Alumni News

Freshman Violeta Alvarez chairing citywide youth summit against violence

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Freshman Violeta Alvarez is chairing the 2012 citywide youth summit against violence on April 21. She and her sister, junior Perla Alvarez, are active members of the Multnomah Youth Commission, which advises the county and city of Portland on issues that impact the lives of young people.

The first part of the summit is for youth only to caucus, build community, and consider youth driven policy recommendations. Invited elected officials and community leaders are welcome between 2:15 and 3:45 p.m. to listen to youth’s stories of violence and engage young people in dialogue about how youth and adults can take steps to reduce violence in the community.

The goals of the summit are to:

Provide resources for youth to deal with violence they experienced and/ or currently experience in their lives

Inform policy makers with the experiences youth face regarding violence and provide potential policy recommendations to be considered

Educate youth and adults about Our Bill of Rights: Children and Youth and the importance of its implementation into all decision making arenas in the community

Bring diverse youth from across the region together to share ideas and experiences regarding violence and build a youth movement for social change

» Link to more information about the summit

» Link to Oregonian article

CatlinSpeak named best online high school newspaper

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The Upper School newspaper, CatlinSpeak, finished in first place in the best website category for the 2012 Edward R. Murrow High School Journalism Awards Competition. Junior Fiona Noonan won 3rd place in the best column category.

Each year, the competition recognizes the best student journalists at high schools in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Alaska. This year the committee received dozens of entries from high schools across the region. Washington State University sponsors the competition.

» Check out the current issue of CatlinSpeak

» Read Fiona's award-winning article

Robotics team qualifies for world championship

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Congratulations, Flaming Chickens!

The Flaming Chickens robotics team won both the field competition and the top honor, the Chairman's Award, at regionals in Oklahoma City. They will compete for the international title in St. Louis April 26–28.  The video below is part of that Chairman's submission.

Experiential week photo gallery

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Winterim, Breakaway, and Experiential Week

First through 12th graders spent one rainy, snowy, sunny week in March exploring a range of subjects and places. Catlin Gabel was on the go from learning to knit, sail, and sew to sailing, hiking, urban adventuring, and solving mysteries!

Photos provided by trip leaders and chaperones. Thanks!

Click on any photo to enlarge image and start the slide show.

Giving Back

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A new fund honors and remembers a beloved alumnus, RIck Fordyce '86

From the Winter 2011-12 Caller

Rick was a man who lived with intention. He went with the twists and turns like the rest of us, but he was always different. From the time we met in middle school, we all saw that. Catlin Gabel gave him the freedom to be himself, and he went for it. After school here he lived his life fully and literally inhaled the world . . . he took as much knowledge and music and art and as many people as he could into his life. He did not waste a minute.” – Friend and classmate Stephanie Sherwood ’86
Richard Anthony Fordyce ’86 was born May 23, 1968, in Portland. He entered Catlin Gabel in 7th grade and joined the Portland Youth Philharmonic Symphony as a first violinist. At Catlin Gabel he excelled in theater, arts, music, and science, graduating in 1986 as a National Merit Scholar. In 1990 he graduated from Brown University, magna cum laude, as a member of Phi Beta Kappa, with departmental honors. Rick received his JD in 1998 from the University of Texas School of Law at Austin, where he was a member of the Texas International Law Journal and a recipient of the Robert S. Strauss Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law. Rick served as intern in 1996 for the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio, Texas. He began his practice as an attorney with Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where he specialized in commercial litigation and appeals. He participated in trials and performed extensive research and writing, including numerous legal articles. His friends and family admired his amazing brilliance, great courage, strength, and infectious enthusiasm for life. A gifted musician who loved all kinds of music, Rick played many instruments and performed and composed in diverse styles. His passion for music and encyclopedic knowledge led to a huge vinyl library and CD collection. (Photo at right: Rick Fordyce '86 & Adam Furchner '86)
“Of all the education he received, his experience at Catlin Gabel was the most important and profound. This place meant the world to him.” – Rick’s father, Donald Fordyce
On Boxing Day, December 26, 2011, Rick died after a two-year battle with cancer. His wife, Emily Stewart Fordyce, and his parents, Nancy Ann and Donald Fordyce, survive him. In mid December Rick asked to have his memorial service at Catlin Gabel, with four classmates chosen by him to plan his service. On January 7, classmates, friends, former teachers, and family filled the Cabell Center Theater, remembering him as a gentle man with a brilliant mind. His delightfully whimsical humor and the sense of joy and wonder with which he greeted each moment were gifts he shared with all. His generosity of spirit surrounded all with warmth and kindness—he would point out what was so wonderful about any given moment and hold it up for all to see.
To honor Rick’s life, his parents have established an endowed fund named the Richard Anthony Fordyce ’86 Memorial Scholarship Fund. They want to ensure that Rick’s name remains connected to Catlin Gabel in perpetuity, and that students like Rick have the opportunity to thrive just as he did here.  



