School is out and it’s summer time on campus! Reunion Weekend 2024 was celebrated at the beginning of June. Over 300 alumni and guests gathered for events designed just for our Pirates. Those attending had the opportunity to rediscover life as a Stevenson student, from being a DJ for their own radio show on KSPB, staying in the dorms on campus, learning about plans to update the new math, science, and engineering center, dipping their feet in the Morgan Pool, enjoying dinner, music, and visiting with one another at the Reunion Reception and Dinner under the tent on Wilson Field, among other activities over the weekend

On June 8, during Reunion Weekend, President Dan Griffiths presented the State of the School in Erdman Chapel. Below, it is shared in full to provide all of our Pirates with an update on Stevenson.

2024 State of the School

Welcome! I am Dr. Dan Griffiths and I have the great honor of being president of Stevenson School. I am originally from Cornwall in the UK and, prior to joining Stevenson, I was the head of upper school at Catlin Gabel in Portland, Oregon. I arrived at Stevenson seven years ago to succeed the wonderful Greg Foster as head of the upper school. Then, after five years in that role, I became president two years ago. I am also a Pirate Parent here at school. My daughter, Rosie, will be a middle schooler this year at the Carmel Campus and my son, Ruan, will be a sophomore here at the Pebble Beach Campus. My wife, Holly, is a physician at CHOMP. And, I am a lifelong Liverpool fan!

This is the first time we have done this in a while, and I greatly appreciate the chance to express our gratitude to generations of Stevenson alumni who represent the history of the school. You are central to the creation and ongoing success of the school we see today. A special thank you to those who have taken the time this weekend to come back to one of their homes in the world, traveling from all corners of the globe to be here – we have representatives from 1964 to 2019 in attendance.

I’d like to thank a few folks, in particular: this month Jay Dolata ’95 completes his term as alumni association president. Throughout his three years as our alumni association president, Jay has continuously shown up and stepped up to support his fellow alumni and our Stevenson community. Jay’s commitment extends from attending alumni events on both coasts, contributing to the alumni newsletter, meeting and engaging alumni from throughout the years, and addressing the graduating classes at their senior dinner, and letting current students create a mural to be displayed in his store, Elroy’s. These are just a few ways Jay has demonstrated his love and commitment to this special place. Thank you, Jay, for your service to the alumni association and to the school.

Reunion weekend takes a lot of organizing, and we are indebted to Amy Elmore, our director of advancement, and her team for the countless hours of work they put into making this a memorable occasion for all who attend. Mia Peterson ‘89, as our director of alumni relations, ensures that no detail is overlooked. This event is only one of many that she organizes and attends to help us stay connected with you, and you with each other. Thank you, Mia, for once again putting together a great event.

2024 Alumni Recognition Awards

One of the privileges of this position is that I get to present the annual alumni awards to remarkable Pirates who continue to exemplify the school’s mission and values.

Our first award is the Samuel Kahn Award.

Mrs. Rosalind Kahn established the annual Samuel Kahn Award in 1964 in honor of her late husband. An engineer, he was executive vice president and then eventually the owner of San Francisco’s Market Railway Company from 1925 until his retirement in 1946. Three of their grandchildren are Stevenson graduates: Steve Gardner ‘67, Tom Gardner ‘69, and Peter Margolis ‘72.

Each year, the award is given to a member of the 10th reunion class who exemplifies these long-standing School values:

  • To do one’s best,
  • To pursue one’s passion, and
  • To serve others.

This year’s Samuel Kahn Award goes to Sarah Lehman ’14

Sarah has established herself as a creative force through her work as a brand strategist, bringing positive change both through her own work and her support of others. Sarah recently won an Emmy Award in 2023 for an ingenious marketing and advertising campaign. She spearheaded the campaign in a partnership between her company at the time, DreamWorks, and UNICEF, the agency of the United Nations responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide.

UNICEF approached Sarah’s team with a proposal focused on empowering children around the world through learning. Her team helped UNICEF develop the idea, and ultimately created a campaign, Gabby’s Kid Power Challenge, consisting of 11 videos available in seven languages.

An extension of Gabby’s Dollhouse, a children’s show that emphasizes children’s empowerment, kindness, collaboration, and nurturing a growth mindset, this challenge asked kids to watch and interact with the videos in return for earning hearts.

When kids earned enough hearts, they could proceed to a website and exchange their hearts for donations to a child in need: food packets, backpacks, or emergency blankets. Ultimately, the children who participated successfully generated over 338,000 food packets, 43,000 backpacks, and 25,000 emergency blankets for other kids in need around the world.

When asked about her career path, Sarah said she was inspired by Aimée Bates, then English teacher and current Head of the Upper Division, who encouraged her to write.

