Taking a Leap into the Unknown

By Owen Wolfson ’18

About a month and a half ago, I was on a PSPA panel. One of the questions asked was focused on how to further integrate students into the community, and how to make them feel fully included in Pingry life. After Mr. Conard listed off community events that aimed to bring everyone together, he passed the question off to me in order to gain a student’s perspective. The first phrase that jumped into my head was something everyone has probably heard during their college process: “It is what you make of it.”

I had heard this from college counselors, teachers, peers, parents, and just about anyone else who has been involved in my life, and it allowed me to see that whatever college I chose, my experience is truly what I decide it will be. However, I had never really thought of it in the context of my time at Pingry. When this jumped into my head during the panel, I dismissed it at first, only to come back to it and realize its truth.

That truth is that Pingry is a special place, and I think we, hopefully, all see that. But Pingry can only be so special on its own; it evolves into amazing when every opportunity and resource is taken advantage of, like when a genius math student takes the leap into photography and a star lacrosse player joins the Buttondowns.

Personally, I realize that a lot of my defining experiences here have been so important to me because I have taken that leap and have embraced Pingry in all its specialness. One of my greatest experiences, my time on the soccer team, would not have happened without that leap into the unknown. While high school soccer may have been a natural progression for me, I can look at some of my fellow senior teammates and know that without the perfect combination of ambition and blind faith, high school would have been a completely different experience for them. I can look at the field hockey seniors, the drama cast, or the Photo classes, and see the same lesson mirrored throughout all these vastly different groups. Every single one of these people’s lives would have been different had it not been for some sort of step they took. They embraced the uniqueness and greatness of Pingry and allowed it to create a life-long, life-changing experience for them.

The cheesiness of what I just said was perfect for that stage and that panel, but some of you might be scoffing and thinking, “Tell me something I don’t know.” To that I would say, I hope you don’t know all of this already. I hope you aren’t reading this and already looking at the title of the next reflection because you already know exactly what I am talking about. I say this because if you know all of this already, then you are done with high school. I truly hope the only people that can empathize with these things are my fellow seniors, because if you aren’t a member of the Class of 2018 and you think you already know what I am talking about, then you are both wrong and doing something wrong.

If you are able to see all of this without having even entered your senior year yet, then I contest that you have failed at living by what I said above: you have not truly made Pingry all that it can be for you. I feel I can say this with confidence because the only reason I realize all these things is because my time at Pingry is now over. Now that my time as a proud Pingry School lifer has come to a close, I feel as if I have gained an understanding of the true power of being a Pingry graduate, and I know that for those who don’t see it now, they will see it five years down the road, when they are trying to get a job and their Pingry diploma is what gets them an interview. Or ten years down the road when they are wearing a Pingry hat in some exotic place and they meet a fellow alum. I know Pingry has provided me with a solid foundation for a great future, but I also know that I will treasure Pingry much more for the invaluable experiences and memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. All of these thoughts have come in reflection, and the weight of them has only truly struck me because I am now able to look back at Pingry, and not around at Pingry. That is one of many things that makes saying goodbye so sad—that my fullest and deepest gratitude and appreciation for this school has only come in hindsight.

Lastly, to the Class of 2018, I would just like to say thank you. Whether you know it or not, you have done more for me than I could ever tell you, and so much more than I could ever thank you for. I know you are all going to amazing things in your life. I could say a lot more in this time, but since I started this reflection talking about greatness and passion, I figure why not close on the same theme. I have always loved this Pat Tillman quote, and feel that it perfectly encapsulates my, and Pat Tillman’s, message for the future: “Passion makes life interesting, ignites our soul, fuels our love, carries our friendship, stimulates our intellect, and pushes our limits.”

February 1st: A Day in the Journal

February 1st: A Day in the Journal

By Jenny Coyne ’18

This year I started journaling. Every night, after I finished up my WebAssign problem sets, English poetry journals, and French causettes, I would crawl into my bed and begin my nightly reflection. My journal was not littered with earth shattering insights or existential truths. It was not filled with the emotional toil of a teenage girl living in the suburbs. It was not a collection of doodles. So, what was it? What did I commit myself to writing?

Every night, I wrote strictly pragmatic reflections that described my daily actions; sometimes, the opening lines became rather tedious. Here a collection of my best: “Wow, I hate Church” (sorry Mom and Dad!), “What a day. It was Tuesday, but felt like a Monday” (how insightful, Jenny.), “Today was my first water main day!” (remember that?). The following pages of handwritten paragraphs document my day, describing classes, free times, sports practices, and homework.

I began writing with the intention of reading my journal in the future, jumping back in time to any specific day and being able to relive it in memory. As I was writing, this seemed like a far-off and distant goal. Spending time every night to record what seemed like the basic motions of everyday life was hard to do. However, now I have one of the first chances to reap the benefits of my strictly pragmatic journal. I want to share my journal entry from one of my favorite days of senior year: February 1, 2018.


