Giving them a voice to talk about what makes them amazing — their genius and the tactics they took to get ahead in life.”

Not one to shy from controversial topics, Touré, who has hosted various television programs, discussed what is happening in the media today — for example, how Fox News compares to MSNBC.

“The right-wing media give untrue information,” said Touré. “They lie to their audience all the time. This leaves their followers unable to understand reality. These are people pretending to be journalists, but they are propagandists.”

Touré said one fault of mainstream journalists is they don’t want to be perceived as biased or unfair so audiences get “false equivalence,” where two sides of a story are presented as equal, even when they are not. Touré cited news stories on President Obama’s birth certificate, where both sides were given equal play in the media even though only one side — he was born in Hawaii — was a factual truth.

“This is why the mainstream media had trouble covering the rise of President Trump. Even though he was speaking untruths, the media, for a long time, restrained from saying the L word,” Touré said, referring to lies. “They didn’t want to be seen as biased. It’s hard to have your industry denigrated all the time by the president. But the media need to continue to be as dogged as possible to pursue the truth.”

During the Q&A following his talk, students had a range of questions, particularly about the “divide” between liberals and conservatives in the United States, listening to both sides and whether Touré was espousing the “silencing” of one side. Touré answered, “We shouldn’t silence one side and we can’t. It’s not about silencing but reconciling. I would appreciate a more truthful dialogue.”

The Sally Bowles ’56 Keynote Speaker Fund fulfills the wishes of Sally’s family and friends that speakers come to campus who reflect the intellectual curiosity and rigor that marked Sally’s pursuits, as a student and a professional. Sally was focused on big, bold ideas affecting millions of people. She was on the team that developed the Peace Corps; she helped decentralize New York City public schools; she was the director of Medicaid; and ran Connecticut’s welfare programs. Over time, and thanks to this Fund, students listen to varying perspectives on issues critical to the health of society in the United States and around the world.

Twenty-two other experts and activists followed the keynote address, covering a wide range of publicly debated domestic and international issues. Among many topics, students could choose to learn about progress and challenges in pediatric cancer care; democracy in the Middle East; children living in homelessness; the plight of young immigrants; the value of investing in social progress; and the placebo effect in genetics. Many Milton Academy graduates and several parents were among the guest speakers, stimulating great questions and discussions.

Called the Keyes Seminar Day, this lively event 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 the 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 individuals who have made compelling choices. They are scholars, business people, scientists, educators, writers, political leaders and artists making a difference in the world.

Nancy Anderson Leads the Middle School

When students returned this September, a familiar face greeted them, but in a new role. Nancy Anderson, formerly Milton’s K–8 math coordinator and Grade 8 math teacher, has assumed the title of Middle School principal.

During the search process, Nancy researched and evaluated every aspect of the Middle School, from curricular work to student discipline, diversity and identity work to faculty professional development. Now in her sixth year at Milton, she stepped into the role fully committed to the Middle School, saying, “I’ve said many times, and I continue to say, ‘I want to retire at Milton.”

“After a thorough search, it was wonderful to find that the best leader was already part of Milton,” says Head of School Todd Bland. “Nancy has great educational vision, a calling to serve children and their families, a strong work ethic and an absolute love of middle school and its students — not to mention a wonderful sense of humor. We are thrilled to have Nancy step into this role.”

Nancy is a well-known math educator. She has published books, articles and multimedia professional development resources. She frequently speaks at conferences, such as the annual meeting of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics (NCSM). Nancy focuses on using discussion in math class, the value of mistakes in teaching and learning, and the development of teacher content knowledge. She co-authored Talk Moves: A Teacher’s Guide for Using Classroom Discussions in Math, and is lead author of its companion resource, Classroom Discussions: A Facilitator’s Guide to Support Professional Learning of Discourse and the Common Core, which was awarded a Golden Lamp Award in 2012. Her latest publication is What’s Right About Wrong Answers: Learning from Math Mistakes. She is finishing a book with Upper School mathematics faculty member Gregg Reilly.