Sarah, your work serves as an example of how to inspire change in the world through creativity, empathy, and kindness, qualities that have always been central to a Stevenson education. Congratulations on being the 2024 Samuel Kahn Award recipient.

Next is the Merle Greene Robertson Award for Contributions to Society. The Merle Greene Robertson Award was established in 2003 by the Alumni Association to recognize alumni for their service to society.

Born in Montana, where she learned how to paint from Charles M. Russell, one of the most famous “cowboy artists” of the early 20th century, Merle Greene Robertson taught Mesoamerican archaeology at Stevenson from 1968 to 1977. She took students to the Yucatan Peninsula to explore Mayan art and artifacts; some of these students–such as Arlen Chase ‘71–subsequently achieved distinction as archaeologists in their own right. Today, her thousands of rubbings are housed at the main library at Tulane University. Merle was a trailblazer and shaped the course of Stevenson as a proponent of experiential education–a cornerstone of our approach to learning—long before it became a popular trend.

This year’s award goes to Michael Tamburri ’94.

Michael is currently in Guatemala working with the Office of the President of Guatemala on a project so is unable to join us today. He sends his best to his fellow Pirates and shares that he was able to meet Merle when he was a student in the ’90s and then reconnected with her when he was working in Guatemala in the ’00s. He adds how fitting it is to receive this award when he is once again based in Guatemala, a place so dear to Merle.

Michael has dedicated his career to extending the reach of democracy all over the world. After graduating from Stevenson, he matriculated at the London School of Economics, receiving a degree in International Relations and Economics, and subsequently joined the Peace Corps. After this, Michael joined US AID, the US’s international aid and development arm, where he contributed to long-term democracy projects in Afghanistan, Kenya, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Somalia, among other countries.

Along the way, he has developed expertise in community engagement, rural development, transition and stabilization programming, crisis mitigation, society empowerment, nonviolent civil action, and political transitions. He has seen it all through decades in the field in some of the most war-torn countries on earth, but he has remained true to his mission: to make meaningful, lasting connections on the ground wherever he goes.

When Michael was asked about Stevenson’s role in his development, he shared, “I think the essence of it is that Stevenson helped us with bravery of thought…to be intellectually curious.”

Michael, from here on campus to you in Guatemala, we send our thanks for your service and dedication to helping people around the world, and congratulations on being this year’s recipient of The Merle Greene Robertson Award for Contributions to Society.

Finally, I will present The Day Family Award for Contributions to Stevenson.

Since the mid-1950s, at every significant moment of Stevenson’s history, Willametta Keck Day and her sons Robert ’61, Matthew ’63, and T. J. ’66, have been instrumental in Stevenson’s growth and development. This continues still to this day with the Day family’s support of our new science building and the MSEC campaign. The Day Family Award was established by the Alumni Association in 2004 to recognize alumni whose contributions to the School have been exemplary.

This year’s recipient is Brian Call ’74.

From his first steps on the RLS campus in 1970, Brian Call ’74 has had a particular affinity for Stevenson and has supported the school’s mission over many decades in so many ways.

After graduating from RLS in 1974, Brian matriculated to Lewis & Clark University, where he attained his B.A. in 1978 before pursuing a law degree at the Southwestern College of Law, receiving his J.D. in 1981. He moved back to the Monterey area to practice law, where Brian’s close association with the school resumed as President of the Alumni Association. As an alumni representative to the Stevenson Board of Trustees, he worked closely with board chairs Davis Factor and Mark Hornberger ’68, eventually accepting an invitation to become a full board member. Brian served on the board for more than two decades.

Throughout this time, Brian has remained a devoted Pirate who is always the first to support and help. As a leader in his class, he has assisted with organizing his reunions and other class gatherings, and this year has been an essential member of the Class of 1974 alumni team planning their 50th reunion celebration.

Asked why Stevenson means so much to him, Brian reflected that “It really is a place where lifelong friendships flourish…I still have really close friendships with these people that I went to school with. I loved that experience of living in a little microcosm of the world at Stevenson.”

Brian has not only been generous with his time and resources to Stevenson, but he is also active in the local nonprofit community. When you mention the name Brian Call in the community, it is immediately met with a response of a smile and the recognition of what a great person he is. We are fortunate to count Brian as a member of our Pirate family.

Congratulations, Brian, on this recognition for decades of dedicated service to the school.

The 2024 State of the School Update

We recently concluded Stevenson’s 72nd year with celebrations of the many accomplishments and achievements of our remarkable students. Since its first year, every graduating class has its own unique blend of students that come together to shape their class’s collective identity, and the class of 2024 were noteworthy for their resilience forged by their experience of starting their journey at the height of the pandemic.

