By Tobi Bankole
When the recipient of the 2020 Norch Cross alumni award was announced, a few faculty members could not contain their excitement. AP U.S. history teacher and Herald advisor Robert Robillard, seemed thrilled at the chance to engage with Dr. Caroline Light ‘87, a professor and accomplished author.
“It was exciting to see the school honor an historian,” Robillard said, “expecially one who publishes in and promotes the field of journalism.”
Dr. Light earned history degrees at Duke and Kentucky before becomin the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Women and Gender Studies (WGS) at Harvard. Her background as an historian gives her a unique perspective on current events, which is evident in her 2017 book Stand Your Ground.
“In the process of studying history, I actually transformed to become more of a journalist in many ways, and that’s where I am right now. I’m still evolving; I like studying the past, but the that way I approach the study of the past is to think about how we’re going to problem solve in the contemporary moment. I’m really interested in urgent contemporary issues and questions and problems that we’re all facing.”
Light is passionate about sharing her knowledge in a way that is accessible for young audiences. In her session with AP U.S. History students, she spent the time fielding questions and answering them in ways that were not only easy to understand, but conducive to more student questions and comments.
Mahum Hashmi ‘19 shares what she liked about the class period. “She had a unique way of thinking about things. Her opinions were really articulate and interesting.”
The room was packed not only with students, but with faculty and staff who jumped at the chance to hear Light speak. Questions were asked not only by students, but by Director of Upper School Mark Thompson and Chinese and yearbook teacher Nicki Dabney.
At the end of the session, students and faculty alike shared a laugh as Robillard asked Light to sign his copy of Stand Your Ground.
Transitioning from controversial gun laws to her other area of expertise, Light ate lunch with students to talk about the state of gender and sexuality education and information access at NCS. Informally, she engaged the small group of students about their experiences with intersectional education, and shared her thoughts on where to improve.
Nora Terrill ‘20 shared what she liked about the lunch. “She really wanted to know about our experiences, and you could tell that she genuinely cared.”
In the afternoon, all high school students got the chance to hear speak during activity period, when she officially accepted her award. She spent the duration of her speech talking about the importance of educating the next generation to discern between fact and opinion, expressing confidence in the students sitting before her. She shared how her experiences in graduate school shaped her perspective on the issues she teaches on.
While the students enjoyed this and it was directed at them, there were a few teachers who were moved.
“I found her very thought provoking, and found it necessary to do some self reflection,” said Dean of Students Stephen Belderes.
Weeks later, a small group of students had the opportunity to meet Dr. Light again in her office at Harvard. They saw a protest on behalf of one of Dr. Light’s close colleagues who was denied tenure, and listened to her speak on the injustices that she faces in the academic world.
She talked about life in Cambridge, from being a cyclist to art around Boston, and told the Harvard Model United Nations delegation about both the good and bad of being a WGS professor at Harvard.
“She talked a lot about how things weren’t perfect for her department,” says Tanner Vogel ‘22. “Like how they’re in a basement and don’t get a lot of funding.”
But above all, Dr Light’s message was hopeful. She shared exciting plans for WGS to move into a newer building, the influx of students she’s had over the past few years, and her vision of a future where WGS is valued even more.
By Campbell Lake
Administrators provided a glimpse into the future of North Cross education to the Parent’s Association on March 31.
Twenty-two mothers of upper school students congregated in Fishburn Auditorium to witness the announcements regarding potential programs and concepts that could be added to the curriculum. Speakers including college counselor Julie Aavatsmark, Upper School Director Mark Thompson and Headmaster Dr. Christian Proctor spoke of prospective advancements in their field of expertise.
Throughout all of the new ideas, there was a unified concept of engagement and unique opportunities in and out if the classrooms. Some of the programs that the administration is enthusiastic about include the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), graphic design, economics courses and STEM-D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Design) programs that they hope will enhance the inter-connectivity between the classroom and the outside world.
Thompson discussed the need to have balance in student lives – between highintensity college prep life and sheer happiness. This STEM-D program, a concept that many schools are adopting to improve interdisciplinary education, will most likely be modeled by the ever-growing Global Studies program to display its benefits in connectivity between classroom curriculum and other disciplines.
