alum heads

to NYU to

study art














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The Grosse Pointe Academy

171 Lake Shore Road

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Why give…


The Academy Fund is our annual appeal to support The Grosse Pointe Academy. It is the most

important fundraising effort of the year in that it provides ongoing support to the operating budget,

allowing The Grosse Pointe Academy to offer competitive salaries, professional development and

unique educational experiences, while also keeping tuition as affordable as possible.


• Continual enhancements to our Montessori

classroom materials

• Competitive athletic programs with travel

opportunities throughout metropolitan Detroit

• Middle School Real-World Experiences and Applied

Learning (R.E.A.L.) electives classes

• Dedicated reading and math specialist for all

students in grade 1 through 3

• Unique professional development opportunities

to foster faculty growth, including a dedicated

Technology and Learning Specialist on staff

• Full time school nurse to collaborate with school

staff members and parents, thereby keeping students

safe at school and healthy to learn










Volume 1


pg. 38


Lars Kuelling


Kristen Van Pelt


Mike Kelly


Lars Kuelling


The Academic is a

magazine devoted to the

students, alumni, parents

and friends of The Grosse

Pointe Academy. It is

published twice a year, in

the spring and fall.


The Grosse Pointe Academy

171 Lake Shore Rd.

Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.





Brother and sister who attended the Academy

are making music and making the world a better place.


Foundation of academics from The Grosse Pointe Academy

helps alum with arts education at Interlochen and beyond.


GPA’s 2015 graduating class heads to high school with an advantage.

12 2015 McMILLAN


Discussion to focus on balancing

the art of being both

responsive and demanding

to children.


2011 GPA grads head to college

with $1.5 million plus in scholarship



Early School teacher brings international acuity

to her ‘peaceful’ classroom.

pg. 34

pg. 21

pg. 6


This first issue of The Academic, a newly

combined student-alumni magazine unveiled

in these pages for the first time, tells the stories

of current and past students and the people—

their teachers and parents—who have shaped

them during their experiences at The Grosse

Pointe Academy.

From these stories, a common theme

arises, a theme of inspiration first sparked

at GPA, tended and stoked over a student’s

academic journey, and still ablaze today.

Notice how the stories about an

artist’s work, community service, a global

perspective, and the journey of a highaltitude

balloon all share the common

thread of having found their beginning

here at GPA.

Let your imagination run a bit,

and picture how today’s students will

be equally accomplished as any of the

alumni featured in the magazine.

As you leaf through the pages,

we hope you will get a fuller sense

of the continuous arc of a Grosse

Pointe Academy education and

of the many ways the education

students receive today shapes their

futures. Enjoy!

Lars Kuelling








Musicians, artists and other creative luminaries,

including Thom York, Patti Smith, Bill McKibben,

Flea, Rebecca Foon and Dhani Harrison,

are planning to gather in Paris, France, on Dec.

4 and 5 to perform as the culmination of “Pathway

to Paris,” a special year-plus long initiative

designed to raise awareness about climate change.

The event will coincide with the United Nations

Climate Change Conference, which is scheduled to

take place Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, also in Paris.

Among the artists performing in December

and one of the chief architects of the event is Jesse

Paris Smith, who is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

inductee Patti Smith’s daughter and who also at

one time plied the hallways and classrooms as a

student of The Grosse Pointe Academy along with

her older brother, Jackson.

Jesse and Jackson Smith attended the Academy

while living in nearby St. Clair Shores with

their mother, Patti, and father, the late MC5

musician Fred “Sonic” Smith. A year or so after

Fred Smith’s untimely death in 1994 due to heart

failure, Patti and her family moved back to New

York City, where Patti still lives and where her two

kids split much of their time with Detroit.

According to Jesse Smith, the Pathway to Paris

initiative, which was founded in September of

2014, has been bringing together musicians/artists/poets/writers

with scientists/climate experts/

politicians/activists in a dialogue about climate

change leading up to the UN conference (Cop21)

in Paris.

“We want to highlight the opportunity the

conference brings to establish an ambitious,

legally binding global climate agreement,” Smith

said. “Our main partner is, which is a

leading climate-action organization founded by

Bill Mckibben, and all of our events serve as fundraisers

for 350. Our final events, which will serve

as fundraisers for 350, are in Paris on December 4

and 5, the first weekend of the UN


Jesse’s brother, Jackson, a

versatile musician, lives in the

Detroit area and spends much of his

musical “chops” with the band, the

Orbitsuns, a honky-tonk, rock and

roll band based in southeast Michigan.

He started playing in Detroit

with Brit-pop band Fletcher Pratt,

and since then he’s played locally

with Back in Spades, The Paybacks,

jazz singer Linda Blanke and the Skeemin’ No

Goods on occasion.

Jackson notably accompanied his mother on

her goosebump-inducing rendition of the song

“Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” at the “Another Day,

Another Time: Celebrating The Music Of ‘Inside

Llewyn Davis’” concert held a couple of years ago

at Manhattan’s Town Hall. He’s also toured with

Elton John, Leon Russell, Greg Allman and several

other artists.

Jackson has appeared on many records, which

range from local bands like the Dead Bodies and

the Farwells all the way to larger national acts like

the Electric Six and Wanda Jackson as well as a

Steve Earle record. In addition, Jackson appeared

a few years ago on a Jeff Bridges record.

Jesse Paris Smith is a composer and multi-instrumentalist

who has performed globally in

many configurations, collaborating with other

musicians and artists, including Soundwalk Collective,

Tenzin Choegyal, Tree Laboratory, Shyam

Nepali, along with her mother and brother. She

also performs in a band called Belle Ghoul, which

includes Smith and five other Detroit musicians,

and has performed with Esquire, Kenny Tudrick

and Skinny Wrists. Her compositions have been

commissioned for films, commercials, art installations,

audiobooks and live film score performances.

She is a graduate of the Sound and Music

Institute of New York City.

Now 28, Jesse is passionate about her work as

a musician, but it’s her work with climate change

and Pathway to Paris that really gets her energized.

That was made abundantly clear after she

agreed to be interviewed for this article by The

Grosse Pointe Academy, which, by the way, also

was clearly influential in her young life.

A transcript of the interview is at

Above, Jesse Smith on the

GPA campus. Below, from

left, former GPA students

Jesse Smith and Jackson

Smith are with Jackson’s

wife Lisa, and their mother,

Patti Smith, far right,

during a recent visit to the

Detroit area.



Grosse Pointe

Academy graduate

George Spica

is working on

a sculpture at

Interlochen earlier

this year.


Arts and






It’s not hard to see why George Spica has

done so well at the prestigious Interlochen

Arts Academy. He’s talented, well-spoken

and well-focused on a top-notch art

education and ultimately a career as a

professional artist. But, he says, it’s his

Grosse Pointe Academy experience that

gave him the well-rounded educational

foundation so critical to high school and

college success.



Spica, right, still a

student at GPA, is

at his sister Helen’s

graduation from

Interlochen. Spica is

now attending NYU’s

renowned Steinhardt


“I attended GPA from

preschool to grade eight

and what I now realize

is that the tradition and

rigor that characterizes

a GPA education is

in fact what enabled

me to engage in more

unorthodox means of

learning in my high

school years,” Spica said.

“In other words, I was so

comfortable and wellversed

in my academics

after graduating from

the Academy, I was far

more open to the idea

of alternative-learning

methods as I matured

in the context of an art


Spica graduated from

Interlochen this spring.

He says that in addition

to his years of education

at GPA, he also has benefited tremendously from

his four years at the highly touted art school

located in northern Michigan. He said most

Interlochen graduates leave with a better arts

education than many graduates of university


Which is why he was so careful in choosing a


Even though Spica was accepted at the

acclaimed Bard College in New York’s Hudson

Valley and the School of the Art Institute of

Chicago, where he was offered a substantial

scholarship, it was the reputation of New York

University’s Steinhardt School that will take him

to Greenwich Village this fall to study visual arts.

“Having seen many art colleges and their

appeals to Interlochen students, it became

clear that attending a typical art college would

be a repetition of the instruction I received at

Interlochen,” Spica said. “And, in many cases, with

lesser facilities and fewer resources.”

So it was his desire to combine a rigorous

academic program with a well-regarded arts


“I attended GPA

from preschool to grade eight

and what I now realize is that the tradition

and rigor that characterizes

a GPA education is in fact what enabled

me to engage in more unorthodox means of learning

in my high school years.”

education that drove him to apply to Steinhardt

at NYU. “It’s a small, artistically, academically, and

culturally motivated institution within a highly

resourceful and renowned university,” he said.


As Spica buttoned up his high-school

education at Interlochen, he looked back without

regret that he didn’t take a more local and

conventional secondary-school path. Many GPA

graduates go on to well-respected high schools

in the area. Schools like Detroit Country Day,

Cranbrook and University Liggett. But for Spica,

even though Interlochen was kind of pre-ordained

— his parents met there and his older siblings

also attended — it was much more than that.

“I realize Interlochen is a Spica family

tradition, but it became something far more

comprehensive for me,” he said. “I would not be

the student I am today if not for the genuinely

unique education I received at Interlochen. The

curriculum comprises two high school schedules,

one academic and one artistic, which eventually

led me to realize how integral academia is to the

creation of well-informed, thought-provoking art.

After four years, I can say that what upheld my

academic record and my interest in the liberal arts

was my parallel study of conceptual art within the



Spica’s work in the studio also has led to a

number of national awards for him, including

a visual arts award by the National YoungArts

Foundation, a non-profit organization that

recognizes and nurtures some of the the nation’s

most talented young artists. The award also gave

Spica and other winners the opportunity to spend

a week in Miami for workshops with renowned

visual artists and to experience and witness

performances by artists practicing in other


According to the YoungArts Foundation,

previous YoungArts winners include actresses

Viola Davis and Kerry Washington, fourtime

Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza,

recording artists Nicki Minaj and Chris Young,

musicians Terence Blanchard and Jennifer

Koh, choreographer Desmond Richardson, and

internationally acclaimed multimedia-artist Doug


Spica’s work at Interlochen also earned him a

national gold medal and two silver medals from

the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which

confers awards through its annual Scholastic Art

& Writing Awards competition.

“Entering the Scholastic competition was a

massive application process in which I submitted

over 20 works of sculpture, installation and video

for review,” he said. “The work then was evaluated

regionally by local cultural institutions — in

my case within Michigan — after which I was

awarded gold and silver ‘keys.’”

Spica’s gold key work was then evaluated by

Scholastic on the national level, which is how he

earned his gold and silver medals.

But awards and medals aside, Spica said his

career and life goals are a bit more concrete and


“It is my hope that I can establish an

independent studio and practice as a professional

artist after receiving my degree from NYU and

during graduate school where I plan to pursue a

master’s degree in fine art.”



GPA’s 2015

graduating class

heads to high school

with an advantage

In school head Lars Kuelling’s letter to the

GPA community at the beginning of this school

year, he talked about how the Academy is an

“uncommon choice, the better-than-average option

for students.”

As families, faculty and school officials

bade farewell this evening to The Grosse Pointe

Academy’s Class of 2015, these soon-to-be high

schoolers are taking with them an elementaryschool

education that was anything but.

