The Urban School Alumni Association BLUESNOTES
blues notes
  April 18, 2016
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Southern California Reunion!
We hope you can join Mark Salkind (’70), LeRoy Votto, Jonathan Howland and Charlotte Worsley for a cocktail reception at the Culver Hotel’s Velvet Lounge on Saturday, May 7, from 6 – 8 pm. For more information please visit our Alumni Events page. This event is open to all Urban alums and their guests. Please RSVP by April 29. We look forward to seeing you!

Second Annual Alumni Teach-In
Urban's Dean of Equity and Inclusion Clarke Weatherspoon and History Department Chair Rebecca Shapiro are developing an educational session designed specifically for members of our alumni community on Saturday, June 4, at 10 am, at Urban. Refreshments will be served. RSVP here and stay tuned for more information.

Urban is Turning 50!
Urban is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this fall! Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 5, and Sunday, November 6, for a weekend of special events (including a ribbon cutting of the new Alumni Blues Lounge!) that will coincide with the opening of our new Academic and Athletics Center.

Reunions for alums from the classes of ’06, ’96, ’86 and ’76 are also being planned for Friday, November 4. Email us if you are interested in helping to organize your class’ decade celebration.

If you are interested in getting involved with the planning of the 50th Anniversary please let us know. Opportunities for engagement could include helping with a basketball tournament and happy hour on November 5, working with us on honoring current and former Urban faculty, identifying potential alumni speakers and panelists, conducting current and former faculty interviews, as well as creating photo projects and videos.

To me, to be Urban means to value the learning process. It means growth through struggling, questioning, experimenting and conversing. To be Urban is to understand that there is no one superior learning style; rather, through multiple interactions and experiences we develop into well-rounded, unique and creative learners capable of changing our communities and the world around us. - Alyssa Mitchel ('11)

We are profoundly grateful for the outpouring of support we receive from our alums each year. It is especially meaningful when a graduate continues to invest in our students, teachers and programs.

Today, we are launching our Alumni Annual Fund, Be Urban, and Class Endowment Fund campaigns for the 2015-16 school year. We are honored to share that 100% of Urban’s faculty and staff have participated in this year’s Annual Fund. We hope to reach 15% alumni participation (that’s just seven alums per graduating class!) by June 30, which would put us in the lead for participation compared to our peer schools, a powerful demonstration of our collective belief in the importance of an Urban education. Each and every gift - regardless of the amount - truly makes a difference!

We hope you will consider donating to Urban's 2015-16 Annual Fund or your Class Endowment Fund with a gift of any amount today. Thank you!

from the alumni council

In February, our Alumni Council Secretary, Andy Nguyen (’99), had an opportunity to visit some Urban classes, and wrote the following article about his experience.

When I graduated from Urban in 1999, I had taken nearly every math and science course that Urban had to offer, though there was not a single computer science course in sight. I ended up going to a larger university and majored in Electrical and Computer Engineering where my courses had anywhere from 50 to (typically) 500 students - a very different educational experience! While sitting in these large lectures, I always wondered what a computer science or electrical engineering course at Urban would have been like. Would there be essays? How does one discuss data structure implementations? Algorithmic complexity and performance?

Given my involvement with Urban's Alumni Council, I was invited to sit in on a morning of Urban classes, and jumped at the opportunity to attend Computer Science 2 and Advanced Physics. I walked in about five minutes after class had started and found myself in the middle of a vibrant discussion regarding the correctness and performance of solutions to the classic Knapsack and Traveling Salesman Problems. Students were engaged and it was immediately evident to me that Parisa Safa has masterfully integrated "the Urban way" into teaching an introductory computer science course. My next course was Advanced Physics where Skyler Silverman was covering electricity and magnetism, and I could see the curiosity in each and every one of the students. Skyler had given them just enough of a push so that they could actively engage with one another, discussing a very complex subject, Lenz's Law, that even upper-division undergraduates struggle to grasp.

These students were actively engaging in discussions and critically thinking about complex science and engineering topics as they would have in a history course with LeRoy Votto or an English class with Cathleen Sheehan. As I observed these discussions, I was proud to be an Urban alum, proud to have experienced Urban. Given some recent changes, I had heard concerns from alums and former parents that Urban might be losing its way. However, after sitting in [on these two Urban classes], I'm happy to say that Urban may be publishing grades and integrating more science and engineering courses, but the core of Urban is still very much alive and a part of every student!

