THE CLASS OF 1983
I have to admit that I cannot pull a Bill Clinton and fill 50 pages with quotes and lessons from my teachers 40 years ago. But the overall sense of exploration in, the joy and challenge of learning to which Graland exposed me remain in my core and my memories, however, brief the snippets of memory may be...
Learning how to paint self-portraits and silk screening with Mrs. Merry down in the art basement.
The rat living on Life cereal in Mr. McKenna's class was the lucky one. Fruit Loops rat... not so much.
When Mme. Guiberteau mentioned a past student who, after 20 years, could still recite “Fox and the Crow “ fable she had every student memorize, I took it as insanity. I can still recite the “Fox and the Crow” fable.
When Ms. Wagner told us something we had performed in chorale was "nice.” it meant that it wasn't. And to this day, I still sing "Deck the Hall.” "People, there is only ONE hall!"
The waist-high pile of jean jackets in Tim Johnson's office.
Coach Petit inherited a soccer team with seasoned "pros,” Galen Grossman, Carolyn Chafee, Kimberly Hodge, who had been playing since the age of 5 on Denver's first girls' team... he occasionally forced up a few lunches after laps around Cranmer. In spite of it, we loved him anyway.
Nancy Wolfson's "USSR rap" which we recited endlessly to memorize all the countries "Estonia, Latvia, Azerbaijan!" She saved my grade.
The excitement of decorating lockers with wrapping paper and stickers (Egad!). Do I need to mention green docksiders and pink pants with whales on them?
Diagramming with Mrs. Noia.
Science projects with Mr. Dineen... figuring out how things worked BEFORE Google.
The musical with Ms. Weiss, who managed to wrangle 40 fourteen-year-olds in the cafeteria cum theatah. We ran up and down to the bathroom to change during performances. I stuffed my bra, put makeup on my pimples, wished I didn't have braces, then ran onto the stage to sing, " ..then suddenly the braces disappear, your skin is smooth and clear, and you haaaaave, that happy, grownup feeemale feeling.”
Competing in races across the top of the play structure, skiing to school, learning how to play field hockey and lacrosse, and snowball fights on the field.
The seance on our Southwest trip with Mrs. Priest.
Winning the French competition with Mme. Altman's play about going to the post office in France.
The 9th grader who would lie on his back in the hallway, legs bent up against the wall so that he could thrust himself across the floor when a girl walked by and make her step over his face. He also made a habit of climbing up the overhang to get to Mr. Hickey's class.
And, of course, the verbal noun reminders, glances over the top of his glasses, college-level report card comments with vocab I often had to look up to understand, from the one, the only, the ever beloved Phil Hickey. You have touched us all!
-Jody Holman Webster-
This story is inspired by actual events.
Paul Moore and Tom Cox had big dreams in ninth grade. They wanted to run for president and vice president of the Student Council, or at least to be part of a political scandal. They were not motivated by the desire to be popular or by the ordinary public service considerations. Mostly, they did it so that they could put up big campaign signs with their names. In deciding who would run as president and who would be vice president, they apparently chose based on which order of names would be best for the signs. Paul was the candidate for president, and not because the "Paul and Tom" ticket had an appealing name.
Mr. Johnson was not amused when he saw campaign signs and flyers reading “WE WANT MOORE-COX” and “GIVE US MOORE-COX.” (I can imagine that in focus groups, this formulation won out over “WE LIKE COX-MOORE”. Focus group participants would predictably have asked “more than what?”) Mr. Johnson (who perhaps would have preferred MOORE-JOHNSON) ordered that the signs be removed, and the campaign came to an end.
We all remember Nancy Priest’s Southwest trip, and that she also personally took some kids back on that trip during the summer. Our family didn't have the money to go on the summer trip, and I’m pretty sure Nancy felt bad about that, mostly because I constantly reminded her about it. Our family stayed in touch with her for a long time after graduation, visiting Ben and her at their farm, even though my college years. After my junior year at Amherst, she offered me a job helping her and Ben wrangle about eight boys on that summer trip.
For two weeks, the Priests drove their van filled with kids through the Southwest, while I followed behind in that old, beat-up VW Bug she owned (anyone else remember that light blue Bug?). [
The trip was amazing. The boys were such great kids, and I think they kind of looked up to me. It was also nice not to be the shortest person on the trip, like I was the first time I went. I did have some pretty painful flashbacks to my original Southwest trip though, like the moment I realized that a thrift-shop Speedo wasn’t exactly high fashion in 1980 at Graland. Further, the “O.P.” I taped on there wasn’t fooling anyone.
