February 12, 2015 â€¢ Volume: 2014-15, Issue 5
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Message from the Alumni Board

Katherine Fulton ’73 Receives the Inaugural Distinguished Alumnus(a) Award

by Chris Moore ’71

Katherine Fulton ’73 received the Distinguished Alumnus (a) Award at the Founder’s Day celebration on January 30, 2015 in the Carter Athletic Center. The award recognizes an alumnus or alumna who has made distinguished and outstanding contributions to his or her profession or field of interest and has brought benefit to the community or humanity and honor to North Cross while embodying the values and spirit of the school. Sarah Boxley Beck ’98, President of the Alumni Association, presented the award. Sarah Boxley’s remarks gave a detailed description of Katherine’s accomplishments.

Katherine attended North Cross from the 7th through the 12th grades, graduating in 1973. She was the valedictorian of her class, and she won the Thomas Slack award for that year. A native of Roanoke, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard, where she was also captain of the women’s basketball team. After college, she returned to the South, where she covered politics for the Greensboro (N.C.) Record and later co-founded The North Carolina Independent, an award-winning investigative newspaper, which won her both a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard and a foundation prize for community service. After leaving journalism in the early 1990s, she created a course at Duke University that was featured in Time magazine for its early use of interactive media to enhance learning.

Katherine is currently a director at Deloitte Consulting and president of Monitor Institute, the firm’s practice dedicated to nonprofits, philanthropy and social change. In that role she has advised many of this generation’s leading philanthropists and foundations as well as rising social entrepreneurs and established business leaders. Katherine is known for her expertise on the evolution of philanthropy, the emergence of impact investing, and has authored a number of publications. She has also given dozens of major speeches about the future of philanthropy, including one at the famous main TED conference.

Katherine’s comments to the faculty, staff, student body, and friends in attendance included a letter written to her at birth by her great grandfather, J.B. Fishburn, who built the city’s main bank and donated many of the city’s parks, including Mill Mountain. Her concluding remarks were, “Among the many gifts I received here in Roanoke and at this school, one was more important than all the others: the confidence and courage to claim my own life.”

Instead of a speech, Katherine wanted to moderate a panel discussion on education that would help position North Cross School as a thought leader in the community. Approximately 100 members of the community gathered in Fishburn Auditorium for the “Education: 2025” forum on January 29, 2015. Katherine moderated the discussion with Dr. Chris Howard, Dr. Bob Sandel, and Dr. Rita Bishop. The panel touched on a number of topics including the connection between technology and test scores, the changing state of financial assistance, the value of character education, the continued importance of books, arts as an equalizer in education, converting at-risk students into learners, and the need for schools to strike a balance between efficiency and effectiveness.

Please join us in congratulating Katherine who was selected by the Alumni Association from a number of outstanding candidates.

Many people from the alumni community came to Founders' Day to see Katherine receive the Distinguished Alumnus(a) Award. From left: Linda Steele ’68, Betsy Freund ’72, Sarah Boxley Beck ’98, Anne Hurt (mother of David Hurt ’77 and Anne Kreig ‘ 79), Sam Hollis, Ann Lee Stevens SA (and mother of Peter Ostaseski ’99), Sibyl Fishburn (mother of Laurie Farr ’81, Sibyl Kuelling ’83, and Blair Burford ’87), B J Preas (mother of Kelly ’74 and Geep ’76), Barbara Tucker, Charlie Crockett ’71, John Tucker (former Headmaster), Katherine Fulton ’73, Andy Kegley ’77, Katharine Kunst, Sally Cardamone ’76, and Sam Krisch ‘76 (father of David ’04 and Peggy ’06).

Campus Update

Ms. Farley Wins 2015 Morris Award

During the Founders’ Day assembly on January 30 in the CAC, Dave Calvert presented Middle School English teacher Lee Ann Sigmon-Farley with the 2015 Morris Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Ms. Farley has been teaching at North Cross School for 20 years. Not only does she teach reading, writing, and grammar, but she also used to be in charge of the middle school plays, taught HORIZONS (a drug awareness and self-esteem class), and organized the school spelling bees. Not to mention her love of all things “Hobbit,” from homemade t-shirts about the book to private viewings of the movies, every middle school student has a fond place for this book in their heart because of Ms. Farley.

