List of 20 news stories.

  • Iranian Women Club

    Emma Shishehbor ’28
    At Hawken, I have worked to raise awareness for Iranian women during the past year. I founded the club We Stand With Iranian Women at my school. The majority of our discussion focused on politics and the current situation in Iran. Mahsa Amini, age 21, was assassinated by the Iranian Morality Police on September 16, 2022, because she had worn her hijab incorrectly and some of her hair was visible. Protests then broke out both in Iran and all over the world. My dad, an Iranian, and my mother, a Colombian, told me about this. My parents are both immigrants, so I was exposed to political issues as a child and became aware of the world at a young age. We haven't spoken to some of my family members in 30 years; they are seeking safety as asylum seekers. It was disappointing that I hadn't had the chance to meet those family members sooner when we just were able to reconnect with them. As a result of war and politics, my family has gone through a lot and suffered. These personal connections inspire me to learn more about the world and what I can do to raise awareness, especially among those who are not personally involved. I hope that my involvement in clubs and interest groups will inspire students at Hawken to care about other issues in the world and not just think about the countries they are connected to.
  • Hispanic & Latine Heritage Month

    Isabella Bixler '26
    The concept of “Hispanic Heritage Month'' has always been strange to me, maybe because for me, Hispanic heritage is a year-long event. There isn’t a single day that goes by that I am not Latina, and while some days I might feel more connected to my culture, whether I’m conscious of it or not, I celebrate my heritage with every breath I take, through the Latin artists I love to listen to, to occasional trips to my local Hispanic grocer, to the simple act of adding a pinch of sal to my mangoes. But while my heritage is constantly present in my life and the lives of other Hispanic people, not everyone has the opportunity to interact with Latin culture on a regular basis. 

    This to me is the importance of Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month. It’s the opportunity for our heritage to be shared with the wider American public, to celebrate all that this community has achieved, to truly show the world who we are. While I hope that the attention to my community won’t be confined to a single 30-day period, I appreciate this month and how it creates a platform for the voices of Latinos across the country. I love being able to scroll through social media and see brands promoting the voices and businesses of Latino people and raising money and awareness about important issues within our community. I encourage everyone to celebrate Hispanic culture during this time, and all year round! Consider shopping at Latine-owned businesses, donating to organizations that support the Hispanic community, and checking out some Spanish media (the telenovelas will have you on the edge of your seat!).

    My heritage has always been an important part of my life. I feel most connected to my culture in Canada of all places. We always visit my mom’s side of the family in Ontario during the winter holidays, and for two weeks, I’m fully immersed in my culture. Whether it’s making pan de bono with my Colombian uncle, eating an array of Nicaraguan dishes, or speaking broken Spanish with my relatives, I always treasure the times I’m able to embrace my heritage.

    The Hispanic people are an incredibly diverse, talented, and accomplished group, tied together by Latinidad. For anyone who doesn’t know, Latinidad is the idea of unity between Latin American countries and people with Hispanic Heritage, a vast, multi-racial, and multicultural people united by the Spanish language. Hispanic people have done so much for our world, with writers like Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez contributing to the advancement of literature, artists like Frida Kahlo revolutionizing the field of visual art, and musicians like Selena leaving their marks on the world of music. Even in our government, people like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor contribute to the bettering of our nation and the advancement of the Hispanic community.
  • Hawken Affinity Groups

    Darnell Epps
    Affinity groups represent a national best practice in independent school education and beyond and serve to help underrepresented groups feel a greater sense of belonging. Rosetta Lee, educator and expert diversity practitioner, describes affinity groups as "intentionally created space for people who have an identifier in common, e.g., race, gender, religion, family status, etc. Affinity groups are for individuals who identify as members of the group and can speak to the experience of being a member of the group from the ‘I’ perspective.” 
    Moreover, affinity groups provide a safe space for individuals to develop a strong sense of self, which helps in equipping them with the skills and strategies needed to thrive in environments where they may be in the minority. Research shows that "well-facilitated, racial affinity groups are gatherings that facilitate positive identity exploration, where people can pose questions and process issues. As a learning base, affinity groups offer affirmation of identity, empowerment of the individual, and empowerment of the group within the learning community." (NAIS)

    Learn more from our students as they share their experiences with affinity groups in this latest video!
  • Holi Holiday: a Q & A with Hawken parents and newly-published authors

    Nivi Engineer & Nital Subhas
    Hawken parents Nivi Engineer (Suryan ’24, Shivam ‘22, Siddharth ‘19) and Nital Subhas (Neelan, ‘27 and Nikhil ‘23) recently wrote and published a children's book about the Indian holiday of Holi (Festival of Colors). Read a Q & A with the authors and illustrator (Saija Shah) below, and learn more about the book here.

    Q: What is Holi? Why is it important?
    Holi is the Indian festival of colors. It celebrates the first day of spring (in India, that is; in Cleveland we often still have snow). There are also different stories in Hinduism that help to illustrate the particular customs and reinforce the idea of this day celebrating the victory of good over evil, and welcoming the beginning of another harvest season. In certain parts of India, Holi also marks the beginning of a new year. 
    Q: How do we celebrate?
    Traditionally, people grab handfuls of colored powder and chase people around to throw or smear the color onto each other. It makes a huge mess, so we’ve experienced scaled-down versions of the celebration, or skip the color-throwing and focus on gathering with friends and family and eating lots of tasty foods traditionally prepared for Holi.
    While we would love to celebrate India-style, Cleveland weather doesn’t always cooperate. In fact, it often doesn’t. Growing up, we celebrated Holi outside…with pichkaris and colored powders. It’s a day full of joy, laughter, music, colored faces and clothing, and most of all, a sense of community.
    Q: What do you hope people learn from the book?
    We hope that readers become familiar not only with Holi, its history, and its traditions, but also with the idea that there are many celebrations throughout the world. By experiencing other cultures through words and illustrations, readers can open their minds and become better global citizens.