This particular trip happened over the Fourth of July. I’m sure it was a Wednesday. Not because I remember it, but because I just looked up July 4, 1989 on my phone. We had just pitched camp. I cooked some miserable gruel for the kids, and the sun went down. Ben got out a bunch of bottle rockets. If you’ll remember, he really couldn’t walk very well because of his bum hip. He always told us it was an old football injury, but we knew it was probably from a Grizzly attack, and he was just embarrassed that the bear almost got the best of him. Old Ben told me to go up on a rock with all of those sixth-graders and to shoot off some bottle rockets to celebrate our nation’s two-hundred-and-thirteenth birthday (I used my phone for that, too).
Let’s recall that in 21 year-olds, the frontal lobe isn’t anywhere near full development, so they don’t think very much about things like “Someone just told me to jump off a bridge. Is that a good idea?” or “Could the next thing I do affect my potential future Senate confirmation?” or “Is it wise for a legal adult to shoot bottle rockets in the driest part of New Mexico during the Great Drought of 1989?” [I’m capitalizing “Great Drought” to emphasize that it was really dry.]
I think we all know where this is going, so I’ll stop here. I’m also realizing that both of the stories I have given you include a sincere hope that there is an expired statute of limitations for the act therein described. Just in case, I have attached a non-disclosure
OK, OK, I’ll tell the rest. I got the very first rocket out. I had launched a lot of rockets in my day, and I was also the coolest person on the trip, for a change. I had this great method. Instead of shooting it out of a bottle, as the package insert and the name suggests, I would light the fuse and then throw the rocket underhanded, straight up into the air. If you time it just right, the weight of the rocket pulls it skyward, and just as it is about to fall, the fuse ignites the payload and it shoots all the higher. Ooh’s and aah’s ensue.
Did I mention what happens if you do it wrong? If you do it wrong, the rocket starts returning to earth before ignition. And now imagine that rocket moving from vertical, with the rocket pointing to the sky, then dipping toward the position where the rocket is horizontal to the ground. And if you have any imagining left, that’s the exact moment when the rocket ignites. What happens then is that the rocket travels really far, and while you are watching a group of kids clapping and squealing like the New Kids on the Block just hit the stage, the rocket lands, fifty yards away and in a giant tumbleweed. And then the all of the excitement for the moment, and all of the glee for our nation’s birth evaporates into the stark realization that even though you were never going to have a job that requires Senate
confirmation anyway, you are utterly screwed.
Those boys and I ran faster than any of us ever had. Toward the fire, if you’re wondering. By the time we got there, it was pretty big, but there were 9 of us, and at least one of us was determined not to have me spend the rest of my life in a New Mexico prison. We all made it back in one piece. Not much else to report, although a bear did rip one of the tents open. But that’s a story for the fortieth reunion.
What a great idea! I have many, many “good, wonderful and glorious” memories and offer the following few as a representative sampling:
The Southwest trip, including (A) running around the Priest Property, (B) shooting .22 rifles with Mr. Priest, (C) hiking up the Mesa Verde ladders, and (D) the chilly dinners cooked around the spring fire.
Ms. Priest and the Knighting Ceremony (which I had the chance to relive during my daughters’ ceremonies a few years ago).
Mr. Hickey’s legendary class (comprising 3 parts extraordinary learning and 2 parts fear!)
Coach Pettit, including his (A) driving us around on the luggage roof rack of the van at high speeds during the grasslands trip, and (B) standing on my forearm during wrestling practice (to demonstrate something, I guess?), which left an Adidas print on my arm for a week.
The many great friendships forged at Graland that last to this day.
I blame you for my Herculean standards of excellence.
I owe you an onerous quantity of benzodiazepines.
I'll commission you when I win on Jeopardy.
I am going to share a memory that may have gotten me kicked out of Graland, but I think the statute of limitations has passed. The names of the not-so-innocent have been changed.
When I was in about 5th grade, I was pals with another kid in the class. Let’s call him Dom Crowler. We discovered that Ms. Toll wasn’t great at keeping attendance for the late afternoon study hall. We never showed up, even for the first day. She must have assumed that it was a mistake that we were listed on the roll, and she never noticed that we didn’t attend a single one for the quarter.
