Spring 2022 Issue
Issue 23 | Spring 2022
The Class of 2022
Photo courtesy of Johnny King
Joshua Bourgeot— Rochester Institute of Technology (Computer Science)
Jaden Callahan—Gap year 
Jenna Cardno— Laguna College of Art and Design (Illustration)
Tommy Chen— Texas Christian University (Pre-Business Finance and Real Estate)
Sophia Chen— University of Washington (Business)
Silvia Chen— University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Business)
Sophia Cole— University of Arizona (Psychology)
Lourdes Figueroa— Johns Hopkins University (Neuroscience)
Jaden Frederick— Suffolk University (Psychology)
Gage Garduno— UCLA (Undecided)
Sophia Hall— University of San Diego (Psychology)
Savannah Hastings— University of Denver (Political Science)
Mo Hetzer— University of Colorado, Boulder (Environmental Studies)
Julian Ignatov— California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Computer Science)
Massin Ihs— Harvey Mudd College (Computer Engineering)
Liv Lennon— Northeastern University (Business Administration and Psychology)
Samuel Litman— MiraCosta College (Neuroscience)
Abigail McCrary— UC Davis (Animal Science)
Muska Mesdaq— Miramar College (Data Science)
Colin Parker— San Diego State University (Business Administration—Real Estate)
Roselene Reynolds— University of Iowa (Creative Writing)
Tristan Rosser— Sonoma State University (Business)
Oliver Scofield— Seattle University (Biology)
Dominic Smith— California Lutheran University (Psychology)
Lucy Stockton— University of San Francisco (Nursing)
Liam Sylvada—Royal Agricultural University, England (Agri-Food Business Management)
Claya El-Moussa '14

Claya El-Moussa came to Grauer for 11th grade, having recently moved to California after attending boarding school in Canada. She explored the coast of San Diego looking for schools where she could experience the "sunny, beach lifestyle". After touring high schools between San Diego and Encinitas, Claya determined that The Grauer School had the closest set of values and curriculum that were similar to the Waldorf schools she attended for elementary and middle school in Canada. Grauer's strong arts and music program especially stood out to her, as well as the smaller student body, incredible expedition options and close relationships.

Says Claya, "One of the things I loved most about Grauer was the friendly and close-knit classes. It always felt like all opinions mattered, and regardless of the subject, everyone was able to partake and share their point of view. No question asked in class was insignificant, and the support of all the teachers was one of the best things at Grauer. They were all passionate about the subjects they taught and you could feel that resonate in every lesson. Honestly, I really appreciated the free-form discussions and debates, which were insightful and stimulating and allowed for different perspectives to be heard. The fact that we could have fun in class, even to the point where Savanah (fellow 2014 Graduate) and I learned Pre-Calc by speaking in different accents, made going to school every day more engaging and enjoyable. I think for any student who attended Grauer, some of the main things we were lucky enough to have access to were classes by the beach, learning while laughing, one-on-one help with teachers if needed, and an environment in which we could grow and be ourselves." Claya and Savanah are still close to this day, even though they live halfway around the world from each other. They have been able to meet up over the years in exotic cities like London and Paris.
Featured Alumni

Claya El-Moussa
Class of 2014


Chapman University/ESC Rennes School of Business
American Business School of Paris
BA in Business Administration with a Minor in Marketing

Most Influential Teachers:
Sean Brix, John Rubio,
Dana Abplanalp-Diggs

Favorite Expedition:

Current Occupation

Regional Brand Manager, Trafalagar Luxury Group
Cuba was Claya's favorite expedition. She fondly remembers what became an ideal group photoshoot opportunity. "I just remember Dr. Grauer jumping into the front seat of a vintage car that was parked on the street, putting on his sunglasses and posing for the photo like a pro." Claya has been interested in photography for as long as she can remember. “It’s something that runs in my family and a hobby that has stuck with me no matter where I am in the world. I’m also big into music, so playing piano and singing are things I love to do when I have time. As an avid sports fan, watching football (soccer), hockey and Formula 1 are favorite weekend activities along with playing Padel with friends. I’m not sure if Padel has reached the USA yet, but it’s basically a sport that mixes tennis, squash and pickleball. It’s addictive to play to say the least."