TODAY WAS MY JOURNAL CLUB PRESENTATION! I woke up at 5:55 AM because I wanted to get to school at 7:00 for a 7:25 start. So, I showered, put on my outfit, and ate breakfast with Mom. In my new business look, I felt like a put together boss lady. I got to school at seven and made some last-minute adjustments to my slides (I actually changed the entire group delay dispersion section). Then I went down to the lab to get a beaker for the bent pencil refraction example. When I got back up to the faculty lounge at 7:05 for a 7:25 start, the room was locked, and there was no journal club member in sight. Finally, a member of the kitchen staff came in, and I started rearranging the furniture. Too bad that wasn’t done earlier!

As 7:25 approached, people started to trickle in, and guess who was the first to arrive? Jamie! With minty mint tea! BOI! A lot of my other friends came too: Josie, Shruti, Alexis, Sana, Clyde, Helen and Kevin Ma, Kassidy, Naiyah, and more! It was so cool to have so many of my friends there to support me. Wow, I love Pingry. I really wanted people to come, but I didn’t want to seem self-important. The presentation itself went well. I started out with an Oprah meme and diffraction grating glasses. Then we talked about light as a wave, reflection and refraction, and finally the paper itself: “A broadband achromatic metalens for focusing and imaging in the visible.” My presentation was just about 30 minutes long, a little too long, but I had fun! I was so touched that so many of my friends came (and brought my favorite tea!).

After the presentation I was floating on a high. Mom, Dad, and I went out to Starbucks for breakfast. We saw Mrs. Simon, mother of Alli Simon, and we talked about Handbells. At school, I had physics, Chinese, and math, along with a credit union meeting, iRT, and practice. A long but super fun day!

Because I loved presenting at Journal Club so much, I think that I might want to be a professor when I grow up. So now, I have three things: work at NASA, be an architect, and be a professor!


There are a couple of conclusions that I can draw from this entry, most of which are fairly obvious and you, as a reader, probably expect to see in a senior reflection. 1) At Pingry, I fostered amazing friendships that grew into real networks of support. 2) Clubs at Pingry, like Journal Club, give us all opportunities to deeply explore our interests and share our findings with others. 3) Starbucks is literally a breeding ground for Pingry connections. Talking to Mrs. Simon about Handbells was a highlight of my day!

To me, this journal entry reveals something much bigger. This journal entry was just another day in my life. When I was rereading this entry, I was shocked by the tone of normalcy. Besides the capitalized introductory sentence “TODAY WAS MY JOURNAL CLUB PRESENTATION.” and the “Wow, I love Pingry,” nothing in the entry communicated anything extraordinary. I never once said “This was an amazing day.” To me, presenting on premier scientific literature at 7:30, going out to breakfast with my parents, attending classes, meetings, and swim practice constituted a standard day. Looking back on it, February 1, 2018 would be considered an amazing day under nearly any circumstances other than my Pingry student perspective. It was a day that I decided academia could be a career, a day in which I was able to spend time with my parents, and a day in which friends loved and supported me, but to me it was a day that was filled with what seemed to be normalcy.

At Pingry, the extraordinary experiences are so often that they appear normal and average. In what universe does a seventeen-year-old hustle from optical physics to millennium handbells to the financial world to cancer mutation to swim practice? At Pingry, you can do it all, and it seems normal. However, on February 1, 2018, I groaned as I sat in bed and dreaded writing my entry for the day. I did not consider that day to be particularly extraordinary, and I even questioned if anything noteworthy had actually happened. Today, I know the answer. It is only with the perspective of time—and those seemingly tedious and dumb journal entries—that I have been able to appreciate the extraordinarily ordinary life that Pingry gave me.

Strength in Numbers: The Empowering Pingry Experience

By Alexis Elliot (VI)

On my first day of kindergarten, in 2005, as I walked up the mini ramp towards the Lower School gym, I was beaming with excitement. Our entire grade would be together for gym class. As we all changed out of our school shoes and put on our sneakers, our gym teacher Mr. Lafontaine’s voice boomed in the tiny gym. Within a matter of five minutes, I was instructed to “Squad 2,” and our grade was divided up into several unique “squads.” I felt so ready to take on the entire year with a group of people I did not yet know. The main purpose of our squads was to assign places for us to change our shoes and provide a main group to compete with in gym activities and obstacle courses. Looking back, little did we know that the idea of having a “squad” to take on obstacles and challenges would be the theme of the next 12 years we were about to embark on.

Whenever I give a tour or sit on a panel and someone asks, “How would you describe Pingry in one word?”, my immediate answer is always, “empowering.” Each person at Pingry finds a way to overcome challenges and obstacles in every way possible. My journey to being a senior and finishing out my Pingry career has been filled with challenges. Whether it was learning a difficult math concept, finding a way to work on a team project, or preparing for soccer preseason, nothing has come easy. But I am grateful that these challenges made me who I am today. And I am grateful that I had support from so many different places. One thing I love about Pingry is that we all lean on each other for support. Yes, individual growth is encouraged, but Pingry taught me that success feels so much better when it is shared with other people. My first glimpse into this truth was Lower School Field Day. As I dressed in all white for the White team and prepared to compete against the Blue team, I was always excited to see my team win. While there were many individual competitions, everyone got the most excited when their team came one step closer to victory.