Dom and I spent this period every week roaming around the school causing trouble. Sometimes a couple of bags of Fritos would go missing from the lunchroom kitchen. I’m glad they didn’t have caller ID back then because several mysterious prank phone calls were made from the phone in the kindergarten classrooms after the kids had been dismissed. Yes, Dom and I were delinquents. My kids love to hear the stories about those days because they never do anything like that.
One of my most enduring memories of Graland is coming into Mr. Hickey’s classroom in 7th Grade to find him sitting on top of the piano, legs folded underneath him, ready to teach us grammar. Of course, who could forget Mrs. Priest’s amazing trips, not to mention being knighted in an impressive replica of a castle! I can clearly remember Mr. Kuntz trying to get us to be precise in our mathematical definitions by asking us to tell him how to draw a triangle - which ended up with him drawing a pretty impressive picture of his tie on the blackboard. I will never forget learning the merits of nutrition by feeding rats on breakfast cereals and getting an introduction to engineering by trying to build a balsa wood tower to hold the most weight. The secret, as it turned out, was lots and lots of glue.
There are many more small moments that I remember, but they add up to a few key things that have stuck with me over the years. At Graland, the teachers always had the door open, ready to hear us out or lend a hand when we stumbled (which, as I recall, was relatively often). I’ve tried to emulate that in my career and my life - hear people out and lend a hand when they need it. And the friends I had at Graland made an enduring impression as well. We all had our ups and downs but when it mattered, we pulled together and supported each other, no matter what craziness any or all of us had gotten into. I hope that I’ve managed to carry that through my relationships over the years as well. I’ve traveled far from Graland - I live in New Zealand now. But I still feel the connection to the school where I learned some of my most important life lessons. Happy reunion to the class of 1983!
-Aly Overy Miehlbradt
Ascende Omnem Montem, indeed.
Nobody warned me when I was five
that the Powers that Be meant that literally.
Every damn camping trip was my own march through Bataan.
Thanks to Tom Rice, I can Play Pin the Tail on a map of the Philippines.
I was picked dead last in gym in a 30 Birch zeitgeist where that crap actually mattered.
At some point, everyone will find themselves Piggy on some kind of island.
I learned to find my currency nice and early.
Hint: bring finger puppets to P.E.
Tip: bring a deck of cards... everywhere.
I thought myself a babbling half-wit in the company of tiny geniuses.
I know now, for certain, they were.
(Geniuses. Some got taller.)
I believed asking 6th graders to excel at Middle English was a bit too too.
Still, spilling the top four lines of The Canterbury Tales over cocktails never fails.
I wailed that Philip Hickey's workload was onerous and Herculean.
In the 7th grade, I threw down words like "onerous."
Also, I had tasked his mythology homework, apparently.
Nothing I have done in my adult life was nearly as daunting as conquering the 8th Grade.
What confidence, what ownership, what mountains I have climbed (figuratively) since then exclusively because Graland made me teach myself I can.
I was a willful little kid.
Mike Teitelman mused that they were going to have to put a plaque
on the bench outside his office with my name on it.
He couldn't say it with a straight face or without a hug.
Making him giggle made me beam.
Ms. Milavec suspended our entire English class because of my mouth.
Beowulf could wait. I would not rat.
She followed through. I took the heat.
lt is important to lock horns with your monsters.
The irony was not lost on me.
Mrs. Hennessey sent me outside for edifying in an outburst
that an angle smaller than 45 degrees is "acute" because
"It's small, so it's really really... CUTE!"
Michael Bugdanowitz recanted that story to his son over sushi a few years ago.
Guess we all learned our angles.
Rhoda Resnick softened me; Ruth Gorham showed me Europe,
Jodi Pulcipher helped me launch my first job as a casting director,
and Kathy Stokes fed me a craving for Shakespeare.
These marvelous muses encouraged me up to the top of my bootstraps.
Nancy Priest even let me mod podge a [gay] bathhouse for my 5th-grade Roman history project.
All of them forged the best in me.
It wasn't easy for any of us.
The best things are never easy.
Graland is an internalized a culture of high expectations and creative confidence.
For me, home was hard, though many had it far harder.
School, complicated as it was, served as my escape.
My life, thanks to Graland, has been prodigious.
We were asked to only recall "the good and the glorious."
