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On Campus
Summer 2000

 

News and Events from Spring Term

Living the Memories: Memorial Day Comes Alive at Exeter

Members of the all-male cast of "Journey's End" directed by Sarah Ream '75
"Memorial Day is not just the first day of summer," says Sarah Ream '75, a drama teacher. This spring students were exposed to the true meaning of Memorial Day through a week-long program of special lectures and performances. "World War I, which was the primary focus this year, forever changed the structures of our society and culture, and the historical significance of this event shouldn't be lost. Students need to know the true meaning of the Memorial Day observation."

With this idea in mind, Ream and a group of faculty members from different academic areas conceived The Memorial Day Project, an ambitious, campuswide reflection on war and peace that took place from May 22-29. "The week combined faculty from different departments and the talents of students engaged in a variety of different activities-all of them intended to inform our understanding of The Great War, and war in general," says Ream.

The keynote speaker was Robert Cowley '52, a renowned scholar of military history and author of What If?: The World's Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been, who addressed the student body during morning assembly. Cowley's thought-provoking address, tying into What If, asked students to consider a different outcome of WWI and the impact it would have had on Exeter and its students of the era.

The week went on to include special presentations by English faculty member Nita Pettigrew, who organized a student poetry reading of works from the WWI era; art instructor Sam Heath '72, who discussed WWI and its impact on the world of visual art; and a panel discussion entitled "Music and Society in Pre-War Europe and America." Two student productions centered around war, "Iphigenia and Other Daughters" and "Journey's End," were also staged in the Academy's Fisher Theater.

Activities culminated with the annual outdoor Memorial Day assembly, given by dean of faculty and history instructor Jack Herney, at the site of the Academy's Korean/Vietnam War Memorial. In this moving presentation, Herney placed PEA into the context of WWI by reading letters from the archives and a list of names of relatives of those in the community who perished in the war.

"What I think made The Memorial Day Project a success is the confluence of talents-the sharing of disciplines," says Ream. "It isn't often enough that students are exposed to unique perspectives on a single theme from different curricular areas such as history, theater, English, music and art. The faculty at PEA is so amazing, it was great to get everybody working together."

 


Technology Symposium

Members of the Exonian staff chat at the Technology Symposium

What is literacy in a globally connected world? How does Exeter keep up with and, even anticipate, the rate of technological change and incorporate it in what we do here? How might the Exeter educational experience reach beyond the Zip Code 03833?

These were just a few of the questions that were posed when the first Exeter Technology Symposium brought 19 friends and graduates of the school together on April 26 and 27 for 36 hours of intensive discovery and discussion centered on technology here at the Academy. Each member of this group had specific professional experience relating to technology and all were eager and ready to bring their knowledge to bear on the Academy's technological issues.

The first day of the symposium was spent gathering data. The participants then formed teams around clusters of inquiry and interest and spent the bulk of the day interacting in small groups with students, faculty, and administrators to examine what is happening at the school. At the end of the day, teams organized their findings, integrated external professional experiences, and outlined their insights.

Day two presented additional opportunities for research and for teams to summarize observations and outline thoughts. The formal program ended with team presentations to Principal Tingley, Academy administrators and faculty, and student members of the Academy's Technology Steering Committee.

The end product of the program was the Participants Report, which was reviewed by the Trustees at their May meeting and which will form the basis of conversations as the Academy moves forward in its technological expansion.

The best description of the event comes from trustee Will Reynolds '66, who initiated and, with Susan Keeble, associate dean of faculty, planned the program:

"The symposium was an excellent example of effective volunteerism in today's no-nonsense, action oriented world. Nineteen people took two days out of their busy schedules to bring their expertise and passions to Exeter to work on issues critically important to the school, and they worked hard. They got to know each other and all the terrific people at the school, and they delivered a report with valuable and actionable observations and recommendations. It was a terrific experience.