As I entered high school, this support was evident on any sports team I played on or club I participated in. When I was a finalist in the Warren Buffett competition, the outpouring of encouragement and support that I received from my friends and teachers was so empowering. Everyone was excited to cheer me on, and it made me proud to represent Pingry as not only my school, but also as my family. Or when I ran down the soccer field, and my classmates would scream at the top of their lungs and cheer me on when I got the ball. Or on our Peer Leadership retreat when we all supported each other during the intense boundary breaking activities.  

Navigating Pingry, and especially high school, has not been easy. There were definitely days when I wished it would just be over and I could get a break from the stress and fast pace. But at those times, I remembered the community I was in and the support I had around me. Some of the best feelings would be walking down to the senior area and getting a big hug from one of my friends. Or when we’d just laugh so hard on the senior couches. Realizing how many close friends I’ve made over the years and the memories we created makes saying goodbye bittersweet.

I am also so grateful for all of the cool experiences and memories. I’ll never forget our trip to the Met in fifth grade or our middle school trips to DC and Philly. And I will always cherish the memories from our epic Spain trip sophomore year and our soccer trip to Italy senior year. Although my high school career is ending, I will always have memories like these to hold onto forever.

With all of these amazing experiences, people, and lessons, the main lesson I would say is to take advantage of the opportunities that Pingry provides. School is really what you make out of it, so try and capitalize on anything that interests you. I never thought I would start to play basketball as a senior, but it ended up being one of the highlights of my high school career. It sounds cliché, but don’t do an activity because you think you should do it or everyone else is doing it. Find things that make you happy even if you aren’t necessarily great at them. And my other piece of advice would be to always try and make yourself available for other people. It’s easy to fall into an individual mindset, but take time to branch out and make friends or check in on other people. Good relationships are so priceless!

I would like to thank everyone who made my Pingry experience so great and helped me along the journey. Thank you, Dr. Artis, who not only was an amazing advisor, but also was like a second mother to me during these past 13 years. And thank you to the wonderful teachers and supporters I had along the way: Dr. Pearlman, Ms. Martin, Mr. Nazario, Mr. Keating, Coach Lauren, and Mr. Lear. And thank you to people outside of school including Professor Fraser, my friends, church, and my family (especially my mom). Thank you Mom for always encouraging me every step of the way, and for being my #1 cheerleader. I could not have done it without the support of those around me, and I will be forever grateful to you all.

Learning to be Flexible

Learning to be Flexible

By Ethan Chung ’18

Throughout high school, I have often found myself struggling to find a balance between these two opposite tenets: “College is everything” and “Friendship is the most valuable thing in life.” I have sat through countless speeches delivered by my imperious grandmother, telling me to stop spending so much time with friends and start focusing on SATs. Alternatively, I’ve heard the opposite advice from my younger relatives to always make time for friends and never miss out on the opportunity to have fun. They’ve told me that I won’t even remember my struggles in Honors Physics, but I will remember the fun times as lasting memories.

I’ve spent so many restless hour-long bus rides to and from school making mental pros and cons lists on my imaginary yellow legal pad, debating which path to follow. Sometimes I lean towards the college-centered mentality because I’ll picture our class reunions and think that the only thing people will remember is your name and what college you went to. As seniors are about to graduate, we have to face the hard truth that we will be parting ways with so many of our friends. But just because we aren’t able to hold on to these relationships doesn’t mean that they weren’t vital to our high school experience or that these relationships are gone forever.

Finding the balance between college and friendship that was right for me took me nearly all of high school. And the best advice that I can offer underclassmen at this school is not what my combination was but rather that you should approach high school with a flexible mindset. I know that seems like a non-answer on par with Mr. Ross’s explanation for why Senior Prank Day is now illegal, but really the best attitude any Pingry high schooler can have is one that is curious and willing to accept change.

Don’t expect anything to be rigid and guaranteed. I used to be stuck in this awful mindset that if I participated in this activity or won this award, it would mean that I was guaranteed this other prize. I used to think college acceptance was a formula, and if I followed the steps, I would achieve my goal. But I realized that having that mindset is the absolute wrong way to approach life. Another terrible habit of mine was that I would judge people based solely on their accomplishments. Realize that you are more than a résumé!

However, at the same time, I’m not going to say that you underclassmen should feel bad about worrying about grades and extracurriculars. Instead, I will tell you that your classes and extracurriculars, for the most part, should be enjoyable. That same cliché career advice to do what you love is so applicable in terms of what you’re learning and what you’re doing outside of the classroom.

I was lucky enough to have found my passion for music before high school, and my love for music led me to so many wonderful opportunities to develop myself as a musician, travel overseas, and become friends with amazing people through concerts and orchestras. While I was exposed to a rich network of music-related opportunities and talented friends outside of school, in school, I noticed a clear lack of resources and interest for music.