I was never terrific at following directions, and I am not much one for revisionist history.
I am grateful for my actual arduous one.
The blisters callused over, I jettisoned the Kletter boots and most of the bitterness.
I love my school.
I credit Graland for teaching me to respect and question authority in artful measure.
My karmic kickback for not following directions
is that I spend most waking hours scolding adults
for not following directions.
My time, k through nine, was not prelapsarian.
Rather, it was the hardest season of my life.
I am, as are many, an ascended adult for having mounted that
and every climb post fundamentam.
My memory is actually the first thing that comes to my mind when I reflect on my experience at Graland.
I started there in 3rd grade. Just 9 years old. The entire 3rd grade was given an assignment to create a scrapbook about the state of Colorado. We had to do the research completely on our own and were given over a month to complete it in class and at home. Mrs. Pulchiper was a tough teacher and made it very clear to us that if we didn’t complete it, or if we did a poor job on this project, we might fail third grade. She was serious; it was a major project, and it stressed me out.
I cannot even begin to explain the impact this had on me as a student, because I realized that Graland was a different kind of school. Now that I look back on it, in order to be successful there and in life, I would have to be very focused and disciplined. I truly appreciate the rigor that Graland demanded from us, even at the age of 9. Every project from that time on was met with the same kind of focus that carried me all the way through my academic experience. That was what Graland was about for me.
I’m so sorry I won’t be able to join you at reunion! It’s my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday celebration that weekend, so instead of myself, I’ll have to send this memory:
The 9th- grade musical was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Our year, it was Bye Bye Birdie which featured lovestruck teenagers, rock stars, and hapless parents ,inclan overprotective mother who excelled at dispensing guilt. Not that I know anything about that.
The best part of the show was learning the magic of inhabiting a character. Edith Weiss helped us create characters that were more than just caricatures. I relied on her method of character construction in high school and college drama productions, in moot court in law school, and even in the occasional real- life boardroom drama. She showed us how to build something better, funnier, more meaningful than our awkward, angst ridden 9th grade selves. I’m so grateful that Ms. Weiss made that magic happen for the Class of 1983.
With every good wish to all of you.
-Dana Klapper Cohen-
Eleven years at Graland was a long time, but a time when I learned a ton, made great friends, and had a lot of fun:
The old, metal, jungle gym
Doing circle after circle on the bars
Nap time on a fuzzy brown rug
Painting on the windows in second grade
Cubbies and then lockers, keeping my locker overflowing with papers so that I could skip 10 minutes of English to go "hunt for my homework"
A Munchkin in Oz, an oompa-loompa in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the 9th grade musical
Playing the flute for concerts and singing in the girls' choir
Feeding rats cereal, dropping eggs from the top of the flag pole, building bridges and crushing them, building a solar oven, and cooking a hot dog for lunch
Horseback riding with Mrs. Priest to a ruin, throwing juniper berries at my classmates, loving that my horse had a colt that came with us
Gym uniforms with yellow sweatshirts, hating field hockey and Ms Bent saying, "I don't want to hear can't; you are not able to at the moment,” loving lacrosse and being goalie, climbing and swinging on the ropes, the balance beam and uneven bars, free day on Fridays
Joy riding in the luggage rack on top of the van at night with the lights off during Cripple Creek/Leadville trip
A fetal pig tied to Ms. Weiss on the 9th grade ditch day
A fun night at the Klappers’ cabin, instead of rain and snow at the Sand Dunes
-Beth Ennis Hesse-
To my Graland Classmates and friends for so many years,
I am sorry not to be able to be at this reunion share so many wonderful memories and renew our friendships for the years ahead.
I had fun thinking through memories that stand out. What struck me is that memories jumped out from each of the 11 years. They aren’t necessarily the most significant ones, but they were the first things that came to mind. I noticed that first, and foremost, I enjoyed thinking about our teachers for each year and what an impression on my life each made. And, of course, thinking about classmates and friends.
Here are a few that jumped out on a first pass…I could keep going.
Christmas pageants and fear of being chosen by Santa in Pre-K
First grade: still being asked to take a nap each day on a towel, despite not needing one. Going to see Jaws at a drive-in movie with Tom Fowler and his cage full of gerbils.
Mrs. Dodge, librarian with elegant hands and gold jewelry, who told us that the older people get the more their hands tell the story of their life….children’s hands don't yet have life’s character (in context of reading about Leonardo da Vinci) . She also knew how to choose a good book.