A Grove in Your Pocket

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Ken Tomita '96's company builds unique cases for iPhones and iPads

From the Winter 2011-12 Caller

The coolest little phone and iPad cases around, no exception, are made by Grove, the small company started by Ken Tomita ’96 and a friend less than two years ago. These bamboo cases, made by hand in Portland, feature laser-etched designs on beautifully finished pieces, glowing with natural oils. The designs range from trees, to sea creatures, to Yellow Submarines, to abstractions. People are nuts about them.
For four years before Grove became a reality, Ken successfully designed and built custom furniture. When he moved to a new workshop his future partner, designer Joe Mansfield, lived across the street. They struck up a friendship and spent time tossing a football around on the street and talking about design, their passions, and their ideas. Out of those catches and tosses, the Grove bamboo case was born.
“We actually didn’t put much thought into it or formulate a business plan. Sometimes instinct is the best way to go,” says Ken. “Both Joe and I were already successful entrepreneurs, so the risks of starting a business did not scare us. Our previous experiences were key to our success at Grove.” They take great pride that all aspects of their business are done in house: manufacture, shipping, website, marketing, and more. Today their shop employs 23 people, and they are hiring more. Ken’s brother Yuji Tomita ’05 has been with Grove since the beginning as web and software designer. One of their mottos: “We do whatever it takes to make the most bad-ass product possible.”
After nine months of development, Grove’s very first product failed. “Instead of pouting about it we saw it as a learning experience and rocked it on the next one,” says Ken. “The key to success is not talent but rather hard work and a positive attitude. We have a culture here at Grove where instead of focusing on the inevitable problems that arise and pointing fingers at one another, we focus on the solutions and work together as a team to get better.” Ken plans to diversify and add more non-Apple items to Grove’s line, many of which will be lifestyle-oriented. “Our team and principles are strong, and we are capable of anything,” he says.
“The value we add to the world in terms of jobs and our lifestyles is something I didn’t consider when we first started,” says Ken. “What I am most proud of is the company we have created, rather than our products.”  


An Indie Bookstore at the Heart of its Community

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Brad Smith '74 left a familiar life to own Paulina Springs Books in Central Oregon

 From the Winter 2011-12 Caller

For 25 years, Brad Smith ’73 was thoroughly engaged in his position as manager of the Community Food Co-Op in Bellingham, Washington. During a time when the worlds of natural foods and organic agriculture grew exponentially, Brad saw this member-owned business grow just as quickly. He had loved the intimacy and personal sense of accomplishment of the co-op’s early years, but that grew harder to attain when the staff expanded five-fold.
When the 2000s rolled around, Brad realized that it was time for a change. His work didn’t provide what it did before, his partner Randi was aching to relocate, and he wanted to be closer to his father, who had developed Parkinson’s and lived in Bend. They took the plunge, and moved to Bend.
Brad considered starting or buying a business. When he found out in 2003 that Paulina Springs Books in Sisters was up for sale, he had to consider some significant drawbacks, including its insufficient revenue, its location away from Bend, and the advent of the digital publishing revolution. He made his decision—to buy the bookstore. He had a personal affinity for the business and recognized its integrity, and he believed in the value of literature and literacy.
“The biggest positive element was the degree to which the bookstore was an engaged member of the community,” he says. “It took me back to the early days of the co-op. People coming in the store knew one another and knew the staff. This is not a good measure for selecting a livelihood, but in terms of how to spend the hours of one’s life, I feel it’s a pretty good one.”
Brad opened a second location, closer to Bend in Redmond, in 2007. The biggest challenge of making a move like Brad and Randi did was losing the relationships they had built in Bellingham. But he found that owning the bookstores quickly integrated him into his new towns: he’s served on civic boards in both Redmond and Sisters, and in addition he serves the broader community on the board of directors of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.
Independent bookstores have lost a large part of their market to Amazon and digital publishing. Brad says he is scrambling to re-invent the business so it can stay viable, and he’s not sure what the future holds. But he’s thankful for the rewards that lie in the kinds of personal interactions that small bookstores foster. “I get to know people—young and old, rich and poor— outside of my inner circle of relationships,” he says. “The relationships are not deep, but they’re real, and they evolve.”  