Mr. Calvert, retired faculty member and Ms. Farley’s colleague of 18 years, said, “In all my years in education, I have not met a better listener than Lee Ann.  Students and colleagues seek her out about any number of things.  Maybe they will talk about school, but just as likely they will talk about music, art, photography, basketball, their families and friends, or life’s problems in general.  It is indeed a special teacher who is entrusted with what can be very important personal information.  And you know what, you always feel better after talking with Mrs. Farley.”

Photo: Lee Ann Farley (left) with middle school math teacher Erin Jones (right) and Lee Ann’s grandson Jakeob.

Academic Update

Harvard Model UN

Twenty-two students represented North Cross School at the Harvard Model United Nations in late January as the only school from Virginia. Delegates represented Guatemala in the General Assembly and Haiti in the Economic and Social Committees. Vincient Arnold ’16 earned his way onto a special committee for NGOs, which was a first for the delegation. Students were fortunate to have a special meeting at the Christian Science Monitor hosted by Michael Farrell—uncle of Bruce Farrell ’17. The students learned more about Haiti and Guatemala from the Editor-in-Chief, the diplomatic correspondent in Washington, D.C., and the Latin American Editor in Mexico City. The trip was organized and led by Robert Robillard and Nitza Plaski-Fernandez.

Teacher Features

Erin Jones

How did your career begin with NorthCross School?
I come from a strong Catholic family. I grew up going to a Catholic school in Erie and Grand Rapids, both of my children attended Catholic school, and I had worked mostly in Catholic schools. When we moved to Roanoke, my son, Chris Jones ’04, was about to start ninth grade, so the first obvious choice was to look at Roanoke Catholic and we were also looking at Cave Spring. Not only were we looking for a new school, but we were also looking for a new home. Our realtor was North Cross alum and board member, Anne Lee Stevens. Anne Lee has a long history with North Cross; she and her son, Peter, both attended North Cross and her mother, Dottie, was a teacher and staff member for over 20 years. She encouraged us to at least visit and tour with North Cross. When we met with Carol Funderburke in Admissions we were immediately impressed and knew North Cross would be a good fit for Chris. I had been offered a job with Roanoke City Schools; but while going through the admission process with Chris, Carol asked what I did for a living, I told her I was a high school math teacher, and she said they were looking for someone for upper school and middle school math. The rest is history!

Click here to read the full Teacher Feature.

Photo: Erin Jones with her family on a recent trip to Russia. From left: Evan, Ally, Erin’s mother Marjorie O’Connor, Erin, and Chris ’04.

Amy Holley

Did you always want to work in library services?  
No, actually in high school I wanted to go into engineering, if you can believe that! I was among the very first students to attend the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology when it first opened, and I went there for two years. I’ve always loved books and always loved going to the library as a child, but I never really thought about being a librarian until much later! I do vividly remember going to the Franklin County library as a child. At the time it was located in an old house, and the children’s section was upstairs. It was such a comfortable, cozy space, and I loved spending time there. My parents were also always reading. My mom was a special education teacher, my dad was an electrician, and neither of them ever went anywhere without a book!

Click here to read the full Teacher Feature.

Photo: Amy with her daughter, Sarah Kate Holley ’12, and their dog, Jackson. 


Wendy Lawrence

How did your career begin with North Cross School?
Well, I actually worked at the CAC for a while when it first opened but took a few years off to start a family. Then I actually worked in the admission office before becoming a teacher. When our oldest child, Emily ’10, was starting kindergarten, I decided to homeschool her. I absolutely loved teaching her, especially how to read, but quickly decided that I did not want to homeschool our children forever. Emily started at North Cross her first grade year. At the time Carol Funderburke was the Director of Admission. She was about to have her first child and needed someone to help in the admission office during her maternity leave. She asked me and Janie Mountcastle to share the task. When she returned, I continued to work for her and then with Emily Brown for two more years. It was during that time that I decided to get my teaching certificate and Masters from UVA. Once I completed that, Liz offered me the 4th grade language arts teaching position. I started in 2004 and am now in my eleventh year. 

Click here to read the full Teacher Feature. 

Photo: Eric and Wendy Lawrence with their three children at their home in Floyd, from left, Emily ’10, Margaret ’16, and Sam ’12.

Art Update

Scholastic Art Awards

During the week of January 19 five of Annette Pfaeffle’s art students were recognized in the regional judging of the 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. Since its founding in 1923, the program has recognized many accomplished and prolific artists including Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Maya Goldberg, Joyce Carol Oates, and Richard Avedon (who won for poetry). Students’ submissions are blindly judged by leaders in the visual and literary arts.

