Traveling to Colombia and Coming Back “A Whole New Person”

by Lev Dufaux ’23

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts that highlight Athenian’s Pillars, the foundational values that we share with all Round Square schools. This installment is a speech about International and Multicultural Understanding delivered by 8th grader Lev at Morning Meeting to the Middle School.

We had hiked for about an hour or so, the air thinning more and more with each step up the mountain. Our conversations began to slow as we rose over 9,000 feet. Once we neared the top, gasps and yells of excitement broke out of our airless lungs. Our dewed faces lifted when we saw a big blue-green gleaming lagoon cradled by a bowl of jungle, like a potion being brewed in a witch’s pot. Last year, I went to Colombia for a Round Square conference that Athenian annually takes part in, along with three other Athenian Middle School students.

The Round Square trip was an opportunity to bond with people all around the globe, immerse myself in a culture very different from American culture, and develop leadership skills that will help me and others create a better home for everyone. South America was new to me, and I had no idea what to expect. Colombia led me through a whole other culture; it almost felt like a new world. Like a hug and kiss whenever you meet someone, or the smell of exotic food that lingers through the air. When I explored Colombia, I experienced new flavors, new landscapes, a new language, and a very loving community. Dancing was a very big part of my trip there. We had dance competitions to our favorite Reggaetón songs, laughing at how terrible we were at Cumbia. We tried all kinds of new wild Colombian flavors, my personal favorite being hot chocolate and cheese, which melts on your tongue like cotton candy. I met all kinds of new people, not just American and Colombian, but also Chilean, Peruvian, Mexican, Brazilian, Canadian, British, Argentinian, and Danish people.

One moment that changed who I am today was when we did a service project in a small school in the mountains. At the school, we created murals, made a new playground, took care of the children, and made the school a more enjoyable place. When we sat there in the worn down schoolhouse, I realized that the kids were not super young, but closer to my age. Later, our guides told us that they were so small because they didn’t have easy access to food. Keeping these children in mind keeps me grateful for my community, and it compels me to help others. Knowing that I made these children’s lives a little better keeps me focused on leading because it changed not only their lives but mine as well. I became inspired to stand up and lead, and I now feel comfortable sharing my opinions.

Never have I gone on a trip to a foreign place and come back as a whole new person. I met so many new people that I still talk to this day, and more often than not I find myself thinking about all the great experiences I had with all kinds of wonderful people. I miss the smell of freshly made ajiaco soup pouring out of small restaurants and the taste of homemade arepa that gives you a reason to step out of bed in the mornings. I miss the warm hugs and kisses when you meet someone. I miss my good friends that I made that I still talk to today. I haven’t forgotten about Colombia one bit, and still keep a part of it on my wrist every day, a bracelet the color of the Colombian flag. Special thanks to Esteban and Cynthia for organizing and supervising the trip, and to Kyle P., Kate L., and Maddie G. for coming along with me.

Bringing Environmentalism Back to Athenian

By Karen Hinh ’19 and Vikrant Goel ’19
 
This is the third in a series of blog posts that highlight Athenian’s Pillars, the foundational values that we share with all Round Square schools. This installment is a speech about environmentalism delivered by Karen and Vikrant at Morning Meeting to the Upper School. The students rightly point out that the School’s focus on Environmentalism was “on pause” during our recent construction projects and they are leading the cause to recenter this pillar in the life of the School. 
 

Karen: Hello Athenian! We are presenting to you the Environmental Pillar at Athenian. Let’s be honest. It was, still is, one of the more forgotten pillars these past couple of years with all the change that’s been happening on campus, but we’re here to bring it back.

Vikrant: As someone who has always been interested in environmental issues, Athenian’s environmental stewardship pillar was one of the things that I felt passionately about from the very beginning of high school. It created an awareness in me about the importance of my personal responsibility, and the impact that I could make as an individual. It also encouraged me to choose working with an organization called Go Green Initiative for my community service project for junior and senior year, where I worked within my local community of Pleasanton to create awareness regarding a new recycling ordinance by going door to door to local businesses, talking to residents and students at public events, working with a team to conduct waste audits for the City of Pleasanton, and convincing the City School Board to comply with local recycling policy.