    In one reading, upon reaching the part where Juhi is eating koftas for breakfast, we saw kids’ faces immediately light up. “Koftas, Muhammad, koftas!!”, we kept hearing. The book is for moments exactly like this, where kids get to see their stories told. 
    While there’s been an increase recently of South Asian characters in the media, there remains a long way to go. For those who finally see themselves represented in our book, we hope to reinforce their sense of belonging.
    Q: Why is the holiday important for your family?
    While we’ve been fortunate to take our children to India as a means of reminding them of their roots, celebrating Indian holidays including Holi offers more frequent opportunities to reconnect with our community. We also want the kids to feel comfortable sharing their culture, and not feel like they have to hide it in order to fit in. 
  • Reflections on the death of Tyre Nichols

    Darnell Epps
    Honestly, I struggle to formulate the words to articulate my feelings and emotions in the aftermath of the recent tragedies in our nation. With the recent murder of Tyre Nichols at the hands of police, I took Saturday to process, to better understand my own emotions, and identify what exactly I am feeling. While no words can fully describe the depth of pain felt by communities around the nation, I join those who stand in outrage, disgust, and sadness. I said to myself, “here we go again…” to what seems like an unceasing series of violence. It all feels like too much to hold and process at once. 
    Most recently, Memphis officials released the video footage of Tyre Nichols’ violent encounter with the five officers, who have since been charged with his murder. I thought carefully about whether or not I should watch it as constant exposure to such content can be traumatizing, especially to members of the community who share an ethno-racial identity with the target. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I ever would. But yesterday morning, I took a deep breath and prepared myself for what I was about to see. I thought about the courage of the family who fought for the video footage to be released to ensure that this part of the story could be witnessed and watched by millions as a critical reminder of our need for greater accountability and justice.
    At a key moment during the encounter with the officers, Tyre Nichols said, “I’m just trying to get home.” These words have since played over in my mind as I think about the pleas of far too many unarmed Black and brown people whose lives have ended due to police violence. Moreover, increasing occurrences of violent acts in our nation jeopardize the likelihood that people will return safely to the comfort of their families and friends. So when I am tempted to remain silent in times of confusion, sadness, and uncertainty, I am reminded of the power of our collective voices and their ability to change outcomes so that loved ones return to the places they desire unharmed. 
    We must use our voices to speak out so that another person does not have to perish during police contact. To speak out in hopes that we will restructure our local laws and policies to ensure that police departments engage in conduct that is appropriate and are held accountable when they do not. We must continue speaking out against the police using excessive force in interactions with unarmed Black and brown people. We must continue to speak out against any systems that seek to dehumanize others and render them less valuable - less deserving of life. I think about the law enforcement officers who chose not to intervene in the critical sixteen minutes before Tyre Nichols’ EMTs arrived to administer critical care. What if one of the five officers spoke up and said, “ENOUGH!”?
    As a Hawken community, we will use our voices to speak out against hateful acts and model ways to affirm human dignity. We must commit to continually learning about challenging moments in history to better understand how systems of violence towards people of color have persisted for centuries - and most importantly, to learn methods to change unjust systems and outcomes. We will uplift humanity and teach our students the importance of acting in ways that demonstrate top consideration for the value of human life. We will challenge ourselves to use our power and positionality fairly, carefully, dutifully, and wisely to affirm all humanity.
    Most of all, we commit to keeping our students safe and will seek to prioritize their diverse needs in the aftermath of these events. We know that students may process in different ways and are ready to meet them where they are as they experience a range of emotions. We will be especially vigilant and sensitive to the needs of community members whose exposure to these events can be profoundly traumatic due to the frequency of occurrences. Faculty and Student Life professionals at all campuses stand ready to support students and faculty/staff as the need arises. In addition, the following resources can assist you as you have discussions with your children about these difficult national events. 

    Please know that we are here to support you as you navigate these challenging and troubling times.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2023

    MLK Day invites us not only to pause and reflect on the impact of such a dynamic leader but also to consider ways to make our Hawken community more equitable and just. Students across our campuses will engage in a variety of experiences to mark the importance of Dr. King’s legacy. Students in the Lower School will read books to learn more about Dr. King’s work. Middle School students will research unsung heroes and changemakers who embodied similar leadership qualities as Dr. King in their fight for justice. The Mastery School will enjoy student performances and complete a vision board activity on how to achieve the Beloved Community about which Dr. King spoke. In addition, Hawken alumna Dr. Regennia N. Williams ‘77, will address the Upper School on examining the collaborative work of Dr. King and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Our community is excited about this time of learning, engagement, and growth.

    Here are some resources to learn more about Dr. King’s life and legacy. 

    Photo source: Time Magazine
  • Middle School Diwali Celebration

    Lucy Yeager
    For Diwali this year, pure light and great joy were spread through the Middle School by a student committee that included Meara Power ’29, Ananya Balasubramanian ’28, Anisha Khot ’27, Mridini Kandala ’27, and Mia Pabley ’27. They decorated our hallways and common spaces with bright lights, colorful chalk drawings, and fresh flowers for the celebration. In Chapel, they shared many of the traditions like diyas (clay lanterns), rangoli (multi-colored patterns on the floor or tables), and sweets. They also taught us that the festival commemorates the day Lord Rama, his wife Sita, and brother Lakshmana returned to their homeland after fourteen years in exile. After Lord Rama defeated the demon king Ravana, the ten-headed demon, and freed Sita with the help of his brother and Hanuman (the monkey commander of the monkey army), they were allowed to come back. Diwali is about celebrating their return and, generally, the triumph of light over darkness - a beautiful message for everyone in our community.

