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Class Notes Editor
Those with class notes, please contact:
Class Notes Editor
Greetings everyone! Here we are about to pass the one-year mark for COVID. Who would have believed such a year could happen? Judging from your emails I see many have adapted to a COVID lifestyle and are making the best of it. Flexibility, creativity, and a sense of grace and gratitude permeate your news. Thanks to all who have contributed. Here we go . . .
Kate Rabinowitz lives in East Hampton, Long Island, teaches at local schools and runs a memorial arts and wellness foundation for her daughter, Anna. The foundation recently joined forces with Kathy Eldon, the founder of Creativevisions.org, a nonprofit organization that supports creative activists who use arts and media to ignite positive change. During the lockdown Kate teaches online and has time to read again, practice yoga, make art, and take a few writing courses at Stanford University extension. Kate lives with Rameshwar Das ’69, who just finished the memoir Being Ram Dass (Sounds True Publisher). Das met the late Rameshwar Dass at Wesleyan while Dass was teaching in the graduate psychology department.
Frank Wood has lived in New York City since 1984 with his wife, Kay Gayner, who teaches dance for the National Dance Institute, and three cats. He sits on the advisory board of the Workshop Theater (artistic director Thomas Cote), which supports new works by writers of color. Though performance is mostly shut down in New York, Frank has been cast in episodes of a few of the TV shows following strict COVID protocols. He and friend Maddie Corman teach acting class on Zoom under the auspices of the Atlantic Theater Company. The memory of his dad, Robert C. Wood, Government chair for 10 years at Wesleyan, reminds him to fight the good fight every day.
Tim Brockett’s Wesleyan degree in earth science enabled him to mine more precious metals from the Rocky Mountains than he will ever need. And, now that he is retired, he is re-reading wonderful books written by incredible authors Hawthorne, Dickens, Defoe, Kipling, Scott, Hemingway and many more. All are included with the 1950s-era “Great Books of the Western World” and deal with the Human Condition in countless imaginative ways. He writes “Now that I have 40 years of adult living and experience, I can understand the authors so much better.” He has enough to read to keep busy for the next 40 years.
Jan Elliott and her early and world music group Ensemble Passacaglia released its second CD, A Tune for All Seasons in December. She bides her time during the pandemic teaching and rehearsing online. Ken Schneyer’s second short-fiction collection, Anthems Outside Time and Other Strange Voices, was released and received some very nice reviews. He is adapting to teaching remotely and writes he has very little time for much else.
Karen Adair Miller writes she is safe and healthy during these tough times and is fortunate to keep up with friends and family with Zoom. The fire pit, too, has provided opportunity for small get-togethers! She has taken advantage of the outdoor winter sports and keeps busy with downhill, cross-country skiing, skating, and snow shoeing.
Wayne Logan has recently published a number of books about the law, including the forthcoming Sentencing Law, Policy & Practice (Foundation Press), The Ex Post Facto Clause: Its History and Role in a Punitive Society (Oxford University Press), and Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification Laws (Cambridge University Press).
Hi everyone, not much to share this issue; not many classmates have responded. I wonder what all are up to. Perhaps it is pandemic fatigue and a wish to disconnect from computers. I know I have had enough Zoom meetings and Netflix to last a while. And though my cooking, baking, and bread making skills are greatly improved, I would so like to see a show, go to the movies, or simply hang with friends and family in person. All I can say is, “Ugh, enough already!” Fortunately, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. My new year’s wish is by the time this finds its way to your mailbox vaccines have become widely available and the country (and world) is on the mend. Here’s to hope!
On the work front: Mark Kushner is happy to report his daughter is a new onsite student at Wes, class of ’24, and hanging in there despite this weird year. After leading K-12 schools, both independent and charter, for the past 25 years, Mark is now co-leading the San Francisco Art Institute, a 150-year-old college whose past luminaries include Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Mark Rothko, Annie Liebovitz, Jerry Garcia, Kehinde Wiley, and many others. Give him a shout if you are in the Bay area.
Cheri Litton Weiss was ordained as a rabbi by the Academy of Jewish Religion. She is also an ordained cantor and founder of the San Diego Jewish Community Choir. In 2018 Cheri founded the San Diego Outreach Synagogue, an independent congregation. The mission is to offer accessible Judaism through prayer, music, education, conversation, community service, and friendship.