Alumni News, Winter 2011-12

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From the Winter 2011-12 Caller

A Resiliency Builder: Peter Chaille ’98 and his Tatoosh School

This issue of the Caller highlights resiliency, and we explore how it manifests in our alumni. Peter Chaille ’98 is lighting up the world with purpose as a Catlin Gabel “alumniary” (luminary alumnus!). Peter has drawn upon his experience as a student in outdoor education at Catlin Gabel to establish the Tatoosh School, which creates transformative learning experiences through field-based instruction and exploration. The school is part of a growing network of people and institutions committed to education and community in southeast Alaska. Tatoosh students earn college credits in ecology and policy during their six weeks taking part in an expedition, sea kayaking, camping in the backcountry, and exploring Alaska. They learn about the landscape of the Inside Passage, from why totem poles are carved to how a mountainside of timber was cut, and what the mountain looks like now. Peter says that participants forge lasting friendships, gain leadership skills to build on, and leave charting new adventures. We are proud of Peter!

Your School. Your History. Your Lifelong Community.

The results from the alumni services survey are in! We are pleased to announce that 30% of our alumni participated in the survey, with representation from each decade starting with the class of 1936!
• 58% stay in touch with faculty
• 75% feel the emphasis on grades was just right when they were students
• Class trips, Rummage Sale, and St. George and the Dragon were the three most-loved traditions
• The Caller and alumni emails are preferred communications from the school
• 96% listed financial aid as an area they would support if they had unlimited funds
• 35% live less than 25 miles from the school; 34% live over 1,000 miles away
• 84% selected as very important to them Catlin Gabel’s highly capable faculty, a tradition of knowing and understanding the individual student, and sense of community
Thank you for this feedback. This information helps us better understand our alumni, so we can continue to adjust our program and make it better. We look forward to continuing our connection with you.


A panel discussion in February explored creativity in education and in the lives of our alumni and families. Panelists in this Esther Dayman Strong lecture were alumni Peter Bromka ’00, product and marketing strategy,, Riley Gibson ’04, co-founder and CEO of crowdsourcing platform Napkin Labs, Michael Mandiberg ’96, interdisciplinary artist, College of Staten Island/ CUNY; parents of alumni Dr. William Long, who fundamentally reorganized trauma care at Legacy Emanuel Hospital, and Sherrie Wolf, noted Pacific Northwest painter and printmaker; current parent Dr. Brian Druker, developer of a revolutionary anticancer drug, Knight Cancer Center, OHSU; and moderator Denise Mullen, new president of the Oregon College of Art and Craft. The panel honored parent of alumni and former CGS staff member Joan Shipley.
Lauren Dully '91, alumni and community relations program director
Susie Greenebaum '05, alumni board president


Where Resiliency is Tested

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Three of our alumni in the military talk about their lives in a most demanding job

From the Winter 2011-12 Caller

By Nadine Fiedler


U.S. Military Academy, West Point 
Murphy Pfohman made a decision in her senior year that set her apart from her peers and on the road to an extreme of rigorous training and a changed life. She applied to— and was accepted by—the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. There she has been tested to her limits, and has discovered great reserves of resiliency and strength.
Murphy’s biggest shock came during “Beast Barracks,” the first seven weeks of basic training. The first day was brutal, with people yelling constantly at her and her fellow cadets, demanding they do things they didn’t know how to do. The second day, Murphy woke up to the 5:10 a.m. whistle thinking, “What am I doing? Why didn’t I do better research on this? I wanted to tell the squad leader that I want to go home, but I was too scared. Then I told myself I could do it,” she says.
“I focused my mind. I broke my day down a little bit at a time, until the chunks of time got bigger. I could do the next 30 seconds, and then the next 10 minutes, then the next hour and a half, then the next four weeks. It always ended up being way better than I thought, and I built confidence,” says Murphy. “Part of the reason I hung in was what my family instilled in me: I never quit anything without serious thought,” she says.
Murphy is now a senior at West Point. After her years of intensive preparation in Army life and increasingly responsible leadership positions, she intends to serve as an officer in military intelligence after graduating and attending the basic officer leader course. Intelligence appeals to her because of its cerebral qualities, and because all her teachers in the discipline were very much like her—calm, organized, and smart. “I have learned a ton about leadership. But the best thing about West Point is the people, and that’s the reason I stay here,” she says. “They all want to serve their country. Everyone has the best intentions and wants to do the best they can.” “At Catlin Gabel, when I told people I was going to West Point, they thought it was very out of the box, but they were supportive,” says Murphy. “I’m positive about my future.”