Rebecca Benson ’17 earned two Gold Key awards (“Pearls” and ”March of the Gummy Bears” in photo above, click to view a larger image), one Silver Key (“Squirrel!”), and four Honorable Mentions (“Carolina Sunrise,” “Nature’s Lace,” “Camp Days,” and “Rosin”). Her two Gold Key awards will be forwarded for national judging in February. The following students were also recognized:
  • James Card ’16—3  Silver Keys: “The American Vision,” “Le Cerf Solitaire,” “An-déla de Nous”
  • Grace Chen ’15—1 Honorable Mention: “Portrait of My Angel”
  • Katie Sayers ’15—1 Silver Key: “Colors of the Forest”
  • Jane Ward ’16—1 Honorable Mention: “Rooster”

Athletic Update

Oddo Scores 1,000th Point

On Thursday, January 29 during the Boys’ Varsity Basketball team’s 59-39 win over Fishburne Military School, Keith Oddo ’15(right in photo, with coach Ed Green) scored his 1,000th point for the Raiders. Keith plans to play basketball at the University of Richmond next season.

Nwabia Signs with University of Dayton

At a ceremony last Wednesday afternoon in the Carter Athletic Center, Kennedy Nwabia ’15 officially signed a National Letter of Intent to play soccer next fall at the University of Dayton.

Swimmers Earn All-Conference

Last Tuesday, at the VIC Conference Championships at Hargrave Military Academy, Emma Cartledge ’18Joseph Cartledge ’16Maddie Robinson ’16, and Margo Winn ’18 each earned All-Conference honors by placing first in an individual event. Overall, the Girls’ Varsity team placed third at the conference meet while the Boys’ Varsity team placed fourth.

Two swimmers also earned state qualifying times. Katherine Lake ’18 qualified in the 100 yard Breaststroke and Daniel Lorens ’16 earned a state time in the 100 yard Butterfly.

In the photo above, Emma Cartledge ’18, Maddie Robinson ’16, Helen Schmedtje ’17, and Margo Winn ’18 after a 3rd place finish in the girls 200 yard free relay at the All-Timesland meet on January 10. 

Seniors Featured on “Hometown Hoops”

Kennedy Nwabia ’15 and Bennett Holley ’15 were featured during the Hometown Hoops segment on WDBJ7 for their outstanding performance in both basketball and soccer. Click here or the video image to watch the clip.

Class News & Notes

Please send your updates for Class Notes to Whitney Aldridge at waldridge@northcross.org. If you wish to include a photo, please attach it to your email.

Daniel C. Summerlin III ’90 has been elected president of Woods Rogers.
Summerlin joined Woods Rogers in 1997, where he worked as a summer associate in 1996. Summerlin's experience covers  a wide range of law, including administrative and regulatory, labor and employment, and litigation. He also advises clients on government investigations and white collar defense.

Alumni in the News

Defiant  Belichick Talks Science of Deflated Balls

Two weeks before Super Bowl XLIX the New England Patriots were in the midst of a controversy over whether or not they were involved with tampering with game balls during the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts. NCS alum and associate professor of chemistry at Cornell University, Will Dichtel ’96, was quoted in an article in the New York Post regarding the incident.

Click here for the full story from the New York Post

Michigan School's Balloon Travels over 500 Miles to Shawsville

If you are living in the Roanoke Valley, you most likely heard about the balloon that traveled over 500 miles from Michigan to Shawsville last week, when a group of middle school students were experimenting with solar-power in a Near-Space Explorations workshop. Those students attend Gross Pointe Academy, a Pre-K through eighth grade independent school on Lake St. Clair, just east of Detroit. Coincidentally, the Headmaster at Gross Pointe Acadmey is Lars Kuelling ’89, who attended North Cross School through the tenth grade when his family moved out of state.

Click here to read the full story from the Roanoke Times.

Celebrating 70 Years

The Impact of Gates DeHart

Even though he retired in 2009 after 39 years at North Cross, former English teacher and drama coach Gates DeHart still impacts the people on our campus. If you're not sure, just ask any of the seniors working on their DeHart Projects, the actors performing in The Importance of Being Earnest this weekend, or current English teachers Jennifer Sanders ’03 and Michael Schaefer

Almost every morning this time of the school year, a senior makes a DeHart Project presentation in Fishburn Auditorium—a project that requires a thesis, significant research, analytical writing, and a polished presentation to nearly 200 people. While Headmaster Emerson Johnson is credited with starting the tradition of a senior speech, under Gates’ stewardship the project was given room to grow, evolve, and become the balance of research, writing, and presentation we recognize today.