On the social front: Karen Miller’s daughter has postponed her wedding not once but twice! Karen’s daughter and her fiancé decided to elope and got married on the Green at Brown University where they met. Karen recently helped Sue Stallone Kelly move, and caught up via Zoom with Wes crew Tammy Rosengarten in Australia, Gretchen Millspaugh Cooney in Pennsylvania, and Barb Bailey Beckitt in Colorado.
Karen Hunt Ellis had two close calls with this year’s Californian fires. The northern flank of the CZU Complex Fire came within seven miles of her house but firefighters were able to stop it in time. A few weeks later her husband was evacuated in a Black Hawk helicopter while backpacking in the Sierras.
Stay safe, be well, and I wish everyone good health and many blessings in 2021. I hope to hear from more of you next time.
Laurie Hills | firstname.lastname@example.org
John Edwin Rankin ’83 passed away on May 2, 2020 at the age of 65. A full obituary can be found here.
I sit here in disbelief, thinking about what the new normal will be. I must admit I feel frozen. While those fortunate can resume work online or safely maintain social distancing at work, many I know are newly unemployed and worried about staying afloat. I am somewhere in the middle. Two in the morning is my least favorite time of day as my monkey brain jumps through too many what-if scenarios. I wish by the time you read these notes, the worst is behind us. I pray we have pressed the reset button to create a just and fair society for all.
Kirsten Wasson sends good vibes, “This is a scary time for all of us. I live alone—not easy. But it’s an excellent time to meditate on what’s really meaningful about life: observation of nature, appreciating friendship, gratitude for health.” Cori Adler started a Zoom dance craze in Seattle and declared Sundays 5:45-6 p.m. (Pacific time) as a Zoom Garden Dance Party. Ken Fuchs writes, “With all of Hollywood shut down, Kate and I enjoy our 18-month-old baby, Bella. She fills every day with laughter and love, which helps make these strange times quite bearable.” Jonathan Chatinover had “a Wesleyan swimming alumni Zoom chat in early May with Kay Robertson, Martha McNamara, Carol Freuh Russo ’84, Josh White ’84, Al Spohn ’80, Margot Schwartz ’85, Lisa Rosenblatt ’85, and former coach Pat Callahan ’71 and his wife, Anne Goodwin ’79. Kenny Gordon received the “Top Doctor 2020: NJ Top Docs Award” for his dedication, accomplishments, and devotion to patient care. Wayne Logan is sheltering in place in lovely Tallahassee, Fla., where he’s lived for the past 12 years teaching at FSU Law.
Life goes on, albeit remotely. Michele Deatrick is “chair and founder of the DNC Environment and Climate Crisis Council. I’ve transitioned from non-stop travel on a national listening tour to doing the same virtually. I’m leading the Council’s effort to craft bold, ambitious recommendations for the climate and environment planks of the 2020 Democratic Party Platform. As for shut-down activities, the highlight this week was growing alfalfa and radish sprouts. Son Alexander is taking a leave from Amherst to run Arati Kreibich’s campaign in New Jersey’s 5th congressional district, and daughter works at NIH specializing in infectious diseases.” Sheila Spencer writes, “Thankfully we are all healthy. I have continued volunteer work remotely, assisting first-generation and low SES students with college applications and career development through the community-based Neighborhood Youth Organization. I started my first Coursera class, Career Decisions, taught by the director of Wesleyan’s Career Development Center. I look forward to gaining insights for a career pivot as well as those that I can share with others. During these strange new times, I am thankful that social media has enabled me to reconnect with COL classmates Beth Ross, Sue Peabody, and Ann Wise ’82.”