Schools across the nation are struggling with the role of technology in education. The path is littered with examples of flawed strategies, runaway spending, and disappointing results. In recent years Exeter has aggressively funded the construction of the campus network and is in a terrific position to leverage this investment in support of the school's mission. We are fortunate to have graduates and friends of the school with broad experience in technology who are willing to serve as a resource to the school as it continues to map out strategy and implementation of technology in support of life at the school-teaching, learning, and enhancing the residential life at the school.

The most significant opportunity and challenge is to ensure that every member of the Exeter community has the skills, motivation, and access necessary to take advantage of new technologies. There are already wonderful examples of how technology is extending the Harkness table to include more of the outside world. When everyone is connected and has mastered basic skills, many more exciting educational experiments can be initiated."

 


Whale Tale

Science faculty members Townley Chisholm, Chris Matlack, and Rich Aaronian.

When a dead whale washed up on a Cape Cod beach, it attracted a lot of attention. The local landowners couldn't wait to get rid of the eight-ton carcass before the smell got worse; the autopsy squad from the New England Aquarium and various Massachusetts agencies were eager to find out why this young male humpback had died; and the 20 members of the Whale Recovery Unit were ready to take the whale apart and extract its skeleton for an educational institution somewhere to display.

The Whale Recovery Unit consists of Dave Taylor, a biology teacher and wildlife rehabilitator, and his students from Triton High School in Byfield, MA. Dave had invited biology teachers and students from PEA to come along because he knew that we were hoping to get permission to acquire a whale skeleton to hang in the atrium of the Phelps Science Center.

This whale had died at sea about two weeks earlier, and its odor was pretty intense even though the day was cool and breezy. Dressed in our oldest clothes, rubber boots and rubber gloves, we watched the autopsy team work for a few minutes and then set to work under the experienced guidance of Dr. Tom French, the assistant director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for Massachusetts.

The whale was about 30 feet long and there was plenty of room for the autopsy team to dissect the internal organs while we removed jawbones, peeled back huge flaps of flesh with the aid of a winch, and hauled those pieces of flesh up above the high-tide mark for removal to the local dump. Our tools consisted mostly of professionally sharpened kitchen knives, a couple of flensing knives (huge blades on long wooden handles) and flesh hooks.

I started out on the hauling squad, and I can only describe the consistency of whale flesh as incredibly dense, similar to a section of chain link fence embedded in wet concrete. At every stage of the process there was a new marvel to see, from the big barnacles and delicate black and white patterns of the skin to the ribbing of the throat that allowed the whale to take huge volumes of water into its mouth as it filtered its food. When we had opened the body cavity we were able to help the autopsy team remove the great heart, as large as a beanbag chair and about the same shape in its collapsed state. The aorta was 6 inches in diameter and had walls an inch thick.

We were saddened to hear a member of the autopsy team point out the mercury-induced lesions in this young whale's kidneys and talk about how stress from some disease may have caused heart contractions so severe that the heart muscle itself died. There was no obvious cause of death, but the whale specialists took tissue samples to analyze, and we still hope to learn what killed this animal.

As Saturday afternoon wore on, we worked our way back toward the animal's tail, carving the dark red meat from the bones, loading the bones on the trailer, and dragging the flesh up the beach. The volunteer knife-sharpener worked constantly to keep an edge on our knives as we separated ribs one by one and freed sections of two or three vertebrae. Near the tail we could see the great tendons, each an inch thick, braiding together to form one enormous, wrist-thick cable on each side of the spine. These tendons connected the muscles of the back to the huge flukes so that the whale was able to propel itself efficiently and tirelessly.

As we cleaned up the site and prepared to haul away the bones, we felt very, very fortunate to have seen this whale's amazing anatomy firsthand, to have had the chance to work with the hard-driving, good-humored students from Triton High, to have learned so much from the autopsy team... and to have been told by Dr. French that since this whale didn't fit any other institution's criteria, we would probably be able to get permits for it.

The PEA members of the Whale Recovery Unit included teachers Rich Aaronian, Sydnee Goddard, Chris Matlack, and seniors Freddy Kullman and Reed Macy. On Sunday Rich Aaronian, Chris Matlack and I returned to Massachusetts to help Dave Taylor and his tireless students bury the bones in neatly marked beds of horse manure... six truckloads of horse manure. After a cleaning period in the manure, the bones will be bleached in the sun and then articulated to hang in the new building as a marvelous tool for teaching and learning about marine mammals, evolution and humanity's obligation to care for the natural wonders around us.