Former U.S. Marine Corps
Rupert Dallas joined the military right after his time at Catlin Gabel, enlisting in the Marine Corps and leaving for boot camp only 30 days after graduation. “Catlin Gabel prepared me to be a critical thinker, to rely on my reason and intellect. Being well educated was a gift, and I was happy to take it with me through my experience in the Marines,” he says.
His work in the Marines entailed risky and dangerous missions, and Rupert found strength in his dedication to the Marines’ mission, and to the people at his side. “Facing danger was not easy,” Rupert says. “Training only gets you prepared to do what is necessary, but the belief in what you are doing and the trust you have to put in the Marines who are with you will help you carry on, even when faced with the most dire of situations.”
“Learning quickly is key to survival,” Rupert says about the lessons he took from his time in the Corps. During his time with the Marines, Rupert developed profound convictions. “The courage of those who took the oath before me and those who took the oath with me was and always will be inspiring. I learned that some bonds can never be broken if they are tempered through sweat and tears,” he says. “I learned that by looking a person in the eyes when they give you their word, I can measure the character of that person. I learned that to protect my family and those who I love, I was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice, and I would do it again if asked. I take with me so many lessons learned and I use them every day.”
From 2002 to 2008 Rupert worked while he attended college, earning a BS in urban development from Portland State University and an MBA in management from George Fox University. It was difficult to do both at once, but Rupert says that the degrees have been invaluable to propel his professional life forward. After holding positions at Coca Cola and ECOS Consulting, he now works as client service director at Ecova, an energy and sustainability management company. “I believe that what I learned at Catlin Gabel academically and the life experiences I gained in the Marines are the foundation on which I live my life today,” he says.


Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
Sansarae Pickett went straight from Catlin Gabel to the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, then attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Her first tour was on the USS Whidbey Island, where she learned the foundations of naval leadership. After deploying to the Mediterranean, she was promoted to Surface Warfare Officer, having mastered, among many topics, seamanship skills and knowledge of weaponry and equipment on warfare ships.
Sansarae’s naval career has taken her off the coast of Somalia and to Bahrain. Today she is back at the U.S. Naval Academy, coordinating the visits of outside groups for events such as reunions and visits from foreign military delegations.
As a new officer Sansarae was much younger than many of the sailors and Marines she led on the USS Whidbey Island. She had to communicate the expectations of the commanding officer to her many charges and ensure the quality of their work. At the same time she was completely dependent on their engineering and maintenance expertise—and responsible for making sure they kept their lives in balance. “With attention to detail, and much trial and error, I soon gained the trust and respect of my sailors by being honest, remaining a superior, and not allowing myself to become a ‘friend’ to those who I worked and lived alongside every single day—no easy task in itself!”
Sansarae says her resiliency comes from her sense of integrity and responsibility, which her parents taught her. “Maintaining my personal sense of integrity has never failed me,” she says. “There were many nights in the pilot house of my ship with not a single object to look out for, and for five hours at a time I would stand on my feet guiding the ship to its next destination. I didn’t feel that I was any less happy with my responsibilities living a ‘Groundhog Day’ lifestyle. I knew I was doing something in support of an entity much larger than myself.”
Sansarae married Marine Buki Aghaji in November, and is now expecting their first child. She plans to transfer to the Naval Reserves to have more shore time to spend with her new family. “I would like to still be afforded the opportunity to serve my country, and advance as a proud officer in the Navy,” she says.

Nadine Fiedler is the editor of the Caller and Catlin Gabel's director of publications and public relations.


