Diana Smith '55, Cooler Than 007
The Smith Cornerstone Room was silent as Upper Schoolers sat with open ears and eager eyes as Diana Smith '55 sat down to share her experiences working as an American intelligence officer. Upper School English teacher and English Department Chair Mary Sharnick invited Ms. Smith to share her expert perspective as the students continue reading Ian Fleming's famed James Bond spy novels.
A proud St. Margaret's graduate, Diana has been a fixture of the Chase community for many years and is always willing to assist with endeavours on campus. Ms. Smith previously spoke at Chase as the Tremaglio Guest Lecturer in 2009 when she presented A World of Difference, discussing foreign and national security policy issues surrounding the Middle East.
Ms. Smith began her discussion by outlining her experience in the intelligence field, from her time overseas as an intelligence officer to the vital role she played in briefing sitting Presidents on matters of espionage and intelligence. She also shared her thoughts on the current state of America and international intelligence and how the systems currently in place have grown and changed through the years. Chase kids were then able to ask questions they had prepared for Ms. Smith, drawing upon themes they encountered in Mrs. Sharnicks' class.
The students were eager to learn more about the steps she took to become an intelligence officer, inquiring about what courses to take in their undergraduate career and what majors were beneficial to breaking into the field. Ms. Smith strayed away from advising on one specific college path - instead encouraging students to "Diversify [their] academics with internships and summer jobs, and of course, keep [their] criminal record clean."
One of the most anticipated answers came from a student's question regarding Ms. Smith's experience as a female in a male dominated profession. While it was indeed uncommon for a woman to break into the intelligence field in the 1960's, Ms. Smith was fortunate to have supervisors who encouraged her to further develop and hone her professional skills.
Ms. Smith is now happily retired and living in Woodbury. We are so proud of the many accomplishments she has achieved in her professional life and are even more proud of her willingness to come back to Chase to inspire future generations of lifelong learners.
Tom Harte '89 Truly Does "Have Haaaaaarte"
If you grew up in the greater Waterbury area, chances are you know how to complete this jingle: "You've gotta have....". If you instantly heard "Haaaarte" in your head, chances are you are already familiar with Chase alum and co-owner of the Harte Auto Group Tom Harte '89. Usually recognized for his role in numerous comical, computer animated commercials, Tom took time out of his hectic schedule to teach Chase second and third graders a thing or two about running a business.
Chase kids in Ms. Herwig and Mrs. Coppola's combined second and third grade class spent time learning about entrepreneurship and the many steps it takes to create and run a successful business. After taking time to draft their own business plans (even taking time to sketch a drawing of their store's layout), students learned about inventory, pricing and marketing. Many of the questions they prepared to ask Mr. Harte centered around marketing and scheduling, with students interjecting their own business ideas for feedback.
Mr. Harte was blown away by how thorough these young entrepreneurs were and enjoyed explaining the commercial making process, the hiring process and what a day in the life of an auto dealer is like. Students were curious as to how many hours a business owner such as Tom puts in, with one guessing he puts in around six-thousand hours monthly. It was wonderful to see our students using the skills learned in class to create a business of their own with input from a local expert. Instead of simply learning from a text book or video, students were able to share their excitement and enthusiasm for the project with a fellow Highlander, who used the real-world skills he gained after Chase to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in some of our youngest learners.
Varsity Girls' Basketball Makes Chase Proud
Chase may be a smaller school, but that does not mean we can't go "big" when it comes to athletics. On Tuesday, February 27 members of the Girls' Varsity Basketball team traveled to Saxtons River, Vermont to compete against Vermont Academy in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Girls' Basketball Tournament Quarterfinal. Only 8 Class D schools qualify to compete at this level and we are all very proud of our Varsity Girls' team for making it so far!
While the Highlanders did not walk off the court victorious, the experience was a perfect culmination to a robust season. Game highlights included assists by Sam Crone '18, points scored by Angelene Guglielmo '19 and Sami Dassatti '18, as well as freshman Maddie Patrick's strong scoring and assists.
With practices six days a week and over 20 games during regular season game-play, these student athletes have worked tirelessly to represent Chase on the court. A loss is never easy, but these Chase kids displayed their grit and gave it their all. Follow us @ChaseCollegiate on social media to stay up to date with what's happening in the world of HighlanderNation and be on the lookout for game recaps and final scores in local publications!
Shaving Heads and Saving Lives: Trey Atkins '18 Spreads "The Bald" on Campus
February 28 was a day just like any other in the Upper School, students were learning, teachers were teaching and eleven people had all of their hair shaved off! While it may seem a little crazy, it's actually not an atypical occurance on campus. Last year, called to action by the passing of his father's close childhood friend, current Chase senior (and son of alumna Debra Somers Atkins '85), Trey Atkins brought a St. Baldrick's fundraiser to campus, soliciting funds with the promise of eventually shaving his head for the cause.
