Each week during Community Time (a forty minute block of time after lunch), students and faculty gather to listen to someone speak about an issue, cause, or educational experience or enjoy a performance or Open Mic.
Our Speaker Series today featured Margaret Ulrich, who spoke about her life as a solo world traveler and freelance writer. Margaret is a travel and wellness writer, meditation guide, and reiki master. She’s lived in South America, Turkey and Cambodia, but her favorite place is sitting on a crowded bus going anywhere. She’s especially curious about the future of healthcare and hopes to write about the convergence of all-natural, preventative methods and modern medicine. A recent resident of Charlottesville, Margaret also taught a mini mindfulness class to our 10th graders recently.
Dave Luebke, VP of Graphics Research at NVIDIA Corporation, captivated our Speaker Series audience as he talked about machine learning and video game graphics design. He provided our students exposure to the use of cutting-edge technologies and their applications, particularly in imaging and video production. It was both amazing and visually stimulating and the entire audience was completely engaged as he demonstrated wonder after wonder.
In the January 11 Speaker Series, nine well-spoken, thoughtful recent alums came to share their wisdom about college with Upper Schoolers. They spoke eloquently about how and why they chose their schools, and gave great advice about how to settle in and find friends, and how to organize your time. They answered many student and faculty questions about what worked for them at Tandem and what's working for them in college. Five alums spoke to 9th and 10th graders together - Tommy White (TFS '16), Kiley Weeks (TFS '17), Levi Schult (TFS '17), Phoebe Schuyler (TFS '17), and Emma Passino (TFS '17). Four alums spoke to juniors and seniors together - Dylan McAuley (TFS '14), Aslan Urushanov (TFS '17), Zoe Bearinger (TFS '16), and Saunder Boyle (TFS '16). Many thanks to these alums for sharing their time and their wisdom. This annual Speaker Series is always a favorite.
Tandem parent Marc Boston, a published children's author, gave a wonderful presentation to Middle Schoolers during today's Speaker Series. Marc is the author of The Girl who Carried Too Much Stuff and What About Me? Marc talked about the steps to writing and publishing a book, and how important it is to make any children's book relatable to all genders/ages/races. He spoke about his influences - family, the writer's group ImagineInk, James Baldwin, Bob Marley, Prince - and talked about how music, especially hip hop, influences the cadence and rhythm of his writing. He also talked about the writing processes of mirroring and windowing, and how important it is for human growth that we learn to celebrate all cultures. He read one of his books to the Middle Schoolers - it was a delightful presentation from start to finish. Thanks, Marc!
Today's Speaker Series guests were the Playback Theater Company of Charlottesville, which included familiar faces and Tandem community members Larry Goldstein (Development Director), Deborah Arenstein (current parent), Boomie Pedersen (past parent), Lydia Horan (MS Drama teacher filling in at last minute) and Michelle James. Mark Goldstein (US Music teacher) provided dramatic piano accompaniment. They entertained the community by re-enacting through improv the three stories that audience members came forward to share. It was delightful fun all around; it's always good to laugh out loud.
We had a wonderful Speaker Series treat on Friday, December 7 as Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker came to share with the community about her path to becoming a member of City Council and Charlottesville's first African American mayor. She talked about the important community conversations about race and equality that she began even before the events of August 12, 2017 and how those conversations must and do continue. She answered many questions about her job as mayor, trips she has taken as mayor, and specific issues and votesthat have been important to her. It was an inspiring talk! Fun fact: Mayor Walker and TFS PE teacher Avis Fields went to school together.
From the City of Charlottesville website: "Nikuyah Walker was elected to Charlottesville City Council in November 2017 after years of working as an advocate for racial and social justice. Nikuyah’s commitment has been to authentic inclusion, equity, and progress. Her primary goal as a councilor is to help create a city that deserves its World Class designation. Nikuyah was born and raised in Charlottesville and attended Charlottesville City Public Schools. She graduated from Charlottesville High School in 1998 and went on to earn a BA in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. She has three children. Nikuyah has spent most of her adult life serving those most oppressed and neglected in this community. She has worked in several non-profits in Charlottesville--as a Substance Abuse Clinician, an HIV Prevention Educator, and a Community Organizer. She is currently employed by the City of Charlottesville in the Parks and Recreation department."
Tandem alum Ben Cole (TFS '08), who was an active and avid theatre participant during his seven years at Tandem, spoke about his life as an actor at Speaker Series. He received a BFA from The Harrt School and has been auditioning and working as an actor since his graduation from college. He spoke about what it takes to become an actor, the difficult choices it sometimes presents, and the fulfillment he finds in his work. Ben has been a member of The National Players (the country's longest running touring theater company out of Olney, MD) for two seasons and also serves as the group's road manager and technical director. He and fellow cast mate Josh Bierman led a terrific workshop for our Public Speaking class. Ben and The National Players were in town to present their dynamic production of Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible' at The Paramount, Our entire junior class, which reads Miller's play each year, attended the performance.
The November 14 Speaker Series brought Tandem alum Matt Glattfelder (TFS '12), who works for Sigora Solar in Charlottesville. Matt studied engineering at University of Wisconsin with a focus on nuclear energy. He spoke about carbon free energy and why we need nuclear power, and gave plenty of mathematical explanations as he answered many questions from students and faculty alike. Matt's favorite Tandem memories? Ganongathon, RENT, and Open Mics.
Our Speaker Series guest was the inspirational Chris Andrews, who chose to combat his cell phone addiction by walking across the USA without a phone. He walked 3200 miles from Washington, DC to Los Angeles in 210 days, chronicling over 10,000 face-to-face conversations along the way. His Let's Talk initiative inspires others to examine their relationship with technology and reclaim and celebrate life beyond the screen. Here's a short video of his journey. And here's to a weekend of great conversations that Chris has inspired us all to have with each other!
Today's Speaker Series brought us Art Beltrone and the Vietnam Graffiti Project, which was formed after Art discovered graffiti artifacts left by soldiers aboard the General Nelson M. Walker, a Vietnam War troop transport ship.
Tandem alum Alia Stewart-Silver (TFS '06) joined us for Speaker Series and spoke in depth about connections. She stressed that by being genuinely open and attempting to make connections with other people, we can bring about true positive change in the world.
Today's Speaker Series featured former Tandem science teacher Lena Lewis, now Program Manager for Charlottesville Climate Collaborative's Better Business and Home Energy Challenges, talking about her hands-on experience with climate change research in Canada. It was great to welcome Lena back as she encouraged Tandem in our Better Business energy challenge, and challenged the entire community to participate in the Home Energy Challenge - details here.
Today's Speaker Series brought Tandem parent Pini Kalnite, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who spoke about the research of the IIHS and how they produce and disseminate footage about their work and car safety for a variety of media outlets.
We experienced a very powerful Speaker Series today as Khzir Khan, the Pakistani American lawyer and Gold Star father who, with his wife Ghazala, received international attention following their speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, spoke to us. Khan has since written two books, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice and This is Our Constitution, a book about the Constitution for Middle Schoolers. Khan spoke passionately to our young people as future leaders who are empowered to make a difference in the world and stressed the importance of two concepts/practices - fairness and civility - that should dictate how we treat others. He strongly encouraged all of us to read and appreciate our Constitution and our Declaration of Independence.