Some familiar names remain on our faculty, complemented by many alums who have returned to educate the next generation of Stevenson students:

  • Dale Hinckley continues to teach history and journalism, and still chairs the Judicial Committee with wisdom.
  • Germano Diniz ‘88 chairs the math department, working in that department with Pete Lips ‘87.
  • Justin Bates ’99, celebrating his 25th reunion, is teaching history and coaching our highly successful golf team.
  • Karen Hiles ’95 teaches our most over-subscribed elective, a senior English class entitled “Reading Disney”.
  • Stan Stockdale’s daughter, Lucy, who spent her early childhood on this campus, teaches English and runs our residential program.
  • Taylor Coady ‘14, celebrating her 10-year reunion, is our director of activities.
  • Justin Clymo ‘93 has picked up the baton from Jeff Young as a tremendous athletic director, and he was recently named the CIF California State Athletic Director of the Year.
  • We continue to hire great teachers who bring their love of learning and deep knowledge of a range of subjects, allowing us to offer a wide diversity of classes across the curriculum, from Ethics to Ornithology, economics to mechatronics, and darkroom photography to The Gothic Imagination, to name just a few.

The Athletics program is thriving, with another long list of banners being hung in the gym. Of particular note are:

  • Girls Water Polo repeated as CCS champions and went on to win the NorCal D3 championship, establishing them as a legitimate force in California water polo.
  • Girls Volleyball won the school’s first-ever league championship.
  • Boys swimming won the league championship for the sixth consecutive time.
  • Boys soccer won its first league title since 1982 and went on to win the school’s first-ever CCS soccer title. The team advanced to the NorCal championship game and lost out in a tight game in front of a record crowd for soccer on the upper field of the Jeff and Beth Young Athletics complex.
  • Boys golf won league championship for the 15th straight year and 7th consecutive undefeated season, their 16th CCS championship, won the school’s first NorCal Championship since 2000. Luke B. ’25 won the individual title with a course-record round of 62 at Laguna Seca. On the girls’ team, Nikki I. ’25 set a 9-hole record at Spyglass in a match versus Carmel High School, shooting a score of 28. She couldn’t carry on to see how low she could go for 18 because the match was over and she had calculus homework to do.

Stevenson continues to help students achieve their future ambitions, whether that be the most selective schools in the nation, great liberal arts colleges or public universities, specialist schools like art academies or music conservatories, or non-college pursuits like a gap year or public service, should that be the right decision at the moment for that particular student.

We continue to believe that every student’s journey is unique, and it is our role to help them define success for themselves rather than impose a stereotypical and narrow definition – we know that this is far more likely to lead to a healthy, enduring, and joyful relationship with learning. Every student who graduates has the opportunity to attend a four-year college, and we are equally proud of graduates who choose different paths. For example, two of our recent graduates chose to pursue lives of service directly after graduation. One recently graduated from the Fire Academy, and another who joined the Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer was one of the first on the scene when the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed. This happened weeks into his first posting, and you can see an image of this in a recent edition of our newsletter.

This academic year closed two weeks ago with the second iteration of our immersive X-Term, a two-week program of experiential, place-based learning. This year, students summitted Shasta guided by Logan Talbott ‘01, whose own love of climbing was nurtured by Erik Olson. Erik also accompanied these current students 25 years after first climbing with Logan to prepare for the trip.

Others studied entrepreneurship, learning from the experiences of many supportive alums who generously gave their time to be part of this class. Another group, as I mentioned earlier, painted a mural for Elroys (the grocery store owned by Jay ’95 and Chlóe Dolata), some biked from the Golden Gate Bridge back to campus, and others traveled to Japan on a curated trip led by Sensei Shinobu Nagashima. These are just a handful of the opportunities made available to our current Pirates. At a closing assembly in Keck auditorium, students reflected on their X-Term experiences to bring the school year to a memorable end.

The Arts department continues to thrive – delighting us with the musical The Descendents this year. They also took on the challenge of environmental theater by performing Antigone in various locations around campus, with the audience following, led by the incredible Kim Ataide Schmittgens ’81. The informal and brave performances that are characteristic of the monthly “coffee houses” still pack the Little Theater. And, after over 40 years, KSPB is still the “station in the forest,” with student-hosted shows hitting the airwaves daily both locally and around the world on the internet.

From all I have shared, I hope you can see that just as it was when you were here, Stevenson remains a very special place. Students, teachers, curriculum, and even buildings may change, but the spirit of the place remains consistent. We are all fortunate to be a part of it, and we are grateful for the vote of confidence we receive from our current alumni who are also parents, affectionately referred to as “Super Pirate Parents,” through the 68 children of alumni who are currently enrolled at Stevenson.

This year, we had our Western Association of School and Colleges accreditation visit and review. We are waiting on the final report, but I can tell you that we received many commendations and only four major recommendations, compared to ten issued seven years ago. I will send a letter out to the community with more information on those this summer after we receive the final report. The visiting committee was highly complimentary when they observed what we already knew – Stevenson is an outstanding school and, as with all the best schools, we are committed to critical self-examination and a constant drive to improve.