St. Baldrick's, a non-profit organization that focuses on raising money to advance childhood-cancer research, obtains funds through fundraisers where participants are sponsored to shave their head. Last year Trey participated solo, but this year, ten other individuals stepped up to "Rock the Bald" alongside Trey. Their combined fundraising efforts helped smash Trey's original goal of $2000, bringing in a total of nearly $5,000 for childhood cancer research.
It was truly an inspiring sight to see members of our Upper School community come together to make such bold strides towards eradicating childhood cancer. From teachers like Mr. Gavin to international students like Grace Chen '19 and even members of Trey's own family, the Chase community truly stepped up and gave it their all. We'd like to especially thank volunteer hairdresser extraordinaire, Jaci Orzack from E Salon in Farmington who also made this special event possible!
Enjoy some video from the day below and explore the full photo album here on smugmug.
Pen Pals Program: Fostering Connections Between Students and Alumni
A few months ago, a call for alumni pen pals went out in this very newsletter. We asked alumni like you to step up and share your wisdom with a group of curious Chase kids... and you did! Beginning in January, 17 fourth and fifth graders embarked on a new, couriered friendship with alumni of all ages; from women with details to share about their life in a St. Margaret's dorm to recent graduates who walked the halls of the Upper School last year.
Letters have been mailed and the students have enjoyed learning the aspects of addressing an envelope, with many taking the time to write special notes to their pal so that (in the words of a fourth grader) they "know it's from me and that it's important to open!"
In addition to this being an excellent way for students to stay connected with the Highlanders who came before them, it also presents Chase kids with the opportunity to further practice the research and composition skills they have learned in their classrooms.
In a world of seemingly limitless technology, it is great to see a group of young learners who are adept at navigating the "snail mail" system.
"Donate!" That's what Chase kid Sarah Feldman '18 is asking of her peers and our Chase community leading into March Break. Feldman, who has had a passion for fashion since her early teen years, is picking up the 'Princess and the Prom' torch, a prom dress collection drive formally organized by Chase alumna Maria Kaouris '17, but one for which Feldman coincidentally was also quite familiar.
Stumbling upon 'Princess and the Prom' while working on a community service project for her bat mitzvah nearly five years ago, Feldman had already researched the Connecticut based non-profit organization. She learned that 'Princess and the Prom' is committed to providing free prom dresses to high school students through various local giveaways, including their annual Gown Giveaway Event held each year at the end of March.
"I knew [at the time,] I couldn't just drop these dresses off at Goodwill. So, my mom's friend got me in touch with the representative for the 'Princess and the Prom,'" explained Feldman, who learned about which donations were acceptable, and that the organization partners with area Best Cleaners for dress cleanings and additional donation sites. Collecting nearly 100 dresses for her past project, Feldman hadn't given her initiative much thought until one fateful day at Chase.
"I got to high school... and Maria Kaouris was doing a slideshow about what she did with her prom dresses every year, and it was the same organization! So, I was like, 'oh awesome!'" exclaimed Feldman, who didn't hesitate to donate her own prom dresses soon after. But, knowing that Maria was about to graduate, and seeming like more than coincidence, Feldman remembered how her bat mitzvah project made her feel. She reminisced: "It was something I loved doing. The person I had gotten in touch with was so nice and the pictures of the girls [who received dresses] were so heartwarming." So what did Feldman do? She texted Maria and explained how she wanted to continue the collection drive at Chase.
What Feldman also came to realize, was that Maria had also taken the 'Prom Dress torch' from a recent graduate and Chase alumna, Brianna Smail '12, who had collected dresses for ‘Princess and the Prom’ for two years while at Chase. During Brianna’s time organizing the drive, she collected multiple hundreds of dresses for the cause - yet another reason to try and keep the tradition alive.
"When Maria left I really wanted to keep it [the drive] going because I knew it was a good thing," stated Feldman. "A lot of people are bridesmaids, or they go to weddings, and they have all these dresses - what are you going to do with those dresses in your closet?"
With Maria's blessing, Feldman proudly brings the drive back to Chase this March. And in the short time that the donation box has been located outside of Mrs. A's office in the US hallway, it has already been filled to the brim.
"You know, I really wasn't going for a goal number when I did this," admitted Feldman. "I just wanted people to you know, clean out their closets and take a look around. I think it's just a good cause and prom season is coming up, so girls who can't afford dresses, or don't have the means, deserve to have a chance too."
If you're looking to help bring a dream dress to a deserving Connecticut high schooler, Felman will be collecting dresses of any length (semi-formal/prom), as well as shoes in good condition, purses, and clutches until Friday, March 9th when Chase breaks for the Spring.
And what about next year when Feldman graduates?