    Meara, a 6th grade student at Hawken, spearheaded this effort. She was inspired to ask a teacher if it would be possible to celebrate Diwali on our campus after she saw Hindu gods displayed in a classroom. Certainly, this reveals Meara’s strong sense of agency, and it also indicates that the Hawken Middle School environment is healthy and open to fostering self-expression and authentic identity. Meara and other students on the planning committee expressed a specific desire to share the true story behind the Diwali celebration, noting there had been times in their experience when some of the details were misunderstood. Their investment in providing an authentic and meaningful celebration was a gift to everyone in the community.

    Weeks in advance, the student committee members met with Laurel Keenan, senior food service director at Hawken for SAGE Dining Services Inc., to discuss options and plan for a celebratory lunch. There was real excitement in the lunchroom on Monday, October 24, as students and teachers enjoyed chicken bhuna, vegetable tikka masala, aloo gobi (Indian potatoes and cauliflower) with chickpeas, steamed basmati rice, naan, and rice kheer (Indian rice pudding). This happy collaboration with the SAGE staff indicates that people are ready for the invitation to learn more about others’ lives and beliefs and to contribute their talents and abilities to deepen the feeling of belonging in the Hawken community. As Shefali Power ’91 looked around the lunchroom, she observed joyfully that Hawken has made incredible progress since her time in high school. Reflecting on Meara’s leadership and cultural pride, she shared, “I feel like Meara in middle school has a better sense of community and opportunity than I even imagined 30 years ago in high school.” 

    We are all welcome to spread light and genuine understanding in the true spirit of Diwali!
    Class of 2029: Maddy Guenther, Anna Flyckt, Simmy Jacobs,
    Madison Thomas, plus Mr. Radivoyevitch, decorating diyas

  • We all have superpowers

    David Sylvan
    The problem with processing a secret superpower is the annoying need to remain inconspicuous. I mean, who wants to consistently show up their merely mortal friends by flaunting skills and powers that set you apart?
    What disappoints me is that my superpower doesn’t involve flight, immense strength or speed, x-ray vision, or the ability to instantaneously burst in flames. I admit the latter would have been a favorite, especially in Mrs. Schaffner’s 3rd grade reading comprehension class at King Edward VII Preparatory School, for it was there that the manifestations of what made me different were first openly acknowledged. I, of course, was already well aware of being a little “different,” and a combination of resiliency, creativity, and candidly, fear, had all begun to inform various compensatory pathways and workarounds.
    I couldn’t write certain words or numbers. I couldn’t read a paragraph without becoming overwhelmed with all those words demanding to be heard and understood. I would look at the page, and all I experienced was noise.
    But, as you know, superheroes don’t just fold to the pressure – we review the inventory of weapons at our disposal and adjust. Or in my case, commence a period of mild to debilitating panic that I would be discovered and left behind as everyone around me continued to grow and thrive.
    And I had to protect my secret, especially as I began the development and honing of various tricks and cheats – memorization skills; pattern recognition; active listening and public speaking – workarounds that weren’t yet the tools and techniques now routinely offered to people who had been diagnosed with labels that now no longer fill me with fear.
    Visual and Surface Dyslexia, ADHD; mild OCD. These are all my weapons.
    My parents were steadfast and demanding – they innately knew that I would need to work that much harder and longer, especially as I was so easily distracted and had to work on various activities simultaneously in order to complete any one of them.
    My writing improved, but certain letters and words are illegible to this day. Teachers stopped using words like “slovenly” and “lazy” on my submissions and ignored the transpositions and focused on my intent and content. I learned and practiced the verbal and communication skills needed to compensate, and I can absorb information through sound and touch. I still read a paragraph from the top left of the page to the bottom right, and not line by line, left to right. I infer meaning through context and word signal instead of linear comprehension. I know that sounds strange. Superpowers often are a little strange.
    And then along came computers with word processors; spell and syntax checks, and these have transformed the way I communicate. As I write this blog, I don’t always understand why a particular word or sentence is underlined, but right-click is one of my best friends, and I often must make random choices based on faith until those pesky highlights disappear.
    For those I am very close to – colleagues and friends – where speed and intent is perhaps more vital than accuracy, I forgo the error checks and fixes. They accept my idiosyncrasies with humor and humility, and I am grateful.
    So, to all of the superheroes, I say wear the cape with pride. Work hard to leverage what makes you different and special, and you too will be able to fly.
  • Community Voices: The Rise of Anti-Semitism

    Darnell Epps interviews Tina Ecker, Debby Horowitz, Will Margolis ’27, and Greg Marmaros
    As we approach the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we would like to wish a Happy New Year to all those in our community who will be celebrating. We send our sincerest wishes of light, unity, and safety during this holiday season.  

    To better understand the perspectives of some Jewish members of the Hawken community, we interviewed Tina Ecker, Debby Horowitz, Will Margolis ’27, and Greg Marmaros about the rise in anti-Semitic acts of hate locally and nationally, which according to the ADL has steadily increased since 2006. As a diverse community committed to Fair Play and a higher plane of life, Hawken must speak up and denounce these heinous acts. Our silence has hurt members of our community, making it harder for them to feel like they fully belong. 

    We therefore intentionally commit to standing in solidarity with members of our Jewish community and affirm our support of those most deeply affected by these acts. As an educational institution, we aim to educate our students about religious, cultural, and ethnic differences to increase awareness, understanding, and respect for lived experiences that may be different from our own. Moreover, we hope to deepen curricular programming to increase awareness of and exposure to these topics for students across our campuses. We will also continue to offer elective spaces in all divisions for Jewish students to gather in affinity to build connections, deepen engagement, and cultivate belonging around shared experiences with the support of faculty who can speak from the “I” perspective. 