What Claya took away most from her time at Grauer and applied to her college education was her ability to build relationships with her teachers in a way allowed her to push herself outside her comfort zone, thus challenging herself to learn and explore. "Grauer showed me the importance of not just being a student sitting in a class and memorizing information but rather fully engaging myself in any subject with an open mind."

Claya graduated from Grauer to attend Chapman University in Orange County, California. From there, she spent her final college years in Paris, studying Business Administration and Marketing at the American Business School of Paris. Adds Claya, "Studying in Paris was a dream come true for me. I mean, how could it not be when every morning I could get a freshly made pain au chocolate on the way to school? I’ve always been drawn to the French culture, language and architecture, so fully immersing myself in the Parisian lifestyle was everything I had hoped for. Living in France meant I got to explore not only the country but also a lot of Europe. Weekends were spent traveling to a new city, walking through the historic streets of Paris while discovering all the local hidden gems, or sitting along the river Seine with friends, a baguette, bottle of wine and fresh cheese. One of the wonderful things about studying there was throwing myself into the local life and learning the love language that is French. Oui, je parle Français. When it came to the University, the student body was super diverse, which enabled me to meet people from all over and absorb deeper cultural understandings. Part of the program included business cases where we would have to solve real world business issues with different companies, in addition to a 6-month internship where I joined the marketing team of Bvlgari in the heart of Paris."

Claya now resides in Kuwait, working for the Trafalgar Luxury Group, a multi-brand luxury retailer in the Middle East. Claya's position as Regional Brand Manager involves handling all TAG Heuer boutiques and multi-brand stores in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and Chanel and Chaumet multi-brand stores in Kuwait. Her duties include purchasing, stock optimization and allocation between points of sale, monthly/daily brand reports, sales and stock analysis, expansion projects, stock turnover, profit/margins, brand VM, relationship and communication with each brand, relationships and motivation with sales staff, brand and store visits, and much more.

Claya has now lived in Kuwait for three years, living a lifestyle different from any other country she has ever experienced. She has to deal with extreme heat as Kuwait is one of the hottest countries on Earth. Another downside is the dust storms that close everything down. Claya says, "We actually had a really bad one yesterday where the whole country went orange with dust, and before it hit the city, you could see it rolling in and then suddenly you couldn't see a meter in front of you. These types of storms are the furthest thing away from fun and the breathing gets so bad so everyone just stays inside." She misses her friends and family, along with nature, rain and fresh air. Adds Claya, "Kuwait has a very rich local culture and coming back to my heritage has been great to experience. Although Kuwait is not known for its entertainment, I have found ways to keep myself occupied outside of work. Some of these activities include boating/fishing, photo excursions out in the desert, islands or city, game nights with friends, and tasting the best-known restaurants in the middle east. From what my parents told me before I moved, if you find the right people, you’ll find a family which stands true. Moving out here solo wasn’t easy, but I was lucky enough to find a group of friends who welcomed me to the country and showed me the ropes."

Claya says that life in Kuwait is not as restricted as some other countries. Out of respect, she refrains from wearing shorts and tank tops out in public and she wears an abaya in cities like Jeddah and Riyadh, both part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Driving is a challenge but the cuisine is fabulous. It sounds to us like Claya is continuing to Learn by Discovery, something she started at The Grauer School. We can't wait to see what she does next.

 A Tribute To Don Kish
From Dr. Stuart Grauer

Don Kish was one of our most beloved teachers in the early years of Grauer, known for his incredible presence and mentoring in math, physics, and expeditions. Don's daughter Danielle was in our first class in 1991 and graduated in 1995. Don passed away on June 11, 2022.