“Mr. Thompson explained how the upper school is trying to introduce classes that will be engaging and creative,” said North Cross mother Karen Pruitt, an attendee of the meeting, “it’s all about having the opportunity there and then taking advantage of it.”
The future Economic and Business electives were a big hit amongst the parents in the audience, which was another concept supporting North Cross’ newfound commitment to creating a connected world for its students to thrive academically and prepare for their lives to come.
“I’m really looking forward for the students to have numerous opportunities and to be actively and highly in everything they do at North Cross School,” said Thompson of his aspiration for the school’s bright future, “we can continue improving on our strengths and have students participate more in extracurricular activities.”
Thompson appreciated the attentive audience that day, and the audience equally contributed their own thoughts and ideas through questions and feedback.
“Of course you have your core classes,” said Pruitt, “but you should go beyond and expand [outside the classroom] and try to get more out of education than what the book teaches you.”
Aavatsmark, found the new programs as supplement for college applications.
“I think all of these new hopeful things that we’re going to do would be helpful in the college admissions progress for the students who do these programs because anything that students can do that’s sort of outside the norm of math, science, English social studies and foreign language, [all of which] you need to do, it makes them a better candidate,” Aavatsmark said. “[They would also be] better students because they’ve had different experiences.”
By Philip Schueler
North Cross's relationship with Chinese schools, which could reshape the campus according to administrators, has grown ever since Headmaster Dr. Christian J. Proctor took office – mostly due to a rapidly expanding summer program.
This friendship has taken another big step after Proctor visited China again this past week.
Proctor travelled around China, recruited students, negotiated contracts and met with prospective educational partners, both old and new. In search of new revenue streams, Proctor visited China last December to expand connections with Chinese schools.
On his most recent visit, Proctor continued to search for a school in China where Virginian students can study abroad, in reciprocity for all the Chinese students coming to Roanoke. In fact, he found a summer program co-sponsored by UCLA near Shanghai that would welcome as many as 10 students for the price of a round-trip flight. (For more information, see Robert Robillard.)
Proctor travelled to a variety of cities and locations in China.
"It was a good visit. I went to many places; I flew from Shanghai to Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia. I visited with a man who wants to start a school there; he's got some beautiful property outside the city that's a little more rural, a hundred acres of land that he wants to start a school on, which is right across a valley from a golf course and a ski resort. It's a more traditional American boarding school model, being out in a rural area," Proctor said. "Then from Hohhot I flew to Dalian, and Dalian is a beautiful city, sort of like a Chinese version of San Francisco, a lot of bays and hills. I met with a man there who also is thinking about starting a school, and also would like to invest in schools in the United States."
Proctor said that one of his biggest goals for the Chinese program is the ability to offer North Cross students opportunities and experiences, which can set them apart from others when applying for college.
"Ultimately I would love to have a very smooth ability to transition a student from here to China and back, so that my student can go and take his or her classes in China and then return. And they could be gone for a semester, and not have to struggle academically to catch up," Proctor said. "I think that's my biggest goal, so we can have students apply to college and have an experience that's different from the experiences of other students."
Proctor has found two schools, which are willing to partner with North Cross, one in Shanghai and the other in Suzhou.
"I went back to Shanghai, to a school called Xinhe, and that's the school in Shanghai we'd like to partner with. Xinhe is in downtown Shanghai, in a very nice location. From there I went to Suzhou, and visited the Suzhou Foreign Language School, and talked about a potential summer program there for our students. In fact, he indicated he'd be willing to host our students for about 10 days in Suzhou, which is a beautiful city for no cost. All our students would have to pay is the airfare, so I think it's a very reasonable way to visit China and for Global Studies students to get their Global Studies trip in," Proctor said. "This could happen as early as July this summer. Mr. Robillard is going to nail down all the details on that."
If a contract is signed with a partner school, North Cross will be responsible for managing a school program with an American curriculum at a private school in China. North Cross would be paid for its services, and students would be able to study and stay in China for a semester, without their academic curriculum being severely disrupted.