Andrea Smith is a professor of Anthropology at Lafayette College, Easton, Pa. She and her son, Nathaniel ’13, live on a farm in rural New Jersey where they have spent the past several months mostly outside as they develop a minor egg and poultry business: building duck houses and turning their living room into a chick and duckling hatchery. Andrea writes, “While shifting classes to remote learning has led to some hilarious glitches, moving faculty meetings to Zoom has been surprisingly smooth and even welcomed.” Craig Edwards and family (wife Mary K, a tenured professor of English at UConn, 27-year-old son Jesse who lives nearby, and 24-year-old daughter Annie living at home) have weathered the pandemic in remarkably good shape, but as a full-time musician in a niche area (American roots music—traditional styles from Appalachian fiddling, blues) his income has taken a big hit. He is developing online lessons and performances and marveling at the tools available for such things. Additionally, he is gardening seriously for the first time in years. He started two Hugelkultur beds, “a form of permaculture based on old European sustainable farming practices. Once planted, tilling, weeding, and watering are minimal because the bed holds moisture like a sponge. Pretty cool!”
Emily Zhuvkov writes, “Before COVID-19, I spent my time between Panama and Berlin, where I was working on a series of cast bronzes. I am also in pause mode on a large sculpture commission here in Panama, waiting for things to reactivate. Meanwhile, I have moved online in my teaching roles as an adjunct art professor at Florida State University-Panama and head of the visual arts department at the International School of Panama. I design and facilitate residencies and workshops between artists and scientists, with the nonprofit association Estudio Nuboso, a nomadic platform for exchange between art, ecology, culture, and society.”
Catherine “Cat” Maguire and David Campanelli’s son, Keegan, graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Engineering. He has worked on projects in microgrids, grid modernization, renewable energy, and their intersection with software and cyber-physical systems.
Lastly, two-thirds of my trio graduated from grad school and are looking for jobs in public education.
Laurie Hills | email@example.com
Greetings from seasonally warm New Jersey! Not sure whether to celebrate or be concerned about the beautiful 60° January weekend we had here in the Garden State. I suppose it depends on which side of the aisle you are on. But I’m told to keep these notes nonpolitical, so all I will say is, “Yikes!” Wishing you light and love in the coming decade. Here is the news:
With both kids in college, Lisa Kennedy sold the house and downsized to condo life and is loving it! She is in the residential real estate biz for 18 years and going strong. Now, Lisa is with Coldwell Banker. Daughter Julia will receive her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and son Adam is a film and TV production major at Valencia College in Orlando. Last summer, Lisa and Adam visited Ken Fuch, who took them on a personal tour of his new L.A. soundstage of Family Feud.
Karen Miller’s five kids are out of college and have started their own journeys. She and her spouse traveled to Africa, France, Spain, and a few other fun spots. When not traveling, she continues to play squash competitively. In June, her daughter is getting married in Lake Placid.
Richard Cho was selected as a 2017 Distinguished Career Fellow (DCI) at Stanford University. Richard has close to 25 years of experience in the energy industry, having served as the CEO and president and/or board member for several companies. For most of his career, he developed alternative energy projects around the world. He is the founder of Ridge Energy Services, a company that is making investments in the energy sector.
Greg LoPiccolo writes, “After 19 years at Harmonix, where I worked on Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and numerous other music games, I struck out on my own last year and founded ToneStone, focused on music creativity for nonmusicians, driven by gameplay. Chris Foster ’92 is collaborating on the design. Look for it in 2021!”
In December, Sue Peabody returned to Réunion Island for the opening of her museum exhibit, L’étrange histoire de Furcy Madeleine, which explores the struggle of one man to become free in French and English legal systems. While in London, Sue caught up with Jenny Boylan ’80 and Deirdre Finney Boylan, when Jenny delivered a lecture on plot, self-acceptance, and love to students, parents, and staff of the American School. Sue began work on her next book, The Failure of the Succès: Anatomy of a Slave Smuggling Voyage.
Mitch Plave sends greetings from Washington, D.C. He serves as special counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is an agency that charters and supervises national banks. His focus is administrative law, which involves the rulemaking process, public input to adoption of rules, and judicial review of rulemakings. Son Aaron Plave ’15, is a software engineer at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Los Angeles. Daughter Leah is a cellist and recently completed a master’s at McGill. Her first CD will be issued this spring. Mitch had dinner with Beth Tractenberg, who is thriving as a wills, trust, and estates lawyer in New York at Steptoe & Johnson.
