Our Wildwood, Summer 2019, Volume 45

Our Wildwood, Summer 2019, Volume 45

Wildwood Our


p10 Class of 2019 College Bound

p12 3rd Grade Scientists

p26 Athletics Year in Review

Wildwood School cultivates reflective scholars, bold innovators and compassionate leaders equipped with the skills, ethics and inspiration to transform their world.

Cover photo by Jim Berman, parent of Shayna ’25


DEAR FRIENDS A Letter from Landis

sandwiched between the important phase that preceded it and the important time to follow. She pushed us all to see this transitory period as worthy in its own right. Our students’ reflection and philosophical approach to life, honed very carefully over the course of many years in the care of my incredible colleagues, consistently inspires me. The unique blend of wonder, humility, curiosity, and wisdom that infuses the reflection I see in Wildwood School seniors is a prerequisite for the discovery—of the self and of the world—around which this issue of Our Wildwood is designed. You’ll read about discovery in Owen Leddy’s beautifully crafted essay as he experiences the liminal space between his commencement from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in biological engineering at MIT, which he’ll begin this fall (page 36). Discovery will also be front and center as you read about the 3rd graders’ ecosystem project (page 12), 6th graders’ transdisciplinary STEMinar (page 22), and Ximena P.’s ’21 hydroponics lab (page 18).

At this spring’s State of School, Henry Wilson ’19 introduced himself and his work in advanced physics simply, humbly, and with good humor. In front of 300 or so parents gathered for this year’s annual event, which was to focus on the K-12 science curriculum at Wildwood School, Henry started with the following disclaimer: “I’m not a STEM kid. I don’t plan to major in STEM in college. I’m just curious, and I want to understand how the world works.” He went on to describe in great detail a project that helped him to do just that. It was one of those moments teachers live for. In one casual and easy reference, he made it clear that we, his parents and teachers, had succeeded. He’d chosen to take a particularly challenging course of study not because it would look good on his college applications but because he wanted to know more, to understand. That ethos, so central to our work with children at Wildwood from the first day in the Pods through senior year, is the antitheses of the accounts of unethical, unjust, and illegal actions reported this past winter as the now- infamous college admissions scandal came to light. You can read some of my immediate thoughts on that topic via The Head’s Perspective blog on our website. I was reminded of Henry’s casual aside during his self- introduction when his classmate, Violet Lewis ’19, as one of our six commencement speakers, carried on a beloved tradition at Wildwood School of having seniors serve in that role. Violet’s remarks were memorable, too, as she recounted a conversation in her literature class, in which my colleague Vanessa Mancinelli Stotland talked with her students about liminal spaces. Recognizing her own commencement as a particularly momentous threshold, or liminal space, Violet pushed back. She refused to see that precious moment in time as something less than,

I hope you enjoy them all.


Landis Green Head of School





p12 Ecosystems: Why Should We Care?

p18 The WISRDing World of Wildwood My first year at the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) was terrifying. I was a freshman thrown into a world of endless possibilities and brilliantly creative people.

p22 Applied Math and Science = Smooth Sailing

Third grade scientists are sinking their teeth into ecosystems. From the classroom to the wetlands, in this unit they discover that their research and fieldwork can affect the big picture.

The challenge of the Wildwood Cardboard Boat Regatta seems straightforward: Crews of two or three 6th grade students launch small boats into the 25-meter lap pool at Santa Monica College, then paddle and navigate their crafts three times across the water while staying afloat.

by Ximena P. ‘21

by Dawn Urbont and Kerri O’Neill Wildwood Parents

by Steve Barrett Director of Outreach



GIVING VOICE ......................................................... p4 Josie B. ’19 and Joe Wise, WISRD COO

WILDWOOD ATHLETICS ........................ p26 News from the Wolf Den

STUDENT VOICE ............................................. p30 From Cartwheels to Goals by Sophie H. ’23

GOOD TO KNOW ................................................... p6 Useful information about and for us

BOOK SHELF .......................................................... p31 Recommendations from readers

WOLVES MAKING WAVES ....................... p8 Students, alumni, and faculty making us proud

DONOR PROFILE .................................................. p9 Meet Mark and Claudia Schwartz


OH SNAP! ..................................................................

Photos from notable Wildwood events





Class of 2019 college list

ALUMNI REFLECTION .................................................

Science for Good by Owen Leddy ’15


CLASS NOTES ..................................................................

Tell us what you’re up to


ALUMNI EVENTS ............................................................



GIVING VOICE A conversation between community members

Josie B. ’19 and Joe Wise, WISRD COO

Josie B. ’19 is off to Brown University in the fall. She has been in WISRD (Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development) for four years, three as senior editor of The Inquirer, WISRD’s popular science magazine, and two as director of the Institute. Josie credits much of her growth as a learner and a person to her time in WISRD. A big part of that, she says, is her collaboration with Joe Wise, WISRD’s chief operating officer. Here, Josie and Joe reflect on Wildwood’s innovative Institute Model and how WISRD prepares students for the “real world.”

