Gail Friedman

Jan 182015

Taylor 2, the outreach troupe of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, visited Groton this week, performing and teaching as dancers-in-residence at Groton School.Groton School

Taylor 2, the outreach troupe of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, visited Groton this week, performing and teaching as dancers-in-residence at Groton School.

Taylor 2, the outreach troupe of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, visited Groton this week—performing and teaching as dancers-in-residence at Groton School.

The six members of Taylor 2 worked directly with about 60 students—members of the School’s afternoon dance program and the cast of the winter musical, as well as others interested in dance. They provided professional-level guidance as well as inspiration.
In addition, they shared their artistry with the entire School during a Tuesday evening performance that included a piece reminiscent of classical ballet as well as one influenced by tango. “The residency provided a wonderful way for students to experience the power of a great dance performance and to have personal contact with the artists themselves,” said Arts Department Head Mary Ann Lanier.
Several Groton dancers said that the professional-level instruction motivated them to push themselves harder. “Our students gained a fuller appreciation for the expressive power and technical challenges of dance,” Lanier said. “They were asked to use all of their physical, emotional, and intellectual energies as they learned snippets of Paul Taylor’s choreography in dance workshops.

“Those who danced were inspired to strive for greater accomplishment,” she added. “Those who had not danced before were exposed to the beauty, power, and expressive possibilities of the art of dance.”

See photos from the dance residency on the Groton School’s multimedia page.


Oct 152014

The Windsbach Boys Choir performs at Groton School October 28th, part of the Gammon Concert SeriesMila Pavin

The Windsbach Boys Choir performs at Groton School October 28th, part of the Gammon Concert Series

The Groton School’s Edward B. Gammons Concert Series hits a high note this month, when it hosts the Windsbacher Knabechor German Boys Choir. The internationally-known choir is on a world tour as part of Germany’s commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The choir will perform in St. John’s Chapel, a Gothic Revival masterpiece on Groton School’s campus and the perfect setting for the Windsbacher repertoire, which extends from Renaissance to contemporary music but specializes in sacred works. The concert is presented by the Bavarian Ministry of Culture on October 28 at 7 p.m.

This event, like all performances in Groton’s Edward B. Gammons Concert Series, is free.

Please plan to attend the rest of the Gammons Concert Series too. These concerts take place in the Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall, in Groton’s Schoolhouse, 282 Farmers Row, Groton.

November 9, 2014, 4 p.m. — International concert flutist Robert Stallman with Victor Romanul, violin; Dimitri Murrath, viola; and Emmanuel Feldman, cello, in an all-Mozart program

January 8, 2015, 7 p.m. — Trio Viento, the unexpectedly beautiful combination of oboe (Nancy Dimmock), French horn (Sheffra Spiridopoulos), and piano (Rebecca Plummer)

February 5, 2015, 7 p.m. — Groton School’s music faculty — composers, recording artists, soloists, and members of Boston’s professional ensembles

April 13, 2015, 7 p.m.— Scaramouche: All Women Percussion, which connects people through an exhilarating performance of music and theatrics that celebrates the freedom of self-expression

Because of ongoing construction, to reach the Gammons Recital Hall, please enter through the north (athletic) gate and park near the Athletic Center, then follow signs.

Groton School is a diverse and intimate community devoted to inspiring lives of character, learning, leadership, and service. Groton School, recognized as one of America’s top boarding schools, prepares students in grades 8-12 for the “active work of life.”

May 062014

Jonathan Klein, President of the Groton School board of trusteesGroton School

Jonathan Klein, President of the Groton School board of trustees

The Groton School board of trustees unanimously elected Jonathan Klein as its new board president on April 25th. He will succeed James H. Higgins III, who has served as board president for nine years. Klein is the co-founder and CEO of Getty Images and has been a board member since 2006.

“I am humbled, proud, and feel extraordinarily privileged to become the board president of a school that has changed so many lives, including the lives of my own children,” Klein said. “I am particularly fortunate to be taking on this position at a time when Groton is in such great health and to have the opportunity to work with our spectacular new headmaster, Temba Maqubela, and also with the very dedicated and visionary members of the Groton board. I look forward to building on Groton’s many strengths while also assisting with forward-thinking initiatives in the years ahead.”

Klein lives in New York with his wife Deborah, He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and spent much of his life in England. He received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in law from the University of Cambridge. His son Alex, a 2008 Groton graduate, studied at Yale and Cambridge; his son Adam, a 2011 Groton graduate, is a junior at Yale; and his son Max is a current Groton student.

Higgins, the outgoing president, explained that the time was right for a change in leadership. “It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as president,” he said. “The best time to move on is when the School is flourishing and looking to new horizons, when its leadership is strong and self-confident, and when a successor of obvious depth of talent and universal support is available and ready to take over.”