I had to rely on myself and the few musically gifted Pingry students to help bring our interest in music to our school, which, to paraphrase from this year’s valedictorian, is just a bit heavily sports-centered. I have so many fond memories on the stage in Hauser. I’ll never forget playing “Let it Go” and “Smooth Criminal” in front of my peers, who returned the favor with so much enthusiasm and many cheers. I still remember playing on that stage for my benefit concert; I was so nervous until I saw how many of my amazing teachers and friends actually came to watch me play classical music on a school night.

My point is Pingry may not have everything that suits your interests, so you may have to rely on yourself to spread your influence to Pingry. There’s always a new club that could be introduced or a new program that you can help Pingry explore. Also, remember that this community of peers and teachers is comprised of some of your biggest fans and the closest friends you will ever have.

I know that Pingry isn’t perfect. The pierogi sometimes remain frozen, and the tofu is cooked in some highly questionable ways. And the administration can be frustrating too. But the incredible teachers and friends you meet make this experience unforgettable.

Listening to Unlock Pingry

Listening to Unlock Pingry

By Ouarida Benatia ’18

I showed up to my first day at Pingry in the September of 6th grade wearing the preppiest outfit I could think of: khaki shorts, a pastel orange shirt, and tennis shoes. I had gone to a Newark public school for my entire life up until then, and choosing my own clothes was a stark difference from the daily uniform I was accustomed to. Although I was still technically out of dress code, I remember feeling so lucky that I could wear anything I wanted to.

I had missed my bus so I was very late to my first class, which was Spanish with Sra. Lawrence. When I stepped inside Pingry, I was greeted by Ms. Egan, who knew my name and how to help and immediately stepped into action. She was a comforting source of warmth and I knew I had someone to fall back on then, which was reassuring.

When I stepped into class half an hour late, clearly out of dress code, and dripping from the pouring rain, I could feel all eyes on me. It dawned on me that I knew no one and this was everyone’s first impression of me. I tried to make a friend. I introduced myself to the person sitting next to me and reached out for a handshake, but my hand was so wet from the rain that they slowly retracted theirs. I can laugh about this now, but at the time, I deemed it one of the top 5 worst moments of my life. I began to wonder if I would ever fit into this foreign environment, and closed myself off from new interactions for a long time.

As the day progressed, I made many visits to Ms. Egan’s desk, asking her a wide range of questions to try to get the run-down on Pingry. She answered each question clearly and thoroughly, and assured me that I would get the hang of things soon enough.

Ms. Egan was right, and eventually I could focus on all the great things Pingry had to offer. These discoveries were admittedly surface level at first; they were all things you could find out on the Pingry website, such as the wide range of clubs we had or the fantastic help we got from our teachers or how fun our overnight trips were.

I also remember being so shocked at the diversity of food options at lunch, as I had eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a side of boxed chocolate milk every day for the past 6 years. I wish I had kept that gratefulness with me throughout my entire Pingry experience, because it was easy to lose sight of how lucky I was, as these privileges became the norm.

Throughout my middle school years, I would occasionally get detentions for things I can’t recall, and I would have to sit on the couch next to Ms. Egan’s desk. These detentions were where I actually discovered the most valuable thing Pingry has to offer. It was something you can’t just look up, but instead have to experience yourself.

The rule of detention is that you sit quietly and reflect on whatever it is that you did. Instead, I would chat away with Ms. Egan and anyone that walked into the office. I would ask about her personal life, and she would answer my questions, always followed by, “but Ouarida, I really shouldn’t be talking to you.” I realized through those detention talks with her and others that everyone is so much more complex than they seem — especially the people at Pingry.

Every single person has a lifetime of wisdom and experiences to share. As soon as I realized this, I began talking to everyone I saw, including teachers, students, maintenance workers, photographers, cooks, and the parents at the bookstore. And I got to learn so much about everyone. I gained a wealth of knowledge through small, unexpected moments of interaction in my days, and although they all started off as small talk, they are the moments I cherish most.

When asking Mr. Chilmonik how to pronounce his name while getting coffee one morning, he presented to me a thrilling history of the origin of names, 1920’s alcohol laws, and how his family tied into that.

When asking Ms. Easter about why she always responds “I’m blessed” to a “How are you,” she opened up to me about the setbacks she’s had in her life and how lucky she feels to be where she is now.

When waiting for another teacher during conference period, Ms. Torres and I shared the similarities and feats/frustrations of claiming two different countries as home in a relaxed but meaningful conversation.

I often hear people talking about how the assembly speakers we have at Pingry open their eyes to struggles they had never considered and stories they overlooked. Those speakers truly are extraordinary and I personally find myself moved by every speech I see. But you don’t have to wait for those special arranged moments to learn from the lives of others. I’ve come to understand that one of the best things about Pingry is that you can enhance your life at any time through the smallest ways. Something as simple as getting to know the person you smile at in the halls everyday can change the path of your life for the better.

Everyone at Pingry has an amazing story to share, and I am confident of that. It is up to us individually to seek those stories and take advantage of the wisdom in our community. It’s a type of education you have to facilitate yourself, and I think that it is also the most rewarding.