In early September, 1992, I was on the top of the blue Chevy Suburban Wagon that we still have, loading up and tying down the baggage for a trip up to Yosemite. While all the kids and teachers were completely ignoring my efforts and grunts from up there, a scruffy looking man in a lumberjack shirt was standing down below amidst the sea of suitcases, scratching his chin, and selecting just the right bag to load next. At long last, I had met someone else who honored the amazing art of loading up the vehicle, almost lost since the bygone era of pack mules which, I teased, Don missed sorely. I have never let go of that image.

Over the year, Don Kish would stop by now and then to look into our math and science classes, and by another year’s time he had quit his firm, which he claimed the CEO had ruined. He ought to have known it would all get ruined: Don was an engineering and physics genius, dyed in the wool at Bell Labs. That’s THE Bell Labs. Look it up. In a career of at least seven patents, Don watched corporate America grow the best of the firms he loved into states of bigness, profit fanaticism, and hollow innovation. 

Don had zero tolerance for the corporatization and extreme monetization of all he loved, and he was grumpy about it. Eventually he could take it no more and realized that, at least at The Grauer School, he could be a valuable teacher.

Don was holder of the Associates Degree in Electronics Engineering, at Capitol Radio Engineering Institute, cum laude. His daughter Danielle was a member of our second-ever class and though she does not have Don’s innate love of all things math and physical science, she always loved snakes. I’ll never forget one morning walking into the school and almost stepping on one she had left out or that had escaped from her terrarium—Danielle surely still thinks this was funny, either the snake getting out or how horrified I was. We loved having Don and Danielle as a school family, just as we loved Don’s wife, Sharon, who volunteered in all sorts of capacities and was a pro-level furniture finisher. We still have some of her work around the school and I would really love to show it to you. She taught me much of what I know about wood finishing, which I have tried to pass along to my own daughter, Audrey.

Don volunteered for a few years and, after Danielle graduated and went on to veterinary assistant school, I hired him. That was 1997, and he worked for me or I him for a good 15 years, then went back to volunteering. By then, he had become so involved in stock investment that he focused mainly on that and The Grauer Foundation for Education was a great beneficiary (and of his will, also), every time, every year—Don was an uncanny master of stocks. But it wasn’t just that that kept him inward focused. In fact, it was hardly that. The truth is, once Sharon died, of cancer, Don lost a lot of his desire to go on in this world. He did go on, but not the same. He became more solitary in his home in Escondido and he took himself completely “off the grid.” He installed labyrinths of panels and batteries, completely erased his “footprint,” and he’d never give another dime to SDG&E. He was unbelievably crafty, mechanically and otherwise. 

Don loved all sorts of mechanical engineering projects and was a world class master of model trains—I’ll bet his collection of Lionel and other classic model trains is worth $100,000 or twice that. He kept those going by tooling his own spare parts of phenomenal intricacy.

Another of Don’s great loves was that Suburban, one of the reasons I’ve never sold it. Once, when it was pushing too much oil, Don brought it home and completely disassembled the engine, I mean so that there was not a single thing under the hood, and he rebuilt the whole thing with his two hands. After another few years, he did that again. So he rebuilt that engine twice and I’m still driving it, though I have not this week. On expedition, he slept underneath it—another way I know it was not pushing any oil. After I’m done typing this, I’m going to go on over to the school and see if the thing starts. Because I have held the theory for a while now that when Don dies, and that has just happened, the Suburban will not run.

He was in his mid-eighties, he had lost the will to live, and this year he just stopped eating. He never did lose the will to stop smoking, but he was done with eating and living without Sharon. This is a terrible eulogy, and part of it is that Don was not always comprehensible in terms of 21st century sensibilities or identities. Don was a total character and it would take a book to capture his complexity and depth. Oh I wish I could do him justice but I loved that man as many of us did. He was a character out of a John Prine song. He was the protagonist in a Tolstoy story. He was born in the wrong century. He swore he was not a homo sapien anyway, but rather a neanderthal, evidenced by a handsome but size large cranial cavity to house all those brains.