OWW: How are WISRD and Wildwood’s Institute Model different from a traditional classroom, both from a teaching and a student perspective? JOE: The biggest difference for me is the self-directed, contextual nature of it and the continuity of it. The students in the Institute are so much a part of the context. New members are learning from watching Josie and her peers’ work habits. They are coming in with expectations that have developed over the five years— [WISRD started in 2014]—based on the work of prior members. The bar keeps rising. JOSIE: There’s no other class I’ve been involved with where students can find something that they’re passionate about as a freshman and still be able to work on it as their interests evolve through senior year. They know that once they leave, the work will continue with the next generation of WISRD members.

OWW: There’s a “legacy” factor to the Institutes. Work is built upon year after year.



JOSIE: The WISRD publications have been my baby for the past four years. I have seen the culture around this change for the better; it wasn’t a requirement to publish or write at all. Now that’s the one requirement that we created in WISRD because people think that if they’re good at science and math, they don’t have to learn how to write, to express themselves. WISRD is a research lab, and what good is discovering something if you don’t share it with anybody? JOE: That’s a perfect example of the contextual model of the Institutes. It’s a great opportunity for young people to get a sense of how the world actually works. It’s not designed so that you just “do your passion.” You have to find ways to add value to the Institute and ultimately to the world. JOSIE: In WISRD, we do a lot of reflective work for assessment purposes. Joe offered an alternative to writing up a reflection—to make a CV and connect it to the standards and work we’d done in WISRD, which I did. When I applied for internships at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, I took that CV and made a resume from it, pulling everything that I had done during my time in WISRD—the publications that I’ve been involved with, the research, the posters, the presentations that I’d given, my experience as director, as editor—and I had a resume that was applicable to the real world. I became their first-ever high-school intern. There’s the proof that WISRD is real- world applicable. OWW: How else does WISRD prepare students for “the real world”?

JOSIE: Yes, because it’s student-driven, the Institute changes the way it functions each year with the skills and interests of new members.

OWW: How has it changed?

JOE: I remember in the first year there was a lot of apologizing. There was a lot of, “Can I do this?” and “Can I do that?” Now it’s not like that. It’s a mindset shift. Now when you come into the lab, people are not waiting to be told what to do. They’re starting to set and keep goals for the day on their own—not just an amorphous goal in the future but “What are we going to get done today?” They’re doing a better job collaborating. These skills are crucial for success in the workplace. JOSIE: I remember as a freshman I spent a lot of time apologizing. (Joe would always get on me for apologizing.) I’ve learned to have confidence in my voice and what I’m saying and not feeling like I need to apologize for stepping on someone else’s toes. As I grew into a leader and became director of WISRD, I understood that it’s not rude or out of place for me to ask things of people. I’ve grown a lot more confident in that. As I’ve become more confident, people have been more confident in their willingness to listen to me and in my ability to lead them. I think those two things really went hand in hand. OWW: You’re talking about growth—of individual learners and of the Institute. Josie, what do you hope to leave as a legacy at WISRD?



GOOD TO KNOW Useful information about and for us

InnovatED.LA Brings Explorers to Wildwood

InnovatED.LA was full of wonder for curious and creative visitors of all ages. They pondered and proposed innovative solutions to the environmental problem of food waste and insecurity, learned how to take a cool photo of algae cells with a phone through a microscope, built fun cardboard arcade games, laughed while trying improv, and visited new lands through augmented reality. A Brownie troop earned their “digital” badge making Ozobots, and a family of four found something for all to enjoy at the virtual reality and Minecraft workshops while

Wildwood’s mobile robot roamed the hallway, engaging and delighting everyone. Upstairs on the deck, a “tool petting zoo” introduced young explorers to drills, saws, and woodworking. The event was hosted by the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD), and teachers expertly instructed eager learners about telescopes, virtual reality, 3D printing, CNC routing, science research magazine publishing, coding, cosmic ray finding, hydroponics, and more.

We’re pleased to announce that Jolie Whitesell, parent of Ben ’11 and Juliette ’19, has agreed to serve as our 50th anniversary coordinator. Starting this summer, Jolie will gather together volunteers from all constituencies to organize and lead programming for the 2020-2021 academic year, when we’ll mark the 50th anniversary of Wildwood and the 20th anniversary of our expansion to K-12.


Faculty & Staff


The Wildwood Technology Department, Digital Dragon, Santa Monica Astronomy Club, Jet Propulsion Lab, Sycamore School, reDiscover Center, Magic Leap, Nonscriptum LLC, Microscopic Society of Southern California, and the Southern California Paleontology Society were some of the presenters on hand to delight and spark imagination. “Aha!” moments happened around every corner and level of the middle and upper campus as discovery was the order of the day. INNOVATED.LA 2020 TAKES PLACE ON FEBRUARY 29!