Class of 2018 College Placement

Class of 2018 College Placement

Zachary Aanstoots

University of California, San Diego

Arnav Agrawal

Cornell University

Alexy Alin-Hvidsten

Washington and Lee University

Naiyah Atulomah

Johns Hopkins University

Benjamin Barral

Trinity College

Ouarida Benatia

Northeastern University

Alice Berndt

Davidson College

Krish Bhavnani

Williams College

Alexandra Brauer

University of Virginia

Elle Braverman

Vanderbilt University

William Capanna

Villanova University

Jessica Carvelli

University of Notre Dame

Giancarlo Castillo

Gettysberg College

Hailey Cernuto

Villanova University

Jacqueline Chang

John Hopkins University

Alyssa Chen

Harvard University

Rachel Chen

Harvard University

Raymond Chen

Duke University

Dylan Cheng

Villanova Univeristy

Ethan Chung

Brown University

Henry Cohen

Arizona State University

Jennifer Coyne

Yale University

Josephine Cummings

Yale Univeristy

Namita Davey

Rice University

Sydney Davis

University of Michigan

Kamilla Deak

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Aidan Dillon

University of Notre Dame

Calvary Dominique

Northeastern University

Sara Donovan

New York University

Catherine Drovetsky

University of Chicago

Joei Drozjock

University of California, Los Angeles

Thomas Dugan

Villanova University

Colin Edwards

Rice University

Alexis Elliot

Harvard University

George Enman

Lafayette College

Jonathan Epifano 

Fordham University

William Fallon

University of Pennsylvania

Ryan Feely

Bucknell University

Malcolm Fields

University of Notre Dame

Jennifer Fish

Carnegie Mellon University

Mitchell Flugstad-Clarke

Villanova University

Alexander Fradkin

Drexel University

Ryan Fuentes

Yale University

Ami Gianchandani

Yale University

Isabel Giordano

George Washington University

Raquel Gomez

Washington University in St. Louis

Dhruv Govil

Washington University in St. Louis

Jacob Gruber

Tulane University

Mairead Higgins

Georgetown University

Lindsey Hogan

St. Lawrence University

Megan Horn

Washington and Lee University

Jonathan Huang

University of Pennsylvania

Maya Huffman

Williams College

Phito Jean-Louis

Morehouse College

Iman Khan

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Sehyr Khan

Wellesley college

Alexis Kinney

Colby College

Nicolas Ladino

Syracuse University

Neha Lall

Nova Southeastern University

Lindsey Larson

Claremont McKenna College

Clyde Leef

Georgetown University

Jared Lefkort

University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Li

Yale University

Rebecca Lin

Swarthmore College

Jeremy Lister

Northwestern University

Sophie Loesberg

University of Michigan

Emma Lombardo

Bates College

Michael Lu

University of Chicago

Ilana Lurie

Tulane University

Conor Mahoney

Washington University in St. Louis

Graham Matthews

University of Oxford

Colin McKinnon

Lafayette College

Aloysius McLaughlin

Dartmouth college

Apurva Memani

University of Southern California

Aubrey Molloy

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Brooke Murphy

Georgetown University

George Mychajluk

George Mason University

Chukwumaobim Nnaeto

Carnegie Mellon University

Mary Nussbaumer

Colorado College

Megan Pan

Princeton University

Matthew Parisi

Lehigh University

Madeleine Parrish

University of Chicago

Austin Parsons

University of Notre Dame

John Patterson

University of Virginia

Mitchell Pavlak

Johns Hopkins University

Kassidy Peterson

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Caroline Petrow-Cohen

Duke University

Bao Pham

Vanderbilt University

Jackson Proudfoot

Duke University

Alexandra Pyne

New York University

William Raincsuk

University of Notre Dame

Benjamin Ramos

Northwestern University

Nikhil Rao

College of William and Mary

Vineil Reddy

Duke University

Sanford Ren

Bucknell University

Lindsay Rispoli

Columbia University

Matthew Rockoff

Stevens Institute of Technology

Brandon Rosen

New York University

Channing Russel

Northwestern University

Shruti Sagar

Tufts University

Meghan Salamon

Boston University

Maxwell Sanchez

Northweastern University

Max Scherzer

Franklin & Marshall College

Avery Schiffman

Washington and Lee University

John Schuessler

Elon University

Cynthia Saxon Scott

Oxford College of Emory University

Sidney Shannon

Muhlenverg College

Sana Sheikh

Lehigh University

Tea Simon

Gettysburg College

Connor Smith

University of Notre Dame

Shea Smith

Princeton Unviersity

Matthew Stanton

Vanderbilt University

Kayla Stass

George Washington University

Myla Stovall

Wesleyan University

Jewell Strickland

New York University

Sean Tan

Williams College

Jordan Taylor

Spelman College

Jared Tiggs

University of Connecticut

Mariam Trichas

Cornell University

Wallace Truesdale

Columbia University

Melissa Tungare

University of Southern California

Benjamin Vazquez

Connecticut College

Alison Verdesca

Vassar College

Olivia Virzi

Northeastern University

Victor Volbrechtausen

Tufts University

Andrew Weaver

Franklin & Marshall College

Michael Weber

Bowdoin College

Jason Weiss

Vanderbilt University

Sophia Weldon

Southern Methodist University

Tyler Williams

University of Pennsylvania

Ryan Willsey

Wake Forest University

Owen Wolfson

Bowdoin College

Anna Wood

Middlebury College

Cameron Wright

Cornell University

Lauren Lindsey Yu

University of Pennsylvania

William Zhang

Williams College

James Zusi

University of Pennsylvania

as of:

June 4, 2018

Summer Never Looked So Good

Summer Never Looked So Good

By Kristine Fu ’19

This past winter had such unpredictable weather changes that we were left confused as to whether we should grab our snowcoats or umbrellas. After what seemed to be an interminable winter, temperatures have finally started to rise. Spring fashion at Pingry is typically marked by the onset of floral dresses, pastel colored skirts, and Lilly Pulitzer, but this spring, try something new! Culottes and trousers are in high demand this season for their versatility and comfort. Culottes are a type of pants that resemble a skirt. Less restrictive than black jeans, culottes have the same “flowy” feel as a skirt. Culottes comes in an assortment of styles: denim print, stripes, linen, and more. Many women’s trousers have a flared hem and some are more restrictive at the ankles. Another style of pants worth trying is Bermuda shorts. Despite its stereotype of being tourist clothing, Bermuda shorts have been reimagined. These shorts have a distinctive summer feel and come in a variety of prints, ranging from Hawaiian to gingham.

Here are some summer essentials:

  • The denim jacket can be paired with any dress or top. To make it unique, choose different styles like acid wash, distressed, cross ribbon detail or even personalized.
  • Since the so-called fashion rule mandates “No white after labor day,” take advantage of the summertime to wear white jeans with every outfit.
  • Sunglasses are not only essential to your wardrobe but also to your health! Protect your eyes in style by trying on classic Ray-ban aviators or even the ever-popular clout goggles.

In footwear, there are so many exciting new styles to try. Of course, Pingry footwear essentials include Sperry Topsiders, Birkenstocks, and Jack Rogers sandals.

Keep the following styles on your radar as well:

  • Mules are a style of shoes that have no back or constraints around the foot’s heel.
  • Slingback pumps are characterized by a strap that crosses behind the heel or ankle. These heels have a retro flair. Their 1-2 inch heels make them great for daily wear.
  • Espadrilles are marked by soles made of braided cord. They go well with any preppy outfit.
  • Slides have gotten a makeover this season. They can come with a variety of details: bejeweled, pearl detail, metallic, fringed etc.
  • Platform sandals give you an extra 2-3 inches in height and can be the perfect fit to any summer outfit.
  • Platform derby shoes are my current favorite shoes for its durability and polished style.
Boys’ Baseball Mid-Season Update 2018

Boys’ Baseball Mid-Season Update 2018

Led by Head Coach Jake Ross and Captains Max Scherzer (VI) and Nate Hefner (V), the boys’ baseball team has enjoyed relative success so far this year. The team currently holds a record of 5-4 in regular games and a record of 4-2 in conference play.

When asked about the team’s transition since last year, Hefner said,“although we lost a lot of players from last year, we have a lot of young talent, specifically in the sophomore class, that has helped us tremendously throughout the season.” He continued,“We are doing really well as a team so far and I am looking forward to the rest of the season, when we can hopefully win our conference this year.”

Regarding the team’s goals for the season, Coach Ross said the team is“still very much alive for the conference title. If we can win the remaining conference games, we have a very good chance at winning the Mountain Division of the Skyland Conference.”

The team is participating in the Skyland Conference as well as the NJSIAA group tournament as the regular season wraps up.

Boys’ Track and Field Mid-Season Update

Boys’ Track and Field Mid-Season Update

The boys’ track and field team has started the season off with a strong 1-3 record.

The team, led by Coach Mark Sepkowski and Captain Obi Nnaeto (VI), has many outstanding athletes this year. Coach Sepkowski noted that,“Zach Aanstoots (VI) is a school record holder in the high jump and the long jump. Austin Parsons (VI) was 5th last year in the State Finals and 6th this year in the Penn Relays javelin. Ben Vasquez (VI) is a top contender in the 800 M run.  Obi Nnaeto (VI) is the team’s fastest sprinter and a great long jumper.” Unfortunately, this means the team will be losing many valuable senior members next year.

Although these fantastic athletes will be leaving, Coach Sepkowski and Captain Nnaeto are optimistic for the future of the team. Nnaeto said, “The team as a whole is moving in the right direction … The future is bright as sophomore Amir Arnold (IV) is making strides in the long jump and freshman Henry Wood (III) is blowing the field away in the 1600m.”

According to Obi Nnaeto, the whole team worked “to improve on their times and try a variety of events” throughout the whole season.

Girls’ Softball Mid-Season Update

Girls’ Softball Mid-Season Update

The girls’ softball team has finished its regular season with a record of 10-13. Coach Chip Carver said that, in their last three games, “we played our best softball of the year.”

Captains Kassidy Peterson (VI) and Maddie Parrish (VI) stayed optimistic throughout the season. Maddie noted that “the most important goal I have for our team is for us to stay in the game until the end.”