"I hope to pass it down to someone else who'd be interested - like Maria did for me," expressed Feldman. "I don't see the need in keeping your prom dress, unless its one you can wear to a wedding. But you're not going to wear a purple bedazzled dress to a wedding. So... donate!"
Visit 'Princess and the Prom' on Facebook [@PrincessandtheProm] for more information about their storefront and their upcoming dress drives.
~Kelly Ann Oleksiw,
Digital & Social Media Specialist
Chase Kid Community Service Chronicles
With the new year in full swing and the Spring semester underway, we finally have a moment to reflect on all of the ways Chase Kids spread kindness during the holidays through service in the Greater Waterbury area.
Lower Schoolers traveled to Ben’s Bells, a non-profit organization in Bethel, and created “Kindness Coins” that are spread throughout the country in an effort to promote acts of kindness. The Lower School Student Council also coordinated a toy drive for Toys for Tots, donating over 100 gifts to those in need.
Our Middle School Chase Kids were also busy finding ways to brighten the season for those less fortunate, leading a supply drive to stock local shelters and crafting sock snowmen to cheer up patrons of Carolyn’s Place, St. Vincent de Paul Mission, and Brass City Rescue Alliance in Waterbury.
It seemed as though the Upper School was branching out into the community on a daily basis. Student-led clubs and groups as well as sport teams and even academic classes all worked to create and coordinate meaningful outreach projects. A group of ten Chase seniors donated their time to serve food at the Breakfast with Santa at the Giamatti Regional Little League Training Complex in Bristol, raising funds for the Secret Santa Society of Bristol, a group started by alumnus Josh Kampf ’97 during his time in the Upper School. Additionally, Upper Schoolers traveled to a local grocery store to ring bells and raise funds for The Salvation Army and coordinated drives of their own to benefit local shelters and groups.
While the Chase Community is incredibly proud of the acts of service our students completed over the holiday season, we are even more proud of the work they continue to do throughout the year. Student and Faculty-led clubs across all divisions run fundraisers and drives throughout the semester that help connect Chase Kids to the Greater Waterbury Area and the myriad foundations and charities in the area. Below, you will find photos of our Life Is Delicious club, which meets after school to prepare fresh, nutritious meals that are then delivered to local shelters.
Follow the community-service-chronicles of our Chase Kids online at:
"... Culture is inevitable. It makes us who we are as people, but also who we are as a town, state, country, or continent. Culture is what brings us together, and it is important that we celebrate the similarities that we share as well as the differences."
-Natalie Nejaime ’22
On January 19, Chase 8th graders gathered in the McTernan Centennial Library to present their Declamations to family, friends and classmates. Declamations, a long-held tradition for Middle School Chase Kids, serves as an opportunity for students to hone their research, public speaking and presentation skills- helping to launch them into the rigorous Upper School public speaking program. As you read this, we are sure many of you are flooded with memories of your own time at the podium!
This winter’s 18 presentations centered around the theme of “Culture” and how it impacts every facet of life in a specific nation, country or area. Upper and Middle School English Teacher and Declamations Coordinator, Doreen Kopecky outlines the work that students put into researching and crafting their topics prior to their eventual presentation:
As part of a semester long journey that centered around inquiry-based learning, combined with traditional genre-based practice of interpreting a writing style and replicating it, students began the year uncovering the theme of "place" in literature. Students explored memoirs of eclectic people and places, such as the Pakistani memoir Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat. Upon reading and discussing this book, they discovered the similarities and differences in childhoods worlds apart. Using round-table discussions, journal writing, brainstorming, questioning, and researching, students made there way to other world venues to connect place and experience to understand why people "write about what they write about.
After countless hours of research and numerous drafts, students donned their “Formal Friday” best and presented what they had learned in front of their family and peers. These Chase Kids exemplified poise and grace under pressure, and provided listeners with a unique overview of the culture of their choice.
Click here to check out pictures from the day!
How Hitting the Ground (and Leaving the Ground) Helped this Chase Kid 'Stick' his Athletic Passion
When most athletes get the wind knocked out of them, they tend to stay down or falter, but that wasn't the case for gymnast Hee Mang C. '23. Significantly injured while competing about 18-months ago, Hee Mang could have easily been discouraged, but instead, this Chase kid powered through his frustrations, learned patience, and eventually surprised even himself, finishing first-place in three events during the 2018 New Year's Gymnastic Invitational at the Suffield Gymnastics Academy.
"In gymnastics, there's a word called 'pung,' which means you slipped off of the bar," explained Hee Mang, about the incident that led to his recent long-term injury. "It usually happens on, like, rings and high bar and basically it is when you slip off and you kind of, like, fly and hit the ground. So what happened was I pung off and I hit my chin on my sternum really hard so it injured [my ribs and chest] and from that impact it hurt to breathe."