Charlie Brenner, now an empty nester with a University of Iowa graduate son, and his fiancée bought a beautiful 30-acre farm outside of Iowa City, where they are building a new house and starting a lavender business. They will stock the ponds and plant the first field this spring. As head of biochemistry at UI and chief scientific adviser for ChromaDex, Charlie tweets about metabolism @charlesmbrenner.
Vashti Dubois is at The Colored Girls Museum, which is partnering with the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of Arizona to establish a model for collaboratively producing VR/AR museum experiences to expand and engage audiences. The institutions will create an augmented reality enhanced virtual museum experience that connects a dynamic group of artists, educators, and technologists with everyday women of the African diaspora.
Sheila Spencer kicked off the New Year 2020 in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles with her husband and two kids who are home from college. Her daughter is a sophomore at Sarah Lawrence College studying studio art, and her son is an English major at Reed College in Portland, Ore. She had a lovely dinner with Heidi Mastrogiovanni ’79.
Pam Dolin sends new year’s greetings and writes, “I am a newly minted grandmother to baby girl, Violet Evie! A new chapter in life!”
Tricia Reilly attended Family Weekend to visit her son, Peter ’21, a junior, and ran into her friend and former partner from Tyler Cooper, Bob Allen ’70, who was being honored at midfield during halftime as a member of the last undefeated Cardinal football team—Little Three Champions—on their 50th anniversary. Tricia is the chair of the Labor and Employment Practice at Murtha Cullina, LLP in New Haven.
Nancy Rommelman’s works appear in the LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Reason, and other publications. Her most recent book, To the Bridge, A True Story of Motherhood and Murder, was published in 2018. After years on the West Coast, she is delighted to back home in NYC (Chinatown).
Laurie Hills | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello, everyone. Another season has come and gone. Wow, it sure goes fast these days. I hope your summers were filled with family, friends, health, and fun. Wishing you a happy fall.
Judy Korin produced the Netflix original documentary The Great Hack, which premiered worldwide on July 24. The film explores personal data and its exploitation and impact on democracy through the journeys of several characters surrounding the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. It’s being hailed by critics and audiences alike as eye-opening and terrifying. She writes, “The film will make you think twice about every interaction you have with technology. And, I’m happy to report that one of our lead editors, Carlos Rojas ’02, is a Wesleyan alumnus (although a LOT younger than me)!”
After 22 years as legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, Michael Steinberg joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School full-time in the fall, where he will teach civil rights litigation and start a clinic called the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative. Michael was also invited to tell a story about one of his cases at a Moth Mainstage event.
Ellen Zucker is a partner at Burns & Levinson and was named 2019 Women Worth Watching by Profiles in Diversity Journal for her impressive career success and sterling reputations. She works in the firm’s Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Group and is a powerhouse trial lawyer who has litigated or resolved a wide range of employment matters, including landmark discrimination and retaliation cases resulting in significant verdicts or settlements. Ellen also represents corporate and individual clients in business litigation, counseling and negotiations, as well as governmental investigations and criminal proceedings.
Tim Brockett ’83, MALS’87 was given a certificate of recognition by President Donald Trump and Vice President Michael Pence for assistance with the Trump/Pence campaign. He also did a volunteer stint as an investigative journalist/commentator for the online Glastonbury Community Forum, where he helped to uncover violations of the federal Clean Water Act. The case has yet to go to court but a violations letter has been sent. He writes, “Life is good in Montana and just gets better with every passing year.”
Philip Roth just finished a two-year master’s of public health at Columbia University. He enjoyed the rare opportunity to view medicine from 20,000 feet after being in the trenches as a surgeon for 25 years. And, the new perspective has catalyzed a career change—details to follow as it becomes clearer.
Alice Jankell is facing impending Empty-Nest Syndrome (daughter Parker is at Oberlin and son Julian is off to drama school) by continuing to write and direct. She helms the new musical, An Enchanted April, off-Broadway this fall.
David Steinhardt made his professional legitimate stage acting debut in the West Coast’s first production of The Antipodes by Annie Baker, in August in Seattle. New to town, he has relied greatly on Steven Sterne’s advice, kindness, and assistance. David’s editorial brand, Massive Publishing Enterprise (fb.me/editorMPE), is credited in Dartmouth professor P.K. Crossley’s new Eurasian history, Hammer & Anvil (Rowman & Littlefield).