Kuelling said in his letter last September that

what makes GPA different from other schools is

not only its innovative curriculum and cuttingedge

classroom technology, it’s the complete and

utter focus on every student as an individual.

“Our aim is to inspire each student,” he said.

“To inspire them academically, to inspire them

in the arts, and to inspire them athletically. We

challenge them to learn and we nurture them


CLASS OF 2015!

Kendall Adams, Daniel Arkison, Errington Belyue, Elise Buhl, Piero Cavataio,

Johnnae Curry, Tai Daniels, Adrian Doan, Henry Drettmann, Patrick

FitzSimons, Sydni Hall, Grace Jackson, Andrew Jamieson, William Kendrick,

Adam Kuplicki, Brandon Murphy, Samantha Savage, Blake Weaver, Henry

Whitaker, Imani White, Karmella Williams, Winston Wright and

Emma Wujek.

when they need a little extra care, and since we

know each student so well, we endeavor to bring

out the best in each student.”

It is without question that today’s talented

class of 23 students, who are heading to some of

the finest area high schools, including Cranbrook,

Roeper, Grosse Pointe South, U of D Jesuit, Detroit

Country Day and University Liggett, are leaving

171 Lake Shore Road with an advantage—an

advantage that comes from experiencing at least

eight years of the best “uncommon” education

available in southeast Michigan.




NAIS, ISACS, AIMS, ERB. It’s a regular alphabet

soup of accreditation, authorization and academic

certification. It’s confusing to be sure for some in

the school community, but nonetheless vital to The

Grosse Pointe Academy’s continuing growth as a

beacon of excellence in early and primary education.

Among the many accreditations achieved by

GPA, perhaps one of the most vital is its ISACS

accreditation. The Independent Schools Association

of the Central States is a membership organization

of more than 230 independent schools from 13

states in the Midwest region of the United States.

GPA has been ISACS-accredited for years and shares

such accreditation with Cranbrook, Country Day and

The Roeper School.


In mid-April, a team of 10 educators from other

ISACS-member schools concluded a four-day visit to

GPA as a part of the school’s re-accreditation process.

Prior to the visit, GPA faculty, staff, administrators

and Board members prepared a 130-page self-study

report describing all aspects of GPA’s program,

operations and school culture.

According to GPA officials, the ISACS team

observed school in session and met with faculty,

staff, students, administrators, alumni, Trustees

and parents. The team used those observations

and meetings to analyze GPA’s self-study report

and to develop a general overview along with

commendations and recommendations for the 31

report areas in the self-study.

“We received a copy of the ISACS full

report at mid-summer,” said Head of School Lars

Kuelling. “And we were happy to receive our full

accreditation at that time.”

Prior to departing the Academy in April,

the ISACS visiting team leader, Mike Vachow,

who is from the Forsyth School in St. Louis,

Missouri, shared his team’s overall observations

with GPA’s faculty and staff, and presented major

commendations and recommendations, some of

which are highlighted below:

• Dedicated, compassionate, flexible, loyal

faculty, staff and administration

• The family feel that characterizes school


• Leadership of the school at the governance

level is intensely focused on the long-term financial

sustainability of GPA

• Courage to explore emerging, distinguishing

programs like STEAM, 1-to-1 computing, R.E.A.L.,

the Garden Classroom

“We are all grateful to the visiting team

members who took time from their own schools

to so thoughtfully examine our program and

provide what we know will be helpful reflections

and suggestions,” Kuelling said. “I would like to

personally thank all of our faculty and staff — the

steering committee, and Janice Sturm, steering

committee chair — for their work and dedication to

our school and students over the past two years. A

job well done!”


TO THE FOLLOWING COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. (See page 28 for more on the class.)

New York University

University of Dayton

Emerson College

Manhattan College

Unites States Military Academy, West Point

University of Michigan

Butler University

Davidson College

University of Detroit Mercy

Loyola University Chicago

Rhodes College

Johns Hopkins University

Case Western Reserve University

Central Michigan University

St. Louis University

Michigan State University

Purdue University

Ohio State University

Miami University (Ohio)

Indiana University

Marquette University

University of South Carolina

Bard College

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Wake Forest University

Hope College

Xavier University

Howard University

Miami University Oxford

College of Wooster

University of Alabama

Rochester University

Rice University

Manhattan School of Music

Wayne State University

Oakland University

Illinois Wesleyan University

University of South Carolina

Carnegie Mellon University

Georgia Institute of Technology

Sewanee: The University of the South

Oberlin College

Furman University

Connecticut College

Albion College

Kalamazoo College

John Carroll University

University of Southern California

Bowling Green State University




Discussion to focus on balancing the art of

being both responsive and demanding to our


Today, we not only have a new generation

of kids on our hands growing up in a world of

mobile devices, we have a new generation of


In our desire to protect kids or prevent

anything bad from happening to them, we often

end up preparing the path for the child instead of

the child for the path. The result? They leave our

homes unready for the world that awaits them as


The Grosse Pointe Academy announced in the

spring that its speaker for the 2015 edition of the

William Charles McMillan III Lecture Series, Dr.

Tim Elmore, will address those issues and more

on Tuesday, November 17, at the school’s Grosse

Pointe Farms campus.

In this unique event for parents of school-age

children, Elmore plans to share the research and

the solutions to avoid the most common mistakes

parents make, and offer a game plan to raise

healthy, productive, future adults.

“In our work with thousands of parents

around the nation, we’ve noticed a pattern,”

Elmore said. “Quite frequently, we risk too little,

rescue too quickly, rave too easily and reward too


He said his workshop

will cover precisely how

to balance the art of

being responsive and

demanding. He will

address how to provide

the love our children

need, while at the same

time, equip them to

make good decisions

on their own; and how

to build discipline and

ambition in their lives

and to develop strong

interpersonal skills.

Elmore said his

discussion will furnish both a helpful diagnosis

as well as an insightful prescription for raising

healthy, well-adjusted kids who are ready to be

leaders as they graduate from both school—“and

their parents.”


Dr. Tim Elmore is a leading authority on how

to understand the next generation and prepare

tomorrow’s leaders today. He is a best-selling

author, international speaker, and president

of Growing Leaders (, a

nonprofit that helps develop emerging leaders

under the philosophy that each child is born with

leadership qualities.

Elmore and his team provide public schools,

universities, civic organizations, and corporations

with resources that foster the growth of young

leaders who can transform society. For over 30

years, he has taught leadership through the power

of images and stories that enables young adults to

influence others in a positive way.



William Charles McMillan III was a student at

The Grosse Pointe Academy from 1973 until 1981

where, receiving love and encouragement, he

learned to reach beyond his limitations. Although

weak physically, McMillan was intellectually

gifted and his passion for life, his love and

concern for all living things, and his enthusiastic

use of verbal skills changed the lives of those who

were closest to him and left a lasting impression

on all with whom he came in contact.

Never at a loss for words, he was bursting with

impressions, questions and insights which came

pouring out in a dazzling, dizzying torrent. It was

rare to have a brief, superficial conversation with


A friend commented, “I sometimes felt like I

needed a seat belt when William was talking to

me, because he would take us into outer space,

back into primeval history, and then into a

universe of his own imagining.”

McMillan believed that anyone could make

a significant and lasting impact on the world no

matter what one’s age, size or circumstance.

The William Charles McMillan III Lecture

Series focuses on elementary education and is

dedicated to the proposition that every child can

reach beyond his or her own limitation, that each

child makes the world a better place. It is the goal

of these lectures to take your mind where it has

never been before.




The evening of Saturday, May 9, marked the

date of The Grosse Pointe Academy’s signature

Fête des Amis Action Auction, and it was

another wildly successful fundraiser with guests

enjoying mobile bidding in a silent auction

followed by dinner and a live auction.

According to school officials, net proceeds

from the night exceeded $450,000, which

included a separate “paddle-raise” total in excess

of $125,000 in support of preservation of the

Academy’s historic buildings and grounds.

Academy Head of School Lars Kuelling said

the entire evening was very special.

“It was a fantastic auction,” he said. “The

evening had a tremendous festive feel to it, and

the sense of community was wonderful.”

Following the dinners and auction, guests

celebrated the rest of the night at Club Action

Auction, which featured one of the school’s

gymnasiums converted into a lounge set up for

conversation, dancing and music from D.J. Jared


Kuelling wanted to make sure all involved

knew how grateful he and the rest of the

Academy administration were for all of the hard

work. “I would like to thank everyone who had

a part in this tremendous event, especially our

co-chairs, Fay and Paul Savage and Lindsey and

Tom Buhl, who put in a great deal of voluntary

time in order to ensure the success of this year’s


Kristen Van Pelt, GPA’s development director,

said proceeds from the auction—the school’s

48th—will go to enrich academic offerings,

raise scholarship and tuition assistance funds,

and support the preservation of the Academy’s

historic campus.


In late spring, The Grosse Pointe Academy announced the recipients of

special scholarships for the 2015-2016 academic year. Awardees included

Academy students moving from kindergarten into 1st grade and a number of

other students going from 7th to 8th grade.

Congratulations go to:

SHEKINAH AHO - Brett Bentley Crawford Creative Writing Award:

This award has been established to honor the memory of Brett Crawford,

a 1997 graduate of The Grosse Pointe Academy. It is given to an upcoming

eighth-grade girl who possesses the skills and passion for creative writing, and

who has exhibited the spirited personality necessary to qualify for this award.

ISABELLA TOMLINSON - Thelma Fox Murray Scholarship Award: The

Thelma Fox Murray Award is voted on annually by middle school faculty and

administration to honor an upcoming eighth-grade girl who exhibits “integrity,

humility, a sense of humor, athletic achievement and academic excellence.”

IAN SHOGREN - E. Maybelle Spicer, Clark Spicer and William I. Trader,

Jean K. Kurtz Trader Scholarship Award, A.K.A. Spicer/Trader Scholarship

Award: The Spicer/Trader Award is intended to honor an upcoming eighthgrade

boy who has demonstrated to his teachers and classmates “success in

academics and athletics with a strong desire to excel.” As such, the award is

reflective of the Academy’s core values and mission.

JOSH ROBERTS - Nowosielski-Lutz Scholarship Award: The Nowosielski

Scholarship Award is voted on by the middle school faculty and administration

to honor an upcoming eighth-grade boy who excels academically and

athletically and is an all-around good person.

NYIA NOVAK - Eleanor Wagner Brock Scholarship: Awarded to a

girl moving from our kindergarten to first grade and voted on by the early

school faculty. It honors an inquisitive, friendly girl who is well-liked by her

classmates and teachers.

PENNY MARTIN - Camille DeMario Academic Scholarship: Awarded to

a student moving from kindergarten to first grade. Any current kindergarten

student who is enrolled in the early school is eligible to apply. Selected by the

early school/lower school principal and first-grade teacher based on the highest

score of the first-grade entrance exam. In addition to academic promise, this

student should demonstrate a strong desire to excel.


WESTON BRUNDAGE - Alumni Scholarship



effective technology integration,” she said.

Black also noted that with “Buy One, Give

One,” new promotional program from Osmo,

parents can purchase a kit for home use and the

company will donate a second one free of charge

to the classroom of their choice.