Don’s passing away to join Sharon in heaven is marked as June 11, 2022. Don’s students adored him and if any teacher I have ever seen would give of himself unsparingly, it was Don, and that is not only because, by his own admission, he’d drink 4 or 5 pots of coffee some days on expedition. He was sui generis. You who are reading this eulogy here in 2022 probably don’t know Don Kish, but few have loved our school so well. My thoughts and heart go out to Don’s children, Danielle and David. If you knew Don well and would like to express your sympathies to his children, our school office ( or 760/944-6777) can share their contact information with you.

Audrey Ahearn '17 
Audrey will start her career in management consulting with Accenture in the fall at their Phoenix office. Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital cloud security that specializes in over 40 different industries. In the meantime, Audrey will be volunteering at the Costa Rica Rescue Center over the summer, saving injured animals and releasing them back into the wild. Audrey visited us on campus in May to spend a week watching Sammy Mannisto, son of teacher Peter Mannisto.
Mia Bachrack '21
Mia attends Cornell University majoring in Fashion Design.  She was recently featured in the Cornell Daily. You can click here to read the article. The "mask creation" and "bowl of spaghetti analogy" referenced in the article were from her years at Grauer. According to her mother, "You can take the kid out of Grauer, but you can't take Grauer out of the kid!"
Ava Irons '21
Ava visited our campus in March to help us as an informal substitute teacher in Peter Mannisto's Math classes for several days. Peter was able to participate in his classes on Zoom while he was at home taking care of his son, and Ava helped the students in person during the classes. Ava also participated in archery practice in the afternoon with Trevor Olson. Ava visited our campus during her Spring Break from Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, where she is studying Applied Mathematics. She is interested in becoming a Math teacher, so this was a great opportunity for her to experience the life of a Grauer Math teacher for a few days!
Emma Sigurdsson '18
Emma was on campus to observe some of our teachers on April 7. Emma just graduated Cum Laude from the University of San Diego with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a minor in Visual Arts. She was on campus for an assignment to observe middle school and high school classrooms, and to write about different teaching methodologies that she observed. Emma said that she was happy to be back on campus, and the observations she made were very helpful for her assignment. She was grateful to the Grauer teachers who allowed her to visit their classes and observe them in action!
Savanah Stuart '14
Savanah Stuart visited our campus during Finals Week, bringing along Pip and Squeak, two miniature horses she rescued two years ago. Pip and Squeak are permanent members of Savanah's household along with her two dogs, one of whom is blind, and a wild Mustang she has been training for the past year. Savanah works in Commercial Real Estate but spends all of her spare time heading up her non-profit, Little Hooves Rescue. LHR rescues miniature horses, full grown horses, and donkeys from a kill pen in Oklahoma and brings them to California for adoption. She has rescued over 250 animals over the past three years. You can check out LHR's website by clicking here. Savanah also welcomes volunteers who help out with grooming and feeding.
Laurel (Swanson) Verela '04 gave birth to a baby boy, Lucas Daniel Verla, on March 28. 

Randy Berridge '07 is now the Head of Community Operations at Dott, a micro mobility company based in Amsterdam which was founded in January 2019. Dott operates over 30,000 shared electric scooters and electric bikes in 17 cities in Europe. Randy resides in Amsterdam.

Jane Chippendale '07 got married to Sean Li in March. Jane and Sean reside in San Diego.

Nathan Warburton '07 is now the founder of Nathan Warburton Photography and resides in San Diego. Nathan was recently hired by The Grauer School to shoot photos and video for our 2022 Grauer Gala.

Erica Braymen '09 is now the Lead Creative Developer at Concept Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations in Salt Lake City, Utah. Concept Marketing is a full-service marketing, advertising and PR firm representing clientele nationwide. Services range from traditional advertising to include TV, radio and billboard campaigns to a vast array of online marketing like SEO, website development, reputation management and social networking.