Jan Elliott has been busy teaching, coaching, and performing with various music and dance groups on Cape Cod; one of the newest groups is Courante, a professional-level baroque music quartet that performed at this year’s Boston Early Music Festival.
Tim Backer finished a third string quartet last month, titled “Fourfold Folium,” a collection of electric guitar extempore compositions, titled “The Musing Genie (Purgatorio),” and is finishing recording an audiobook of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. All he says is “a blending of Blakeanism, Chinese philosophy, and Harold Bloom’s theory of influence.”
Lynn Ogden had the joy of attending her daughter’s Wesleyan graduation in a special ceremony for the women’s lacrosse team a few days before Sunday Commencement so that the team could play at the NCAA lacrosse finals in Virginia that weekend. They placed within the top four schools in Division III and broke records all season. She writes, “It has been an honor to see Wesleyan through my daughter’s eyes and the sports program. Only wish they’d ask for less out-of-pocket financial support from parents for a school of our league and caliber. So, to my classmates—support Wesleyan!”
Until the next time,
Laurie Hills | email@example.com
Greetings, everyone. Looks like you all must be busy this time of year with graduations and summer fun. I didn’t hear from many people, so if you have not reached out lately, please send your updates when you read this one. Also, if you have any ideas on how to spruce up our notes, please shoot me an e-mail. Enjoy your summer.
Alice Jankell and her husband, Jess Shatkin, are facing impending empty nest syndrome, (daughter Parker is at Oberlin and son Julian is off to drama school). But happily, Alice remains busy writing and directing. She helms the new musical An Enchanted April off-Broadway this fall. Alice, I loved the movie and read the book. I even visited Castle Brown in Portofino last summer where the movie was filmed. I can’t wait to see your show when it opens. Congrats! Maybe you can do a Wesleyan night?
Sheila Spencer is adjusting to her new status as “open nest” since her daughter started Sarah Lawrence College and her son is at Reed College. She writes, “Dropping them off at college brought back many memories of the excitement that I felt as a freshman at Wesleyan. Enjoyed catching up with Janice Okoomianand Kenneth Schneyer at SLC drop-off.”
Keeping with the empty nest theme, two-thirds of my trio have returned home for their final year of graduate school. I’m thrilled to have them back and super excited for our last hurrah together before they fly solo. My third decided to stay in San Francisco after graduation and I miss her terribly, though I do enjoy visiting her throughout the year.
Lisa Hamilton has about a year until she joins us empty-nesters and “assuming no returns of any of the four!” She enjoys working at Butler University, celebrating one of her kid’s wedding, and seeing her young adults find their paths. She hopes to make it back to campus for our 40th.
Eileen Kelly-Aguirre’s latest news is she and her partner (now living in Connecticut) run a “Brownhouse studio through Airbnb in New Preston, Conn., should any Wesfolk be looking for an affordable, cozy, cool place to stay in this beautiful corner of the planet.”
Deirdre Black and husband are in Accra, Ghana, where she has been advising organizations in a diversity of sectors from higher education to cocoa entrepreneurship—all with a goal of capacity building. She has enjoyed explorations of Ghana and adventures in Nigeria, Senegal, and other parts of West Africa.
David Steinhardt moved to Seattle. A book he edited for several years is now out: Hammer and Anvil by Dartmouth professor P.K. Crossley, published by Rowman & Littlefield.
Kirsten Wasson works as a college counselor and internship coordinator at a private school in Calabasas, Calif. She is a storyteller (adult-style) in dozens of venues around L.A. and is finishing a memoir about changing her life at 51 from academic to paddle-boarding free agent. She has published poetry, photographs, and nonfiction in literary journals.
Lynn Ogden is excited to attend daughter Emilie Ogden-Fung’s [’19] graduation from Wesleyan and looks forward to seeing classmates from ’84 and ’83.
Until next time, namaste.
Laurie Hills | firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Wienski ’83 passed away on May 30, 2019. At Wesleyan, Linda majored in economics. She earned an MBA from the University of Bridgeport. She was 57.