    As a starting point in these endeavors, we’d like to share the following reactions and responses of several of our Jewish community members to the rise in anti-Semitism.

    Can you share some of your reflections and feelings about the rise in antisemitic acts of violence? How has this impacted you? 

    “To many, the rise in anti-Semitic acts of violence is extremely disturbing. As a Jew, I find it terrifying and reprehensible. Reading about these incidents of hate and violence evoke in me resounding echoes of the past when millions of innocent Jews were persecuted and murdered at the hands of a cruel Nazi regime. It frightens me to think that the “freedom of expression” has evolved to include acts of hate and oppression. I worry for the future of my children and our world. However, this current rise in anti-Semitism does not stop me from participating in services or celebrating the Jewish holidays openly. It has helped that I have lived in a predominantly Jewish community most of my life. I have never personally experienced acts of anti-Semitism, even throughout college. I hope that fear never has to stand in the way of my Judaism. Yet, when I think about the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or the violent attack at a kosher market in New Jersey, among other attacks, I begin to experience a twitch of insecurity.” 

    "It's scary and worrisome, and I am especially on high alert when attending in-person Jewish events in the Cleveland area. I appreciate that the Jewish Federation of Cleveland has supported efforts to increase security at Jewish events and facilities in recent years, including at the local Jewish schools. This is especially important and meaningful to me as my daughter attends a Jewish preschool." 

    What do you wish to see in order to combat this rise in hatred? 

    "Education! I wish Jewish identity were a bigger part of DEIJ work. I hope more people who are interested in leaning into understanding DEIJ in America will also work to understand the roots of antisemitism and where it lives today. It is all intertwined with embracing diversity and tolerance." 

    "To combat this antisemitism, I hope that more and more people come to see that this is rising at an alarming rate, and that spreading awareness of antisemitism is one of the best things the nation and we as a Hawken community can do. There are a lot of myths and stereotypes that need to be proven wrong as well. People are antisemitic because they don’t know us, so educating people about our celebrations and history is a big way of demonstrating support." 

    “It is important to teach people about the Jewish culture – things like giving back to the community, helping others in need, being morally based with strong ethical values. People don’t always see that.”    

    "I read an article about the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) joining forces with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to respond to the rise in antisemitic incidents. They have developed a resource guide entitled “Responding to Antisemitic Incidents” to aid leaders of congregations to prepare for and react to these acts of discrimination and hate. This resource can be utilized by educators as well to teach, educate, and empower. Shaping students to think and act openly with kindness, compassion, and acceptance is a must for every curriculum. Extracurricular clubs and activities geared toward education and sharing of cultures can be instituted.” 

    "Start to teach acceptance, understanding, tolerance at a very early age and continue to do so throughout school years. It is imperative to implement programs that focus on the negative impacts of any type of cultural or religious bias, bigotry, extremism and so forth.”

    What is the significance of the High Holy Days to you given the pattern of violence that we have seen this past year? What significance do Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have for you? What do you think is important for people to know about these holidays?

    "Rosh Hashanah signifies the start of the New Year in the Jewish calendar and celebrates the creation of the world. It is the start of the 10-day time period known as the High Holidays leading up to Yom Kippur, the holiest and most solemn of Jewish holidays. On Yom Kippur, Jews reflect and repent. It is a time of deep introspection, atonement for sins, and offering forgiveness. It is a time to start anew with a fresh slate. With that being said, I can only hope and pray for a new, better world where love, understanding, tolerance, and compassion override hate and injustice."

    "The High Holy Days mark the beginning of a new year on the Jewish calendar and encourage reflection and renewal. It's a time to reflect on the past year, ask for forgiveness for mistakes, and set new intentions for the year ahead. It's a time to celebrate with Jewish family and friends and be together as a community to participate in Jewish rituals and traditions. This fall will be the third holiday season where it is challenging to gather in-person at synagogues due to COVID-19, which makes both celebrating the holidays and processing the rise in antisemitism more challenging." 

    "The High Holy Days are such important holidays in Judaism because we see it as a fresh start to the new year. In doing that, we practice atonement. Atonement matters because it’s a chance to apologize to people you have wronged and look at your past to better your future. I wonder what our society would look like if more people reflected on their lives this year." 

    To learn more about the issues addressed in this blog post and for information about talking with children about these topics, we suggest the following educational resources:
  • National Hispanic Heritage Month

    Diego Castillo
    As someone who was born in Chile, in the southernmost part of South America, National Hispanic Heritage Month was something that I just heard in the news of the United States now and then. I like to highlight that I do not tend to use the word “American,” because in straight terms I am an American too. I was born in the southern hemisphere of the continent called America. Also, it might sound particular for some people, but we do not tend to celebrate the Hispanic Heritage Month in most Hispanic countries. Why? Because we do celebrate our own national days/months depending on each country, and they tend to be big celebrations that last for days if not weeks.  