A relatively new application that shared space

on TIME Magazine’s “25 Best Inventions of 2014”

list with the Apple Watch and a high-beta fusion

reactor is now playing an increasingly more

important role in many classrooms at The Grosse

Pointe Academy.

Osmo, an app for children that its developers

say has phonetic roots with the word “awesome,”

takes a decidedly different approach to how

kids — or young students — interact with the

ubiquitous iPad. From TIME magazine: “Osmo’s

‘reflective AI’ attachment enables the iPad camera

to interpret physical objects — allowing kids to

mimic an onscreen pattern with colored tiles, for

example, and get rewarded for doing it correctly

(while also refining their motor skills).”

Megan Black, technology and learning

specialist for The Grosse Pointe Academy, says

Osmo was added to many classrooms in the Early

School through Grade 5 last school year.

“The students love ‘playing beyond the

screen,’” she said. “Osmo developed free apps

that work with their device to allow students to

use hands-on physical objects, such as letters,

tangrams, paper and many of the drawing tools

from the real world.”

Black said that by using the little add-on that

comes with the kit over the camera lens on an

iPad, the students’ creations are mirrored to the

tablet and vice versa so that they can physically

interact with the apps. “Osmo acts as as natural

bridge from Montessori-based learning to



Grosse Pointe Academy students in the 7th and 8th grades last spring

attained national recognition for performance on the 2015 National Spanish


According to Verónica Alatorre, the Spanish teacher for the Academy’s

4th through 8th graders, the test is over a two-day period, with the first day

testing student “achievement” (grammar and vocabulary), and the second

day testing student “proficiency” (listening and comprehension, plus reading

and comprehension). Alatorre noted that the GPA students were up against

primarily high-school students.

A bronze medal was awarded to 8th-grader Johnnae Curry, who scored

a 140/125 (student score/national average) on the first day and a 165/124 on

the second.

“The proficiency test, which is my favorite, is based in real-life situations,

such as articles from magazines, billboards, newspaper articles, etc.,” Alatorre

said. “The listening part of the proficiency test is interpreting regular-speed

conversations between native speakers, such as those on radio and TV


In addition to Curry’s bronze medal, GPA 8th-grader Kendall Adams

and 7th-graders Shekinah Aho, Katherine Gray, Joshua Roberts, Christopher

Scupholm and Emma Smith earned “honor roll” medals as a result of their

performance on the test.

“Attaining a medal or honors for any student on the National Spanish

Examinations is very prestigious,” said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, national

director of the exams.

About the National Spanish Examinations

The National Spanish Examinations are administered each year in grades

6 through 12, and are sponsored by the American Association of Teachers

of Spanish and Portuguese. They are the most widely used tests of Spanish

in the United States. In the spring of 2014, a total of 154,268 students

participated in the online version of the exam.




When the Detroit Children’s Choir Annual

Spring Concert opened on a Saturday afternoon

in May at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in

Detroit, a certain school on Lake Shore Road

in Grosse Pointe Farms played more than an

outsized role in its production.

In addition to the 11 Grosse Pointe Academy

students performing with the choir, and former

GPA music teacher Lauri Hogle, who is DCC’s

artistic director and director of concert chorale,

serving as conductor for the concert, a special

essay co-authored by Academy 4th graders Selga

Jansons and Grace Rahaim was read aloud to the

large crowd at the beginning of the program.

The theme for the concert, the ninth annual

spring concert for the DCC, was “The Beauty

Around Us,” and the DCC’s nine combined

choirs from more than twenty different cities in

southeast Michigan performed for the first time

on the historic stage of Orchestra Hall.

Three professional musicians from the

Detroit Symphony Orchestra also were on hand to

accompany the choirs: Joshua Jones, percussion,

Samantha Tartamella, flute, and Geoffrey Johnson,

oboe. The DCC’s Concert Chorale and the newly

formed Music Across Detroit Choir for older teens

performed Saturday.

Academy students who participated in the

concert were: Haleigh Howard, Selga Jansons,

Isabella Tomlinson, Angelo Cracchiolo, Megan

Driver, Brooke Popadich, Sadie Kuelling, Julia

Hartnett, Courtney Mecke, Caya Craig and Evelyn


GPA’s Hogle, who came to the Detroit area

in 2010, has been working with choirs of all ages

for over two decades. She has worked as a church

musician, directed children’s ministry, and served

as organist/pianist in a number of positions. She

is the former organist for the National Christian

Choir, based in Washington, D.C., and has served

as director of choruses at both high school and

middle school levels in various states, with her

students earning superior ratings and top awards,

including a Carnegie Hall performance. Hogle

also currently serves on the board of the Michigan

Kodály Educators Association and is completing

national Kodály certification in a Master of Music

Education program at Colorado State University.

Last spring, Hogle was honored in a special

ceremony as a “diversity champion” in the Detroit

area by the Race Relations & Diversity Task Force,

which is based in Birmingham, Mich.



In a moving ceremony held last spring in The Grosse Academy Chapel, 17

middle-school students were inducted in the National Junior Honor Society.

Assistant Head of School for Instruction and Grades 1-8 Principal

Lawrence DeLuca said one of the highlights of the ceremony was when the

students presented thank you notes to their parents.

“The parents read them and then put the NJHS pin on their son or

daughter’s collar. Most of the parents were in tears after reading the notes,”

he said.

Membership in the NJHS is one of the highest honors that can be

awarded to a middle-school student. Chapters in more than 5,000 middle

schools across the U.S. strive to give practical meaning to the goals of

scholarship, leadership, service, citizenship and character.

The new NJHS members from The Grosse

Pointe Academy are Shekinah Aho, Weston

Brundage, Isabella Cubba, Maria Fields, Noah

Humphries, Tierney Janovsky, Ryan Murphy,

Brooke Popadich, Blake Pradko, Josh Roberts,

Nafi Sall, Christopher Scupholm, Sade Shaw, Ian

Shogren, Isabella Tomlinson, Matthew Valente

and Emma Wujek.




At a breakfast held May

7 and sponsored by the Race

Relations & Diversity Task

Force, based in Birmingham,

Mich., former Grosse Pointe

Academy music teacher

Lauri Hogle was honored as a

“diversity champion.”

The Race Relations &

Diversity Task Force recognizes individuals in the Detroit area whose

vision of diversity has created a significant impact on others and “make an

invaluable contribution by helping to ensure that all people feel included

and empowered in the shared endeavors of your organization and in our

larger community.”

According to Hogle, the greatest form of social justice is “to give the

highest quality education to every child.”

And she goes out of her way to ensure this belief permeates every

aspect of her life and work.

She began her career providing music therapy to children with special

needs and then moved on to direct award-winning church and school

choirs in Washington, DC, and Atlanta.

Hogle taught GPA’s middle-school music classes for four years. She

now works full time as the artistic director of the Detroit Children’s Choir

in partnership with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The DCC’s mission

is to use the power of choral music education as a cultural platform to

unite children of diverse backgrounds. Its nine choirs offer performance

opportunities that are life changing in scope.


According to the Race Relations & Diversity Task Force, its goal is to

build awareness among area organizations in relation to issues of diversity

and inclusion, to stimulate the adoption and implementation of express

policies supportive of diversity and to promote the mission of the task


Further, they say a diversity champion will “be the conscience of

an organization, not settle for the status quo, embody the ideals of an

organization, envision new ways of inclusion, be a doer whose actions

speak of respect for others, be someone whose “circle of influence”

represents many kinds of people, and be an advocate who speaks out

against insensitivity and prejudice.”

Also, consistent with the task force goals, a diversity champion may

be someone who has helped an organization adopt or implement a policy

supportive of diversity and the ideas of inclusion.

The Grosse Pointe Academy cannot think of anyone more deserving of

this honor than Lauri Hogle. Congratulations!





Grosse Pointe Academy seventh

grader Maria Fields learned last spring

that she had won the top prize in a

speech and essay contest sponsored by

the Clinton Township Area Optimist


Fields presented an essay she wrote

on the G.R.O.W. program, which she

started at GPA to provide extra help to

Academy first and second graders with

their reading, schoolwork and homework.

G.R.O.W. stands for Generating Real

Opportunities for Wonder. Fellow

G.R.O.W. tutors and GPA students Emma

Smith, Nafi Sall and Shekinah Aho also

help Fields when and where needed.

Technology and Learning Specialist

Megan Black says Fields pretty much

manages the G.R.O.W. program on her

own. “Maria runs everything and even

provides the snacks,” Black said. “But all

the students are truly remarkable.”

According to Head of School

Lars Kuelling, Fields is one of GPA’s

Academy Scholars and has been heavily

involved with many school initiatives.

“Maria helped host the Catch Night of

Champions event last October in front of

400 attendees,” he noted.

School officials were on hand May 13

at the Optimist Club in Clinton Township

when Fields accepted her award from

club members.




Eight middle school students from The Grosse Pointe Academy joined

students from nine other schools affiliated with AIMS (Association of

Independent Michigan Schools) on April 16 at a Middle School Diversity

Symposium titled “#identity.” The symposium was held at Emerson School

in Ann Arbor.

All eight students from GPA— Samantha Savage, William Kendrick,

Henry Whitaker, Tai Daniels, Isabella Tomlinson, Brooke Popadich, Christina

Thomas, and Lexi Belyue—were self-selected by completing an online form

and reflecting on identity.

Throughout the day at Emerson, they took part in group activities,

including brainstorming preconceptions of identity, discussing racial bias,

privilege and how assumptions are made about socio-economic status.

“Our students seemed to have a great time meeting and connecting

with the other students,” said Megan Black, GPA’s technology and learning

specialist. “They represented our school with empathy and made meaningful

contributions. Madame El-Hosni and I couldn’t have been prouder.”

About AIMS: The Association of Independent Michigan Schools

(AIMS) is a non-profit organization of primary, elementary, and secondary

schools whose purpose is to support and advance independent education

in Michigan. The AIMS Southeast Michigan Diversity Committee (SEMDC)

is a consortium of representatives from member schools whose focus

it to promote professional development and education for faculty, staff,

administrators and students in the area of equity, justice, multicultural

education and diversity. The SEMDC plans and offers workshops and

symposiums to faculty, staff and student constituents.







At its annual Hall of Fame

banquet held Sunday, April 19, at the

Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center

in East Lansing, former Grosse Pointe

Academy creative writing teacher

Harvey Ovshinsky was inducted

into the Michigan Journalism Hall of


A longtime broadcaster,

documentarian and Oscar nominee,

Ovshinsky was on staff at the

Academy from 1989 to 2003 and

taught creative writing to the school’s

4th through 8th Graders.

“‘Find your backyard,’ is one of

many Harvey-isms,” according to a

release by the Michigan Journalism

Hall of Fame. “It comes from his

favorite children’s poet, James

Stevenson: ‘Front yards are boring.

Backyards tell stories.’ With his

‘backyard’ stories, Harvey Ovshinsky

has been a pathfinder and guide during his five-decade career that straddles

print, broadcast, digital, the big screen and the classroom.”