That transition, however, was not always smooth. â€œWhen I arrived in 1970, there was much more emphasis on the speech,” he recalled. â€œAt some point during that decade, there was more emphasis on the paper and there was a student who produced a sixty page paper which was excessive. Then, during the late 80s and early 90s the students got extremely creative, and we had these extravaganzas on the stage—one act plays with costumes and sets, written and directed by the senior. They were impressive, but we had to pull back.”

Mr. DeHart found the right balance and is pleased with the quality of the work produced by the current students. He even took time to attend the presentation of Nicole Chaney ’14 last year. “Nicole and I have done theatre work together. I taught her father and her aunt, Ellen, and I was their advisor,” he said. “Her presentation was excellent, so I know the quality is still quite good,” he said.

As the theatre director, he was also in charge of two or three theatre performances every year. Before Fishburn Auditorium was completed in the 1980s, the early theatre performances took place in the Cartledge Multi-purpose room on a stage no bigger than an office. The stage may have been small, but the results were big. “For lighting, we used two pound coffee cans painted black with 150 watt bulbs on a dimmer switch.” On that small stage he directed a number of notable productions. “We did John Brown’s Body and Spoon River Anthology. In those days we used faculty and students in our productions. We had a cyclorama in the back, lighted from behind, to give the audience the feeling of depth. It was good work.”

Gates continues to influence our current set of stage actors. He took time to help out in January with the production of The Importance of Being Earnest in Polly Jones’ absence. He helped with the final dress rehearsal on Wednesday, and he delivered the curtain speech on Saturday night before the actors went on stage. 

Mr. DeHart came to North Cross in 1970 to teach English after stints at The Miller School and Virginia Episcopal School. During his 39 year career at North Cross, Gates taught a variety of courses, including Advanced English Grammar, Nineteenth Century American Literature, Greek Tragedy, Comedy, Literature of the 1920s in England and America, Drama Survey, Eighth Grade English, Ninth Grade English, Shakespeare (six major works), Black Studies, Short Story, and Crucible of Conscience. In 1983 the yearbook was dedicated to him, and in 2007 he received the Excellence in Teaching award. 

Gates continues to help guide two current English teachers. Michael Schaefer recalled how Gates came to observe his class last year. “As a teacher, he was incredibly supportive,” Michael recalled. â€œWe were doing a unit on The Great Gatsby. It was special to have someone so wise and gracious. He was so positive and offered a number of insights into one of my favorite books.” 

Jennifer Sanders ’03 remembers that when she arrived in the upper school as a student in the late 1990s, Gates was already considered an institution. “I was lucky enough to have him for several classes during my time here. Many of the books that I read in his class are still among my favorites. To this day, I even carry a copy of The Winter of Our Discontent in my purse. He was a wonderful teacher; intellectual and engaging in the classroom, but also interested in the lives and personalities of the young people he taught.”
But his influence on Jennifer extended beyond her years as a student. “As a student teacher at Patrick Henry, I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of being responsible for the education of one hundred and twenty students. Gates was kind enough to meet with me to provide counsel and encouragement even though I was no longer his student, at least, not officially. In my first year as a teacher at North Cross, and even today, I still feel like a student of Gates'. From Gates, I learned how to engage a classroom of teenagers, to enjoy teaching, and, most of all, to value the wonderful potential in every child.”

Photos: (top) In the classroom in 1983, (center) at a football game with Ed Dickenson in 1995, and (bottom) receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007 from headmaster Paul Stellato.

The Tuckers Come to Camelot

At our Founder’s Day celebration this year, Dr. Proctor asked the question, “Who is the second tallest headmaster in North Cross history?” The question may have been a piece of trivia to our students, but the answer, John Tucker (left in photo with Dr. Proctor), was not trivial at all.

Emerson Johnson resigned in 1969 to become Headmaster of Charlotte Country Day. Board Chair Tom Slack phoned John Tucker, then at Norfolk Academy, and asked him to meet with him and Kate about the Headmaster position at North Cross. When John met with the search committee, he had a list of questions, the first and most important was whether North Cross would have a non-discriminatory policy, to which the Board agreed. He accepted the job in 1970 as the second Headmaster of North Cross; and coincidentally, at 6' 8" he is the second tallest Headmaster to Mr. Johnson, of the nine we have had.

