This holiday season, Community Engagement Programs and Partnerships (CEPP) has been busy with many projects aimed at helping others.
The annual Holiday Gift and Food Drive has been a rousing success with astounding support from advisories, individual community members, and parents. This year, the needs are greater than ever with requests for 187 gifts and holiday food baskets for 20 local families. The generosity of our community will benefit our partners at the Brookview family shelter, Taylor Elementary School, and the South Shore region of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families. Staff at these organizations and CEPP are extremely grateful for the enthusiastic support of the Upper School Parents’ Association and for all the families who have contributed.
In years past, Community Engagement volunteers have hosted a campus holiday party for the children from the Brookview familty shelter. After a pandemic pause, CEPP is happy to revive this tradition, and this year will bring the party to Brookview, delivering the gifts and providing activities of face painting, cookie decorating, and making cards.
Grit, determination, and strong senior leadership propelled two Milton varsity teams—football and boys’ soccer—to the fall postseason this year.
Football head coach Kevin MacDonald said the team started the season with the goal of winning the Independent School League, and they handily won the ISL championship after an undefeated regular season. Following an undefeated 2019 season, it was frustrating to have to miss 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the pause in momentum didn’t affect this year’s team.
“Last year, we were loaded with talent, and we were thinking, ‘Wow, this is definitely a championship team,’ but we never got the chance to prove it,” MacDonald said. “So, it was nice to come back and follow up the last undefeated season with another one. Our goal was always to win the league, and we met it.”
In her junior year, Chen-Chih (Shiloh) Liu ’22 stayed remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning from her home in Taiwan. Still, she was a full participant in her Honors Biology course, completing lab assignments in her kitchen.
And now, one of her experiments has made her a published scientist. Liu’s article, “How ethanol concentration affects catalase catalysis of hydrogen peroxide,” was recently published in the Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI), an online scientific publication for students in college, high school, and middle school.
“I knew at the beginning of the process that it would be very time consuming and rigorous,” Liu said. “I committed to it. I didn’t want to stop or do anything in between. So, I was glad it got accepted and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do this and go through the peer-review process that you don’t usually get at a high-school level.”
The inclement weather of a New England winter will soon be upon us, presenting conditions that can sometimes prompt school cancellations and delays. In the case of a weather event, Milton administrators carefully consider forecasts along with safety and logistical concerns before determining whether to cancel or delay school.
If classes are canceled or delayed, Milton will notify families via Rave Alerts, which are sent to all school community members through phone, email, and text messages. Please read these announcements carefully. Students and parents should keep their contact information up to date in MyMilton in order to receive alerts.
Every holiday season, the best teams in independent school hockey descend upon the rinks of Milton and Nobles for a chance to claim the coveted championship titles of the Flood-Marr Tournament and the Harrington Invitational Tournament.
The annual Flood-Marr Holiday Hockey Tournament is named for Dick “Lefty” Marr and his college roommate, longtime friend, and rival hockey coach Dick Flood. Lefty Marr was a member of the Milton faculty from 1957 until 1980. Now in its 56th year, the three-day competition for boys’ teams includes Milton, Nobles, Hotchkiss, Andover, Westminster, Deerfield, Kimball Union and Salisbury.
We hope that you have continued to enjoy the presentations each month. January meetings will be held at 7 p.m. by Zoom on the following dates (more details to follow):
- Thursday, December 9: Director of Nursing Peg Reardon, R.N.
- Tuesday, December 14: Monthly update from Dean of College Counseling Rod Skinner
- Tuesday, January 11: Head of School Todd Bland and Upper School Principal David Ball
- Thursday, January 20: Monthly update from Dean of College Counseling Rod Skinner
Please note that all meetings will be recorded and emailed to parents after the meeting for those who are unable to attend. We respectfully request that recordings not be shared beyond the Milton Academy parent community.
Faculty, parent, and student events sponsored by the USPA are made possible by your generous contributions of time, funding, and gifts, as we are a self-sustaining organization led by volunteer parents and supported primarily by parent dues and donations. Thank you!