Ovshinsky’s career in journalism began at the age of 17, when he

started The Fifth Estate, the oldest surviving “underground” newspaper

in the country. At 22, Ovshinsky became the first news director of Detroit

alternative radio station WABX-FM and a talk show host. Later, he moved

into television at WXYZ-TV and went on to produce documentaries for local

and national broadcasts on difficult subjects such as youth violence, politics

and race as well as the struggles some young people have with depression.

He continues to hold production workshops and storytelling seminars to

generations of budding journalists at several universities.

Ovshinsky, who currently is president of Ann Arbor-based HKO Media

Inc., has received many awards including 15 regional Emmys, a national

Emmy, a Peabody and a DuPont-Columbia University Award Silver Baton

and multiple film festival recognitions, in addition to being nominated for an


Current GPA teacher Sasha Murphy is Ovshinsky’s daughter. Ovshinsky’s

father was noted scientist and inventor Stanford Ovshinsky, who passed

away in 2012.

Also inducted to the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Sunday were the

late Charlie Cain, former member of the state capital press corps, and Betty

DeRamus, author and former Detroit Free Press and Detroit News journalist

and columnist.




Middle school students from The Grosse

Pointe Academy learned in April that their

scores in Le Grand Concours, a highly

competitive French exam sponsored by the

American Association of Teachers of French

(AATF), were ranked very high compared with

national and local results.

This is the ninth straight year that GPA

students have participated in the national

competition and once again, many have done

exceedingly well. Of the nineteen students, 15

received medals, with six earning gold medals

by placing in the 95th percentile in the nation,

eight earning silver medals by placing in the

85th-90th percentile and one earning a bronze

medal by placing in the 75th-80th percentile.

Four students earned “mention d’honneur”

certificates, or honorable mentions, after

scoring in the 50th-70th percentile.

Then-seventh-grade gold medalist Maria

Fields scored a #4 national ranking and a #2

local Detroit-area chapter ranking on the test.

Eighth-grade gold medalists Samantha Savage

and Henry Whitaker each scored a #4 ranking

nationally and a #4 ranking for the local


According to middle school French and

social studies teacher Amal El-Hosni, the

purpose of Le Grand Concours test is to help

stimulate further interest in the teaching and

learning of French as well as to help identify

and reward student achievement.

“This sixty-minute national examination is

a multiple-choice test of approximately 70 items

covering listening comprehension, vocabulary,

grammar and reading comprehension,” she

said. “Students take tests that are appropriate

for the French curriculum in which they are

enrolled and their scores are then ranked

against national and local students who are

enrolled in similar curricula.”

El-Hosni said the test is a very good

indication of how the Academy’s French

program is fairing compared to hundreds of

schools at the national level.


A summary of GPA student results are

shown below, with national percentile, followed

by national rank and Detroit chapter rank. Sixth

graders do not get a Detroit chapter rank.

6TH GRADERS (2014-15)

Julia Hartnett: 90th, 5 Silver Medal

Danielle Patterson: 85th, 7 Silver Medal

Christina Thomas: 85th, 7 Silver Medal

Lizzy Kendrick: 85th, 7 Silver Medal

Sadie Kuelling: 85th, 7 Silver Medal

Billy Vogel: 85th, 8 Silver Medal

Courtney Mecke: 80th, 9 Bronze Medal

Alex Kelly: 70th, 12 Honorable Mention

7TH GRADERS (2014-15)

Maria Fields: 95th, 4, 2 Gold Medal

Brooke Popadich: 95th, 5, 3 Gold Medal

Nafi Sall: 95th, 5, 3

Gold Medal

Blake Pradko: 95th, 6, 4 Gold Medal

Aiden Kuelling: 90th, 8, 6 Silver Medal

Molly Woods: 90th, 8, 6 Silver Medal

Sade Shaw: 60th, 19, 15 Honorable Mention

8TH GRADERS (2014-15)

Samantha Savage: 95th, 4, 4 Gold Medal

Henry Whitaker: 95th, 4, 4 Gold Medal

Imani White: 60th, 18, 18 Honorable Mention

Karmella Williams: 50th, 22, 22 Honorable Mention


Middle School students in Robert Rochte’s R.E.A.L. class

embarked on a near-space journey on Thursday, January 29,

with the launching of the 30’ balloon they built. Although

the balloon was launched with helium due to the weather

conditions, it was designed to fly throughout the day as a “solar

Montgolfiere” or solar hot-air balloon.

The balloon was equipped with a payload box containing

a GPS tracker (which unfortunately malfunctioned) and a mini

digital camcorder that was running when it took off. The hope

was that the students would be able to witness its journey

if the balloon was ever found. A label on the box included

instructions for its safe return to GPA.

“All of our predictions suggested it would land sometime

on Wednesday night, probably around 8 p.m., in northwestern

Ohio,” said director of technology Rochte, who also teaches

mathematics and computer science in addition to the Near

Space Explorations elective. The elective is part of GPA’s

R.E.A.L. (Real-world Experiences and Applied Learning)

program, which provides opportunities for students to engage

in real-world tasks that extend classroom learning, employ

cross-disciplinary thinking, make connections to the world

outside of their classroom walls, and create innovative solutions

and products as a result of their hard work.

The balloon, having completed its descent in the middle

of a field, was found by a man from Foster Farms outside of

Roanoke, Virginia.

“We never dreamed it would somehow make it all the way

to Virginia!” Rochte said. “Mr. Foster’s call on Friday morning

was the talk of the school all day.”

One early speculation for the balloon’s unexpected voyage

is that the helium diffusion rate was not as high as expected;

with some left-over gas in the balloon, the descent was

extremely slow. According to Rochte, this would have allowed

the balloon to travel much farther with the jet stream. He

estimates the balloon traveled approximately 400 miles. “Our

farthest ever GPA balloon flight was 933 miles, back in March

of 2007. That one almost landed in the Atlantic!”

While the balloon will be returned, it enjoyed a brief detour

to Shawsville Middle School in Montgomery County. Before

shipping it back to GPA, Drema Foster, the wife of the man who

found the balloon, took it to the school for the students to see

how it was constructed. She also sent pictures of the area in

which it was found.

“You will get an idea of how many mountains surround

the area the balloon was found in,” Foster wrote to Rochte in

an email. “It’s really quite amazing it landed in the middle of a

field and not in the woods.”

Rochte processed the video from the balloon and it is

available in the Latest News section of GPA’s website.






Professional engineers, designers and

architects routinely congregate in seminars

and workshops to share best practices, conduct

research, and study trends and issues as part

of their continuous career improvement. The

teaching vocation is no different. Those charged

with educating our children also get together

often for professional improvement, and schoolsanctioned

professional development (PD) days

are an important part of that activity.

As inherent learners themselves, teachers use

PD days to stay on top of trends and technology

that affect the work they do with students. That is

especially evident at The Grosse Pointe Academy,

where a combination of on-campus and off-site

PD days, seminars and classes contributes to

making its faculty one of the most well-qualified

and innovative teaching staffs in the state.

In fact, as GPA students enjoyed the last

day of their spring break on April 6, their

teachers were in the middle of another day-long

PD session, one of seven days of professional

development scheduled for the school during this


“We have one main PD day in the fall and

one in the spring,” said Jennifer Kendall, the

Academy’s assistant head of school for early

school education and admissions. “We also use

three days for professional development before

the students return in the fall and two after they

leave at the end of the year.”


Research has proven again and again that the

quality of instruction is the most important factor

that parents look for when choosing a school for

their children.

According to Learning Forward, a Dallasbased

association advocating for educators, when

parents of students are asked what they want for

their children, there is overwhelming agreement

that they want the best teacher possible in

every classroom. “The most important factor

contributing to a student’s success in school is

the quality of teaching,” the organization said in

a report titled “Why Professional Development

Matters.” While parents may not be familiar with

this research, Learning Forward says they are

united in their desire to ensure great teaching for

every child every day.

Claudia Leslie, a French teacher and library

specialist at GPA, is the chair of the school’s

professional development committee. She said

the on-campus PD events for teachers on April

6 included “a teachers ed camp, tech/STEAM

presentations and a Mini-Maker Faire.”


Off-campus, there also is plenty of opportunity

for GPA teachers to gain additional knowledge and


“During the year, six of our teachers visited

schools across the country to gather and share ideas,”

Kendall said.

She said the Academy’s Innovation Grant

program, which was largely funded by the school’s

auction in May of 2014, is intended to provide

faculty and staff with the opportunity to visit

and learn from cutting-edge programs at other

independent schools across the country.

GPA Head of School Lars Kuelling said the

school’s teachers are always seeking innovative ideas

to make their classrooms more vibrant for their

students. “We were so fortunate to have had this

additional [Innovation Grant] funding to support

new ways to make The Grosse Pointe Academy the

best learning environment possible.”






Designers and engineers from kindergarten

to grade 8 got together in the spring at The Grosse

Pointe Academy to showcase their inventions in

the school’s own version of a Mini Maker Faire.

It’s the first time GPA has formally presented

this work in a Maker Faire format, but it won’t be

the last, according to the school’s technology and

learning specialist, Megan Black.

“Our students have been doing some amazing

things with technology over the past few years

as part of our vibrant STEAM program,” she said.

“It just made sense to tie some of it together in

a Maker Faire.” STEAM refers to GPA’s science,

technology, engineering, arts and math initiative.

One of the most interesting projects at the

Maker Faire was called “squishy circuits,” which

involved mixing up the right combination of

conductive and non-conductive play dough to

light up multi-colored diodes. Students as young

as five used the doughy material, batteries and

a few wires to explore electrical concepts like

resistance, conductivity, and parallel and series


“The kids had to design the circuits and

make certain that the insulating play dough was

separated from the conducting play dough and

that the diodes were facing the correct way,”

Black said. “Our young electrical engineers were


Meanwhile, GPA seventh graders were in

the lower school gymnasium during the Maker

Faire to show off the robots they designed, built

and programmed to play soccer. Using iPads

for controllers, the students ran their “players”

through some pretty intricate maneuvers on the

gym floor.

Earlier in the school year, according to Black,

GPA eighth graders and their first-grade “buddies”

put on a robot parade of floats highlighting the

periodic table of elements.

“The student teams were each responsible for

designing and building a robot capable of pulling

at least two trailers,” she said. “These robotic

parade floats were a great way of showing just

how much they know about chemical elements,

their properties and ultimate uses.”

School officials said they also hosted a teacher

Maker Faire on its professional development

day in April. Black said this fall there also are

plans to have a family Maker Faire event at the

school “with lots of making, experimenting and




Serving his country at

the State Department

Patrick Ball is with

U.S. Secretary of

State John Kerry on a

2013 visit to Amman,


A career with the Foreign Service in the U.S.

Department of State may look glamorous and

exotic to many. Worldwide travel. Governmentpaid

housing. Generous pay and benefits. But

in some instances, according to the department

itself, working as a foreign service officer can be

very challenging and sometimes even dangerous.

As a foreign service officer, “you can expect

to be assigned to hardship posts,” says the

State Department. “You may face an irregular

or extended work schedule. These posts can

be in remote locations, without many U.S.-

style amenities; there can be sporadic power

outages, unreliable Internet service, etc. Health

and sanitation standards can be far below

U.S. standards. And some assignments are

‘unaccompanied,’ which means family

members may not travel to the post

with you.”