5-YEAR Mark Gutierrez Alan Hunt Lili Kim Mallory Konell Grace Lazzarini

Sam Lopez Paul Waked Joe Wise

15-YEAR Pilar Cuervo Herach Danlyan Billy DuMone Stephanie Fybel Hagai Izraeli



WOLVES MAKING WAVES Students, alumni, and faculty making us proud Our Latest Wave-Makers

Mia R. ’24

Henry C. ’20

Mia R. is one of 70 teens from across the U.S. admitted to the highly competitive William P. Lauder Junior Internship Program at USC Shoah Foundation this summer. The week- long intensive program provides a dynamic and unique learning opportunity for students in grades 7-12 to engage with testimonies from survivors and witnesses of genocide and focuses on the causes and impacts of injustice and the ways an individual can respond.

Henry C. received the Brentwood Art Center Julian Choji New Scholarship Award. It recognizes and supports talented teens who aspire to study art after high school and who share the artistic vision of the New/Kaplan-New Family. The award consists of a $500 college scholarship and three portfolio

development sessions. The committee selected three high school students in recognition of their demonstrated commitment to the visual arts. Each student was required to submit artistic samples, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.

Ian N. ’22

Honor D. ’23

Ian N. received a Student Travel Award from the Research and Education

Honor D. is the first-place winner in the middle school Sustainable Resource Use

Cooperative Occultation Network (RECON) to

category of the World of 7 Billion 2019 student video contest sponsored by Population Education. She decided on the topic of sustainable resource use because it’s something she practices in her day-to-day life. But she didn’t want her video to focus on something people already know about like reusable water bottles, so she explored rechargeable batteries. There were nearly 3,000 submissions from 47 states and 43 countries!

attend its 2019 meeting in Boulder City, Nevada. RECON is a citizen science research project aimed at exploring the outer solar system. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Astronomical Sciences, the project involves teachers, students, amateur astronomers, and community members from across the Western United States.


DONOR PROFILE Thanks to our generous supporters

MEET Wildwood Parents Mark and Claudia Schwartz

WHAT STARTED OUT AS A SCHOOL SEARCH FOR JUST two of Mark and Claudia Schwartz’s children (Jude ’29 and Aden ‘22) quickly became a whole Schwartz family affair. “Our daughter Noe was in 4th grade at the time and still had two years left at her former elementary school,” Claudia says. “However, when Noe saw Wildwood and learned more about the environment her brothers would experience, she was immediately drawn to the school—and we were, too.” With three children enrolled, Mark and Claudia have a vested interest in Wildwood’s success and have shown their generous support for the Annual Giving program and other fundraising initiatives for the past three years. However, their family’s definition of giving back extends beyond just writing a check. “If we’re going to be part of the community, we want to be a real part of the community—pitching in as volunteers, participating in the Annual Giving drive, lending support wherever it is needed,” Mark adds. “Giving back is one of our family values and part of our

Jewish faith, and we want to set an example for our children on how to apply this value in daily life.” For this reason, Mark and Claudia are familiar faces at both campuses practically any day of the week. Since joining the Wildwood community in 2016, both parents have participated as active members of the Wildwood Parent Organization (WWPO) and enjoy hosting class events and dinners for new families at their home. As a parent ambassador, Claudia frequently meets with prospective families during open houses at both campuses. “Wildwood is our second home,” Mark says, jokingly. “We know the security guards, we know the teachers—to be on campus and see your donation at work is truly rewarding.” A rare trifecta—parents of an elementary, middle and an upper school student—the Schwartzes are afforded a rare firsthand glimpse into Wildwood’s pedagogy and how its progressive approach to learning is demonstrated at each grade level. “There is an authenticity to Wildwood’s commitment to academic and personal growth that is visible in every aspect of the school,” Mark says. “Each of our children is very different, and yet, you can see how the tenets of a Wildwood education are taking shape within each of them in their own way.” Like many Wildwood parents, it is the type of experience they wish was part of their own education. “I didn’t like to speak in class, and fortunately, I rarely had to,” Mark says. “By contrast, we look at our kids, and each of them can stand up confidently in front of anyone and express their thoughts—a skill many students don’t get to practice until business or graduate school.” Claudia adds, “We’re incredibly grateful for Wildwood and are confident that this environment is helping Jude, Noa and Aden become the best versions of themselves for graduation and beyond.”



WHERE BRAVE LEARNERS GO Class of 2019 college list

Dalila Amaya Macalester College

Serena Birkmann Bard College Berlin Josephine Bleakley Brown University Lucy Blumenfield Columbia University Reid Broudy The University of Texas, Austin Talia Burstyn-Paul Chapman University Liam Butler-Schafer New York University

Jack Coghlan Starting His Career

Isabella Grimaldi Bowdoin College Stella Guggenheim Wesleyan University Milan Hassid University of Oregon Lucy Hofmann Wesleyan University Ian Hutchinson Hult International Business School Viola Hutchinson Pepperdine University

Andrea Arevalo University of California, Santa Cruz Aliyah Armenta Eugene Lang College

Jordan Fenster Michigan State University Janette Asha Fletcher University of California, Berkeley Ethan Goldblatt The George Washington University Anahi Gonzalez University of Richmond

of Liberal Arts, The New School

Dara Baren Chapman University Fiona Bell Skidmore College


Aidan Stern Washington University in St. Louis Ethan Story University of California, Santa Cruz Jeremy Struhl University of Southern California Owen Sussman School of the Art Institute of Chicago Ihsan Turk University of California, Berkeley Juliette Whitesell University of Wisconsin- Madison Alfie Willing Savannah College of Art and Design Harvey Willing University of Puget Sound Iman Tirmizi Loyola Marymount University