Coach Carver commented on several players who have been performing well this year. Peterson has had 11 RBIs, and Parrish improved tremendously in her first year as the catcher, a highly demanding position. Angelina Meyers (V) leads the team with a batting average of 512, Jillian Bahr (V) is tied for the most runs at 12 runs so far, and Brynn Weisholtz (IV) had 6 hits in the last 2 games.

At the NJSIAA Group Finals, Coach Carver and the rest of the team worked to “finish the season strong!”

Girls’ Golf Mid-Season Update 2018

Girls’ Golf Mid-Season Update 2018

The girls’ golf team has started their season with an outstanding record!  The team, led by Head Coach Rob Mauer and captains Ami Gianchandani (VI) and Christine Shao (V), ended the regular season with a 14-0 record.  They placed third with a total score of 315 at the Red Devil Invitational on April 9th, and they finished third at Counties with a total score of 339.  

“We have a strong team this year,” said Captain Christine Shao (V). “Everyone on the team has great synergy and brings enthusiasm to every match or practice.”  

When asked about the team’s goals for the season, both Coach Mauer and Captain Shao said the team’s goal is to win the state title and have an undefeated record.  In one match against Bridgewater-Raritan High School, the team won 154 to 225, keeping them on track to meet their goal of a perfect record.  The golfers achieved individual victories as well: Coach Mauer noted that “Christine Shao (V) had a hole in one on the 11th hole” during this match.

The team had their first match on April 5th against Bridgewater-Raritan High School, and first home match on April 17th against Montgomery High School.  

Boys’ Tennis Mid-Season Update 2018

Boys’ Tennis Mid-Season Update 2018

By Walker Johnson

The boys’ varsity tennis season had an impressive start, with a strong performance at the Somerset County Tournament. Despite weather cancellations for six of the first fifteen matches, the team made the most of the school’s beautiful new courts with a 6-5 record to end the season.

When Coach Marion Weber was asked about her goals for the season, she replied, “The team is hoping to have a winning record, win the Sectional title, and move on to the group finals.” Led by captains Nikhil Rao (VI) and John Huang (VI), they had a very competitive season, especially at the Prep Tournament on May 10th.

At the Somerset County Tournament this year, Nikhil took home the title for third singles, and the team finished third in the tournament overall. Playing first singles was returning player, Derek Raskopf (IV), with Hugh Zhang (III) right behind him at second singles.

Girls’ Track And Field Mid-Season Update 2018

Girls’ Track And Field Mid-Season Update 2018

“Dominate” is the word girls’ track coach Tim Grant would use when describing his team. The girls’ track team had a record of 4-0 in their regular season . The team, made up of fifty girls, has also broken multiple records.

Caroline Dannenbaum (IV), Lauren Taylor (IV), Carol Ann Perry (IV), and Kierston Brown (IV) set a record for the 400 meter relay with a time of 51.61 seconds. Grace O’Mara (V) set a record for discus at 119’ 4”. Brown, Taylor, Avery Schiffman (VI), and Nikki Vanasse (IV) set a record of 4:13.62 for the sprint medley. Sophia Weldon (VI) and Dannenbaum set a long jump relay record of 33-9.75.

Four athletes qualified for the Penn Relays. Vanasse set two school records by running 3000 meters in 9:50.85 and running 3200 meters in 10:34.

The team shined at a meet against Somerville. Having lost to Somerville at the Skyland Relays, girls’ track pulled together and managed to beat Somerville with a score of 79-61.

They have dealt with some in-season injuries, but this team is “the best ever,” Coach Grant says.

Director of Institutional Advancement Mrs. Hoffmann Pursues an Exciting New School Leadership Opportunity

Director of Institutional Advancement Mrs. Hoffmann Pursues an Exciting New School Leadership Opportunity

by Rhea Kapur (III)

After 15 years of serving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, Mrs. Melanie Hoffmann will be leaving Pingry in June to take the next step in her career.

Mrs. Hoffmann will become the Assistant Head of School at the boarding school Vermont Academy. She credits Pingry for “preparing her to take on this next step in her journey,” saying that her long tenure at Pingry and all of the “opportunities and roles [she’s] taken on have really readied her to take on this new leadership role.”

Mrs. Hoffmann received a B.A. in both Art History and German from Hollands College. After graduating, Mrs. Hoffmann worked at the Smithsonian Museum’s Development Office, where she first developed her passion for consulting and fundraising. Upon moving to New Jersey in 1997, she worked for a year at the Central Park Conservancy in New York, after which she came to Pingry. From 2000-2005, Mrs. Hoffmann worked for the Museum of New York and for Ellis Island, and she also did some consulting. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Education in School Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and graduates in July.

As a good friend of Henry Stifel III ’83, for whom the Stifel Award is named, Mrs. Hoffmann first applied for the job of Campaign Manager in 1998 and talked extensively with Mr. Stifel about Pingry. She was initially attracted to Pingry after “really connecting with the Honor Code and all that Pingry stood for,” talking to Mr. Stifel, and conversing with then-headmaster John Hanley as well. Over her 15 years at Pingry, Mrs. Hoffmann has served as Campaign Manager, the Director of Major Gifts, the Interim Director of Development, and finally, the Director of Institutional Advancement. Among one of her biggest projects included the immensely successful “Blueprint for the Future” campaign of 2016.