"The Xinhe school would be one of our first partners, and when I was in Suzhou I met with some folks from a school in Yiwu who I met with before, and if we can get a contract signed, those would be the schools that would be starting over there in September," Proctor said. "It is a realistic possibility, but the thing I've learned in negotiating with foreign countries is nothing is guaranteed until you get the contract signed; I'm optimistic, but I wouldn't be surprised if nothing works out."
Proctor also visited the families of Simon Chen ('17) and Peter Wang ('19) in Yangzhou. Proctor interviewed several Chinese students who hope to attend North Cross next year, and met with families who plan to send their children to the Chinese Summer Program.
While Proctor enjoyed his trip, he said he does not anticipate traveling back to China for several months, but Robillard may travel to the Xinhe school in May to develop relationships, recruit more students and explore the educational system there.
“I love exchanges of ideas, students and teaching,” Robillard said. “Hosting Chinese students has enhanced our school, and we can grow even more by going there. Cultivating the relationships with Chinese schools can certainly transform North Cross.”
By Meagan Pruitt
The musical, “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” provides a chance for new actors and managers to make their debut in the theatre this Friday.
Although she acted in “Honk” and “Guys and Dolls” in 6th and 7th grade, this is Bailey Sanders’ (‘16) first time participating in the theatre as stage manager.
“It’s really different to see from the perspective of behind the scenes instead of acting,” Sanders said.
In early December, it was clear to Sanders that she wanted to be on crew, but it wasn’t until Andrew Miller, chorus teacher and musical director, talked to her about how the musical needed a stage manager, that the idea began to take root. After learning what the position consists of, Sanders found the job interesting and fun.
As an first-honor role student, the biggest challenge for her is balancing academics and the long hours of play practice. However, Sanders is looking forward to Friday and Saturday nights’ showings, which are open to all, and Friday’s showing for grades 6-12.
“I am really looking forward to being able to see all the dances actually happen with all the costumes and makeup in front of an audience,” Sanders said, “because they’re looking really good right now.”
Not only does Sanders love performing for musicals, but watching them as well, whether it’s school oriented or something fun to watch with family.
“I love seeing how all the work that they put in over months has come together to make a big masterpiece that always seems to flow nicely,” Sanders said.
However, Sanders is not the only new member of the musical this year. Margaret Lawrence (‘17), who has been absent from the theatre since 4th grade, has returned as the leading female role, Rosemary. She found it easy to return because Sanders was going to be the new stage manager and many of her friends were joining, such as Jane Ward (‘16).
“I think it’s fun to sing at the top of your lungs, even if you’re bad,” Lawrence said. “I think it’s a way to not care what anybody else thinks.”
Not only does she love to sing on and off the stage, but performing as well.
“You can just do whatever you want,” she said. “I like performing with all my friends, and being able to express yourself.”
The biggest struggle with being the lead role for Lawrence is juggling play practice, sports and academics. Because she is so involved in the school, she finds that she misses equal amounts of soccer and play practices.
During the musical, her character, Rosemary, flirts with Finch, who is played by Tristan Johnson-Hodges (‘16).
Since 5th grade, Johnson-Hodges has been performing in the musicals, and is this year’s leading male role. He has found it hard to play his character this year because he does not relate to him. While he is more of a shy, pleasant person, his character is goofy and aloof, according to Johnson-Hodges.
“I’m slightly shy, so it just kind of helps me get over it, and it helps me perform,” he said. “Plus I’m into music, so it kind of helps me with that area as well as broadening my stage abilities.”
By Philip Schueler
Students in Richard Cook's A.P. U.S. History class were treated to a special visit by former North Cross student and current UVa third-year Daniel Wendell, who delivered a guest lecture about the administration of John F. Kennedy and the era of the 1960s.
Wendell spent almost 14 years as a student of North Cross and said he was incredibly nostalgic during his visit. When asked about how the school helped prepare him for college, Wendell said the school allowed him to develop personal relationships with his teachers and mentors who continue to support him today.