Frustrating right? Of course, and Hee Mang admits that it took a while for him to realize he'd need to embrace patience and give his body the time it needed to properly heal.
"At the beginning, I thought I was fine," he explained. "And then, early in sixth grade I reinjured [the same area] and that one really hurt to breathe and that one was the one that made me stay out for a longer time."
No stranger to the sport, Hee Mang started practicing gymnastics as part of a 'mommy and me' class while still a toddler. But learning from his failure and how to cope with impatience - those are skills that he was still navigating in the gym. Hee Mang eventually discovered techniques to remain positive and involved with the sport, while also accepting support from his teammates, family, and friends.
"I was kind of angry," admitted Hee Mang. "I hated just sitting down and being lazy instead of being in a gym working out and working on new skills." So what was this Chase kid's solution? "I helped out at gymnastics competitions... and I did come in [to the gym] every once in a while just to hang out."
It also helped that his teammates and family formed a close-knit community of support around him, especially as he approached his first competition in over a year. Hee Mang explained, "probably the hardest part [of getting back to competition] was, like, me getting nervous because it was my first meet in a long time, but everything else was pretty easy because I just had to remember that I've done all of these routines before. I just had to keep doing what I had to do. And with the support of my other teammates, it was also easier because they were, like, cheering me on and, like, making me feel more comfortable."
Remembering past advice also proved helpful to Hee Mang. He recalled one time in the fourth grade when he felt frustrated with the sport and wanted to quit. "My parents always told me to just keep going. You might overcome it," stated Hee Mang. "And I eventually did and I was really glad that I didn't [quit]."
Channeling all of the positive energy around him, Hee Mang went into the New Year's competition facing his fears of continued injury and treating the event as just another practice, which turned out to take a significant amount of pressure off of him. He explained that competing is "just a more meaningful practice," and once you've practiced your skills, you perform them during a meet. You get to show off; and show off he did during the mid-January invitational.
"I was very shocked because I thought I wasn't going to place," laughed Hee Mang, who ended up placing first on pommel horse, vault, and parallel bars. "I was very surprised when I placed first on events because I thought if I did [place] I was only going to get second or third."
By the end of the meet, Hee Mang earned second place on rings, and third on high bar in addition to his first-place successes and he ended up in fifth place standing overall out of over 50 competitors. So what exactly did Hee Mang take away from the whole experience? The ability to overcome his frustrations and knowing that doing so leads to a more positive headspace.
"Yeah, every once in a while I get super frustrated but I overcome that frustration and start to love [the sport] again... I'm feeling a lot stronger [now]."
- Mrs. Oleksiw
Digital and Social Media Specialist
Throughout the semester, Chase kids in the Lower School have been learning about kindness and how to integrate it into their daily lives, both on and off campus. With programs like the Kindness Club and the Chase Cares campaign, our youngest learners have learned how to be true warriors of kindness!
On Wednesday, December 13, over 40 young learners in grades K-5 and Chase faculty members traveled to the Ben’s Bells studio in Bethel where they listened attentively, participated in interactive kindness activities and created beautiful kindness coins that spread and share the message to “Be Kind”.
Ben’s Bells, a non-profit based out of Arizona holds a core mission to inspire, motivate, and educate people about the power of sharing and spreading kindness in their community. School counselor Molly Emmer partnered with the group through their “Kindness Campus” initiative which provides schools with activities, discussion topics and other resources to help foster a culture of kindness.
At the studio, Chase kids witnessed how a single act of kindness can affect the person spreading,receiving or observing the kind act. Students learned how each and every person is connected through their capability to be kind.
After an eye-opening and heartwarming discussion, Chase kids had the chance to share kind thoughts. Everyone got a piece of paper printed with “Say something kind about [name]” and the room instantly filled with joy! Students gave each other a “pat on the back” by writing something kind on the piece of paper, and the results were shared with each student upon their return to school. Compliments such as "I love your smile!" and "You are a great friend" showed the full depth of appreciation and regard Chase kids have for one another.
At the end of the visit, students and teachers had the chance to create “Kindness Coins” -- painted clay tokens that are passed out when the holder of the token observes an act of kindness. The goal is for the tokens to continue to be passed from person to person, creating a ripple effect of kindness.
As a school, we are proud of the hard work and dedication our students put in to the practice of kindness. As part of our commitment to kindness and the program on campus, Chase will be receiving, creating and installing a “Ben’s Bells Kindness Mural”, a beautiful mosaic crafted from coins and tokens made by volunteers within the Chase community and assembled as a group on campus. Stay tuned for more information on how to assist with this incredible addition to Chase!
For more information on Ben’s Bells Visit their website or drop by the Bethel location (one of two in the country) Tuesday-Thursday, 12:00-8:00 PM & Saturday, 10:00-2:00 PM to help spread kindness!