Audrey Grauer '11 got married to Brent Hyman in April. Audrey and Brent reside in Sherman Oaks, California.

Marina Rosales Pannell '11 and her husband Evan welcomed a daughter, Mila Rae, on June 9.

Malia Haines-Stewart '11 is an Associate Film Producer at the Block Museum in Chicago.

Kirk Staver '11 received a BA in Art History and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Denver. Kirk will now be spending his summer doing an internship in Northern Macedonia working with the University of Bulgaria. He will be working in their museum and then doing field work and excavation.

Maddie Swoy '11 graduated from California Western School of Law.

Summer Kiesel '12 received her Masters of Education in Special Education (Dyslexia Certificate Track) from the University of Florida.

Mia Sewell '12 started a position as Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at CALM Counseling, PLLC.

Max Taylor '14 has been accepted to his second Master's program in STEM Education at Oregon State University.

Léo Greiner '15 lives in Berlin, Germany and is now a Junior Financial Analyst for Aroundtown. Aroundtown SA is the largest European Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and engages in investing in value-add and income generating properties primarily in the Dutch and German real estate markets. 

Alyssa O'Halloran '15 has been promoted to Packaging Engineer at Munchkin.

Divya Sriharan '15 graduated from USD Law School. Divya is currently deciding between a post-bar job at the Public Defender's Office and Legal Aid.

Sophia Drewelow '16 started a new position as Forest Restoration Crew Lead at South Yuba River Citizens League.

David Lilburn '16 lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and teaches Physical Science at Will Rogers Middle School. David moved there in 2020 to be close to his grandparents, after graduating from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

Lillie Meyer '16 has been promoted to Account Executive at Politico.

Max Greiner '17 graduated from San Diego State University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. Max will be relocating to Berlin, Germany in September to join his brother, Léo. He will look for a job in his field, preferably working with a business emphasizing sustainability.

Seth Litman '17 works at ASML. ASML gives the world's leading chipmakers the power to mass produce patterns on silicon, helping to make computer chips smaller, faster and greener.

Nolan Tifft '17 received his Multi-Engine Airplane Instructor's Certificate. Nolan resides in Wichita, Kansas, "The Air Capital of the World".

Victoria Walz '17 graduated from USD with a degree in Real Estate. She will attend law school this fall at the University of Kentucky, J. David Rosenberg College of Law.

Spencer Wirick '17 graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of Chicago with a BA in Physics and a minor in Philosophy. Spencer will be working as a Principal Engineer for Lumotive. Lumotive is a leader in all-semiconductor lidar systems, developing high-performance solutions for consumer electronics, industrial automation, robotics and automotive applications.

Bennet Berlin '18 graduated from Colorado College with a major in Anthropology and minors in both Spanish and Linguistics. Bennet plans to take a gap year to explore different career options before applying to MBA programs for graduate school. 

Louis Eisenberg '18 graduated from Lynn University with a BA Multimedia Journalism and a minor in Photography.

Sophia Green '18 has started as a Systems Engineer at ETS, Expeditionary Technical Solutions, Inc.

Noa Hochman '18 graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a degree in Psychology and a minor in English in December 2021.

Kate Matthews '18 graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Science in Physics. She will now attend UCSD in their Physics PhD program. 

Sierra Pia '18 graduated from Seattle University with a double major in Theatre and Interdisciplinary Arts with an Emphasis in Arts Leadership. Sierra plans to move to New York soon and apply to jobs within the art world as well as pursue acting.

Colin Quinn '18 graduated from High Point University. 

Emma Sigurdsson '18 graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Visual Arts. Emma will work as a child therapist here in San Diego until the fall of 2023 when she will begin a Master's and PhD program in Child Psychology.