Higgins will remain on the board for another year to ensure a smooth transition — a gesture the new president values. “I have served under Jamie Higgins’ leadership for many years and know that his are very big shoes to fill, so I am particularly grateful for the example he has set and also for his willingness to help me through the transition,” Klein said. “Jamie has ably shepherded the school through an innovative strategic plan, a massive economic downturn, the hiring and on-boarding of a new headmaster, and a variety of other challenges. I hope to follow his model of collaboration and continue his open-mindedness to new ideas and healthy debate.”

Klein also serves on the boards of the Committee to Protect Journalists and Grassroot Soccer and is the chair of the board of Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. He will take over the governance of a school that enjoys a position of solid strength, with a healthy endowment, a 2014-15 admittance rate of approximately 12 percent, and an exciting renovation underway on its 1899 Schoolhouse.

Headmaster Temba Maqubela thanked Higgins on behalf of the global Groton School family, for leaving the School “on firm footing for his successor. As we renovate the Schoolhouse, we owe a deep sense of gratitude to Jamie, who ensured that this dream to enhance teaching of STEM subjects in our iconic Schoolhouse was well underway,” he said. “I am thrilled that Jonathan Klein is ready to propel us to even greater heights.”

According to Higgins, Klein is more than ready. “In addition to his obvious passion for Groton and commitment to its values and mission, he is a person of extraordinary insight and farsightedness,” the outgoing president said. “Jonathan has a deep appreciation for what makes Groton unique, an intuitive sense of collegial inclusion and transparency, and an infectious zest for the future. He is the ideal person to lead the board into the next chapter of Groton’s history.”

Apr 292014

Groton School Schoolhouse beam signing kicks of renovation

Groton School Schoolhouse beam signing kicks of renovation

The Groton School community left an indelible mark on the ongoing renovation of the iconic Schoolhouse—and on Groton history last Friday.

At about 8 a.m., a bright white, 14-foot beam—one of the first that will go into the Schoolhouse’s new addition—was in place near St.John’s Chapel, on Groton’s Circle. When the morning Chapel service ended, students poured out and walked over to sign the beam before heading to classes. With red and black Sharpies in hand, they put their names on a project that is preparing the Schoolhouse for the next century.

Friday evening, faculty, staff, trustees, and honored guests gathered to sign the same beam outside the Headmaster’s House, then headed to a special dinner. Speaking at the event were Board of Trustees President James H. Higgins, New Facilities Committee Chairman and trustee Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld, Headmaster Temba Maqubela, and trustee and early advocate of the project Jennifer Sandell. The Grotones, a girls a cappella group, performed at the celebration.

The ceremonial beam-signings heralded the Schoolhouse project, which is revitalizing the structure and expanding it with an addition dedicated to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. Construction began in mid-March and is expected to be complete by fall 2015.

See more photos from the beam-signing ceremonies on our multimedia page.

Feb 202014
Ted Widmer, a presidential scholar, history professor at Brown University, and former speechwriter for Bill Clinton, delivered an all-school lecture at Groton School on Monday — President’s Day about the American presidency and how past presidents are perceived.
“Groton is a fitting place to remember the presidents,” Widmer told the audience in the Campbell Performing Arts Center (CPAC). “It would be difficult to find a school that has contributed more to the service of the executive branch of our country.”
Widmer went on to discuss President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Groton Form of 1900) and numerous public servants who attended Groton, including Francis Biddle, who served as attorney general under FDR; Dean Acheson, who was undersecretary of the Treasury under FDR and secretary of state under President Truman; and numerous senators, congressmen, FBI agents, presidential advisors, and other Grotonians.
Groton, especially “Groton’s culture of service to others,” shaped FDR profoundly, the speaker said.  In fact, the 32nd president mentioned the Rev. Endicott Peabody, the School’s founder, in his fourth inaugural address, which Widmer said was highly unusual.
While President Theodore Roosevelt did not attend Groton (his four sons did), he was close friends with Peabody, who asked him to teach at Groton, according to Widmer. He declined, but did visit the School during his presidency.
Groton’s Presidents’ Day lecture began with a history lesson about the holiday itself, which stems from a George Washington birthday celebration originally designated for government employees. Congress deemed Washington’s birthday a national holiday in 1968, and in 1971 stipulated that the holiday be on the third Monday in February, between the 15th and the 21st.  The irony of that law, said Widmer, is that the calendar constraints mean “we celebrate Washington’s birthday on a day that can never be Washington’s birthday.” George Washington was born on February 22.