Their report will frame the focus of our strategic work for the coming years, and identifies a need to further refine the continuity of our curriculum across all 14 grades from PK-12, to continue promoting equity and inclusion across all areas of school life, to refine our financial model to match current market trends and constraints, and to improve our communications and marketing – on this last point, we are on track to launch an updated version of the website this fall.

We will be helped in this work by the support of a tremendous board of trustees. This group of highly accomplished professionals from all walks of life generously give their time and expertise in service of the school, and count 11 alumni ranging from the classes of 1965 to 1994, in addition to a further seven parents of alumni. David Colburn, class of 1976, recently completed his six-year term of service as board chair, and we are deeply grateful for his steady hand during a tumultuous time that included a global pandemic and a cost of living crisis. He is succeeded by Cynthia Chapman, class of 1983, and former alumni association president and board vice chair. Cynthia is the first female board chair in the school’s history,

In addition to this work, we are in the midst of preparing for the public phase of the largest capital campaign in the school’s history. The centerpiece of the campaign is a new math, science, and engineering center, replacing the 55-year old Lindsley Science Center, which was built in its time for half as many students. Many of you here will have sat in the same rooms as our current students: indeed, the class of 1974, celebrating their 50th reunion this year, may well have been the first 9th Graders to attend classes in that building! In a lovely reflection of how far the possibilities for math, science, and engineering have come, the 3D model of the new building that is on display in Douglas Hall was designed, fabricated, and assembled exclusively by students in our design fabrication class using 3D printers, laser cutters and CAD software that hadn’t been dreamt of when the Lindsley Center was first conceived and built. The new building will bring together our math, science, and engineering classrooms into one building, greatly expanding the possibilities for these disciplines in the heart of campus. This is an incredibly exciting development for the school, and we look forward to sharing more about this in the coming months.

Another major focus of the campaign is financial aid. Stevenson has long been a place that welcomes students from diverse socio-economic circumstances, and increasing our endowed support of financial aid will safeguard this long-standing commitment. It also is essential in helping us provide full access to all the school has to offer, regardless of financial circumstances – once we invite a student and their family to join the school, it is imperative that we remove as many barriers as we can to full participation in the Stevenson experience. Endowed financial aid funds allow us to continue to invite outstanding students, like many of those who join us as alumni this weekend, to enhance our community both during their time here and long after graduation.

And, finally, we will focus on the Annual Fund. If we truly want Stevenson to be a great school, we need the consistent, annual support of our community, including all of you, to make all the things I have shared today possible. When we compare ourselves to some of the most prestigious schools in the country, we compete well in so many categories, but our level of support from alumni still has room to grow. We invite you to please help us catch up in this area and are grateful for any level of support you are able to provide.

I will close these remarks by sharing what I said to the class of 2024 at the end of their commencement ceremony a few weeks ago. They had just heard an inspiring personal reflection from Michael Younger, class of 2002, and they had their diplomas in hand. All that remained was for me to let them know that they will always be part of something bigger than themselves. I said:

“As you depart Wandke Amphitheater for the final time, I remind you that though your time as a student at Stevenson has come to a close, you will forever be connected to the school and to each other. One of the great privileges of my job is that I get to meet generations of Stevenson alumni around the world. Your future may bring you back to us – there are 14 children of Stevenson alumni in the class graduating today, more than 10% of the class. I have no doubt that a couple of you will sit on the Stevenson Board of Trustees – half of our board are alumni of the school, including the current and future board chairs. There will also come a time when you will need help, be it career support, mentorship, or a friendly face in a new city, and the Stevenson alumni network covers the globe. On recent trips I have heard some great stories from our alumni – when trying to get a business started, one reached out to football teammates for help, and another told me of a medical emergency far from home that was quickly supported and resolved through activation of the Stevenson network. As we learned at Baccalaureate last night, if you are afraid of spiders you can call your classmate Cash Satava ’24 (son of Rick ’90 and Heather ’89 Satava) and he will take care of it. But if you carry any fear about your future, know that there are literally thousands of people around the world to help. The truth is, as Stevenson alumni you are never alone.”

Since 1952, those connected to Stevenson School have been bound together by the words of our school prayer, and I now ask us all to join together to recite the words of our namesake, Robert Louis Stevenson:

Oh, Lord, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come,
That we may be brave in peril,
constant in tribulation,
temperate in wrath,
And in all change of fortune and down to the gates of death,
Loyal and loving to one another

Thank you, everyone, for gathering here in Erdman Chapel today. Congratulations once again to Sarah, Michael, and Brian for their awards today. And, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend revisiting friendships forged at this remarkable place.