    Now, what does National Hispanic Heritage Month mean to me? I like to think that this month is a time of the year in which people celebrate their connections with their Hispanic and Latino/a friends and families. We share and enjoy the cultures from different places and countries. We get to know more about their costumes, traditions, dances, music, amazing food, etc. In sum, it is a month of the year in which we enjoy life Hispanic-Latino style or “a la Latina” or “a la Hispana.”
    In terms of my heritage, I tend to say that I am a full-time Chilean. I feel proud of everything that makes me Chilean. I have my own way of speaking, my own accent, my own costumes, my favorite Chilean food, I use different Chilean slangs, etc. They are and they will always be core elements of my own persona. But also, I share so many things with my friends from Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. While we might act and speak differently, we share our friendliness, our passion for having fun up until very late in the morning, our love for empanadas, and even our deep knowledge for the very famous Colombian soup opera “Betty la Fea” (Ugly Betty). I like to think that our heritage is that little “cultural glue” that brings together people from different places of the world.
    Finally, in terms of some contributions of Hispanics and/or Latinos/as to the world, I would say that apart from our very rich cuisine, beautiful language, and jaw-dropping landscapes, it is very important to highlight our friendliness, and most importantly our typically positive attitude towards life. Many modern issues would be better dealt with if people in the more developed countries would adopt a “Latino” view of life, best summarized this way: “Nosotros queremos disfrutar de la vida” – which translates, “We want to enjoy life.”

  • Q& A with Loren Moyé

    Hawken is excited that Loren Moyé has joined our community and will serve as Interim Director of DEIJ at the Lyndhurst campus for the upcoming year.

    Loren comes to us from San Francisco Day School, where he has served in various capacities since 1999 including math teacher, co-director of diversity, and dean of faculty. In addition to serving on the board of East Bay School for Boys, Loren has presented at national conferences; served on the faculty for the National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) project; and was a primary cast member in The Color of Fear, an award-winning documentary on race relations in North America. Loren holds a BA in Communications from the University of Cincinnati and an MA in Private School Leadership from Teachers College of Columbia University.

    Get to know more about Loren in the Q & A below!
    How have your life and work experiences prepared you for your role as DEIJ director at Hawken?
    My life experiences have prepared me for my role at Hawken in a variety of ways. First, civil rights were always being discussed by adults when I was young, so I was curious as to what they were talking about. I was lucky enough that outside of my family, my barber, the owner of the corner store, and my teachers would talk to me and share books that helped me make sense of the world. My friends and I had encounters with police and other authority figures that made me curious rather that bitter.

    My work experiences have allowed me to interact with people of varying socioeconomic, educational, and racial backgrounds. I worked in a factory to save money for school, and some of those people are what I call “victims of school.” They had learning differences or family issues that weren’t recognized or acknowledged, and school was torture for them. Today those folks would get help with their learning issues or have teachers and school staff that would help them through personal issues.

    When I became a teacher thirty years ago, I worked in poor communities, but the kids were brilliant. I had to constantly think about how to engage students who were second language learners, refugees, and kids whose families lived on the margins. They taught me a lot about teaching and broadened my perspectives on the world. Working in independent schools has taught be to be flexible, take risks, and manage my time because faculty and staff are asked to do so much. My role here spans the whole Lyndhurst campus, and my previous job was the same, albeit, on a much smaller campus.

    What do you see as your greatest challenge(s)? What do you see as your greatest opportunity?
    My greatest challenge is being the poster child for introversion in a new extroverted environment that’s much larger than any school I’ve worked in. My greatest opportunity is learning something new every day. I try to stay in learning mode all the time. I’m sure I’ll learn a lot this year.

    What aspects of your job excite you the most?
    What excites me the most about the job is being a thought partner with colleagues. I love sharing ideas and swimming in an intellectual world, then watching those thoughts put into action.

    What drew you to the Hawken community and to this position?
    Darnell Epps and Garet Libbey drew me to Hawken. My wife and I owe much of our successful landing in Cleveland to them. When they asked me about working here for the year, I said yes because the chance to work with them is an educational lottery ticket.

    Who inspires you and why?
    My sons inspire me. My oldest son loves to learn about his job and the world, and after talking to him I feel good about the next generation. My youngest son overcame injuries to play college football, and watching him persevere to achieve his goal is a reminder not to give up. Also, they are close friends, and I’m happy that’s true.

    What do you like to do in your free time? What are you eager to explore in the Cleveland area?
    In my free time, I love to watch sports, exercise, read, and listen to music. I want to check out the jazz scene in Cleveland. I’ve already been to the Bop Stop and want that on my regular rotation of venues. My wife and I have visited the Natural History Museum; we also want to see plays and check out Lake Erie.

    What are 3 character traits that your friends would use to describe you?
    My friends would describe me as steadfast, reflective, and compassionate. 

    What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
    One thing people don’t know about me is that I read a book about baseball every spring. This spring I read Our Team about the Cleveland Indians 1948 World Series win.

    What’s something you’ve done that you will never do again?
    I rock climbed in Pinnacles National Park. One and done.

    What is your favorite book? Favorite movie?
    I don’t have a favorite book or movie that I can think of right now. A few of my favorite authors are Octavia Butler, Walter Mosley, and Henning Mankell.

    What is your guilty pleasure?
    Donuts are my guilty pleasure.

    Name your favorite song or artist.
    John Coltrane is my favorite artist.
  • Belonging

    Darnell Epps
    Belonging, like many important concepts, is complex, dynamic, and multi-dimensional. It can mean different things to different people and can be heavily influenced by a myriad of factors such as social identities, environment, and experiences. And although we may arrive with diverse perspectives on the concept, we acknowledge that belonging is essential to the well-being of students in our school community. Therefore, we strive to create conditions where all students feel included, safe, and free to be their authentic selves. In doing so, students gain confidence to take risks, learn more deeply, and grow in powerful ways.

    Given the fundamental importance of belonging and all there is to still uncover about it, leaders from across Hawken’s campuses have agreed to spend the academic year focusing more closely on belonging and the intersections of integrity and empathy. Throughout the year, we will continue to explore ways to ensure that Hawken is a community where everyone feels like they belong and can bring their authentic self into the space. 

    We hope you will enjoy this short video featuring students and administrators reflecting on belonging and what that looks, feels, and sounds like at Hawken.