When asked about memories from Pingry that she will forever carry with her, Mrs. Hoffmann immediately talked about regularly meeting with Honorary Trustee William Beinecke ’31, who recently passed away. “Getting to know him over the course of 20 years was truly amazing, and just realizing what an incredible person he was for the vision he had to move the school out to Bernards Township has been so warming and rewarding for me. It’s something I’ll never forget. He was such an important pillar of this community, and Pingry was really fortunate to have him.”

Mrs. Hoffmann will miss Pingry’s people the most after her departure. “I’ll forever cherish my experiences with the amazing faculty, alumni, and parents I have worked with over the years,” she said. Over her time at Pingry, Mrs. Hoffmann has enjoyed seeing the “composition of the student body evolve to include more racial and socioeconomic diversity” and generally watching the students thrive, as “they are a reflection of everything that goes on at this school.” She is also extremely grateful for Pingry’s community, support system, and “being able to reach out to anyone at any time.”

Mrs. Hoffmann encourages members of the community to “appreciate what you have, because Pingry has so much, and to enjoy every minute of your incredible time in this incredible community.


Thank you, Mrs. Hoffmann, for your longstanding impact on Pingry, and good luck during the next step of your career!

Four Faculty Members Embark on Exciting, New Chapters in their Lives

Four Faculty Members Embark on Exciting, New Chapters in their Lives

by Josie Jahng (V)

Several teachers are moving on from the Upper School after a few years.  

Mr. Paul “Woody” Garavente, also fondly known as “Mr. G” or “Coach G,” is leaving after three years of teaching in the Upper School. Since coming to Pingry, Mr Garavente has played a variety of roles such as a financial literacy teacher, a substitute teacher and a lacrosse coach to name a few.

Mr. Garavente has always “had a passion for business and economics” and he spent 29 years on Wall Street prior to starting his second career as a teacher. His experiences have influenced his approach to teaching financial literacy to Pingry students.

When asked about what he will miss the most about the community, Mr. Garavente cited “his interactions with all of his students.” He added that one favorite memories from his time here was the “end of the season banquet with the JV basketball team,” specifically when “he spoke to the players and the captains, Veronica Williams (IV) and Solape Fakorede (IV), gave speeches for him.” 

Next year, Mr. Garavente plans to tutor students and continue to coach lacrosse. His passion both in the classroom and on the field will be greatly missed.

Ms. Sade Jack, Upper School French teacher, is departing after one year. Working at Pingry has given her the opportunity to share her knowledge of and love for French with her students. Most importantly, she wants them to remember that “learning a new language is difficult, but altogether a very rewarding experience whose benefits far outweigh the cons.”

Ms. Jack said that she will miss her “students’ sense of humor,” especially since she loves to laugh, as well as the “warmth and support of the world languages department and from all the members of the Pingry community.”

Additionally, she really enjoyed all of the special assemblies that were held throughout the year, specifically the “Hanly lecture, the Chinese New Year assembly and A Conversation with Wes Moore Assembly.”

Next year, Ms. Jack plans to teach at the St. Andrew’s school in Delaware.

Ms. Anne Sher is also departing the Upper School after one year. For the past year, Ms. Sher has taught honors Geometry and coached the JV girls’ basketball team.
When asked about what she will miss about Pingry, Ms. Sher said she “will definitely miss her students the most, all 55 of them,” because she could “always count on them to make her smile and laugh, even on a long, boring day.” She added that she has seen “so much growth and change in them” and is very sad that she will “miss the rest of their high school careers and their continued growth and success.”

Ms. Sher’s favorite memory is coaching the JV girls’ basketball team because the team “had such a fun time and improved so much.” Even if the team lost, she said “the team would be cheering, screaming, and jumping up and down on the bench as if we had just won the NBA finals.” She appreciated the close-knit nature of the team and commented that it was “nice to get to know some of my students outside of the classroom and feel like part of a supportive and fun community.”

Next year, she is moving to Connecticut and will continue to coach basketball and teach Honors Geometry at a boarding school. Her enthusiasm for math and basketball will be missed.

Finally, Mr. Ryan Staude, also fondly known as “Staude,” will be leaving after two years of teaching history in the Upper School. Specifically, he taught World History 9 and AP US History.

One of his favorite memories from his time in the Upper School was “the end of the year surprise party that his period four APUSH class held for him this year.” He greatly appreciated their thoughtful gifts, including “their edited and illustrated version of ‘How the Soviets Stole Christmas.’”

Mr. Staude is “sad that he is leaving Pingry and will not see his current APUSH students graduate;” however he will “remember each and every one of them.” He wants his students to remember “that history matters and that it is relevant today” and most importantly, “don’t trust the communists.”

Next year, Mr. Staude will be the history department chair at the O’Neal School in North Carolina. His passion for history will be missed by many students.