But for Patrick Ball, an alumnus

of The Grosse Pointe Academy

and a foreign service officer in

the State Department, just like

all of his previous posts, he is

relishing his next one, which

begins in August in Iraq.

“I am very much looking

forward to my assignment in

Baghdad, and I expect that it

will be both a challenging and

rewarding experience,” he said.

Challenging and

rewarding. It appears that

Ball likely has never run from

the former and because of

that, he’s been able to enjoy a

career thus far characterized

by much of the latter, even

though he’s still a relatively

young man.


“My first assignment with State

was as an economic officer and consular

officer in Georgetown, Guyana,” he said.

“For my second assignment, I served as

an economic officer in Amman, Jordan,

where I specialized in energy issues.”


After graduating from GPA in 1994 and then

Grosse Pointe South High School in 1998, Ball

attended Tulane University in New Orleans on

a U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship. After that, it was

law school at Wayne State University. But while

he was an undergrad at Tulane, Ball joined the

ROTC, which eventually led to a commission as a

surface warfare officer with the Navy.

“Serving in the military is part of my family’s

tradition,” Ball said. “As a young child, I have

always admired my relatives’ service to their

country. It was an honor to serve in the Navy

as a officer, especially in the challenging years

following 9/11.”

After finishing up four years of active duty

in the Navy, Ball still wanted to continue serving

his country, and since working for the federal

government seemed to be a genuine calling, he

signed up with the U.S. Department of State and

became a foreign service officer.

Foreign service officers work in U.S. embassies

and consulates, he said, and their primary mission

is to advance U.S. foreign policy interests and

provide help to American citizens abroad. He

liked that idea very much.

“My first assignment with State was as

an economic officer and consular officer in

Georgetown, Guyana,” he said. “For my second

assignment, I served as an economic officer

in Amman, Jordan, where I specialized in

energy issues.”

It wasn’t all work, however, according to


“Even though we were always really

busy, it nonetheless was exciting to have

such rich cultural experiences available

when we could get out of the office,” he said.

“In Georgetown, where I developed an interest

in birdwatching, there are over 700 bird species

packed into a very small geographic territory. And

Jordan’s many historic sites, like the Dead Sea,

Petra and Wadi Rum, were fascinating to visit.”For

Ball’s upcoming year-long “visit” to Baghdad, he

will have someone very close to him as company

during his assignment. His wife, Emily, who is an

economics officer with the State Department, will

be serving with him there at the same time.


It perhaps goes without saying that Iraq is

a long way from Michigan and Grosse Pointe

Farms. But Ball believes his education as a

youngster, especially his time at the Academy, was

instrumental in getting him to where he is today.

“I really appreciate all the teachers and staff

who were so important in my schooling at the

Academy,” he said. “I began at GPA in pre-school

in 1982 and I still have fond memories of many

teachers and administrators—especially my

kindergarten teacher, Anne Carson, my 4thand

5th-Grade teacher, Bob Lapadot, and those

summer trips with our science teacher, Mike


Patrick Ball is with

his wife, Emily Ball,

far left, and sister,

Katherine Ball, in

Jordan in 2013.



GPA alum

wrapping up

Fulbright in


Katherine Ball, who graduated from The

Grosse Pointe Academy in 1998, is finishing

up a year-long stint this August with the J.

William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship program

in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has been

working with Danish authorities and community

activists on sustainability initiatives in water and


Ball is one of only about 1,900 U.S. citizens

who travel abroad each academic year through

the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients

of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis

of academic and professional achievement as

well as demonstrated leadership potential. It’s a

prestigious honor to get a Fulbright and not just

anyone gets one. To date, 53 Fulbright alumni

from 12 countries have been awarded the Nobel

Prize, and 82 more have received Pulitzer Prizes.

For Ball, however, it’s not about the prestige.

She says she wants to take what she’s learned in

Denmark, add a next move to troubled Greece to

help out with its currently dire economy and then

eventually come back to the states to work on

water issues in California and Detroit.

“I’m going to Greece to work with a few

different community groups there,” Ball said.

“Since the economic situation is so bad due to

the troika’s financial coercion, a lot of people are

coming up with alternatives out of necessity –

different ways of making a living and working

together cooperatively. I want to go to Greece to

learn from people there, interview them and write

another short book about it.”

Coming back to the states to apply what she’s

learned in Europe will undoubtedly give Ball a

head start in tackling what conceivably could

be—and for many, it already is—the next great

crisis bearing down on America: climate change.

But she won’t be starting fresh in the U.S.


In 2010, Ball and three cohorts bicycled across

the United State to learn more about the climate

crisis and its possible solutions.

“3,094 miles, 91 days, 13 states, 21

communities, four bicyclists, one support car

driver, and 45 solutions to the climate crisis,”

she wrote on a blog after completing the trip,

which was dubbed “the Solutions Revolution.”

Ball and friends biked from Portland, Oregon, to

Washington D.C., after which they took a train to

Florida and then sailed across the Gulf of Mexico

to attend a United Nations Climate Change

Conference that was held in Cancun, Mexico, that


Her cycling trip included stops at Montana

State University, where she met with a mycologist

who talked about his discovery of gliocladium

roseum, an endophytic fungus that produces

biofuel, and with a local furniture maker in Idaho

who powers his hand-built, off-the-grid home

and workshop with a micro-hydropower system

propelled by a local creek.

But it was a stop in her hometown of Detroit

that opened Ball’s eyes to how creative some

people can be when it comes to sustainability

solutions and environmental consciousness.

“In downtown Detroit, we visited the

Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public school

for pregnant teens and preteens,” Ball said.

“When a science teacher there discovered that

formaldehyde in their dissection animals is

harmful to pregnant women, he realized he


“Since the economic situation is so bad due to the

troika’s financial coercion, a lot of people are coming

up with alternatives out of necessity – different ways

of making a living and working together cooperatively.

I want to go to Greece to learn from people there,

interview them and write another short book about it.”

needed to find another way for students to receive

an equal educational experience without the

toxins. So he and the students started a farm in

the lots behind the school—complete with a red

barn, chickens, geese, goats, orchards, vegetable

plots, bees, and even a horse.”

In addition to the students growing and selling

produce for Detroit residents, Ball said they use

the farm as a laboratory, so whenever an animal

dies, the whole school gathers to dissect it to

discover the cause of death.

Ball’s bicycle trip ended with a busy few days

in Washington, D.C., where she and her colleagues

met with 20 different legislative offices to talk

about their concerns.

said. “And I’ve been conducting lots of interviews

with people who help make the electricity,

clean the water, plan roads and bike paths, and

organize community centers. I’m transcribing

all the interviews into a short book and since my

Fulbright is associated with the Royal Danish

Academy of Fine Arts, I have access to their

printing equipment and can print the book there.

This spring, I had a book debut at the LA Art

Book Fair and in the fall, it will be at the New

York Book Fair. It’s a collection of oral histories

of people living in the Mojave Desert. Hopefully

the book I print in Copenhagen will take a similar

trajectory to that one.”

Continued on page 31


Even though her educational journeys thus

far have been all over the country and in many

parts of the world, Ball credits The Grosse

Pointe Academy and its teachers and staff with

giving her a great academic beginning. After the

Academy, and after she graduated from Grosse

Pointe South High School, she matriculated at

the University of Wisconsin, where she received

a BS degree in art, and where she also used

a university greenhouse to experiment with

growing plants for live use in her sculptures. She

then attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine

Arts in Copenhagen, and finally, to Portland State

University, where she earned an MFA in art and

social practice.

Ball will tell you, however, that it’s getting

out and talking to people and finding out about

their needs that is the most important part of her

ongoing education.

“My Fulbright research focused on the

infrastructure of the country of Denmark,” Ball

(Left) GPA alum

Katherine Ball (’98) is

in the halls of Congress

at the end of her 2010

bike tour

(Left) A mycoboom

placed by Ball as part

of a series of ecological

interventions aimed at

filtering E. coli out of a

lake in Indiana.



Coming home,

staying home

Early School teacher with deep Grosse Pointe

Academy roots is right where she belongs, says the

most important part of her job is having a safe,

secure, and welcoming classroom for her children.

Growing up in the Pointes, GPA Early School

teacher Peggy Varty (below, with husband, John)

and her family were well aware of that big school

building on Lake Shore Road.

Varty attended the Academy of the Sacred

Heart through eighth grade when ASH occupied

the campus and buildings now operated by

GPA. Her two children attended GPA, a great

aunt graduated from ASH in 1909 and her sister

finished at ASH in 1967. But it was her brother,

Bob, whose experience at Sacred Heart in its stillnascent

Montessori program first convinced her

of the value of the innovative teaching program

founded in Europe in the early 1900s by Maria


When Varty was a freshman in high school at

St. Paul, her grandmother became quite ill and her

mother was spending a lot of time at the hospital.

Varty’s mother called Mother Bayo, who was the

principal of ASH at the time, to see if there was

an opening at ASH’s Montessori school for Varty’s

then four-year-old brother. Fortunately, Varty said,

he was able to get into the school’s afternoon

session, which helped the situation at home quite

a bit, but also made a profound impact on her

little brother.

“In our family of five children, we were

very impressed with what Bob was learning

at Montessori and what he could do at such a

young age,” Varty said. “None of us had gone to

preschool, so it was a new experience for our

family. When visitors would come over to the

house, we would have Bob do all of his ‘learning

tricks’ and he was more than happy to show off

his skills. He loved school and he loved learning.”

What was interesting, said Varty, was that

her brother’s first teacher at ASH was from the

Netherlands and did not even speak English.

“But in a Montessori classroom, especially for

the younger students, you really don’t need

many verbal instructions,” she said. “And most

Montessori teachers in the early ‘60s received

their training in Europe.”

From those early days on, her brother’s

Montessori experience was always in the back of

her mind, Varty said.

Varty recollects walking from St. Paul after

school to pick up her little brother from ASH.

“The boys wore gray wool short-alls, white shortsleeve

shirts with Peter Pan collars, gray knee

socks and red tie oxford shoes,” she said. “They

looked adorable.”

As an aside, Varty wants it known that her

brother has been extremely successful in his life.

“And I attribute that success directly to his

GPA Early School teacher Peggy Varty,

left, is with husband, John.


Varty is with daughter, Meg, who

attended The Grosse Pointe Academy.

later she became a certified AMS Montessori


Varty pointed out, though, that Montessori

teachers are not really called teachers. “We are

Montessori directresses,” she said, with a smile.

early experience in a Montessori school,” she

said. “Bob has always been self-directed, focused,

and up for any challenge, which I attribute to his

Montessori beginnings.”



When Varty went to college at St. Mary’s in

Notre Dame, Ind., she did not go to be a teacher.

She was a humanistic studies major, which

involves the study of literature, music, art and

cultural history—from feudalism to present time.