Feb 112014

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson, the organist and assistant director of music at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, will present an organ recital at Groton School on Sunday, February 16 at 4 p.m. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Johnson was scheduled to perform at Groton School last year but had to cancel because he was asked to play at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. His Groton School recital will include a diverse repertoire of 20th-century and contemporary, baroque and romantic pieces, all designed to showcase Groton’s historic Aeolian-Skinner organ, a prototype of the “American Classic” organ. The organ and recital are in the chapel at 282 Farmers Row, Groton, Massachusetts.

Last March, Johnson accompanied the Groton School Choir during a performance at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The renowned organist has traveled throughout Europe and the United States as director, accompanist, and soloist; has recorded widely; has been broadcast on BBC television and radio; and has worked with orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. At St. Paul’s, he presides over the five-manual Zillis/Mander organ, one of the finest musical instruments in the world.

Jan 222014

Wheeler Parker Jr.

Wheeler Parker Jr.

In a gripping Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly, Wheeler Parker, Jr. spoke to the Groton School community, describing the night in 1955 when two white men kidnapped his cousin, Emmett Till, from the Mississippi home where both boys were visiting relatives. Till was 14. His vicious murder is widely recognized as an important catalyst in the civil rights movement.

The men seized Till while Parker, then 16 years old, froze in terror nearby. “I just closed my eyes waiting to be shot,” he told the crowd in the Campbell Performing Arts Center. The murderers, who later confessed to the killing in a magazine article, were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury. They had tortured and killed Till because he reportedly had whistled at one of their wives.

Although his cousin’s murderers went free, Parker believes the trial itself signified progress because it was the first time charges had been brought against a white person for a crime committed against a black person in Mississippi.  “However, he said, “We weren’t surprised by the acquittal.”

During the assembly, Parker reminisced about his cousin, describing an affable kid, “a clown, a prankster,” who commanded attention despite a noticeable stutter. More than once Parker mused that his cousin should not have traveled from Chicago to Mississippi. “He knew nothing about the Southern mores,” Parker said. “He wanted to go because I was going.”

Groton School’s MLK Day assembly began with a 60 Minutes segment about the Emmett Till case, which included on-camera interviews with Parker. The case was reopened by the Department of Justice in 2004 amid evidence that the two acquitted men were not the only ones involved in the crime.

After watching the 60 Minutes story, students and teachers asked Parker a flurry of questions, covering topics from Till’s mother’s determination to draw attention to her only child’s death and why Mississippi has not prosecuted anyone else in the case to a rapper’s controversial mention of Emmett Till and the conditions in the South today. Later in the day, students and faculty split into small groups to discuss the event and other issues surrounding inclusion.

During the assembly, a student asked about the night of the kidnapping, and Parker described his terror: “It seemed like daylight would never come. I thought they were coming back.” He recalled putting on his shoes so he could run into the nearby woods if the murderers returned. His uncle later took him to another uncle’s house many miles away, and he then took the train to Memphis. Fear struck again in Memphis when people shouted warnings to the skittish young traveler because, accustomed to a life in Chicago without Jim Crow laws, he almost entered a whites-only restroom.

Today, Parker regularly visits Mississippi, which he believes has made significant progress, including having more black elected officials than any other state. “I feel more comfortable than I did in 1955,” he said, adding, “I still pick my places to go.” Despite his experience in 1955, the speaker said he does not hate. “Hate destroys the hater,” he said. “If you hate, it destroys you, not the person you’re hating.”

Jan 132014
Zebras on ice at Frozen Fenway

Zebras on ice at Frozen Fenway

by Joe Gentile ’14

In the latest installment of the storied Groton-St Mark’s rivalry, Groton School’s boys hockey team traveled to a frozen Fenway Park on January 8th to take on the St. Mark’s Lions.

Donning new “throwback” jerseys in honor of the late, legendary Groton coach, Frank “Junie” O’Brien, the Zebras took the ice in front of an excited crowd of students, faculty, and alumni. The team came out of the gate fast, adjusting to the harsh outdoor conditions, and controlled the pace of the game for much of the first period. After a myriad of scoring chances were turned away by St. Mark’s, the game remained tied 0-0 after the first period.

Continuing the momentum, the Zebras capitalized on a scoring chance midway through the second period, thanks to relentless fore-checking by Michael Brown ’16 and a beautiful pass from Ward Betts ’16 to Dorien Llewellyn ’15, who beat the St. Mark’s goaltender for the goal. The rest of the second period saw back-and-forth action from both sides and great goaltending from Co-Captain Matt Pompa ’14, who kept the Lions off of the board going into the third period.