The Parents’ Association is still in search of parents to volunteer. Please contact Teena Kamal (Teena.firstname.lastname@example.org) to help or learn more.
Enjoy the upcoming winter break, stay safe and well, and we look forward to seeing you at our December and January meetings!
“Art is so damn powerful,” Syrian American artist and architect Mohamad Hafez told students Tuesday during a Gold Fund presentation on campus. “Don’t do art just for the sake of beauty. That’s valid, but art is more than that. Art has the ability to cross borders, to cross hearts, to demolish walls between us.”
Hafez, who was born in Damascus and raised in Saudi Arabia, came to the United States to study architecture, later becoming a successful corporate architect. Art was initially a hobby for him and a way to process his homesickness and nostalgia when he was unable to return home following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. Then, as he witnessed the Syrian civil war wreak havoc on his homeland and his own family—many of whom fled as refugees to other parts of the world—creating art took on a deeper and more urgent purpose.
Using found objects, careful architectural details, memories, and images of the Middle East, Hafez creates surreal, sculptural pieces with political and social messages—depicting the senseless violence of war, the baggage (physical and emotional) that refugees carry from home, and the widespread cultural losses occurring in Damascus, an ancient but advanced city critical to the history of several civilizations and world religions.
Watch this video of Mohamad Hafez’s presentation to students.
READ ABOUT MORE SPEAKERS WHO VISITED MILTON’S CAMPUS THIS FALL…
UMass Professor Christoph Strobel
UMass Professor Christoph Strobel Delivers Heyburn Lecture on Native American History
Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s still worth fighting for, said Christoph Strobel, an author and University of Massachusetts-Lowell professor and this year’s Heyburn Lecture visitor.
Strobel recalled being a college student in the ’90s and protesting Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team for its stereotypical and insulting depiction of Native Americans. The team, named the “Indians” since the early 20th century, will officially become the Cleveland Guardians beginning in the 2022 season—without its previous red-faced mascot, “Chief Wahoo.”
“Even if it takes time, it’s always worth making your voice heard,” said Strobel, an expert in Native American history, African history, and cross-cultural perspectives of North American history. “There have been psychological studies that show how negatively Indian mascots affect people, particularly Indigenous children. We need to figure out how our traditions impact people.”
Strobel visited Milton to speak with history classes about Native American issues, particularly those affecting New England’s Indigenous peoples. As the landing site of some of the earliest white colonists, Massachusetts settlers’ history of violent subjugation of Indigenous residents “hides in plain sight,” Strobel said.
He displayed the state’s coat of arms—an image that partially appears on the Massachusetts flag and seal of the governor—which depicts a stereotypical “Indian” figure holding a bow and arrow. Above the figure is an arm holding a sword pointing toward it; the state’s motto translates roughly to “By the sword we seek peace,” he explained. An earlier iteration of the coat of arms showed the figure saying “come over and help us.”
“It was a way of justifying colonization to the English,” Strobel said. “Our legacy of colonization is still there. Just getting rid of it doesn’t solve the problem; we need to educate people… (and we) need to recognize the impact of intergenerational trauma that exists to this day.”
Strobel, who grew up in Germany, recognized the solemnity and grief with which Germans remember the Holocaust; upon coming to the United States for college, he became curious about why the treatment of Native Americans is not acknowledged with the same gravity.
As Indigenous peoples were forced off their land by white settlers in a federally sanctioned genocide, and throughout centuries of North American history, the oppression of native people has been largely ignored, he said. Residential and boarding schools across the U.S. and Canada abused large populations of Indigenous children—many of whom were forcibly taken from their parents—punishing them for using native languages, driving languages and traditions to extinction, Strobel said.
Today, movements by Indigenous activists to save native languages and preserve cultures are gaining ground, he said. He encouraged Milton students to learn the real history and current issues facing Native Americans.
“Never stop learning,” Strobel said. “It’s the best gift you can give yourself.”