-Townley Chisholm

 

And the Winners are...Richard Heinrichs '72 and John Irving '61

Exonians win Oscars at the 2000 Academy Awards Presentation.

As a standing-room-only crowd filled with Hollywood's most glamorous and talented celebrities looked on and an international television audience numbering in the hundreds of millions sat glued to their sets, Exonians Richard Heinrichs '72 and John Irving '61 proudly strode the stage of the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium this past March 26 to accept their Oscars at the 72nd annual Academy Award presentation.

Richard Heinrichs took home an Academy Award for best art direction for his work on Sleepy Hollow (shared with set decorator Peter Young), directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci. Heinrichs, who studied animation at Cal Arts and worked as an animator at Walt Disney Studios where he met Burton, has been instrumental in the development and use of alternative forms of animation, particularly 3-D stop-motion animation. He has worked with director Burton in this capacity on the films Vincent, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Frankenweenie. Among his many other Hollywood credits are The Big Lebowski and Fargo (production designer), The Fisher King, Joe vs. the Volcano, and Ghostbusters II (set designer), Beetlejuice (visual effects consultant), and Pee Wee's Big Adventure (animation effects supervisor).

Author John Irving took home an Academy Award for best screenplay adaptation for The Cider House Rules, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Michael Caine and Tobey Maguire. Irving is an internationally celebrated author whose books are printed in more than 30 languages. Irving's first best seller was The World According to Garp (1978), and most of his novels since have achieved similar status. Among his other best-known titles are Hotel New Hampshire (1981), A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989), A Son of the Circus (1994), and A Widow for One Year (1994). Irving's newest book, My Movie Business, recounts his thirteen-year journey in seeing The Cider House Rules transformed to celluloid, providing the reader with rare insight into the tortured process of film adaptation.

Congratulations Richard and John!

 

Founder's Day Award

Founder's Day Awards
C. Robertson Trowbridge and David E. Thomas joined by trustee Willard H. Reynolds and principal Ty Tingley at Founder's Day ceremony.

Founder's Day Awards, presented at Assembly on May 19, honored David E. Thomas '69 (Hon.), one of the "Harkness giants," and C. Robertson Trowbridge '50, an alumnus with an exceptional record of service to Exeter. Recognizing "devoted service to Phillips Exeter," the awards are given annually by the General Alumni/ae Association. This year, they were presented by trustee of the Academy Willard H. Reynolds '66, chair of the Awards Committee. The Assembly was attended by members of the 50th reunion class, former honorees, and students, faculty, and friends of the Academy.

Thomas was a member of the classics department for 39 years and a former department chair. During a career characterized "by quiet grace, impeccable scholarship, and constant dedication," he touched the lives of countless students and modeled the highest standards of teaching and leadership for his fellow instructors.

In addition to his teaching, coaching, and dorm responsibilities, Thomas demonstrated his deep sense of commitment to Exeter by his acceptance of significant administrative roles; first, director of college placement, then dean of students, and, ultimately, clerk of the trustees. "In these positions," reads the citation, "you consistently modeled a compassionate and dedicated approach to leadership that won the admiration of all."

Trowbridge's devotion to Exeter is seen in countless venues, with much dedicated to the class of 1950. "That the class is strong, cohesive, and deeply devoted to Exeter is testament to your leadership, and that of other class volunteers who share your commitment," reads the citation.

His highest expression of commitment came when he accepted joint appointments with the General Alumni/ae Association and with the Exeter trustees. Here his talents proved so invaluable, he was subsequently appointed again, this time as term trustee-an honor shared by only one other G.A.A. president.

From the beginning, Trowbridge understood that academic excellence requires financial strength and he worked tirelessly to help maintain that strength. Today, as a member of the 1781 Society committee, he continues to advocate for philanthropic leadership on Exeter's behalf.

 



 

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