Henry Wilson Hamilton College Spencer York Loyola Marymount University Harry Zucker Loyola Marymount University

Rasmus Jegeus Champlain College

Ryder McDaniel Northwestern University

Tucker Panitch Oberlin College

Katherine Kramer Washington University in St. Louis Charlotte Kronfeld University of Michigan Harlem Lewis Wayans Howard University Violet Lewis Purchase College, Conservatory of Music

Maddie Moore Williams College Darien Mostofi DePaul University

Luke Robert Loyola Marymount University Schuyler Rosenzweig Boston University Arianna Ruano-Camacho University of California, Santa Barbara Paulette Serrano California State University, Los Angeles

Joelle Nessim Santa Barbara City College

Eli Oleff Lake Forest College

Hank Olyphant Parsons School of Design, The New School




FEATURE by Dawn Urbont and Kerri O’Neill, Wildwood Parents

Ecosystems: Why Should We Care?

T hird grade scientists are sinking their teeth into ecosystems. From the classroom to the wetlands, in this unit they discover that their research and fieldwork can affect the big picture. Throughout a seven-week intensive, they explore the vital role that wetlands play in maintaining a healthy environment and a balanced ecosystem, which directly impacts wildlife in our community and is crucial for human survival. Not only do they learn the importance of these complex biological communities, but they also tackle one of the most essential questions facing the world today: Why should we care?



FEATURE Ecosystems: Why Should We Care?

EXPERIMENTATION Alongside model making, students are immersed in the scientific method—testing ideas, making predictions (using logic and deductive reasoning), and hunting down evidence to support their predictions. Kids work in groups of six to set up experiments and build their models. Together, they collect data and materials, make labels, and learn to delegate, after which they branch off individually to make observations, predictions, graph data, and write their analyses. Migration Monopoly is another one of Anna and Sam’s outside-the-box activities designed to help 3rd graders understand why wetlands matter. In this game, which simulates bird migration, the science lab is transformed into the Pacific Flyway (one of four aerial highways birds use to migrate in the Americas). Each student represents a bird trying to migrate from the nesting habitat to the wintering habitat and back. Along their migration, “chance” cards are drawn. These cards describe events that help or hinder migration—habitat destruction or rehabilitation, weather, food, or predators. Throughout the game, students graph how many birds successfully migrate versus the availability of habitats, thereby illuminating the effects of chance events on bird populations. FIELDWORK Science doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Ballona Wetlands, the last significant wetlands in the Los Angeles Basin, lies essentially in Wildwood’s backyard. Ballona Wetlands has implemented a community hand restoration project—removal of the invasive nonnative species—which 3rd graders participated in. This nonnative plant has taken over much of the reserve, crowding out native plants, robbing water, and changing the chemistry of the soil. Herein lies the real-life model for students to compare against those made in the classroom. This interaction with

Igniting young minds, science teacher Anna Boucher kicks off the unit with a quote from Jane Goodall: “To create a world where we can live in harmony with nature, we need to understand. Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care will we help.” With this as the bar, students learn that wetlands serve myriad purposes: They are rest and refueling spots for migratory birds, they are water filtration for pollution, they are flood buffers and oxygen producers, they are carbon-dioxide-absorbing, and they are home base for a complex food web. We have lost 95 percent of our wetlands in Southern California to human impact—kids take that number seriously. Using model making, experimentation, an old-time favorite board game (with a scientific twist!), and a field trip to the Ballona Wetlands, Anna and her teaching partner Sam Palm-Shindell break down content into age-appropriate lessons aimed at imparting deep understanding while keeping students engaged. MODEL MAKING Wetlands are large, complex systems, and making a smaller version brings the abstract into concrete focus. “[By building models], they’re not just reading what an ecotone [a transitional region between two biological communities] is, they see it,” Anna explains. The models, built in large recycled plastic bottles, have two ecosystems—terrestrial and aquatic. Once complete, they are self-sustaining. Inside, oxygen is made by the plants and carbon dioxide is made by animals such as millipedes and aquatic snails. The plants become food for some of the animals. Dead material is consumed by other animals and recycled into nutrients for the soil. The water moves through a mini water cycle—condensation forms and behaves like clouds—when enough water collects, it drips back down. “They helped us understand how ecosystems are organized and what makes an ecosystem healthy,” 3rd grader Oz M. says.

“[By building models], they’re not just reading what an ecotone [a transitional region between two biological communities] is, they see it.” —ANNA BOUCHER, WILDWOOD SCIENCE TEACHER




FEATURE Ecosystems: Why Should We Care?