"It truly was teachers like Mr. Cook, Señor Douglas and many more that gave me some of the tools I use to excel in the classroom," Wendell said.
"The extremely small nature of North Cross and the personal relationships each student makes with the teachers help give students the communication skills necessary to go to office hours and create relationships with professors and teaching assistants."
Wendell has known Cook since he was his student at North Cross five years ago, when his interest in government and political science began. Wendell said that the reason he attended UVa was the human relationships and opportunities it provided.
"In short, the people and the opportunities. I have been able to continue spending time with people who I have grown up with at North Cross along with make more lifelong relationships," Wendell said. "UVA has some of the brightest students, which I am reminded of when trying to beat the curve on exams."
While at UVa, Wendell has been exposed to experienced and respected professors such as Larry Sabato, who wrote the book The Kennedy Half Century.
"Sabato is a renowned political analyst and historian who appears on CNN and other forms of media almost weekly," Wendell said. "I am lucky enough to find myself in a small class co-taught by Larry Sabato and Kenneth Stroupe. Professor Sabato's intense nature and passion for the subject make for a great class."
Cook enjoyed seeing Wendell again after so many years and marveled at his perseverance and strength, both in the classroom and out.
"Daniel has made a remarkable comeback from some serious personal issues - last Friday was the first time I have seen Daniel in an academic setting since he left North Cross - not an easy thing to return to your high school and put on a performance to students not that much younger then you, but he did well," Cook said. "I think the fact that he is a Junior at UVa speaks highly of a remarkable turn around both personally and academically."
By Campbell Lake and Emma Cartledge
One of life’s most difficult tasks is figuring out what career to pursue and Symposium gave students an opportunity to learn from experts in different fields of work, while also exploring fun workshops.
“My favorite session was The Burial, the painting with Mr. Crawford,” said Grace Wenk (’19), who enjoyed her first experience at Symposium. “I learned that you can interpret one painting to say so many different things.”
Symposium consisted of four 45-minute sessions, each session had a local expert discussing what to expect from their field of work – everything from cardiac surgeons to wilderness therapy.
“This year, I really liked the Viva la Cupcakes session,” said Blake Willis (’17). “I learned a lot about the art of cupcake making. Like, cupcakes go bad after two days and most stores throw them out. Baking is something I’ve never thought about as a career, but I really liked it so who knows.”
Students were exposed to things that they may have never thought they would be interested in. It gives the younger students more direction and ideas of things they might want to do. It gives the older students the opportunity to see things that they could study in college or do in the near future.
“My first session was an architecture class,” Kevin Bao (’18), who also attended a self-defense class led by police. “The most interesting thing I did was learning how to defend myself if someone were to attack me.”
Many parents spoke at Symposium. Lucas (’17) and Vincient (’16) Arnold’s father is a cardiac surgeon, who came and spoke about his profession. Sterling Moskal’s father, an orthopedic surgeon, discussed how doctors strive to stay on the cutting edge of their fields and how anyone can apply that mentality to their careers. Victoria Riegodedios’ (’19) mom spoke about her field, epidemiology. Jack Fishwick’s (’16) father spoke about being a trial lawyer.
“All of the different sessions I went to were really cool,” Ansleigh Graeff said. “It made me think about what I want as a career because it’s not as far away as it seems.”
The Symposium sessions were a great success this year, thanks to the hardworking staff members.
With 34 speakers in 32 different sessions, the student staff along with teacher-organizers Jennifer Landry and Emma Greenwell had their hands full in terms of preparation. Landry and Greenwell teamed up in the fall to send out preliminary save-the-dates to previous speakers, and around Christmas time sent out the official invitations to old and new prospective speakers. The duo then had to find a keynote speaker to kick off the day. Then came the t-shirts, usually designed by a creative student – in this case it was Sam Sawyer (’16). Once all students signed up for their desired classes, Landry and Greenwell spent a large amount of time organizing each presenter into an available session.
Landry noted that she came to campus on the Wednesday prior to Symposium for seven hours as she organized class schedules and made last minute adjustments.