It’s an interdisciplinary program that encourages

students to think across traditional departmental


“It was a fascinating major because it

encompassed such a wide range of learning,” she

said. “We read the literature of that time, studied

the art during that time frame, and by studying

the history through the culture, it explained why

certain events happened. In hindsight, it was

the perfect major for a Montessori teacher since

a Montessori teacher tries to develop the whole

child and expose him or her to a wide, wide range

of learning.”

It was during her time in college that Varty

became more fascinated with Montessori and

even more so as she got closer to graduation. As

a senior, she managed to get into an independent

study program at a Montessori school in town

where she worked three afternoons a week.

“I loved it! I worked at the sound table and

taught the children their sounds. Children love

that one-on-one time and I loved helping the

children learn their sounds and then learn to


When she graduated from college, Varty

immediately took Montessori training and a year


Soon after graduation from St. Mary’s and

right after she completed Montessori training,

Varty got married. Her husband, John, worked in

advertising and marketing, and his job took the

couple across the country for a number of years.

But her Montessori training was never far

from wherever she called home. She taught at

schools in Cincinnati, Dayton and Kansas City,

and even started a new Montessori school when

she lived in Denver.

She took a break from teaching when her two

children were young, but Varty eventually got

back into education while living in Dove Canyon,


“I taught art to grades K through six at four

different public schools in southern California,”

she said. “I would travel to a different school each

week. I did that for three years.”

When it looked like her family was moving

back to Grosse Pointe, Varty contacted the

principal of the Early School at GPA to find

out about possible openings. Fortunately there

were, she said, and in August of 1995, she came

back home and began to teach Montessori at the


“Since ASH was part of my childhood I already

knew the layout of the campus and the buildings,”

she said. “I had fond memories of my time at

ASH, so getting to GPA was like my life had come

full circle. We were gone from Grosse Pointe for

23 years, so it was kind of ironic that when we

came back to town, I was teaching at a school

that I actually attended. And we bought a home

two doors down from the home in which I grew

up. My children went to GPA as well, so I got to

experience the school again through their eyes.”

Continue on page 31



2011 GPA grads head to college with

$1.5 million plus in scholarship offers

When compared with other 8th-grade classes

at The Grosse Pointe Academy, the Class of 2011’s

stellar academic successes are not that unusual.

Many in the class, which headed to college in the

fall, have been accepted to prestigious universities

to study everything from engineering and visual

arts to biomedical research. Other GPA classes

likewise have found themselves with similar

opportunities in post-secondary institutions.

But for the 16 students who finished up at 171

Lake Shore Road in June of 2011, two things might

stand out. One, there were 15 boys and only one

girl in the class.

But it’s the second thing that might really make

one stop and stare.

According to school officials, well over $1.5

million in academic scholarships have been offered

to date to those 16 students. That works out to

about $100,000 average in scholarship offers for

each grad, an impressive number any way it’s

measured and more than any other GPA class in

recent memory.

Carmella Goree is one of those grads. She

recently learned that she’s been named a REBUILD

Detroit Scholar, which brought from the University

of Detroit Mercy a scholarship totaling more than

$140,000. She plans to matriculate at UDM in the

fall, but that decision wasn’t easy for her, especially

since she received significant offers from a number

of other prestigious universities.

Goree graduated this spring from Grosse

Pointe South High School, and she credits her GPA

education for getting her through a successful high

school career and for setting her up for college.

“Grosse Pointe Academy offered such a wide

variety within every class, we were able to explore

our interests in many ways,” she said. “Then, when

I got to South, I was able to choose the classes I

wanted based more on my interests. With the help

of the Academy, I was able to broaden my visions

beyond the norm and find my own niche.”

Goree’s fellow GPA alum, George Spica, also

appears to have benefitted from his time at GPA.

He’s been accepted at the acclaimed Bard College

in New York’s Hudson Valley and

the School of the Art Institute of

Chicago, where he was offered

a substantial scholarship. But

it was an offer from New York

University’s Steinhardt School that

will take him to Greenwich Village

this fall to study visual arts.

Spica, who just finished up at

the Interlochen Arts Academy,

said GPA also set him up for a

secondary and post-secondary

education in the arts.

“I attended GPA from preschool to grade eight

and what I now realize is that the tradition and

rigor that characterizes a GPA education is in fact

what enabled me to engage in more unorthodox

means of learning in my high school years,” Spica

said. “In other words, I was so comfortable and

well-versed in my academics after graduating from

the Academy, I was far more open to the idea of

alternative-learning methods as I matured in the

context of an art school.”

Spica and Goree’s classmates R.J. McCarren,

Jared Brush, Mac Carroll, Matthew Homsy, Joseph

Cavataio, Jack Weaver, Nikolas Minanov, Charles

Becker, Andrew Almasy, Jonathan Valente, James

Scott, Sam Williams, McCalla Mecke and Michael

Schaller fill out the rest of GPA’s Class of 2011. They

too received acceptances or many large scholarship

offers from a long list of universities that includes

Johns Hopkins, Michigan, Case Western, Carnegie

Mellon, Georgia Tech and USC.

See page 11 for a complete list of universities

and colleges to which the GPA Class of 2011 were


(Above) GPA alum

Carmella Goree (’11) is

attending U-D Mercy

as a REBUILD Detroit



Academy alum earns big scholarship for

biomedical research, wants to help those in need

Some of Carmella Goree’s favorite

memories of The Grosse Pointe Academy

involve a 4th-grade special activity, a great

8th-grade trip to Ohio and graduation.

But it’s clear that from her first days on

campus as a three-year-old Montessori

student to finishing up as an 8th grader

in 2011, she was paying close attention

to everything else in the classroom and

beyond at this highly accredited private

school in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Goree learned shortly after her high

school graduation that she had been

named a REBUILD Detroit Scholar,

which brought from the University of

Detroit Mercy a scholarship totaling more

than $140,000. Funded by the National

Institutes of Health, a Rebuild Detroit scholarship

is designed to encourage more undergraduate

students to pursue careers in biomedical research.

It is a partnership between the University of

Detroit Mercy, Marygrove College, Wayne County

Community College District and Wayne State

University and is supported by a $21.2 million

grant from the NIH.

Goree, who graduated from Grosse Pointe South

High School in the spring, plans to eventually land

in medical school and work in urban America


“I want to go into the more impoverished areas

of cities like Detroit and find out what is affecting

the health and well-being of the citizens,” she

said. “I’d like to find solutions for them, especially

focusing on the health of young people and young



Goree says that getting to her final decision on

a university was difficult, but a “good difficult.”

Besides U-D Mercy, she was accepted at and

received scholarship offers from a number of other

prestigious universities, but she thought UDM

overall was the best fit.

“I feel that U of D will offer me the most

support,” she said. “And I think it will be the right

nurturing environment in order for me to succeed.”

Success is something Goree appears to know

very well. Among many accolades received during

her tenure at GPA, she was inducted into the

National Junior Honor Society as a 6th grader

and as a 7th grader was the recipient of the

Thelma Fox Murray Scholarship Award, which

is given each year to an upcoming 8th-grade girl

who demonstrates integrity, humility, a sense of

humor, athletic achievement and overall academic

excellence. She also was chosen to give the student

“state of the school” address earlier this year.

But the academic foundation Goree received

at the Academy was more than just awards and

society memberships. She said The Grosse Pointe

Academy was a big part of why she did so well in

high school.


Goree also said she has a lot of great memories

from her time at the Academy.

“One of my fondest memories is from Mrs.

Demartini’s 4th-grade ‘breakfast club Wednesdays’

when each week a student had a chance to bring

in and share with the class what they might have

for breakfast in their own home,” she said. “It was a

fun experience, especially when it was my turn and

my mother and I brought in chicken and waffles

for the class!”

It is also worth noting that Goree was the only

girl in her 8th-grade graduating class of 16 at GPA.

But she remembers it never being an issue at all.

“Even though I was the only girl in the grade,

the boys really took care of me throughout our

whole last year at GPA,” she said. “We had a great

8th-grade trip to Ohio, great times in classes and

they all bought me flowers at graduation. To this

day, they will always be my brothers.”



Academy grad heads

to the University of

Michigan to study

engineering and physics

This past spring, Grosse Pointe Academy alum

Joseph Cavataio finished a busy orientation at the

University of Michigan, but agreed to answer a

number of questions about the time he spent at

both GPA and Cranbrook-Kingswood as well as

his future at Michigan and beyond.

Cavataio, who is a 2011 graduate of the

Academy, also recently found out that he’s

already received eight college credits from U-M

for Chinese and four for calculus based on

his performance in high school. He gave a big

shout-out for GPA’s chemistry class, saying that

it definitely prepared him well for high school

chemistry, which led to him placing out of all

of his required U-M chemistry classes—even

though he only took one honors chemistry class at


Cavataio is proud of his accomplishments at

Cranbrook—and there are many—but he is most

proud of the nonprofit he founded at the school

to help children around the world. Called “Cranes

for Change,” Cavataio’s organization has provided

assistance to children from Brazil, Haiti and

Indonesia, among others.

“We also organized and conducted a mission

to Nicaragua during my junior year where we

donated a computer and books to a rural school,”

he said. “And during my senior year, we visited

Honduras and worked with another nonprofit

organization that aids needy children. Cranes for

Change also is planning to use much of its funds

to build a rural school in Honduras.”

Among Cavataio’s other accomplishments and

accolades received during his time at Cranbrook

were making the Dean’s list every semester he

was there, a Chinese award as a freshman, a high

finish in the Chinese Quiz Bowl, and scoring

superior ratings in both Bach and Schoolcraft

piano competitions. (Cavataio has studied and

played classical piano for 12 years.)

He also was captain of the C-K tennis team

during his senior year, nominated for a scholarathlete

award and received most valuable player

honors in varsity tennis for the Cranes. And if all

of that didn’t keep him busy enough, Cavataio was

a member of the school’s robotics team, soccer

club and Entrepreneur Club.


At Michigan, Cavataio plans to study physics

and engineering. “I am interested in both

medicine and engineering and thought this would

be a great way to combine both fields of interest,”

he said. “Students who major in engineering and

physics typically score the highest on the MCATs

(Medical College Admission Test) so it’s a great

vehicle to medical school if I chose to go that


As far as what kind of engineering he will

study in college, he’s not 100% sure, “but I am

interested in both the mechanical and chemical


“The Academy definitely

prepared me to be a


It’s pretty obvious that Cavataio has a bright

future and that with the education he’s received

from his elementary and high schools, he is well

prepared for college and for a career. He said

he’s especially grateful for the time spent at The

Grosse Pointe Academy, which for him began in

the Early School.

“The Academy definitely prepared me to be

a leader,” he said. “Because of the small class

sizes at GPA, we had the opportunity to be in

the limelight quite often and that gave me the

confidence to pursue leadership opportunities in

high school.”

He stressed again how well prepared he was

for most of his high school classes, including one


called World Views and Civilizations—for which

he said he benefited from the great exposure to

world religions he received during GPA’s Christian

Life class—and his Chinese, math and physics

classes at Cranbrook.

“My freshman year at Cranbrook was relatively

easy for me since I was so far ahead academically,”

Cavataio said. “I’ve noticed that many other

students from The Grosse Pointe Academy also

end up in leadership positions at Cranbrook,

ranging from class president to editor of the

school newspaper.”