“When groups like Wildwood’s 3rd graders come out and assist with habitat restoration, it combines the knowledge of the head with the caring of the heart. Students become stewards of the Ballona Wetlands and gain confidence that they can have a positive impact on environmental issues.” —CAROLYN EVERHART, VOLUNTEER DOCENT WITH FRIENDS OF THE BALLONA WETLANDS

a local and vital ecosystem is invaluable as a scientific teaching tool and extends into the realm of citizenship and activism. Anna wants her students to see that taking action locally has no bounds or age restrictions. “Outdoor classroom experience is where some of the best learning might happen—they get to do a little bit of fieldwork— what a real scientist is doing,” she says. Carolyn Everhart, a volunteer docent with Friends of the Ballona Wetlands, knows the impact of this type of hands-on learning. “Getting students to explore the Ballona Wetlands is such a valuable way to experience science,” she says. “When groups like Wildwood’s 3rd graders come out and assist with habitat restoration, it

combines the knowledge of the head with the caring of the heart. Students become stewards of the Ballona Wetlands and gain confidence that they can have a positive impact on environmental issues.” Another branch of activism comes in the form of nesting boxes. This part of the project incorporates art, science, technology, and data collection. After researching which nesting boxes attract native or migratory birds, students set up shop at the Tec D.E.C. (Wildwood’s elementary campus makerspace) where they laser-cut pieces of wood to build the houses. Once assembled, kids etched species and nesting facts onto the boxes. “I want this project to educate, not just look nice,” Anna stresses. “It’s the idea that the text and images can educate anyone who comes across the nesting box.” SEEING THEIR WORLD DIFFERENTLY In the immersion of ecosystems, Anna and Sam hope that the students will see their world through a slightly different lens, noticing the interconnectedness of it all and knowing their ability to make a hands-on difference in preserving significant (and dwindling) resources. Kids learn that something that may not be initially exciting to look at can hold great value. Ballona Wetlands doesn’t always look pretty. The water is brackish and can be smelly. Mosquitos abound. Not all the animals are warm and fuzzy. But every part is relevant to the ecosystem. It all exists in harmony. By studying ecosystems, students see their integral part in the big picture and that our lives could be radically impacted if we turn a blind eye to the damage caused at the hands of our own species. “The point of this unit is not to be ‘Pollyanna,’” Anna says. “It’s to point out that we can change things.” This is why we should care. W



FEATURE by Ximena P. ‘21

The WISRDing World of Wildwood

M y first year at the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development (WISRD) was terrifying. I was a freshman thrown into a world of endless possibilities and brilliantly creative people. The Wildwood Institutes use contextual-based learning, meaning it’s up to the students to decide what’s important to learn or research. I chose to focus my time at WISRD on hydroponics, a subset of hydroculture that focuses on cultivating plants without soil.




FEATURE The WISRDing World of Wildwood

G. ’21 (also a PI), Nicholas N. ’20, and Jack S. ‘20. Our project was inspired by the major drought in the San Joaquin Valley. Because the valley’s soil has a natural balance of salt and other minerals, for decades farms there were able to produce high yields of an array of crops. This earned the valley its nickname “The Food Basket of the World.” However, as Central California’s drought intensifies, more water is contaminated with exponentially growing concentrations of salt. The San Joaquin Valley aquifer, which is responsible for transporting most of the area’s water, is sinking up to 2 feet per year. There aren’t enough exits for the salt water, which causes accumulation and further contamination. Rising salinity levels decrease chances of sustainable and healthy growth patterns for crops, resulting in a negative impact on agriculture. This crisis is important to research because it could eventually cause the crops to become unsafe for consumption, die, and ultimately lead to a food crisis. The overarching mission of the WISRD hydroponics team is to assess how destructive the situation currently is and then propose a solution.

With time, I grew comfortable with the freedom granted by WISRD and learned to make use of the resources it offered. I learned to use the Habits of Perspective, Connection, and Evidence to delve into and solve issues, and I quickly understood that WISRD embraces the lessons of failure. After that first year, I realized that the freedom to fail was my favorite part of WISRD. The hydroponics team and I failed countless times. We were sometimes forced to start over, or we would reach a dead end and have to stop and go back and do more research. We conducted many experiments only to realize that a lot of the work we were planning wasn’t valuable or suitable to the degree we hoped. Instead of dwelling on our failures, we learned to think of them as experiences that would help us create a better thought-out and more accurate lab, and we focused on our goal: drought-resistant agriculture. HYDROPONICS LAB: SAVING OUR FOOD SOURCE I have served as a principal investigator (PI) on the hydroponics team since I joined WISRD two years ago. The group includes me, Sadie

The first year was characterized by growing comfortable in all the freedom we were granted and learning to make use of our resources as well as reshaping the vision of hydroponics. After that first year, I realized that the freedom to fail was my favorite part of WISRD.