“I’ve never met a more dedicated, dynamic group of colleagues,” Nancy says about Milton faculty. “They’re really good at what they do and no Middle School faculty simply teach content area and go home. They’re knowledgeable about issues related to diversity, they’re coaches, they’re advisors. They have a deep understanding about what it means to develop the middle-school student as a social, emotional being, not just a growing learner.”

The Middle School will stay committed to the best ways to teach students in all content areas, says Nancy, and renewing curriculum is work that never ends. “As the students change, the curriculum needs to change. We know that new research about teaching any subject is always coming in, so you can never say, ‘We’re done.’”

Nancy is also focused on how the Middle School works within the K–12 community. Many of its students come from the Lower School, and are preparing to enter the Upper School, so curricular programs need to align with what incoming students already know and what they’ll need to be ready to manage in high school.

“I will look for opportunities to expand coherence with the other divisions,” Nancy says. “We should take advantage of the benefits of being a K–12 school. The opportunities are there, and we need to seek them out.”

Milton Writers, Getting Published and Winning Awards

Jessica Wang

Numerous Milton students were recognized for their short stories and poetry this year. Senior Jessica Wang’s short story, “Child from the Stars,” will be published in Hyphen magazine. Founded in 2002, Hyphen is a nonprofit news and culture magazine that tells the stories of Asian Americans. Jessica began writing the story at the end of her junior year in her creative writing class, and continued working on it over the summer at the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio.

“When I’m looking for story ideas, sometimes I Google random things. I looked up the word for autism in Chinese and it translates as ‘child from the stars.’ So I wrote a story about two Chinese girl students in an all-white school; one is autistic. The other student is assigned to
be her translator. At first, she doesn’t want to become friends with her because she doesn’t understand autism, and sees her as a burden.
But as their relationship develops, they become better friends.”

This is not the first piece of Jessica’s writing to be recognized. In her sophomore year, she was a semifinalist for the Smith College Poetry Prize for “In the Kitchen with My Mother.” Her poem “Like July” was published in the 2016 edition of Apprentice Writer. Last year, she won Silver Key and Gold Key awards for poetry in the Massachusetts Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and this year she won three Gold Keys for her short story, poetry and writing portfolio.

Nine Milton students had fiction and poetry published in The Marble Collection, a Massachusetts high school magazine of the arts: Evita Thadhani ’20, Max Li ’18, Sarah Hsu ’19, Alex Millard ’18, Serena Fernanopulle ’19, Tatiana Meyer ’19, Jennifer Chen ’19, Hana Wideman ’19, and Alex Paul ’18. In addition, Evita, Sarah, Serena and Tatiana were selected to read their writing at the Marble Collection gala celebration that took place at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Malia Chung

Evita, who submitted a flash fiction story about a strained mother-daughter relationship from childhood to adulthood, said she enjoyed using the Marble’s offer of tutoring sessions with a college student via FaceTime. Evita also was named a finalist, along with Max Li and Malia Chung ’20, in the Helen Creeley Student Poetry Competition. Malia won the competition and was asked to read her poetry at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

Malia also won the Smith College Poetry Prize, a national contest sponsored by the Poetry Center at Smith College. At Smith, Malia was asked to open, reading her own poetry, for the renowned poet Marie Howe, who judged the contest.

Milton Math Student Competes in USA Junior Mathematics Olympiad

Qualifying among the country’s most competitive math students, Lawrence Kim ’21 represented Milton in the highly selective United States of America Junior Mathematics Olympiad (USAJMO).

Lawrence qualified for the USAJMO with high scores in a series of math competitions. He then sat for the nine-hour USAJMO over a two-day period, where he competed against fewer than 250 other students from the United States and Canada. The test consisted of six questions, for which Lawrence had to present essay-style mathematical arguments, and required him to work in a testing room away from all electronics and outside influences.

“I was really nervous, but at the same time, very excited to compete. It was the longest test I’ve ever taken,” Lawrence says. “There is a lot of critical thinking involved in the problems. On the first day, I solved the questions I knew how to solve and then went to work on the others. The next day, I worked on explaining my answers.”