  • Juneteenth

    Aisha Bowen
    To me, Juneteenth represents an opportunity to celebrate the fact that African Americans are no longer enslaved or considered 3/5 of a person. Because Hawken is a diverse and inclusive community, it’s very important for us to acknowledge a holiday that represents the freedom and liberty of being Black. Some of the ways my family comes together to celebrate include writing letters of gratitude to African American people that we look up to, cooking cultural foods, listening to music, and enjoying games like relay races, basketball, and other activities.
  • Don’t Say Hope: Why “Don’t Say Gay” Bills Are a National Mental Health Crisis

    Leila Metres '24
    On March 28, 2022, I opened Instagram on my bus ride to school and was confronted with an image of Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signing HB 1557 - the “Don’t Say Gay” bill - into law. I remember feeling my stomach drop and being pulled into a whirlwind of emotion. I couldn’t believe that so many people had approved of this bill that it was actually becoming law, and I was beyond angry that DeSantis and the other adults in power in Florida could be so insensitive and ignorant. But above all else, I felt a deep sense of heartache for Florida’s children.
    Among other things, the “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibits the instruction of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools from grades K-3. While this bill primarily targets the first four years of school, it also states that the bill covers all discussion of LGBTQ topics that are not deemed age-appropriate. Therefore, this bill essentially has the potential to severely affect children’s mental health throughout all grades of school.
    As someone who realized they were queer at a very young age, hearing about this bill being signed into law struck a chord with me. Throughout my childhood, LGBTQ topics were rarely ever discussed. When I started having feelings for other girls, I was about 9 years old. I felt genuinely disgusted at myself. I was anxious and scared about what liking girls would mean for my future. I knew what the words gay and lesbian meant, but I didn’t know that there were any other options. I knew that certain people weren’t straight, but I never thought that I could be one of “them.” Queerness was taboo in my childhood, and it took me years to become fully accepting of my own LGBTQ identity.
    In 7th grade, I transferred into a Catholic school. I had become much more open about speaking about my experiences as a lesbian by that point, but my new school’s environment was very difficult for me to navigate. On the best days, the teachers at the school were silent about LGBTQ topics in the classroom. On the worst days, my classmates were outwardly homophobic, and no administrative steps were taken to change their behavior. My newfound confidence in my identity as a queer person was met by rumors, judgment, and hate speech from my cishet peers, and I had little support from the school in that aspect of my life. My mental health dropped considerably after I started going there, and I began to experience depression for the first time in my life.
    Eventually, I wrote an essay to my principal proposing that I start a Junior High Gay-Straight Alliance as a measure to build community and to take action against homophobia and transphobia in the school. I was immediately shot down and told that LGBTQ topics were not to be discussed in K-8 schools and that the school can’t sanction anything that’s centered on sex. To this day, I can’t remember a time when I felt as isolated and dismissed as I did at that moment. I was 13 years old. I wasn’t trying to indoctrinate anyone or introduce sexuality to young children. I was trying to carve a safe space for myself and other queer students in the oppressive landscape of a Catholic school.
    When politicians spit phrases like “keeping our children safe” and “making sure education is age-appropriate,” I’m taken straight back to one of the darkest moments of my life. I was very lucky to have a small support system of family and friends at the school, but many children are not that fortunate. Even with the assets I had, I still found myself losing my sense of purpose and joy in school. My mental health spiraled further and further, and it undeniably would have been even more impacted had I not had my own support system.
    The “Don’t Say Gay” bill doesn’t just mean LGBTQ issues can’t be a part of formal education in schools. It means young queer students and children of LGBTQ parents are being taught that their identities are something to whisper about, to be ashamed of. It means straight and cisgender students aren’t being educated on how to respect other people. It doesn’t just mean “don’t say gay,” it means don’t say love and family can look many different ways. It means don’t say dignity for trans and gender non-conforming youth who simply want to be addressed correctly. It means don’t say hope for children like me, who couldn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.
    At the end of the day, Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill is not simply a political tactic. It represents a national mental health crisis. Since I started high school in an LGBTQ-accepting school where LGBTQ issues are discussed and anti-discrimination measures are taken, my depression has decreased significantly. I’m excited to go to school again, and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders for the first time in years. I still have moments of depression and anxiety from time to time, but I’ve been able to develop healthy coping mechanisms with support from my community.
    My experience is just one story, but it’s a story that has been told over and over throughout the years. Queer children deserve to feel safe and heard for who they are and to have access to the same mental health support as their cishet peers. The first step in this direction is ensuring that school environments provide diversity education and an inclusive curriculum, because as illustrated by the results of GLSEN’s 2019 National School Climate Survey, “access to an inclusive curriculum was related to greater feelings of school belonging, higher self-esteem, and lower depression among the LGBTQ students.” In addition, legislative action needs to be taken in order to truly protect children in schools - not from some LGBTQ agenda, but from a never-ending loop of silence that fosters misinformation and anti-LGBTQ sentiment and breeds mental health issues in students. 
  • Jewish Heritage Month