Greetings. Having just shoveled in preparation of freezing temperatures and the coming ice storm, I’m now warm and cozy inside compiling these notes. You are an amazing group of individuals—Go, Class of 1983!
Mary Freeman’s husband, Andy Levin, was elected to the U.S. Congress to represent Michigan’s 9th District! Lots of her Wesleyan friends followed the campaign and cheered them on. They’re excited to be a part of this next chapter in U.S. history.
Michael Sommer and Taya Glotzer are empty nesters in northern New Jersey. Michael is a trial lawyer at Wilson Sonsini in Manhattan and Tanya practices cardiac electrophysiology. Her hospital system opened a new medical school: Hackensack Meridian-Seton Hall School of Medicine, and she now works with medical students—a new challenge and opportunity. Their son lives in LA and is a software engineer for Hulu. Their daughter is a third-year medical student at Hofstra on Long Island.
Cheri Weiss was ordained as a cantor/hazzan by the Academy for Jewish Religion in May and is studying in the school’s Rabbinic program. She founded the San Diego Outreach Synagogue, an independent Jewish congregation blending tradition and creativity (sdo-synagogue.org) and the San Diego Jewish Community Choir (sd-jewishcommunitychoir.org).
Kate Rabinowitz lives in East Hampton, N.Y., and appreciates the alumni events, especially in New York theater! She runs the Anna Lytton Foundation (annalyttonfoundation.org) with husband Rameshwar Das ’69 in honor of their 14-year-old daughter who was killed in 2013. Kate runs arts and wellness programs in local schools in her daughter’s honor. Her son is graduating from Skidmore in environmental science and geology. Kate is grateful for her time at Wesleyan and what a privilege it is to have an education, tools, and ability to make a difference in the world.
Charlie Brenner writes from Iowa City, where Nancy Rommelmann visited for a book reading. Charlie has done a lot of travel associated with the science of nicotinamide riboside (NR) and launches of Tru Niagen in Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand. His new scientific story about NR addresses the metabolic stress associated with pregnancy and postpartum. A mouse on NR has increased lactation, weight loss, and babies more developed and capable. He is excited to see the clinical trials.
Eileen Kelly-Aguirre, back from running School Year Abroad’s school in Spain after serving three years as executive director, is happily living in her hometown of Washington, Conn., with her partner, Jack.
Janet Binswanger has the greatest job ever: The Curator; affectionately called the director of happiness for Vynamic; a health care industry management consulting firm, based in Philadelphia, with offices in London and Boston. She is aggressively hiring in 2019, so if you know folks who might be interested in joining this dynamic group, e-mail email@example.com.
Kirsten Wasson lives in LA, working as a college counselor and internship coordinator at a private high school. She performs stories at events around the city and publishes poetry and nonfiction in literary journals. Hiking, biking, paddle-boarding, and biannual trips to Mexico keep her relatively sane.
Glenn Lunden is obsessed with trains and was named acting deputy chief of rail planning for NYC Transit. He is in charge of planning and scheduling the operations of the New York subway.
Sue Peabody’s book, Madeleine’s Children: Family, Freedom, Secrets, and Lies in France’s Indian Ocean Colonies (Oxford 2017), won three book prizes, including the Society for French Historical Studies’ Pinkney Prize for the best book in French history published by a North American author. Sue is a professor of history at Washington State University Vancouver since 1996.
Jeff Scott practices law in LA at the international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, where he is co-chair of the firm’s litigation practice. He sees Patrick Dooley ’84, Steven Maizes ’82, Steve Marenberg ’77, John Keaney ’84, and Judy Korin—all of whom are in LA, too. He took his boy/girl twins to Wesleyan for the Sons and Daughters program, and bumped into a few old friends: Paul DiSanto ’81, Mark Molina ’81, Bill Frischling ’86, and Pat Ryan ’85. He was pleased about how enthusiastically his kids were about Wesleyan.
Sheila Spencer was unable to attend the 35th Reunion because her daughter graduated from high school. Her son attends Reed College in Portland, Ore., and her daughter attends Sarah Lawrence College. She met up with Janice Okoomian and Kenneth Schneyer at SLC parent weekend.
Laurie Hills | firstname.lastname@example.org