However, with five minutes left in the third, the Lions caught a bouncing puck in front of the net and knotted the score 1-1. The Lions struck again less than two minutes later, putting them ahead with three minutes left to go in the game. Unfortunately, the Zebras took a late penalty and could not find the equalizer.

Although the game ended in a tough 2-1 loss, Groton looks to rebound against St. George’s this Saturday after an experience at Fenway Park that the team will never forget. (See photos from Frozen Fenway on our multimedia page.)

The author plays center on Groton’s varsity boys hockey team and is a team captain.  

Dec 202013

Orkeeswa angels

Orkeeswa angels

Christmas angels are a common Christian holiday theme … and it turns out Groton is an important hub of angelic activity, not just in December but all year ’round.

Groton School student Lucy Brainard visited Tanzania two summers ago as part of a school-sponsored trip; Groton School students have been making the trek since 2010. The group visited Orkeeswa School, in LaShaine Village, where Brainard met a Maasai girl known as Margaret, a student at the school. “Going into it, I didn’t think we would have much in common, but we have these real, lasting friendships with the kids there,” Brainard said.

Lucy Brainard and friends in Tanzania

Lucy Brainard and friends in Tanzania

Margaret had begun promoting her village’s handiwork after attending a leadership conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. At the conference, she proposed a microfinance project that would help her community. Margaret recognized the appeal of her village’s delicate beadwork, and ultimately launched her initiative.

She asked Brainard and the other Groton School students if they could help broaden her market. She motivated Brainard to spend every school vacation selling beaded angels crafted by the Maasai women of the village.

“I’ve raised about $15,000, but some of that has covered start up costs and other expenses. All remaining money is sent directly to the school. I think I’ve sold about 600 angels and 315 ornaments or jewelry pieces,” Brainard said. As soon as she returned from Tanzania, she started out selling the angels in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where she visits her grandparents during the summer. “I sold 150 angels in one two-hour period,” she said. “I knew the community there was going to do it for me, as well as wanting to help the Orkeeswa School.”

Selling 240 angels allows one child to attend the Orkeeswa School for a year.

This summer, Brainard expanded and sold angels each week at the farmers’ markets in Lyme, Connecticut. With other students who traveled to Tanzania, she has sold the angels during Parents Weekend at Groton School. And she’s moved online — she built a website,, to spread information about the beaded angels, belts, jewelry, and ornaments — and about the cause — and to sell the goodies online.

“I do all of the ordering, managing of inventory, and packaging myself, sometimes with the help of my mom and sister if I’m really overwhelmed. Two recently retired Groton School faculty members are involved in the project too — the Beams have been less involved this year now that they’re retired. However, many of the other Groton students who have gone on the trip in the past bring angels home over vacations and sell them there as well. But all the behind the scenes stuff is just me,” she wrote in an email. Another faculty member, Groton School wood shop teacher Douglas Brown, created wooden templates, so the angels could have a more uniform size and shape.

A few weeks ago, over Thanksgiving break, Brainard set up shop again, selling the angels at a church fair in her hometown of Lyme, Connecticut. Over Christmas vacation, she’ll sell them at a Lyme coffee shop. Three students have been able to attend the Orkeeswa School for the past three years because of the sale of these angels and other beaded crafts.

“I do this project because of the impact the community had on me,” Brainard explains. “They were the most inspirational people I’d ever met — they really never stopped smiling or dreaming.”

More than anything, Brainard loves receiving letters from her friends in Tanzania; they sometimes thank her for supporting Margaret’s project. “Most of them never expected to be given the opportunity to complete secondary school and maybe even university,” Brainard said. “I just want to help my friends go to school, smile, and continue to dream big.”

Dec 062013

Rev. Becca Stevens

Rev. Becca Stevens

The public is welcome to attend Groton School’s Percy and Eben Pyne Chapel Lecture, featuring The Rev. Becca Stevens, an Episcopal priest at Vanderbilt University and founder of Magdalene, a residential program for women who have survived lives of prostitution, trafficking, addiction, and life on the streets.

Her lecture, entitled “How Do Individuals Change the Balance of Love and Justice in the World?” begins at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 8. Afterward, at 5 p.m., Marcus Hummon, a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter (and spouse of the Rev. Stevens), will perform. Admission is free to both the lecture and the concert, and both are open to the public.

For more information about the lecturer, see Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece in the New York Times about her work in Nashville: and this ABC News feature on “America Strong” .

Stevens will speak in the Webb-Marshall Room in the Dining Hall on the Groton School campus at 282 Farmers Row, Groton. Hummons will perform in the Gammons Recital Hall in the Schoolhouse on the campus.

The Percy and Eben Pyne Chapel Lecture was established in 2007 by members of the Pyne family to bring distinguished guests to speak to the Groton community.