Not surprisingly, the theme of these notes is “quarantine”, starting with NYC. Liz Garcia writes from self-isolating in Brooklyn, “where it’s deserted enough that you can hear the birds for once, but of course it’s not altogether relaxing. Our neighborhood gets out our tension every night at 7 p.m. by cheering wildly and banging on drums and lots for all the brave folks who keep the city running.” Liz is homeschooling two elementary school-aged sons and continuing to work from home as a screenwriter. “I feel incredibly lucky to be healthy and employed given the immense suffering of so many. I send love and strength and, dare I say hope, to all my beloved Wes folk.” Marianna Ellenberg has been working as photography teacher this year at Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx, alongside writing a new play, to be produced in 2021.
Gloria Weber Plaks (aka Glo) writes from NYC, while her sister-in-law is telling her to “get the heck out of here.” She’s happily married to an awesome man, Eric Plaks, for almost 14 years. Glo has been a high school math teacher on-and-off since graduating from Wesleyan in 1999 and currently a special education math teacher at Vanguard High School for the last four years. “I am surrounded by a team of super dedicated, caring colleagues and just funny, hard-working students. I finally feel like I have found a place where I can stay for a while. Remote learning means that some of my days end with me falling asleep with my phone in my hand after texting with my student until 11:30 p.m. Remote learning and teaching, while helping my 12-year-old son, 8-year-old daughter, and 14-year-old nephew with their remote learning, while taking care of a 9-month-old, can be a bit of a hot mess. Yes, I have a 9-month-old. But one thing that I learned through all of this is that I really like my family!”
Moving to NorCal quarantine: Danielle Lazier and family are sheltering in place in Noe Valley, San Francisco. “The twins are almost 4 years old. Real estate sales are different but folks still need to move. I’m figuring out how to help my clients as safely and successfully as possible.” After 15 years building and leading community development finance for Charles Schwab, Sahra Halpern left in March to join Capital Impact Partners as senior director of strategic lending initiatives. Capital Impact Partners is a mission-driven lender that operates with the belief that equity, inclusiveness, and cooperation are keys to building communities of opportunity. “We deliver capital to address systemic poverty, create equity, build healthy communities, and promote inclusive growth. I’m beyond thrilled to be here!” On the home front, Sahra and Dan Engler are celebrating 10 years of parenthood (to Hanna, 10, and Adam, 8), 10 years of living in Oakland, Calif., and the milestone of having spent half of their lives together.
Katie Mayland Redwine lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons, ages 9 and 11. She works as a licensed clinical psychologist conducting psychological assessment and specializing in autism spectrum disorder. “I spend as much time as humanly possible taking my family on adventures (when I’m not quarantined) including to Australia, Italy, Mexico, and various U.S. states. Also to my favorite exotic locations, the gym and the supermarket, haha!”
There’s a chance Katie could have seen Leevert Holmes, who reported receiving our email request for notes submissions while standing in line at the grocery store. “Ahhhhh!!!! You didn’t ever think you’d be reaching out during a pandemic?” Leevert and his wife relocated to the South Bay of Northern California, where he taught math to middle schoolers in Palo Alto and his wife was a principal of an elementary school in San Jose. Next year, they plan to relocate even closer to family in the East Bay (Oakland) and work towards closing the achievement gap in San Francisco or Oakland. “I’m enrolled in Mills College to gain certification in math. In my free time, I moonlight as my alias, DJ Elbow Greasy and starting to craft my memoir as a schoolteacher.”
After 14 years at a large law firm, Allegra Jones has moved in-house as senior counsel at Pacific Maritime Association in San Francisco. “PMA is a trade association that negotiates maritime labor agreements with the union of 25,000 longshore workers on the West Coast. Staying in touch with our friends from Wesleyan is definitely keeping me going during this time of quarantine!” Nicholas Kyte is getting back to trail running when not working and homeschooling his two sons, Noah (9) and Benji (7). “Hit me up if you want to run with me in Martinez, Calif.”
Mike Hakim and family are holding up in LA: “Keeping the dream alive. I’m on my fourth kid Alaster Harrisson Louis Hakim who is turning 1 in June and celebrating life in the new normal. There are plenty of blessings through all the challenges life brings…I miss people and hope for only good vibes In the coming years! Please reach out to me just to say hi and what you’re working on in LA. If you need a new office or place to live or know someone please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Kabir Sen is in his 20th year teaching music at Shady Hill School in Cambridge and playing and recording music regularly. His most recent album The Good Life (If You Only Knew), a mix of hip hop and soul, is available on Spotify. Kabir’s wife, Rebecca, is still the head of her science department at Newton Country Day School, and their three kids (Eva, 10, Julia, 8, and Ethan, 5) are mostly doing well. “We are trying to balance our work and all the distance learning for our kids and it has been good to all be together despite these dire circumstances. My band Krush Faktory has been playing weekly and monthly residencies in the Boston area and I am really missing playing live music right now! From home I have been working on a new website for my music career (kabirsen.com) and have been putting on Zoom plays with my students of my original musical, True Courage—A Whaling Adventure. Sending much love to the ’99 crew!”
Leila Buck is working from home in Brooklyn with husband Adam Abel ’98, grateful to be able to teach and work remotely. Since all theatrical productions are postponed until next year, Leila and her creative team are transferring their theatrical game show about immigration, citizenship and what it means to be(come) American, online for a virtual election tour this fall. If you’re interested in voting on who will be the next U.S. citizen, check out AmericanDreamsPlay.com.
“And most importantly, if you’re able to support our neighborhood hospital, one of the most under-funded COVID centers in NYC, please visit their GoFundMe.”
As for your class secretaries, we’re both bunkered down on the East Coast. Kevin continues to lead the growth of Quartet Health, a health tech company helping people get access to the mental health care they need, as COO. The pandemic is only increasing the need for access to high quality mental health care resources, and increasing the prevalence of mental health conditions. It’s really inspiring work. Darryl was recently interviewed for the Admission Leadership Podcast (aka The ALP), “a series of one-on-one conversations with people who have been climbing the leadership mountain in the world of college admissions.” As Darryl said to Kevin in an email, “if there were a silver lining from the pandemic, it is the need to stay even more connected now than ever before.” We hope you all feel a bit more connected to one another through these Notes, and hope you are inspired to reach out to a classmate to say hello!
C. Darryl Uy | email@example.com
Kevin Kumler | firstname.lastname@example.org