As I think about my experience at Urban, what has changed since then, and the changes on the horizon, I feel a certain excitement about the future of Urban - especially as we celebrate Urban's 50th this coming year!

alumni spotlight

Elisa Adler (’69): Elisa’s second book Home Place was recently released from Floating Island Publications. 

Alison Elliott ('88): The February 8 edition of the SF Chronicle carried a piece on the great and memorable indie films released in 1996, including The Spitfire Grill, co-starring Alison!

In more recent news, Alison was involved in is premiering at TriBeCa Film Festival. The Phenom chronicles the performance experience of a talented baseball pitcher hopeful starring Ethan Hawke and Paul Giamatti.

Sammy Go (’08): February’s Design*Sponge featured Sammy, owner and director of Lambert Floral Studio.

Mario Gutierrez (’08), Aidan Coffino (’08) and Sam Quintana (’08): Reconnect SF started as the blog arm of San Francisco Native Tours and has now evolved into a network portal that includes a blog, featured local artists and businesses and a platform for San Francisco-based content. It’s a fantastic resource for both for locals and visitors! Check out last month’s interview with local artist (and husband of Frances Evens) Grant Ditzler.

Ian Kibbey ('98): Dollhouse, a seven-minute documentary short by the directing team Terri Timely (Ian and partner Corey Creasey) was featured in The New Yorker's Culture Desk section last month. Dollhouse made its debut at South by Southwest last month, where it won a Special Jury Recognition in the Documentary Shorts category.

Mesha Kussman (’96): Mesha's synchronized swimming group Aqualilies made their big-screen debut in the Coen brothers’ new comedy Hail, Caesar! Stories about Aquillilies, which Mesha founded, and its work were carried in the LA Times and the KPCC public radio program The Frame.

Lily Kwong ('06): Lily was part of Interview Magazine's New Activists issue for her exciting collaboration with The 14th Factory Foundation. Congratulations Lily and thank you for the Urban School shout out! For more information on the 14th Factory's multimedia art exhibition opening next month on Wall Street at the former J.P. Morgan headquarters, click here.

Yael (Buchman) Lehmann (’88): Yael is the Executive Director of the Food Trust, was interviewed in PBS's Newshour about new FDA regulations designed to make nutritious food more accessible. In her tenure at The Food Trust, Yael has directed the growth of the organization’s farmers’ markets, nutrition education programs, food retail development initiatives and other programs to promote access to affordable, nutritious food in lower-income communities.

Erika Lenkert (’85): Last month, The San Francisco Chronicle reported on Erika’s quarterly publication GFF: Gluten Free Forever and it becoming a nationally distributed publication. Congratulations Erika!

Maggie Nelson ('90): Maggie's most recent book, The Argonauts, recently won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Check out this New Yorker profile of Maggie and her work!

Emma Strebel (’11): Emma is a Global Academic Fellow at NYU Abu Dhabi for the 2015-16 academic year. Her solo installation Dimensions was shown at The Cub in the Art Center of NYUAD last month. 
alumni events

Southern California Reunion
Saturday, May 7
6-8 pm
The Culver Hotel

Alumni College Panel
Friday, May 20
10:40 - noon

Alumni Teach-In
Saturday, June 4
10 am - noon
At Urban

Urban's 50th Anniversary and Reunion Weekend
November 4 - 6

Friday, November 4
Decade Reunions Planned for the Classes Ending in "6"
Time and Places TBD

Saturday, November 5
Alumni Round Robin Basketball Tournament
3 - 5 pm
Reception and Ribbon Cutting for the Alumni Blues Lounge
5 - 7 pm

Sunday, November 6
Open House with Activities and Festivities for all Ages!
At Urban

student news
Affinity Show
May 12 and 13
7 pm
Urban Student Center
One Acts - Program 1
May 18-19, 4:30 pm
May 20-21, 7:30 pm
Gumption Theater

Spring Music Concert
Sunday, May 22
5 pm
Herbst Theater

One Acts - Program 2
May 25-26, 4:30 pm
May 27-28, 7:30 pm

Circus Class Performance
Tuesday, June 7
11:15 am and 7:15 pm
Gumption Theater
Class of 2016 Graduation
Friday, June 10
11 am
Stern Grove
photos and fun stuff
click here for pictures of recent events
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