The school would purchase a home for John and Barbara in South Roanoke, which was to become the hub of social activity for the school. Meanwhile, buildings began actively springing up around campus. Slack Hall, Hancock Library, the acquisition of the Thomas tract of land, and the land where the home of the present headmaster is located were all part of the development that happened during Mr. Tucker’s eight years at North Cross. Mr. Tucker wore bright red trousers after every victory or other school accomplishments. There were also daily conversations with Tom Slack. John commented, “I received a call each morning around 7 a.m. from Mr. Slack and among other items, he would ask, ‘What do you think of the morning editorial in the Roanoke Times?’”

Yet the most important achievement of Mr. Tucker’s administration wasn’t the buildings or the land, it was assembling an excellent faculty that did not see its job limited to the classroom. Names like Calvert, Cook, DeHart, Grayson, Maycock, Martin, Meagher, Muscaro, Sallade, Satterwhite, and so many more, came to the school during his tenure and impacted our students well after his departure.

He and Barbara were actively involved in the Roanoke social scene, and on more than one occasion was heard to remark, “My days at North Cross were like living in Camelot.” By the time his former employer, Norfolk Academy, lured him back in 1978, he had left an incredible legacy. North Cross had grown from 324 to 524 students, and many programs were added, including The Living Gallery (now Logan Art Gallery) in Slack Hall which in 1977 featured a Thomas Eakins Art Exhibit with paintings and artifacts from family members who lived in the city. It was a two-week exhibit, with around-the-clock guards for security, that brought five thousand people to the campus.

John went on to spend 22 years at Norfolk Academy, and he and Barbara currently reside in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and serves as a consultant to the newly established PreK-8, Saint Patrick Catholic School in Norfolk. He is also currently chair of the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

“I've changed my mind.”

After the merger of the Wellington School, Eaton School, and North Cross Country Day School, was completed in 1961, a headmaster was needed to lead the new academic entity. For Emerson Johnson III, the thought of becoming a headmaster at age 29 seemed a daunting task. Even though the Highland County native had experience as the assistant headmaster at Norfolk Academy, an undergraduate degree from Hampden-Sydney College, and a master’s degree in mathematics and education from the University of North Carolina, he remembers getting cold feet when he was hired. “After I agreed to come, I took the train up from Norfolk; and the further I got, the more I realized I couldn’t do it.” Thomas Slack met him at the railway station, and Emerson said, “Mr. Slack, I've changed my mind. I'm not coming.” The two sat in Mr. Slack’s Mercedes in front of the First Presbyterian Church on Jefferson Street for three hours. “He concluded that I would see it through,” Mr. Johnson recalled.

He took office in midsummer and led the school until the end of the 1968-69 school year. During his time as headmaster, Emerson Johnson taught math, humanities courses, and coached basketball. He even taught mini-courses in subjects like Economics because he felt it was important for students to gain that knowledge. Chris Moore ’71, Director of Development, was coached by the headmaster as a member of the JV basketball team. “He was an imposing, intellectual leader. He commanded respect from the students on campus and the members of our team,” Chris recalled.

Emerson Johnson’s tenure oversaw the construction of buildings, the development of athletic fields, and he is credited for starting traditions like the senior speech and Field Day. Mr. Johnson ended up getting the school into the right frame of mind for the future.

Basement Beginnings

May Butts believed in the value of education. Butts was a librarian, and her daughter Cynthia Butts Kelly was ready to read but did not have a school to attend. Cynthia’s birthday was October 16, but the cutoff date for public school enrollment was September 30. When May petitioned the board for an exemption, the board did not budge. So, she started a school in the basement (photo above) of her home in Langhorne Place in Salem.

May needed a teacher for the students, so she recruited Margaret Northcross (later Margaret Ellis) to teach first grade. Butts promised Margaret that she would name the school “Northcross” to honor her commitment. And, it also sounded a lot better than “Butts’ Basement.” The tuition in 1945 was $72 a year for kindergarten students and $90 a year for students in first and second grade.

The basement was soon determined to be inadequate to meet the needs of the students. In 1945, Mrs. Butts bought a home at 12 Union Street that served the students until the merger that created North Cross School in 1961. 

Copyright © 2015 NORTH CROSS SCHOOL, All rights reserved.

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