    Sarah Chernoff
    I am very proud of my Jewish heritage and the impact it has had over the generations as my family has grown in America. It is the foundation upon which my values and morals were built and continues to guide the way my husband and I raise our own family. 
    My grandparents came from immigrant families. Their parents came to America from eastern Europe to escape antisemitism, in search of freedom and opportunity. Despite being persecuted because of their religion, they never hid their identities and continued to practice Judaism and raise their children with Jewish values. Two strong tenets that were passed down through the generations that epitomize how Judaism impacts my everyday life are tzedakah (helping others) and lifelong learning.
    My maternal grandfather, despite not having the opportunity to attend college, worked extremely hard from a young age to create a very successful business. With that success, he and my grandmother made it a priority to give back to those in need. Their commitment to tzedakah defined them. I was always so proud of how generous and yet so humble they were. Their model of putting others first continues to influence how their children, grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren interact with the world.
    My paternal grandfather was fortunate enough to receive a wonderful education. He and my grandmother instilled in our family the Jewish value of lifelong learning. My grandfather used to say that education was something that cannot be taken away from you. When I think of my grandparents, dad, uncle, and cousins, I think of all they have learned and accomplished and the joy their knowledge brings to their lives and those they impact. I have learned about the importance of encouraging questions, curiosity, and a passion for learning because of the role models in my family and the Jewish value of lifelong learning.  
    I understand what a privilege it is to be Jewish in America. My ancestors lived through persecution and antisemitism yet they never forgot who they were and the values they were taught. The importance of the Jewish values and the commitment to living these values and instilling them in my children - including, but not limited to tzedakah and the joy of learning – are what are most important to me when thinking about my Jewish heritage. 
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

    Kevin Moy
    Author’s note: This is an updated version of a piece originally written for and read aloud at the rally in spring 2021 organized by the Hawken Upper School Asian affinity group in response to the recent rise in Asian hate crimes and the Atlanta spa shootings. 
    Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Jet Li - these were some of my earliest memories of seeing someone who looked like me on my TV screen. My father shared his appreciation of martial arts movies with me at an early age, and I continue today to have a deep love for the genre. I was too young at the time to understand the power of media portrayals of Asians, but I remember warming up before a game with my town youth soccer team when a white teammate of mine casually asked me if I knew karate. I immediately brushed him off and said no, but that moment still sticks with me. That question reduced me down to my appearance, and I realized that my black hair and small eyes communicated something about me that wasn’t true. I started to feel a strange love-hate relationship with my favorite martial arts films. As empowering as it was to see faces like mine, I felt constricted and defined by something beyond my control. 
    As I got older, I began to take more notice of the limitations of Asian representation in the American shows and movies I watched. First, Asians were never cast in lead roles or part of the main cast. You would occasionally see them for a scene or two, with only a few lines if any - and usually when their racial identity served the purpose of the plot. For example, I think of how almost every police procedural show, like any of the iterations of Law and Order, has an episode where the main characters have to investigate and explore the seedy underbelly of a city’s Chinatown, and unfortunately that would be only one of the few times I would see Asian characters. And of course, those characters fit the usual roles. In that Chinatown episode, you’re bound to see some Asian sex workers, aligning with the pattern of Asian female characters often portrayed as exotic and submissive, a stereotype most infamously reinforced by Vietnam War set movies like Full Metal Jacket. In addition to them being two-dimensional kung fu experts, Asian males have also been cast as socially awkward and emasculated nerds, either asexual or just non-desirable, best exemplified by the character of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. Another example is Jet Li in the 2000 film, Romeo Must Die, where he and R&B star Aaliyah are supposed to be the romantic leads but get no scenes of intimacy through the entire movie, not even one kiss!
    However, there were a few exceptions during my teenage years, and for me, two movies really stood out for how they portrayed Asians, specifically young Asian American males. The first is Better Luck Tomorrow, in which a group of Asian American high school friends, who check every box on the model minority checklist with their academic successes and overloaded extracurricular schedules, decide to start acting out against the perfectionism that had been ingrained into their lives and begin committing an escalating series of crimes. The second is Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. The titular characters, played by John Cho and Kal Penn, wrestle with challenges of the Asian American experience, for Harold struggles to speak out at his office, surrounded by overconfident and demeaning white peers, while Kumar tries to find his own desires and motivation for his future while being pressured by his parents to become a doctor. All the while, the movie is also a buddy-road trip-stoner comedy, a genre usually reserved for non-Asian actors (I will take this moment to acknowledge that Tommy Chong is half-Chinese!). Though I did not consider going into a life of crime or experience wacky adventures in pursuit of getting burgers from White Castle, for the first time, I saw characters that felt incredibly relatable.
    Progress has been slow, but things have gotten better in recent years. We now have Asians in romantic comedies like Crazy Rich Asians and Always Be My Maybe and in Marvel superhero movies like Shang-Chi and Eternals. Having more Asians, and more individuals from other underrepresented groups for that matter, isn’t just a numbers thing, but it ultimately allows for better storytelling. When there are few, every Asian character must carry the burden and expectations of being the sole voice of an entire people, and this limits them. When there are many, Asian characters can transcend those limitations to be whatever the story needs them to be - the witty best friend, the groan-inducing goofy parent, the complicated high school teen, or the gorgeous lead of a rom-com. They can carry their identity with them but no longer have to be defined by it.
    Two very recent films, Turning Red and Everything Everywhere All At Once, are excellent examples of this. Though both have Asians as main characters, their stories are not necessarily focused on their race, as one a story of a young girl navigating new emotions and relationships with friends and family as she enters adolescence and the other about a woman encountering a mid-life crisis while learning that she may be the one to save the entire multiverse. These plots aren’t dependent on the characters being Asian; however, both movies integrate their Asian identities into the stories so that who they are still matters.
    I hope the financial and critical success of these recent releases reminds the movie industry and major media companies that they can only benefit from greater diversity in the content they make. But most importantly, diversity benefits the young viewers, whoever they may be, just trying to find a piece of themselves reflected back to them on a screen. 
  • National Arab Heritage Month

    Sarah Fares '22
    Being raised by secular Arab immigrants has taught me that the voice of the liberal Arab has been extinguished in today’s media and society, and growing up I was determined to find my place in the community. Eager to explore my identity at Hawken, I joined the Arab American affinity group. The deep conversations, quiet moments of reflection, and funny stories we told always brought me peace and joy.