“Overall it’s a very long process,” Greenwell said, adding that “this year was different due to the snow.”
On top of the faculty’s tireless efforts, Symposium wouldn’t happen without the student volunteers each year. This year’s staff included 13 members whose main tasks were following up with the speakers and answering any questions they had to ensure a smoothly run day. On the morning of the fun-filled event, the staff arrived to campus early to complete last minute tasks. One specific and important job of the staff members is to meet the speakers upon arrival and help them with anything they need, from carrying props and supplies to setting up a computer to project the speaker’s presentation.
Senior Madison Bloomfield has dedicated her time to the Symposium staff for three years and loves the experience.
“I think it’s really neat to be on the staff,” Bloomfield said, “and it is also a great time meeting the people when they arrive first thing in the morning.”
The 13 student staff members contacted 34 speakers - about three speakers per person. It is the students’ responsibility to make sure the speakers are well prepared.
Kerin Daly (‘15) is a four-year participant and was very enthusiastic about her involvement as a staff member.
“It was cool to participate and help out behind the scenes,” Daly said. “I enjoyed welcoming the speakers in the morning because it is so generous that they would give their time to North Cross.”
Nate Richardson (‘16) joined the staff for his first time this year and was glad to help out.
“I got to meet speakers that I wouldn’t have the chance to talk to otherwise,” Richardson said.
The staff was overwhelmingly appreciative of Landry and Greenwell’s hard work this year, considering the stress and pressure with the weather that put a damper on their progress.
“It was nice to help Mrs. Greenwell and Mrs. Landry after all they do to get everything ready so that Symposium can be the best experience possible,” Daly said.
By Meagan Pruitt
From Utah to Virginia, Nani Moskal (‘08) has traveled over 2,000 miles, bringing change to children’s lives.
After graduating from the University of Mary Washington, Moskal moved to Wyoming to make strides concerning her passion for psychotherapy. For the last two years, Moskal worked with at-risk kids at Second Nature, a wilderness therapy camp in Salt Lake City, Utah. These individuals received group and one-on-one therapy with the counselors, while they engaged in schoolwork. They learned wilderness and camping skills; they also developed respectful communication skills and how to cope with their struggles from home.
“It’s really cool to see them come together from different issues and challenges,” Moskal said, “and to see them work through that.”
While she enjoyed being wilderness counselor in the West, it came with some sacrifices --one of which was the living arrangements. With an apartment two hours away from camp, Moskal lived two separate lives. When she was working, she stayed up to eight days at a time at the camp. During this period, she had to give up being in contact with her loved ones back in Virginia.
Due to this inconvenience with her schedule, Moskal decided it was time for a change. At this same time, Sarah Hill made the switch from the school’s Guidance Counselor to working in a similar department at Carilion Clinic. After Headmaster Dr. Christian J. Proctor mentioned the open position to Moskal’s mother, she realized this was the chance to change from her nomadic lifestyle to the one she was more familiar with.
“Knowing that I was looking at grad schools for something similar and that I had been doing a lot of therapeutic work out in Utah, I wondered if that was something I’d be interested in,” Moskal said. “And it just worked out perfectly with the timing. I had to quickly move everything from Utah to here, but it just worked out really well with my schedule. I couldn’t have pictured anything else to work out better, so it just happened by fate I think.”
At the beginning of February, Moskal began to teach a guidance class in the Lower School and health education for 6th graders. Currently, the lower schoolers are learning whether or not they should handle certain things on their own and the magnitude of tattling. The young middle schoolers are discussing the importance of time management between sports, musical rehearsals and other extra-curricular activities. They have covered electronics use, since iPads have become a key learning tool at North Cross, and how to behave appropriately in all types of relationships, specifically teacher-student relationships.
“It’s different having her back home. She has been gone for the past six years so it’s kind of weird having her back home,” said Sterling Moskal (‘15), Moskal’s second youngest brother. “I don’t ever see her at school so it’s not any different than it was before she started working at school.”
Because of her history in Utah, she has been able to share those life tools and teach them with students here on campus. Moskal’s main goal is to achieve respect: for everyone to get along with one another and to communicate respectfully.