THE VISION BECOMES REAL The hydroponics team and I have successfully constructed a working lab and are ready to start experiments in the upcoming school year. This is the most rewarding part of the project thus far. A lot of the work we did my first year was researching how to create a well- established lab. Having something tangible that allows us to see all our hard work realized is incredible. All the hours we spent on our project— combing through research journals, feeling defeated because a 3D print didn’t come out the way we hoped,

is the best part of the Wildwood Institute for STEM Research and Development. It’s a place for people willing and motivated to take on the challenge of conducting breakthrough research using hard work and creativity. The WISRDing world of Wildwood, if you will, has opened me up to a world where dedication and perseverance make good scientists and accomplishments are unquestionably worth the struggle. W

conducting extensive research only to find it was inapplicable, completing difficult math problems, creating and editing Google Docs, and journaling about our failures at the end of class every day—was worth it. We made visible progress and had something to show for it. Our hydroponics vision is no longer just a vision; it is a real lab expected to yield real results. Because of WISRD and my work on the hydroponics team, I have become more adaptive to challenges and creative innovation, and I have a newfound perspective on failure. The freedom to fail and start again




FEATURE by Steve Barrett, Director of Outreach

Applied Math and Science = Smooth Sailing

T he challenge of the Wildwood Cardboard Boat Regatta seems straightforward: Crews of two or three 6th grade students launch small boats into the 25-meter lap pool at Santa Monica College, then paddle and navigate their crafts three times across the water while staying afloat. The fastest time wins. The catch: Success is not guaranteed, and failure will get you all wet in this competition.



FEATURE Applied Math and Science = Smooth Sailing

Each boat in this race is designed and built by the students—the materials: cardboard and duct tape. Get the mathematical calculations wrong or misapply the scientific theories underlying buoyancy and you go down with the ship. But the nature of science and mathematics is learning from mistakes, and for these Wildwood students, the annual regatta provides them the opportunity to literally step into their work and (maybe) get their feet wet. The winning boat—The Jolly Rancher—was designed by Becca R., Charlotte Z., Kate E., and Merrin C. The victorious team shares that both their and their classmates’ processes began with brainstorming— talking about and sketching possible designs. Each group creates a two-dimensional sketch on paper and a 3D model on a design app called Tinkercad. From their drawings, the teams craft a 1/10-size model, then scale it up to build the real thing. The teams calculate whether their designs would sink or float in the pool—real applied learning. “There’s math and science in every step of the process,” Charlotte shares. “We didn’t just randomly start cutting and assembling.”

The Cardboard Boat Regatta project exemplifies Wildwood’s project-based approach to learning. It also leverages the flexibility built into the Division One schedule: Science teacher Na Xue and math teacher Scott Blanding convene their respective classes at the same time. For this project and others, the two teachers combine their classes and co-teach what’s unofficially known as STEMinar (STEM = science, technology, engineering, and math). For a few weeks before spring break, 6th grade students work in STEMinar, learning the math and science principles involved and designing their boats. Scott and Na foster and monitor the work and enjoy tracking and supporting their students’ process. Carol Ann Tomlinson, a well-known educational researcher and professor at the University of Virginia, sums up the role that STEM teachers like Na and Scott play in students’ learning: “Give me teachers who relentlessly cause kids to wonder why? and how did that happen? and what if? as though those questions were the lifeblood of learning.” 1 The Cardboard Boat Regatta is the culmination of these teachers’ inspiration and their students’ hard work—a fun celebration and 6th grade


“Give me teachers who relentlessly cause kids to wonder why? and how did that happen? and what if? as though those questions were the lifeblood of learning.” —CAROL ANN TOMLINSON, EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER

The final calculation requires finding the boat’s theoretical waterline. Once again—math provides the answer. “We figure out the boat’s water displacement based on our surface area and buoyant force,” Merrin says. “From that, we calculate the waterline—how far into the water the boat should sink.” The final step: boat building. All four members of Team Jolly Rancher agree that construction was challenging and enjoyable. The proof was at the pool. While only one team walks away from the Cardboard Boat Regatta as winners, the opportunity to try and sometimes fail (while having fun and learning) is a winning outcome for everyone. W

community event. “It’s thrilling when students realize that their boats should float, based on their calculations,” Scott says. He also appreciates everything about the lead-up to the big day, as students make connections between math, science, and their application. Merrin, from the winning team The Jolly Rancher, describes her group’s process: “We start by calculating the total mass of our boat, with three of us inside it,” she shares. This allows the team to determine their boat’s buoyant force, using a calculation called Archimedes’ principle. “If our calculations show that the mass is less than the buoyant force,” she explains, “we’ll float … in theory.” Her teammate Charlotte adds, “It’s good that we have to incorporate the math we learn; our measurements are well-thought-out.”

1 Tomlinson, Carol Ann. “One to Grow On / The Kind of STEM Teachers We Need.” Educational Leadership , December/January 2014.