Sophomore Lawrence Sun advances to U.S. Physics Team semifinals for second consecutive year

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The American Association of Physics Teachers has announced the top students chosen to advance to the semifinal round of U.S. Physics Team selection. Approximately 3,000 students participated in the first phase of the selection process, the Fnet=ma Exam. Lawrence is one of 390 students nationwide to make it to the second round. He awaits the results of a second exam that is used as the basis for selection of the 20 members of the U.S. Physics Team.

Go, Lawrence!

Tuition on the Track community walkathon for financial aid

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A student-generated event

Letter from Kate Rubinstein ’12 and Brooke Edelson ’12

The English department developed the Agents of Change assignment 15 years ago, for the purpose of giving Catlin Gabel students an opportunity to employ their rhetorical skills to affect positive changes in the school community. For Kate’s Agents of Change assignment, she proposed a school-wide community walkathon fundraiser designated to tuition assistance. She and Brooke have worked hard this year pursuing the idea and planning the event.

Dear Catlin Gabel families:

Kate '12 and her 1st grade buddy, Ben, will see YOU on the track!

We are excited that the entire senior class passionately endorses Tuition on the Track and is helping us bring the walkathon to life.

The inaugural Tuition on the Track walkathon is on
Thursday, April 12, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Our goal for Tuition on the Track is to establish a new community tradition that follows in the footsteps of the Rummage Sale, which supported financial aid. We hope to raise $25,000 (one financial aid scholarship), while bridging school divisions and immersing the greater community in Catlin Gabel spirit.

Students in grades 1 through 12 will collect funds through an online pledge system and will be supported through a process similar to canvassing for the Rummage Sale. We are meeting with students in all divisions to explain the process and generate enthusiasm.

Our dream is for Tuition on the Track to become an annual tradition that makes it possible for students who could not otherwise attend Catlin Gabel to benefit from the exceptional academic and social experience our class has enjoyed together.

Thank you to all the students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni who are joining our effort. Thanks, especially, to the class of 2012, who have joined forces to organize the event and make this effort our senior class gift to the school.


Download the pledge form below. Print and complete the form as you canvass for pledges. Then enter the information online.

» Enter your pledge form data. 

» Parents, enter pledges for your younger students here.

Questions? Get in touch with us at

Warm regards,
Kate & Brooke
Tuition on the Track coordinators

Thank you, sponsors!




Two mock trial teams advance to state

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Twelve teams competed at regionals and two of the three teams going to state are from Catlin Gabel. That's a first! The Blue and White teams wil argue a case about a burn victim who is suing a coffee company after spilling a hot beverage on himself. The claims are negligence and strict product liability.

White team members are co-captains Talbot Andrews, Grace McMurchie, and Megan Stater, with Audrey Davis, Rachel Caron, Lauren Ellis, Mira Hayward, Harry Heath, Andrew Hungate, Fiona Noonan, Eli Wilson Pelton, and Henry Shulevitz.

Blue team members are co-captains Curtis Stahl and Terrance Sun, with Alexandra van Alebeek, Abby Doctor, Ian Fyfield, Trevor Luu, Chris Park, Tyler Quatraro, Emily Siegel, Elise Thompson, Mary Whitsell, and Brandon Wilson.

The Silver team, composed primarily of first-year won their first two matches at regionalsbefore losing a razor-thin battle with our Blue team. The following students very nearly advanced to state: Jonathan Bray, Tyler Perzik, Elise Thompson, Theo Knights, Nick Petty, Nama Rosas, Nick Rhodes, Liv Phillips, Anisha Adke,  and Will Rosenfeld.

Thank you, volunteer coaches Scott Thompson, Anushka Shenoy '04, Nell Bonaparte, Jim Coon, and Bob Bonaparte '73, and adviser Dave Whitson.


Gambol 2012 photo gallery

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March 3 at the Governor Hotel

Thank you, Paul and Pam Monheimer, for the photos!

Click on any image to start the slide show.

"Fools" photo gallery

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Upper School play

Neil Simon's comedy about a teacher sent to a Russian hamlet cursed with chronic stupidity for 200 years premiered on Broadway in 1981. In a race against the clock, Leon the teacher will become stupid, too, if he fails to break the curse within 24 hours. Should he leave? Of course. But he can't because Leon falls in love with a girl so stupid she has ony recently learned how to sit down. But in the end, love conquers stupidity!

Thank you, John Hamilton, for these photos.