Strobel is the author of Native Americans of New England, The Global Atlantic 1400–1900, and The Testing Grounds of Modern Empire. With Alice Nash, he co-authored Daily Life of Native Americans from Post-Columbian Through Nineteenth-Century America, and he has published three books about immigration.
The Henry R. Heyburn ’39 Lecture in History Fund was established in 1991 to support an annual lecture in history. It commemorates Heyburn’s love of history and geography and his many years of association with Milton as a student, parent, and trustee.
Poet Jenny Xie
Poet Jenny Xie is This Fall’s Bingham Visiting Writer
“Poetry asks us to speak differently and it asks us to listen differently,” said Jenny Xie, an award-winning poet and educator who visited Milton as a Bingham visiting writer. “Partly because when you’re listening to a poem, you’re paying attention to the semantic content—what the words mean and what they point to—but at the same time, you’re tuned into the sonic qualities, to the poem’s music.”
To reach a creative place from which to write, Xie said she often needs to immerse herself in others’ voices, by reading or listening to music. Doing so helps her to leave the linear and task-oriented demands of daily life. Much of the language of daily life is transactional, and poetry is a counter force that asks for heightened listening, she said.
Xie read several poems and explained their context; she shared one, “Unit of Measure,” that she wrote in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, “when time took on a different texture.” Xie also said the Today series by Japanese artist On Kawara inspired her. Kawara created thousands of paintings of dates, each taking on the date convention of the places he worked. Xie described seeing Kawara’s work in a Guggenheim retrospective shortly after the artist died.
“Would you believe me if I told you I cried looking at these paintings?” she said. “They seem so monotonous, so boring in some sense, but you stand in front of them, and you think about all that a day could hold across the world, in a life… You look up into the atrium of the museum and see all these days accumulated into a life. I found it sublime, and I was measurably moved by how quickly a life can pass, and how much a day can contain.”
She also shared work about her early life in China and her family’s immigration to the United States. Mining memories for new and deeply emotional truths helps her create, Xie said.
“I’m not sure why I’m drawn to (something) unless I investigate it in writing,” she said. “I always tell my students, ‘Write because you have a question that remains unanswered. Write because there’s some mystery left in some experience for you.’”
Xie’s 2018 collection Eye Level was a finalist for the National Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award, and it received the Walt Whitman Award of the American Academy of Poets and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. Last year, she was awarded the Vilcek Prize in Creative Promise. She is a faculty member at Bard College and has previously taught at Princeton and New York University.
The Bingham Endowment Fund for Creative Writing was established in 1987 to benefit Milton’s creative writing program. The fund brings prominent authors to campus. Recent Bingham visiting writers include Lauren Groff, Gregory Pardlo, Kamila Shamsie, Jamaica Kincaid, and Paul Yoon.
Documentary filmmaker CJ Hunt ’03
Daring to be True Takes Courage, Alum and Filmmaker CJ Hunt Tells Students
Documentary filmmaker CJ Hunt ’03 issued a direct challenge to Milton students this week: Live the school’s motto, “Dare to be true,” in real time while tackling the real and complicated issues of American history and injustice.
“What are the truths that we need to think about?” said Hunt, who screened his new documentary, The Neutral Ground, for students. “What are the stories that are buried, that we need to hear in this moment, in this country? I’m asking you to dare big. I’m asking you to make the motto real. Because when we dare to tell the truth, that daring is contagious, more contagious than a lie. The truth is out there, and it is just waiting for somebody courageous enough to dig it up. So go get your shovel.”
In The Neutral Ground, Hunt chronicles the years-long effort to remove four Confederate statues—of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, P.G.T. Beauregard, and the Battle of Liberty Place—from places of prominence in New Orleans, a city where the majority of citizens are Black. Following a 6–1 vote by the city council in 2015 in favor of removing the monuments, contractors hired to perform the work were threatened, and protests erupted in the streets.
Hunt was living in New Orleans, where he had worked as a teacher and comedian. He set out to film some satirical videos about the issue. As the controversy and violence unfolded—and cities across the country began reckoning with their own monuments to slave owners, Confederate leaders, and colonizers—the documentary grew in scope and seriousness.