WILDWOOD ATHLETICS News from the Wolf Den A Record-Breaking Year in Sports

Our reputation continues to be stellar in the local community as a competitive program with integrity. Our long-standing memberships in our three leagues—Coastal Canyon League (elementary), Pacific Basin League (middle), and Coastal League (upper)— continue to offer us competitive equity and valuable partnership. Here are highlights from the fall, winter, and spring seasons: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Fourteen girls came out for the basketball team, which continued our streak for awesome participation. The girls were coached by Keyonna Taylor and Esther Rogers, and they had fun learning skills and bonding as teammates. Somewhere along the line, they adopted a stuffed unicorn as their team mascot. The girls demonstrated school pride, a love for the game, and a love for one another. They now have some experience, which will lead them to success playing at the middle school level. MIDDLE SCHOOL Wildwood fielded cross-country, swimming, and three girls volleyball teams. Forty girls came out for volleyball, and we were able to field grade-specific teams. All teams made the middle school playoffs and had fun developing their volleyball skills and understanding of the game. Our middle school swim team, known as our “Water Wolves,” had 14 committed swimmers and were led by our longtime coach and former Olympian Rada Owen. By season’s end, several of our swimmers had shaved seconds off their times, setting both personal and school FALL SPORTS

records. At league finals on the boys side, our 200 medley and 200 freestyle relay teams brought home medals. Our 100 freestyle team did the same. On the girls side, our 100 medley relay also brought home hardware. Our pack of cross-country running Wolves had nine runners putting in the work. Cross-country can be a grueling sport, and these kids showed grit. They competed in six meets, culminating in league finals at Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area. With a strong tradition in cross-country, we look forward to these runners’ development as they continue to improve and eventually enter the upper school. UPPER SCHOOL Wildwood fielded varsity and junior varsity indoor girls volleyball, boys varsity beach volleyball, and boys and girls cross-country teams. We had 20 girls in the volleyball program this year, with our varsity team finishing the season with victories over league opponents California Academy of Mathematics and Science and Geffen Academy. Our boys varsity beach volleyball team advanced to the playoffs for the second year in a row. Led by our excellent coaches Michael “MJ” Johnson and Nick Scheftic, the boys continued to make progress in the sand. They came within two points of defeating Notre Dame Academy in the first round of team playoffs and went on to send two doubles teams to the Southern California pairs tournament. It was a stellar year for both the boys and girls cross-country teams. At league finals, our boys and girls teams each qualified for the CIF playoffs, with the girls winning the league championship. Sophomore Dani B. won the finals race for the second year in a row. The girls team advanced out of the CIF Southern Section semifinals all the way to the finals. Dani was nominated to the All-Section team, a fantastic accomplishment. She won six individual races and had six top 10 finishes at invitationals. Her best time of 18:00 for 3 miles lowered the school record by more than a minute.




WILDWOOD ATHLETICS News from the Wolf Den


of four of our teams qualified for playoffs, traveling throughout Southern California to compete. Our varsity boys basketball squad had a great season. They began the year with a trip to Catalina Island where they enjoyed the sport they love and bonded as teammates. They ended their season with solid league wins over Geffen Academy, Lennox Academy, and New Roads School. For the fifth year in a row, our girls varsity basketball team earned a berth to the CIF playoffs, coming in third in the Coastal League. The girls traveled to Catalina Island early in the season to play in the Avalon Classic where they played four tough games to prep for league play. This focus on process and working hard set them up for success. They again advanced, not only to the playoffs but also to the round of 16 in their division. Our girls varsity soccer team repeated as league champions, and once again, they qualified for the CIF playoffs. Because of their previous success, they were promoted to a higher division in playoffs, which was both an honor and a challenge. They faced a fierce opponent from Riverside. We gave them a good game but unfortunately came up short. Our boys varsity soccer team built on its success from last year. Once again, the boys qualified for playoffs. They did even better this year, coming in second in the league and advancing in the CIF playoffs to the round of 16. In their first playoff game, they won 8-0, with seven different goal scorers.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL We had 20 girls join the volleyball team. Coaches Sarah Schemerhorn and Esther Rogers and student-coach Katie K. ’19 were excited to have so many girls to instruct. The girls worked on skill development, learned the rules of the game, and experienced competitive match play. This group was very supportive of one another, which made for a fun learning environment for everyone. Our 5th grade boys basketball squad was made up of 19 boys. These Wolves were coached by Pat Colley (who is also our varsity coach), with Jack C. ’19 working as his assistant. Our program of having current upper school players work with our younger athletes continues to be a great way to build bridges between our two campuses and for our younger ones to see the opportunities that lie ahead. MIDDLE SCHOOL With 74 athletes participating on five different teams, it was a busy time for our middle school program. We fielded three boys basketball teams, one girls basketball team, and one coed soccer team. Our girls basketball team advanced to the playoffs, and our coed soccer team finished the year undefeated. UPPER SCHOOL We fielded five teams: boys and girls varsity soccer, girls varsity basketball, and boys junior varsity and varsity basketball, with our varsity teams competing in the CIF-sanctioned Coastal League. Three