“As humans, we all have that ability to improve how we talk to each other,” Moskal said, “or how we interact with each other on a daily basis.”
While she is mainly a teacher for the lower and middle school, she is available for the upper school as a counselor too. She is usually present at assemblies and meetings as well. For people who need someone to listen to her, she is available in the mornings: Monday and Wednesday at 8:30-10:15 and Thursday and Friday at 10:15-11:30; as for afternoons, she’s available on Monday and Thursday at 2:30-3:30 and Wednesday through Friday at 1:30-3:30.
At Second Nature, drug addictions was one of many issues teenagers were dealing with. With her history in assisting people with these issues there, Moskal is able and willing to help teenagers, so they don’t have to move out West.
“To any students involved with or struggling with drug addiction, first and foremost I would say I can only offer advice to those who are open and ready for help,” Moskal said. “For those seeking advice, you are not alone. And no matter what drug, how long, or how severe the addiction, there is always a way out (and someone to help). Never, ever be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.”
By Meagan Pruitt
Although the Tutoring Club actively aids young students on a weekly basis, they took on a special project for one month during the students’ club time to sponsor a journalism program for the Community Youth Program (CYP) students at St. John's Episcopal Church.
Since September, members of the Tutoring Club have been arriving at St. John's nearly every week. On the Third floor, there is an activity room that students across the Valley come to for help with their academics, get some food and support in general. Volunteers provide assistance until 5 p.m., which is when dinner is served. Shortly afterwards, the remaining students journey off into their clubs: art or journalism.
For five weeks Willis Hall students have helped CYP children develop their own newspaper, and these 15 children did so by working on 18 computers in the computer lab. This improved their typing skills, according to some of the children.
"We get to talk about other people's lives and how they feel and what they do," said Sadichchha Sharma, who is a 5th grader at Wasena Elementary School, and has been involved with CYP for two years. "We get to be creative."
When asked why she loves the CYP program, Sharma talked about the access to computers, and the benefits of some assistance with their homework. While they do get to play games and go on field trips, she also acknowledges that the program is educational.
Some of the tutors involved in the journalism club are Chase Overton ('17), Sulan Yan ('17) and Ocean Ding ('18). One of the deadlines for the children's newspaper required interviewing these students. In this process, tight-knit friendships were formed.
Overton, who has been coming to CYP since the start of the winter term, participates in both the journalism club and tutoring. During this time, he has grown particularly attached to a fifth grader named Jeremiah, who he describes as his little buddy.
"It gives you an edge to help people out," Overton said. "And it makes me feel smarter."
Depicted as fun, talented, funny and someone who likes to explore stuff, according to Jeremiah, Overton simply adds to the fun by exposing his buddy to new music and hip hop artists such as Chance the Rapper.
Another tutor, Yan, has made significant strides by being involved in the program. Having arrived from China to attend North Cross in the fall, she wanted to do something that would touch others beyond the high school walls. After listening to student announcements, she was able to achieve this through the Tutoring Club.
"I realized that tutoring is apart of American society," Yan said, "so I'm here.”
For five weeks, Yan has had a duel extra-curricular schedule between JV basketball practices and tutoring. However, for the last three weeks she helped with the journalism program at CYP.
In the process, she has had to overcome the challenges of teaching accented children as a newcomer herself. One memory that Yan recalled was teaching spelling. A Nepali girl, who Yan was studying with, inquired about the spelling of "geography." Unfortunately, Yan falsely answered the question. Even though it was an embarrassing moment for her, she described it as a really good memory.
What makes Yan's bold decision to tutor even more unique is her Chinese culture. Back in China, children are only tutored if they are in special need, according to Yan; people don't believe that they can or should tutor children, or anyone else for that matter.
One of the CYP adult leaders believes the journalism program to be strengthening the children academically and socially.
"I think it has helped them acquire more computer literary skills," LeAnn Frank said, "so it's helped them get on the computer. For some [it has] sharpened interviewing skills, and introduced them to people they haven't met before and learn more about them."