In his film, Hunt spends time with Civil War reenactors and neo-Confederates as well as Black leaders and historians; he is also shown attending protests across the South, including the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Some of the white subjects he interviewed denied that the Civil War had anything to do with slavery, or that enslaved people were mistreated. A young man in Charlottesville claimed that yelling “white power” is, simply, “fun.”
That he was visiting and presenting his film on Veterans Day felt somewhat fitting, Hunt said.
“Part of the way that we honor veterans is to ask what freedom is made of,” he said. “Part of how we serve their legacy is to think deeply about the stories that we tell and the structures that we still hold up that keep freedom from being real for everybody in America.”
Hunt told students he was satisfied that the film doesn’t show him arguing white supremacists out of their positions. To do so would be too clean, and the true history of race in America is far too messy, he said.
“I think all of us, deep down, want our stories about race to be about reconciliation,” Hunt said. “We don’t want jagged-edged stories about reckoning and hard things that we cannot solve about the past.”
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek and spread the truth about the historic and present-day effects of slavery and inequality, he said. It just means that it will be uncomfortable.
“How do you learn about slavery without feeling uncomfortable?” Hunt said. “I don’t care what color your skin is, it’s literally the most uncomfortable thing that has ever happened. Education requires discomfort, a test, or a challenge.”
A Holiday Favorite Returns to Kellner Performing Arts Center
Students, faculty, and staff have been busy preparing for the Jean McCawley Annual Orchestra and Chorus Winter Concert, a celebration of music by the students of Milton Academy’s vocal and orchestral program. The concert will feature seasonal tunes to celebrate the holidays, alongside repertoire ranging from Baroque to Contemporary, and classical traditions representing a diverse range of cultures and geography.
This free event begins at 7 p.m. this Friday, December 10, in the Kellner Performing Arts Center. Click here to register for in-person attendance. Please register all guests as separate entries. Attendance will be given on a first come, first served basis, with priority to parents of our ensembles. As per school policy, we ask that all spectators be masked.
For families who can not travel to campus or prefer a virtual attendance, Milton will host a livestream of the event. Register here for this live broadcast.
Winter Athletics Is Here
The winter sports season has begun. Below are links to teams’ schedules. For photos and updates, follow Milton on Instagram (@MA_athletics) and Twitter (@MA_Athletics).
Just for Fun
Milton-Nobles Days of History
Film students Jae Lee, Dylan Arevian, and Zach Pool created this pep rally video documenting the history of the Mustang-Bulldog rivalry.
Jazz in King Theatre
Students from six of Milton’s jazz groups celebrated the legendary saxophonist Cannonball Adderley with a tribute concert on November 11 in the King Theatre. Enjoy this video of the event in its entirety.
Drawing and Sculpture Show
Student exhibits give Milton’s artists the opportunity to share their work with peers. View photos of pieces now on display at the Drawing and Sculpture Show in the Arts Commons. The exhibit runs through the start of winter break, closing on December 17.
A swashbuckling tale of pirates, sword fights, and buried gold took the stage in the Chapel Tent, as the Performing Arts Department presented Treasure Island.
View more photos of the performance.
Wicked Sketchy has become a Milton favorite since it started in 2014; the show is composed of funny sketches and musical parodies that the 13 cast members write, edit, and perform.
View more photos of the performance.
Class IV Follies
Live performance returned to Milton’s stages this fall with the Class IV Follies, an original show called Extra-Ordinary.
View more photos of this show, which explored the theme of superpowers.
Milton Academy’s priority is offering an in-person educational experience this year that is engaging, challenging, and safe. Your continued support of the Milton Fund makes a Milton education possible with gifts that directly support curriculum innovation, faculty development, student activities, DEIJ initiatives, student financial aid, as well as flexible funding to meet pressing needs, including ongoing support for health and safety.
This giving season, show your support for our campus community by making a gift to the Milton Fund by December 31 at www.milton.edu/donate