When he was younger, Lawrence would borrow his older sister’s math homework and solve the problems on his own. Math competitions help him challenge himself and feel empowered to take risks, he said.

Milton’s Math Club is a great opportunity to explore new topics in math outside a classroom setting, Lawrence says. Recently, the club has learned about game theory and paradoxes. “I would encourage people to check it out. Some people think of math as just a school subject they have to get through, but it’s much more interesting than that.”

“Lawrence is at the level where he can think about math creatively,” says emily bargar, who coaches him on the math team. “He thinks like a mathematician.”

A handful of students scoring at the top levels of the Olympiad qualify for a summer math camp, from which an even smaller selection is chosen to represent the United States at the world level. Although he did not qualify this year, Lawrence intends to try again, and he has applied to summer math programs this year.

Heather Sugrue, chair of Milton’s math department and Lawrence’s teacher, describes Lawrence as a “fantastic student who is engaged in class and eager to dive into explorations.”

“His classmates know that he is a great resource, and they enjoy working with him. He is an unassuming young man who will happily work with anyone in a small group setting, and helps move conversations forward with good ideas,” Heather says. “It is very exciting to us in the department to have a Class IV student with this type of talent and interest. We look forward to finding more ways to support him and help his interests grow.”

Milton Academy previously was represented at the International Math Olympiad by Paul Valiant ’01, who competed at the world level three times.

Jennifer Anderson, Chief Communication Officer

Milton welcomed Jennifer Anderson as the School’s chief communication officer this spring. In her role, Jennifer will develop and implement a comprehensive communication strategy for the institution, including oversight of, Milton Magazine, parent newsletters and social media channels, leadership communications, and issues management.

Prior to Milton, Jennifer was senior director of communications services for Harvard University, and she worked for more than eight years in the university’s central communications office. She led a high-performing team of public relations, marketing, digital, and creative services professionals.

“We are delighted about Jennifer’s arrival at Milton,” says Head of School Todd Bland. “For years, our office of communication has been exemplary. Jennifer brings extensive experience and an ability to offer a fresh perspective at a time when communications, both at Milton and in the world, have grown increasingly more complicated. Jennifer will evaluate our current efforts, assess our position of strength, and make thoughtful and careful enhancements to the ways we communicate with alumni, parents, students, faculty, staff and friends of the School.”

At Harvard, Jennifer and her team managed university-wide marketing and branding, promoted faculty research and student life, supported crisis communications, and spearheaded internal and external communications campaigns on a range of academic and administrative priorities, including the arts and humanities, science research, campus planning and development, sexual assault prevention and response, and information security.

Before Harvard, Jennifer worked in public relations and marketing communications, including at SERMO Inc., a health care social networking company, and the University of Notre Dame. She also spent several years in academic publishing at Harvard University Press and the University of Missouri Press. Jennifer earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She and her husband live in Arlington with their two children.

“I’m thrilled to be at Milton, and for the opportunity to work with alumni, faculty and staff to support Milton’s academic mission,” Jennifer says. “In the short time since I arrived, it has been a privilege to meet and learn from so many members of the Milton community.
I look forward to deepening those conversations and working to ensure that Milton’s communications best support the institution’s current priorities and future aspirations.”

Meet Adrian Anantawan, Milton’s New Music Department Chair

Meet Adrian Anantawan, Milton’s New Music Department Chair

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.”

Festival Rolls Out Red Carpet for Milton Film Club

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.”

HUBweek’s Girl Hackathon Draws Milton Girls

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.”


How does fun figure in your life? Finding joy in the pursuit of an activity, or a craft or a skill, is valuable beyond its short-term pleasure. Play, even when it’s actually hard work, profoundly affects emotional balance, self-esteem, competency and drive. Play is a vital resource for successful people. In this issue, Milton Magazine brings stories about alumni ventures that have been labors of love. An observer might think their work looks like fun. Driven by a particular passion, these alumni end up pursuing creative work that is as challenging as it is rewarding.

We ask Milton students, as well, to describe how they find fun in their busy, committed lives.