ELEMENTARY SCHOOL We had 11 boys come out for the volleyball team, and they were coached by Sarah Schemerhorn and senior Jack C. ’19. The boys had a lot of fun learning the fundamentals of the game while enjoying competition against other schools. It was another fun season for our coed soccer team as 18 kids laced up their cleats ready to represent Wildwood. Coached by Herach Danlyan (upper school teacher and middle school coach) and Jenn Partenheimer (upper school teacher and girls varsity coach), our players had expert adults who not only imparted their wisdom of the game but also reinforced a passion for getting out there and trying. MIDDLE SCHOOL We fielded a tennis team, boys and girls track and field, and two boys volleyball teams. Our tennis team was coached by teacher Megen O’Keefe and off-campus coach Bianca Reindell. Being made up mostly of 6th and 7th graders, they enjoyed both team and individual success, and the future of our tennis team looks bright. Our middle school track and field team had another excellent year. With knowledgeable coaches Paul Lupi and Na Xue, our athletes were inspired to do their personal best, and that hard work paid off with several athletes breaking personal and school records. In volleyball news, it was great to have so many kids sign up, and we were able to field two teams. Our 6th grade team made it all the way to the championship match! UPPER SCHOOL We had a historic spring, fielding teams in swim, girls beach volleyball, boys indoor volleyball, tennis, and track and field. Our swim team finished the season breaking 14 school records, leaving a legacy that will be hard to beat. Coach Rada Owen (2000 Sydney Olympics) has led this team for several years, and she is proud of their efforts. Our girls beach volleyball team grew to 16 members in the fourth year of the program. Led by coaches Reo Sorrentino, Deketa Stubblefield, and Esther Rogers, they came in third in our league and enjoyed the sun and sand. In the third year of boys indoor volleyball, our team

148 athletes on 13 teams Sports: Cross-country, swimming, boys beach volleyball, girls indoor volleyball, girls basketball


173 athletes on 12 teams Sports: Girls indoor volleyball, boys basketball, girls basketball, soccer


167 athletes on 13 teams Sports: Soccer, boys indoor volleyball, track and field, tennis, girls beach volleyball, swimming

placed second in league and made CIF playoffs. This is a dedicated group of young men, five of whom earned either first or second all-league honors. It was a historic year for our varsity tennis team because it was the first year our league fielded tennis. The team came in second, qualifying for CIF playoffs. Freshman Qew S., our No. 1 singles player, qualified for sectionals and earned all-league. Led by coaches Rodger Lolley and Scott Blanding, this team had a memorable year making Wildwood history. Our track and field team was a large pack of running, jumping, and throwing Wolves with 27 team members. Twelve athletes qualified for the CIF playoffs, with two advancing to sectionals and one to the state meet. This team also made history as they won the combined (boys and girls) league title. Notably, these athletes have broken 11 school records.



STUDENT VOICE by Sophie H. ’23

Cartwheels to Goals After The First-Ever Undefeated Regular Season for the Girls Varsity Soccer Team, Sophie H. ‘23 Profiles Coach Jenn Partenheimer

playing soccer or she could work hard, believe in herself, and prove him wrong. While attending the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, Jenn realized that she wasn’t going to go on to the next level of soccer but that she knew that if she wasn’t going to be playing anymore, she wanted to coach young women. She hoped to share her passion for soccer with girls while being that encouraging, strong, female role model that Monica was to her. The most successful soccer teams collaborate well and develop a bond while supporting each other. Jenn believes that this was a key part of the success of Wildwood’s varsity girls soccer team last year when they had an undefeated regular season and even advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) playoffs. “She absolutely loves the game of soccer,” says Lexi K., one of Jenn’s players. “Her love of the game drives her passion to coach us girls. She tells us, ‘You should acknowledge your teammates’ efforts, as well as your own, and never quit on yourself or the team.’ She is a mentor of mine as well as a great friend. I’ve got nothing but love for Jenn Partenheimer.” “I want to encourage females to have a voice and speak up,” Jenn says. “What the women’s soccer team is doing right now is representing all us women and future generations.”

AS A LITTLE KID, all Jenn Partenheimer

wanted to do on the soccer field was pick flowers and do cartwheels, but as she got older, her passion for soccer turned into a dedication that drove her to make it her career. Jenn, a former college

soccer player and current girls varsity soccer coach at Wildwood School, led our soccer team to their first undefeated regular season last year. Jenn’s devotion to soccer began when she was just 4 years old, growing up in Apex, North Carolina. Her father introduced her to soccer, and he was her coach for the next four years. By the time Jenn was 12, she had gone from cartwheels to goals and knew that she wanted a future playing soccer. That year, she tried out for club soccer and made the premier team. Playing any sport has its challenges, but when your coach doesn’t believe in you, that sport can become much harder. During Jenn’s first year of club soccer, her coach was the opposite of


Like many women, she believes that it is unfair that women earn less than half of what men earn while playing soccer, and she believes that more credit needs to be given to strong, determined, female athletes. Twenty-eight members of the U.S. women’s soccer team agree with her and

are suing USA Soccer for gender discrimination. They are mainly suing over pay equity, but they are also suing over a wide range of issues from how they play and how often to the medical treatment and coaching that they receive. Girls around the world, including me, are watching these women fight for their rights and change the future for female athletes.

supportive. “He told me that at the rate that I’m going and my skill level at 12 years old, I would never make it to Division 1 soccer,” she recalls. That day, she left practice in tears, not knowing what to think. She later met a soccer coach named Monica Hall, who played a big role in her life. Coach Hall told Jenn that she had two choices: She could accept what her coach said and give up on her dreams of


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