    As I grew, so did my role in the affinity group. In my sophomore year, I was elected the new leader. I noticed a decline in membership and began working to expand our community. To kick-start this process, I created several projects: I wanted to have Middle Eastern representation somewhere in our curriculum, and I wanted to celebrate my heritage with the Hawken at-large community. While you may sit there and think to yourself, “Um, Sarah that’s two things,” but they turned out to be significantly easier said than done.

    Now, as a senior, I can confidently say that I have made quite a dent in this small but mighty list. I created a course proposal for a Middle East Studies 9th-grade humanities class, which was recently approved and introduced to students; furthermore, I coordinated a National Arab Heritage month celebration. But I didn’t want this to be just any celebration. I wanted to bring in students from neighboring schools that shared my eagerness to discuss our bond of heritage and to build a sense of pride and peace for our identities. I think that in seeing the decline in membership, I realized that the issue wasn’t a lack of Middle Eastern Hawken students at Hawken, but rather a surplus of fear and a deficit of courage to share and to self-explore. In this celebration, I wanted to show my community that there are people brave enough to talk, and that it is a safe space for whomever that may be. Moreover, I believe there is power in listening; that not all of us are ready to talk, and that that’s okay.

    On Wednesday, April 6, the virtual event took place. I am proud of how far the Arab American Affinity Group, and know that there is no way I could’ve done it without my amazing classmates and the support of Ms. Brennan, Ms. Bowen, and many others.
  • Mastery School Master Class: Watch the Yard!

    Ashley Waldorf
    After an intense crediting week, Mastery School students were eager to engage in fun and meaningful learning and social experiences. During the week of February 14, the entire student community participated in the Master Class Series hosted by Mastery School community partners. At the end of the week, students showcased their learning to faculty, partners, and peers. 
    One of the opportunities and highlights of the series was the Watch the Yard! HBCU Information and Dance Workshop. Students learned about the rich legacy and academic achievement of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) from Upper School Director of DEIJ and Howard University alum Aisha Bowen and MSH Director of Admission and Community Partnerships and Bethune-Cookman University alumna Rasa Drane. They then participated in a step and dance workshop hosted by Buck Out Cleveland and supported by Janae Peters, MSH founding faculty member.

    Read More
  • Black History Month Tribute – Recognizing the 60th Anniversary of Charles Jordan, the first black student to enroll at Hawken

  • Holocaust Day of Remembrance

    Greg Marmaros
    Each year on January 27, our world comes together to commemorate the millions of victims of the Holocaust who suffered and died at the hands of a brutal Nazi regime. Proclaimed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, January 7 marks that day in 1945 when the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, was liberated by Soviet troops.
    Given that the Holocaust is one of the darkest and most horrifying periods in history, it is a day that can never be forgotten. January 27 provides a designated time for the world to reflect and remember the atrocities suffered by innocent men, women, and children in the face of indescribable hate and brutality. Over six million Jews were murdered along with millions of others, including those who were disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roma, LGBTQ people, and more. Why were these particular groups of people victims of such oppression and persecution? How was such indescribable hate allowed to survive?
    While many people around the world acknowledge this day of remembrance to honor the memory of those persecuted and continue to stand up against hatred and bigotry, for me it is a personal matter as well. As a Jew, I have heard the stories of family members who experienced the nightmare of the Holocaust firsthand. It is unfathomable for me to imagine what they suffered. My great grandfather, Harry Marmaros of Hungary, lost his entire family - parents, brothers, sisters. Navigating such a huge loss and still maintaining the will and resilience to survive shows incredible strength and resilience. Even in the midst of such tragedy, however, one of his cousins, Gita Berkowitz, survived. In the spring of 1944, Gita, at the age of 17, was deported to Auschwitz along with her entire family. Upon arrival, her mother, sisters, and younger brother were murdered. Gita managed to escape death by running under the legs of “Angel of Death,” SS Officer Dr. Josef Mengel, to another line of the more “fit.” She worked in a German munition factory and was moved to several camps. At the end of the war, she returned to her hometown, where she met and married Henry Feurwanger, who sadly had lost his parents and three of his siblings during the Holocaust. 
    As the victims of the Holocaust are remembered, I feel it is important to point out that in the face of such terror, the Jews did fight back. Through active resistance, Jews developed underground movements in the ghettos to organize uprisings and attempt to break out. They passively resisted by demonstrating their resilience and attempting to maintain their human dignity under the worst of conditions.
    When I visited Israel a while back, I took a trip to Yad Vashem, the museum that serves as Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. It is an overwhelming experience, as it feels like one is actually transported back to that time. The stories, pictures, documents, and exhibits preserve the memory of those murdered as well as those who fought back against the Nazi brutality. It also displays the good side of humanity through stories of the Gentiles who risked their lives to aid Jews in need. In addition, the museum aims to educate and provide research regarding genocide with the objective of preventing horrific events like this from happening in the future.
    Yet, even in the aftermath of such evil, hate crimes continue to flood news stories and headlines. A recent 2021 CNN article reported that US hate crimes surged to the highest levels in 12 years. Victims reported they were targeted due to their race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, or gender. 
    As International Holocaust Memorial Day approaches, everyone must do their part to remove hate, bigotry, injustice, and intolerance from our society. The Holocaust is a very grim reminder of what horrors can ensue from oppression and hate. It is important to make an effort to be kind; speak up if someone is being bullied or oppressed; light a candle in memory of all who have been victimized because of race, sex, disability; and say a prayer. All of these are ways to honor those whose lives have been lost in the Holocaust. We must never forget.
An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, toddler through grade 12

Early Childhood, Lower, and Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Birchwood School of Hawken, 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, OH 44135 

Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Mastery School of Hawken, 11025 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

Directions  |  Log in  |  440-423-4446