Joaquin Vogeler '18 graduated from California State Fullerton with a BA in Cinema and Television Arts.

Kyra Wentworth-Glasco '18 graduated Cum Laude from the University of San Francisco with a BS In Nursing.

Jordan Werner '18 graduated from Regis University with a BA in Philosophy and minors in Politics and Ethics, Politics and Society. She will be attending Boston College in the fall to get a Master's degree in Philosophy.

Talia Wexler '18 graduated Magna Cum Laude from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Theatre Arts and a minor in Psychology. Talia will spend her summer as a paid intern doing corporate event planning here in San Diego, and then head to Israel in the fall for another internship in event planning.

Celine Yu '18 graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Finance. She will now attend graduate school at either USC for Applied Economics or Johns Hopkins University for Finance.

Jillian Stuart '19 has accepted a summer internship at The Exchange. Jillian will be working in film acquisition, finance and development. The Exchange is a leading worldwide sales, finance and production company committed to creating strong relationships between filmmakers, film financiers and distributors through the exchange of product, information and commerce.

Sophie Stockton '20 started a new position as Criminal Justice Reform Committee Member at Cal ACLU.
We will be welcoming alumni who are recent college graduates to participate in an Alumni Panel mid-January of 2023. If you are a Grauer Alumni from the years 2019-2022, please contact if you are interested in participating on this panel. The event will last approximately two hours and the alumni will field questions from our junior and senior students. Lunch and a small token of our appreciation will be included. Please keep this in mind as you think about your Winter Break, as we would love to see you here. More information will be coming in the fall.
June 2022
A Message from Dr. Grauer

Happy springtime, almost summer. On campus, the peaches are about half grown and the monarch butterflies are starting to come around again for our milkweed. It’s Finals Week: “We’ve got ’em where we want ’em.”  Our students and teachers just finished up the complex, strange, pandemic and polemics-infused 2021-2022 school year. Our core value that you all know and love is resourcefulness, and man, did we ever draw upon that. Through it all, I want to assure every one of you reading that we are staying creative, optimistic, and courageous.

I pointed out in my last letter to you that "we’re no longer a very well-kept secret” and the good news is that we reached an all-time high number of applications. The less-good news is that our enrollment rate is low; it’s harder to get in than the other schools. Who would have predicted! It does not match up with our self-image of a naturalist, relationship-based small school, dedicated to our local community.

On campus, our students have had to be creative and courageous, just as you all have. We’ve experienced massive faculty absences due to Covid restrictions, and this is another call for student resourcefulness, and also for staying rested and positive. I still wake up almost every morning with more energy than I know what to do with, and yet the complexity makes me sometimes feel overwhelmed. It is the connection and sense of family on the campus that keeps me centered and down to earth. I love our faculty and feel joyful in seeing them every day. At Grauer, aside from a great expeditionary and Socratic tradition, we can’t ignore the external issues. Our students and faculty are collaborating more on some activism, including a diversity team and a gun control movement right here.

I enjoy connecting with you—our alumni, alumni parents, our grandparents and friends—and this has inspired this quarterly letter. I know many of you already subscribe to my blog that has now grown to around 800 readers a week (click here if you'd like to subscribe)! I so enjoy sharing stories of our Grauer community with you. On that note, I really want you to drop in when you come on campus. Let’s continue our tradition of keeping in touch as The Grauer School family. In the fall, we will get our grandfriends tours going again.

This work just keeps amazing me and our team keeps getting stronger. The fabric of our whole community inspires me: faculty, students, extended families, trustees, alumni and friends – all together, unified and dedicated to creating a beautiful place to learn, grow and have fun.

It's been ten years since the Class of 2012 graced our campus. Don't hesitate to contact Sheila at the Alumni Office if you'd like help in setting up a reunion event.
It's been twenty years since the Class of 2002 graced our campus. Don't hesitate to contact Sheila at the Alumni Office if you'd like help in setting up a reunion event.
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