Cavataio isn’t the only one from his family

who is benefiting from an Academy education.

His brother, Piero, graduated GPA in the

spring and is now attending Cranbrook with a

scholarship, and his sister, Gabriela, is currently

at University Liggett’s upper school. Another

brother, Alessandro, is in the 7th grade at GPA.

One last followup question for Joseph

involved plans he might have after he finishes

his undergrad at U-M: “I will either go to medical

school or graduate school,” he said without any


And it is without any hesitation that we can

say that the world is already in a much better

place with Joseph Cavataio in it. It appears that its

future will be in a better place as well.

GPA alum wrapping up

Fulbright in Denmark

continued from pg. 25

After she gets to Greece in the fall, Ball

hopes also to spend more time in Germany

and Paris to learn more and to “make more


“I have some invitations to do different art

projects in Cologne, Hamburg, and Paris, she

said. “Eventually, I would like to come back to

the U.S. to work on water issues in California

and Detroit. I’ve made a few sculptures that

organically redesign kitchen and bathroom

sinks. I think these designs could be helpful

in areas where there are water shortages or

water shutoffs. The ‘sculptural sinks’ function

just like normal sinks except they use

rainwater collected from rooftops.”

And, she said, rather than connecting

to the sewer system, her sculptural sinks

use mushrooms to clean the wastewater

and plants to consume the wastewater and

transpire it into the air – “thereby returning it

to the hydrologic cycle.”

It all sounds extremely intriguing, and if

all goes according to Ball’s ideas and plans,

despite a sometimes bleak forecast, it looks

like there is much to be optimistic about for

the future of the planet.

Academy grad Joseph

Cavataio, left, is with


varsity tennis teammates.

Cavataio is attending the

University of Michigan,

studying engineering

and physics.

Coming home, staying home

continued from pg. 27

Now heading into her 20th year at the

Academy, Varty says without question, the

most important part of her job is having a

safe, secure, and welcoming classroom for her


“The Early School is the child’s first school

experience,” she said. “You want the child

to have a positive experience so they will

associate school with learning and fun, and

nurturing is such an important aspect of

working with small children. I actually relate

well to three, four, and five year olds. I love to

see the progress in their development from

the time I meet them until they graduate

from kindergarten. It is also fun to watch

them mature into young adults when they get

to the ‘big school.’”





More than 90 children who signed up for

The Grosse Pointe Academy’s 2015 edition of

Camp Invention were busy this past August

as one of the most popular camps of the

school’s summer program began in earnest

on GPA’s lakeside campus. According to Camp

Invention director and GPA science teacher

Michelle Roberts, the special “Invention”

course offered last year was called “M.O.V.E.:

Motion, Obstacles, Variety, Excitement.”

The camp is designed for students

entering grades one through six, and

immerses them in a weeklong experience

where they’ll discover creativity and

inventiveness through hands-on, creative

problem-solving activities.

Participants will use their imagination as

they reach for the stars and get in motion,

overcome obstacles, make variations to classic

games and build excitement during this

activity! During this high-energy and vibrant

series of physical activities that promote 21stcentury

thinking and moving, campers will

be encouraged to exercise their teamwork,

cooperation and collaboration skills. Students

will strategize and problem solve their way to

self-confidence through an activity that’s like

recess, only reinvented!

About Camp Invention: Camp Invention

is the only nationally recognized, non-profit

elementary enrichment program backed by

the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Over

the past 40 years, and in partnership with the

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office,

Camp Invention programs have encouraged

nearly two million children, teachers, parents,

college students and independent inventors to

explore science, technology and their own innate

creativity, inventiveness and entrepreneurial





A major component of this year’s “Fête des Amis” Action Auction, which

was held May 9 on GPA’s campus, was the special ‘paddle-raise’ appeal

dedicated to the preservation of campus buildings and grounds. According to

school officials, net proceeds from the paddle-raise, which totaled in excess

of $125,000, are being used in support of preservation of the Academy’s

historic buildings and grounds.

Over the past summer break, a number of the major initiatives included

in the preservation plan already have been completed. The phone system

school-wide has been significantly upgraded, driveways and parking lots

have been resealed, a new integrated camera/intercom door-entry security

system was installed at all main building entrances, and major tuckpointing

work on many of the brick and limestone joints was completed prior to

school opening in September.

Head of School Lars Kuelling said that these much-needed repairs

and maintenance efforts may not generate the same kind of excitement

as curriculum development or technology enhancements. “But they do

play an important role in sustaining and protecting the nurturing learning

environment inherent in a Grosse Pointe Academy education,” he said. “We

are especially thankful that our generous community came through once

again to help make these improvements happen.”

Kuelling also wanted to make sure all involved knew how grateful he

and the rest of the Academy administration were for all of the hard work

that went into not only the paddle-raise, but the entire auction weekend.

“I would like to thank everyone who had a part in this tremendous event,

especially our co-chairs, Fay and Paul Savage and Lindsey and

Tom Buhl, who put in a great deal of voluntary time in

order to ensure the success of this year’s auction.”

More than 90 children signed up

for The Grosse Pointe Academy’s

2015 edition of Camp Invention

this past August. It is one of

the most popular camps of the

school’s summer program.


Mad for


What do you call a group of five dads who got

together five years ago because of a huge shared

passion for Montessori education? And what do you

call that same group who decided last April to fly a

large banner over Manhattan with a cryptic message

for the mayor: “Bill de Blasio, make it Montessori.”

And finally, what do you call these five guys who call

Montessori teachers not teachers, but “artists” and


You call them “Montessori Madmen,” of course.

Trevor Eissler, chief madman, who when he’s

not piloting corporate planes is tirelessly tooting the

Montessori horn for anybody who will listen, says

the innovative academic philosophy that has been

at GPA longer than any other school in Michigan is

“simply the best way to educate children, period.”

In an interview earlier this year with The Grosse

Pointe Academy, it is clear Eissler remains very

passionate about Montessori, even though he said

his own three kids have “aged out of their local

Montessori school in Texas.”

He talked about how the Madmen got started.

It began about five years ago, he said, with a group

of four other “Montessori men” he actually had never

met in person. These dads had read Eissler’s book,

“Montessori Madness,” and got in touch with him to

say how fired up they also were about Montessori.

“Each seemed surprised that they weren’t the only

crazy male out there in the seemingly 99%

female-dominated world of early childhood

education,” he said. “My book targeted

dads and explained Montessori education

from a dad’s point of view. These dads

were enthusiastic, and wanted to make a

difference. We’ve since added a few more

dads.” Plus, a few women have infiltrated

the fraternity, he said.

Eissler said his loosely assembled group

works in spurts, not talking for several

weeks or months and then all of a sudden

doing “some wacky Montessori ad project like

flying a banner plane over NYC or putting up road


It’s not all wackiness, though, for the 41-yearold

Eissler. He’s dead serious when asked about

Montessori and where he thinks it fits in the overall

spectrum of elementary education.

Is it progressive? Traditional? Somewhere in the


“It’s not really on that spectrum,” he said.

“Montessori has something revelatory for everyone

on the spectrum. And, it can appear contradictory

to all those folks. Independence AND community?

Structure AND freedom? Self-directed AND teacherguided?

Group work AND solitary work? Leader

AND follower?”

And where does he think Montessori works best?

Younger early school students? Middle school? All of

the above?

“Maria Montessori thought the first six years of

life were the most critical,” he said. “I don’t have any

information to contradict that.”


Megan Bonanni, a 1980 graduate of The

Grosse Pointe Academy, was named one of 30

members of the Class of 2015 “Women in the

Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, a West

Bloomfield-based publication that reports on legal

news in Michigan.

The Women in the Law awards program

salutes high-achieving women lawyers in

Michigan and their accomplishments. These 30

women were honored at a special luncheon on

Sept. 10 at the Detroit Marriott in Troy.

Bonanni is a partner at Pitt McGehee Palmer

& Rivers, a Royal Oak law firm that specializes

in employment law, personal injury and criminal


Bonanni has been recognized by Best Lawyers

in America and rated by Crain’s Detroit Business

as one of the leaders in her field. And she was

recognized by The American Lawyer publication

as a “Top Lawyer for 2011.”

In addition to specializing in employment

law for Pitt McGehee, Bonanni volunteers as

an attorney and speaker with the Epilepsy

Foundation and a mentor with the Women

Lawyers Association of Michigan. She also helped

co-sponsor and build a home in Veracruz, Mexico,

as part of the Jimmy Carter work project through

Habitat for Humanity.

Bonanni obtained her B.A. in political science

and French literature from Kalamazoo College,

where she graduated with honors, and she

attended law school at Wayne State University.



Early School teacher brings international

acuity to her ‘peaceful’ classroom

“It became clear to me

from the beginning that

this was a special place,”

said Cindy Mayilukila,

an Early School teacher

at The Grosse Pointe


Over the course of the last few decades,

internationalism in education has been in

particular focus for institutions of learning in


More than 15 years ago, Change magazine

published an article by Philip G. Altbach and

Patti McGill Peterson entitled “Internationalize

American higher education? Not exactly.”

The article discussed the fact that while

American colleges and universities “talked” of

giving students a more global approach in the

classroom, few actually “walked” it. And while

Altbach and Peterson were looking at higher

education in their study, it is clear that elementary

and secondary education in the United States also

has been giving students too few tools to compete

in a shrinking world—even considering the

major inroads made lately in this country by the

International Baccalaureate.

That is why it’s well worth noting that since

1969 when it was established as an independent

coeducational day school, The Grosse Pointe

Academy has emphasized a global approach to

classroom curricula and to its faculty.

Along with a rigorous core academic program

that includes mathematics, social studies, science

and technology, Academy students experience

three years of foreign-language study with choices

that include Chinese, Spanish and French. In

fact, GPA students regularly earn high marks

in an extremely competitive national French

exam sponsored by the American Association

of Teachers of French (AATF). Further, students

as young as 2-1/2 years old to those in grade 8

at GPA are regularly exposed to languages and

cultures from around the world.

Whether it’s the first grade’s “creative

movement” interpretation of European artist

Henri Matisse or the recent exploration of

Chinese dining culture by middle school students,

it is safe to say that students at The Grosse Pointe

Academy spend literally every day immersed in

some form of global learning or experience.



The teaching staff at the Academy also earns

high marks when it comes to “internationalism.”

Witness Cindy Mayilukila of GPA’s Montessori

Early School.

Mayilukila is an American citizen by virtue


of her birth in New York City. But her early life

experience skews decidedly offshore.

When she was only a few months old, her

family moved from New York to Belgium where

they lived for several years, which probably

explains why French is her first language. But

then she and her family moved to Africa and lived

in Ivory Coast, South Africa and the Democratic

Republic of Congo for a number of years while

frequently traveling back and forth to Europe.

Mayilukila said that as she was growing up

and going through school, she always thought

that for a professional career, she’d love to be a

professional translator, which would allow her to

utilize her native cultural language of French and

African dialects. “But after becoming a mother,”

she said, “I realized that teaching was becoming

part of my heart and I knew that’s where I really


Mayilukila has been part of GPA’s academic

staff only since 2013. But her background in

progressive education goes back much further.