Not understanding why adults could not tell Jon and Jerry apart
Mrs. Pulcipher: Colorado days and making a quilt
Madame Guiberteau: French names, excellent pronunciation, French plays, and, above all, passion about French and getting it right. One of my first jobs required French, and I am grateful for the strong base she gave us.
Mr. McKenna’s Estes Park trip. Learning that if one foregoes smoking in life that is equivalent to receiving a new canoe each year in terms of cost. Classmates validating that lichen turns colors when peed on.
Mrs. Priest: Southwest trip…adobe, the Navajo story, rock plateaus, archaeology, King Arthur day, Roman projects
Mr Rice: Learning about U.S. Constitution. I was thinking about this after just having seen Hamilton. He asked our class to raise their hand who was upper class, middle class, lower class. Everyone (except one who said upper) raised their hand as middle class. His lesson- everyone could be middle class, or strive to be middle class….and that was one of the results of the American story. (I wonder how the current discussion of inequality fits in?)
Middle school English: Sambo Jack stories (thanks, Sam, I told my kids about those)
Learning grammar with Mr Hickey in an exciting way. I always felt a little on the edge as though the unexpected could happen any minute.
Science with Mr Yee and learning that molecules come off an object in scent….and thinking about what was actually going up my nose.
Yellow gym sweats, locker room conversations, soccer, lacrosse
Bye Bye Birdie
Growing up, adolescence and all that that brings
· Wonderful classmates and life long friends
-Suzanne Ferlic Johnson-
Some of my fondest PERSONAL memories as a student: mythology and (I have to admit) sentence diagramming with Mr. Hickey; Roman history and trips to the Southwest with Mrs. Priest; football and lacrosse and weightlifting with Dave Pettit; French classes with Mme. Harper and Mme. Altman; Chinese and Russian history with Mr. Rice, dissections with Mr. Dinneen. Of course, there were also the MANY occasions for finding fun (and trouble) during more unstructured times: music, art, drama, and study hall. Apologies to the teachers for whom I and a certain upcoming recipient of the Ruth Gorham award made lives difficult! I can also remember LOTS of time spent after hours on Preisser Field: practicing lacrosse against thee tall wall of the old gym, running our dogs, or even practicing golf with a sand wedge. Of course, such activities forced me to learn how to climb onto the roof of the old Upper School and gym in order to retrieve balls that found themselves otherwise out of reach.
I have also had the great pleasure of being a Graland parent -- fortunately my children were better behaved than I! I wonder if THEY too will become Graland parents in their time.
THE CLASS OF 1998
My favorite memories of Graland were the PE activities. They were unparalleled in creativity and diversity. I find myself telling my children how amazing our outside activities were. With cross country skiing on the field in the winter and fly fishing and archery in the warmer months, there was never a dull class. As an adult, I realize the amount of work that went into having these activities available and the teachers that were passionate about them to teach us new skills. It was truly exceptional.
Alysha Lascano Messmer
I have so many fond memories of my time at Graland. One paragraph is not sufficient, but here is a collection of some of the most vivid. I remember trying to sneak on to the 9th Grade deck as an elementary student, so that the much older and cooler kids could chase us around Preisser Field. I remember Mrs. Ankelein’s southern drawl as she taught us how to be proper students. I remember dressing as Indiana Jones for the Halloween Parade. I remember the 4th grade bike hike with Mr. Hughes. I remember learning about Rome and exploring the Southwest with Mrs. Priest. I remember arguing about the virtues of turkeys in Mr. McKenna’s class, making the case for a new national bird. I remember learning the Graland fight song. I remember listening to Ms. Carlson’s play-by-play commentary during the faculty-student basketball game. I remember deciphering the true identity of various minerals in Mr. Mahoney’s science class. I remember trips to Le Central with Madame Altman. I remember Mr. Threlkeld pushing us to understand complicated theorems. I remember learning about mythology with Mr. Hickey and I remember learning about Russian history with Mr. Rice. It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since our graduation from Graland. I still get excited when I drive down 1st Avenue or step foot on campus. I still consider many of my best friends, the friends I made at Graland.
I remember Ms. Priest and her thick wool sweaters and shorts. I remember latin class with Mr. Hickey and I am shocked he didn't kill us all. (we were awful) I remember half day Fridays, the trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and West Side Story!