“Prior to coming to GPA, I worked as a lead

teacher for three years at the Schoolhouse

Montessori Academy in Troy,” she said. Before

that, she said she worked in two other schools,

Montessori Children’s Academy in Saint Clair,

Mich., and Montessori Stepping Stones in Mt.

Clemens, Mich., both well-regarded purveyors

of Maria Montessori’s innovative teaching

method. Mayilukila also completed an 18-month

Montessori teaching internship leading up to her

role as a full-time teacher.

addition to the Montessori Early School,” Kendall

said. “Her peaceful classroom is a joy to enter and

her students always have smiles on their faces as

they engage in their activities.”

It is obvious that Mayilukila is herself

engaged in her work. She appears to be the living

embodiment of the GPA mission and uses it as the

basis for everything she does on campus.

“My main goal every school day is to nurture

each student and instill the love of learning

through our Montessori-structured developmental

classrooms,” she said.

And even though she’s finishing up just her

second year at GPA, Mayilukila can already see the

profound transformations that children undergo

after just a short amount of time in the Early


“I am privileged to be part of such beautiful

changes I see in my students even from the

beginning of one year to its end. These children

are among my most treasured blessings.”


When first arriving at The Grosse Pointe

Academy two years ago, Mayilukila was

immediately a big fan of the school. “It became

clear to me from the beginning that this was a

special place,” she said. “I recognized and truly

admired the ‘heart’ of the faculty here as well as of

the students and their families.”

Jennifer Kendall is assistant head of school

for early school education and admissions at

the Academy and an unabashed member of the

Mayilukila fan club. “Cindy has been a natural


Good Enough Not Good Enough

for Academy Teacher

Middle-school French

teacher Amal El-Hosni,

center, is with GPA

students on a trip to

Paris. El-Hosni’s students

routinely score very high

on the National French

Exam, or “Le Grand

Concours,” an annual

competition sponsored by

the American Association

of Teachers of French.

When Grosse Pointe Academy middle-school

French teacher Amal El-Hosni was growing up in

Lebanon, she never dreamed she would one day

be a teacher. Her aunt, with whom she was very

close, was a pediatrician.

“I wanted to be just like her,” said El-Hosni.

But when she started to tutor a much younger

student who was having problems with letters

and words, she thought teaching might be a

possibility for her, even though El-Hosni herself

was only 14 at time.

“I worked with this child every day for two

weeks,” she said. “But I was really only a child

myself, and I had no idea how to teach him. But

I could see that he wasn’t enjoying the process,

and that he was becoming very frustrated with


So El-Hosni decided to make it fun.

She cut up pieces of colored paper in order

to make a long train with each piece having a

letter on it. The two of them then started playing

with the paper, making up different trains and

words—and then sentences.

“Something magical happened,” she said. “I

swear to this day I could practically hear that

boy’s brain racing though letters and words as

his little hands were grabbing and aligning the

colored paper to drive the train home.”

That was the clincher. She knew right then

that teaching was going to be her life’s calling as

she continued tutoring students throughout her

high school and early college years in Lebanon.


El-Hosni immigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon

27 years ago, first to Los Angeles where as a

grad student at California State University she

took on work as an assistant professor and

later as an adjunct professor. She remained

with the university for about seven years until

circumstances brought her to Michigan and to

Grosse Pointe specifically, where she and her

husband decided to settle and raise their family.

While her kids were young, El-Hosni taught

French part-time at Macomb Community College

in Warren. In 2000, she was hired as a French

teacher at Harper Woods Notre Dame, an all-boys

Catholic high school, which was closed by the

Archdiocese of Detroit in 2005. She then served

as a long-term substitute teacher at Grosse Pointe

North High School for one year and Parcells

Middle School for another year.

But, El-Hosni says, she’s learned through the

years that everything happens in your life for a


When a full-time middle-school French

teacher position opened up at The Grosse Pointe

Academy, a school she admits she knew very little

about at the time, El-Hosni nonetheless signed on.

“All three of my children had gone through

a Montessori program in Los Angeles, and I am

a great believer and advocate of Montessori, she

said. “I had heard some great things about GPA,

but I was not familiar with the school. However,

as I sat through my first Monday morning chapel

assembly, all I could think of was what a great

sense of belonging it gave me. I wanted to be part

of this community—this family. By the end of

my first year, I knew that I wanted to spend the


emainder of my teaching years at the Academy.”


El-Hosni says since joining the faculty at

the Academy, she’s seen many big changes and

improvements at the school.

“We are a leading school in our area in

technology and one-to-one tablet usage,” she

said. “And our STEM lab has allowed students to

experiment and explore like never before. And

let’s not forget the student’s garden, which has

become a real gathering space where students,

teachers, and sometimes even parents, work,

plant, play, eat, or just enjoy reading in the shade.”

El-Hosni also loves the fact that GPA is not

basking in its own glow or resting on its laurels.

“It seems we are constantly looking for ways to

improve the learning process for our students,”

she said. “In my own classes, for example, I try to

challenge my students and push them out of their

comfort zone. They learn by asking questions,

researching topics, coming to logical conclusions

through trial and error, even in French grammar

and writing. I believe you can’t reach your

potential unless you are challenged.”

But she’s also a big believer in the nurturing

part of the school’s central mission.

“I make sure my students always know they

are in a safe environment, and that it’s okay to

fall and make mistakes, as long as they are willing

to get up and try again. Some students might

be afraid or reticent with such an approach, but

in the end they usually rise up to the challenge

and realize why I was pushing them. After all,

this school is all about nurturing potential, and

allowing students to discover their own strengths.”

El-Hosni’s own three children, who are all

pretty much on their own now, were raised with

the same philosophy, she said, where good enough

is not good enough.

It appears that her kids definitely benefitted

from such an approach.

“My oldest studied engineering at U-M,

then finished an MBA at Maryland University,”

El-Hosni said. “Today she handles international

business development for a defense company

and lives in Washington, DC, with her husband.

My youngest went into engineering as well, and

lives in Chicago. He is working for Union Pacific,

and is living every little boy’s dream of working

with trains.” Her other daughter graduated in the

spring from medical school, where she specialized

in both internal medicine and pediatrics.

El-Hosni is glad her children are doing

well and on their own now. It gives her even

more time to concentrate on her charges at the


It is apparent that she just flat out loves her

job and loves teaching. “Bearing witness to these

young people when they have their epiphanies

about who they can be and what they can achieve

is the greatest pleasure and honor in the world,”

she said. “I’m not going anywhere else anytime


“Something magical happened,

I swear to this day I could practically

hear that boy’s brain racing though

letters and words as his little hands were

grabbing and aligning the colored

paper to drive the train home.”



Making the

Parents worry about many things—with

education being high on the list. These worries

cause lost sleep and spark countless discussions

wondering if their chosen school will prepare their

children to compete in a future world not yet fully


In many cases, parents find a way to calm their

worries about education by thinking: “We seem to

be doing enough.” “Our children are good kids.” “Our

school is fine.” “I like their teachers.” “We went to a

similar school and turned out okay; our children

will, too.” After all, the public schools in the Pointes

and in many of the surrounding communities have

great reputations and turn out many successful

young men and women.

But Fred and Pam Rollins wanted more certainty

that their children would develop a strong passion

for learning, have meaningful choices beyond

middle school learning and expand the skills they

will need to compete.

“As parents, we believe our role is to guide and

shape our children,” Fred Rollins said. “And you want

them to achieve their highest potential and have

choices when it comes to high schools and colleges.

You want your own actions to cumulatively add to

the development of your child and not make up for

what you feel is missing in their education.”

So when it came to making a decision on

schools for their two children, the Rollins did their

homework. They had heard about The Grosse Pointe

Academy and remembered vaguely seeing the

distinguished-looking building off of Lake Shore

Road after moving to Grosse Pointe in 1999 from

out of state.

At the time, we did not have any children,” Pam

Rollins said. “We moved to St. Clair, Michigan, lived

there for 14 years and then had two children, a girl

and a boy, who we enrolled in a school in our area.”

But when the Rollins kids were finishing up

second grade and kindergarten, Pam and Fred

decided they wanted more from their children’s


Current Academy parents Pam and Fred Rollins, with their

children, Jack and Alexandra.


ight choice



“We began to think about other options and

focused more on the type of school we wanted

rather than the location of the school,” Fred said.

They remembered the lakeside school from their

days in Grosse Pointe and decided to check out the

Academy’s website, which piqued their interest even


But it wasn’t until they visited the dignifiedlooking

school building that Pam and Fred became

more than just interested.

“...knowing your children

are getting the right


“We met with the Academy’s then-admissions

director, Molly McDermott, and took a tour of the

school,” Pam said. “We absolutely loved what we

saw. Then our kids visited the school and went

through the admissions process, and we were all

introduced to some of the fabulous teachers in the

lower school.”

The Rollins said that through the years they

had done many thorough interviews with other

schools, so they had a good idea of what they were

looking for. Apparently they found it on 171 Lake

Shore Road because they enrolled their children for

the following school year. For awhile, Pam and her

husband commuted with their kids the 45 miles

each way from St. Clair to the Academy before

eventually moving back to the Pointes.

“It might be different than how these things

usually go, but we were drawn to the school first and

then decided we wanted to be in the community

full time,” she said. “We are very pleased with our

decision and happy to be part of the Academy


Rollins said her children—now fully

matriculated at the Academy: Alexandra is in the

sixth grade, Jack is in fourth—are doing extremely


“We were impressed with the school when our

kids first started here,” Fred said. “But since then

we’ve really discovered what the true value of a

Grosse Pointe Academy education is.”

“It boils down to knowing that your children

are getting the right foundation to prepare them for

what the world has to offer,” she said. “That’s it in

a nutshell. We landed at the Academy to give our

children the right supportive environment for them

to take risks, push harder and try new things. We

wanted to give them this chance before high school

when it may not be as

easy to do so.”


Fred and Pam Rollins,

like all parents, don’t

really know what the

future holds for their

still-young children. But

they both are sure they’ve

given them a good start

by bringing them to the


“We are extremely

confident that The Grosse

Pointe Academy—with

its nurturing environment, its great teachers,

curriculum, culture and resources—is preparing

them to achieve their fullest potential.”

While a school can’t eliminate every sleepless

night as a parent, Pam said, the right choice can offer

a peace of mind in your children’s education.

“We truly believe we have given Alex and Jack

the opportunity to go further in their young lives

than we thought was possible,” she said. “We know

that when they leave the Academy, they will take

with them the academics and life skills necessary to

succeed in high school and then ultimately to thrive

in a world that gets more complicated every day.”


Where technology

meets tradition

Starting with its renowned

Innovation and Design Center,

which focuses on developing

student interest and excitement

in the fields of science,

technology, engineering and

math (STEM), The Grosse Pointe

Academy is exposing students in

Grades 1 through 8 to some of

the most advanced technology

found in an elementary school

environment. Combined with an

academic curriculum centered

on literature, language, social

studies, the arts and Christian life,

the Academy is providing a strong

foundation of learning, where

each child is nurtured, challenged

and inspired every day.

171 Lake Shore Road

Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.


to nurture • to challenge • to inspire

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