Karen: My inspiration comes from the science classes in elementary and middle school where I researched the effects of overfishing on the ocean, the benefits of renewable energy, air pollution in Beijing, etc. Raise your hands if you’ve had a class where you learned something similar. Yeah, right? So we’ve all had those little nuggets of knowledge along the way. But for me, the more news articles I read, the more videos I watched on YouTube about how food waste is the dumbest problem in the world, and the more I educated I got, the more invested in environmentalism I became. Fortunately, Athenian has given me a chance to see the lack of environmental education on campus these past couple of years, and that has only motivated me to do more for this campus to bring it back to the Green Ribbon school it was.

We need to care about the environment because it’s our home. We are the ones who have to live with the consequences of how we treat it, and the fact of the matter is that we haven’t been treating this planet very well in the past century with the era of fossil fuels and single-use plastic. Certainly not with a government that pulled out of the 2016 Paris Climate agreement, and that is now pushing for more coal jobs and less environmental regulation.

Vikrant: Last fall, I had the opportunity to write an article for my Journalism class, where I chose to write about the importance of instilling a culture of sustainability in schools, focusing on Athenian for my research. I was surprised to find that despite the fact that environmental stewardship is a core value of our school, we lost our focus, particularly during the construction on campus. For example, the majority of us didn’t even know that all of the compost and recycling was being hauled directly to the landfill, which was key during a time when we used disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. [Note that the School maintained separated waste disposal during the majority of construction, but there were several months when all waste was being redirected to the landfill. Because of the Environmental Science classes’ efforts, the School quickly restored our waste disposal last year and students increased the education on campus about proper waste sorting.] As a result, I really felt that change was urgently needed, and we did make some headway in the second semester last year, though I hope we can keep this momentum going in the coming year.

Karen: That’s why I started the Environmental Action Club. That’s why my friends and I are working on rebuilding the garden at Athenian with the club and a sophomore community service group. That’s why I won’t shut up about you tossing your food in the landfill bin, because it’s these small things that reflect how we choose to treat our planet and the future that we are all going to have to live with.

Thank you! Remember to come join us at the march next Saturday, and check your emails for more details. [This speech was delivered in September and a large cohort of Athenians attended the Climate March in San Francisco.]

Book Expo: A Community Partnership

A few weeks ago, Athenian hosted its second annual Book Expo. While our Book Expo shares a lot in common with other book fairs at other schools, there is quite a bit that makes it uniquely Athenian. It was important to us that we make this Book Expo a community event, so we partnered with Orinda Books, a local independent bookstore and every title that was showcased at the Expo was hand chosen by one of our librarians or an Orinda bookseller.

While a major purpose of the Book Expo is to encourage recreational reading among students, it also catered to our adult community. We wanted to give parents an opportunity to come on campus, meet our librarians, and browse titles for their children as well as themselves. We stocked a variety of popular adult fiction and non-fiction titles, which were a big hit. Ten percent of all book sale proceeds went to support our library program and 10% of the proceeds went to Bella Vista, an underserved elementary school in Oakland that we have a longstanding partnership with. This year we raised nearly $400 for these causes, which will go towards purchasing books for both libraries.

With the money we raised from the Book Expo last year, we were able to purchase more than 50 new books for Bella Vista’s library. Because community service is a foundational pillar of the Athenian community, we wanted to do more than just donate books. Eight students from the Middle School and Upper School Library Advisory Boards got together in June to visit Bella Vista and read books to their K-5 classes. The students paired up, chose a few favorite picture books to read, and went to three different classrooms during their visit. The elementary students were so excited to have visitors—they enjoyed being read to, and the older grades had fun with Q & A sessions afterward, asking our students questions about middle and high school life. Our students ended the day feeling like they had made a positive difference and were excited about future partnerships. We look forward to our next trip to Bella Vista!

Community Service: A Practice in Kindness, Activism, and Self-Awareness

By Izzy Millet ’19 and Jennifer Salako ’19
This is the first in a series of blog posts that highlight Athenian’s Pillars, the foundational values that we share with all Round Square schools. This first installment is a speech about community service delivered by Izzy and Jennifer at Morning Meeting to the Upper School.

Izzy: One of the first things I want to emphasize about community service is that it is a service, and while it will certainly benefit you as you go through the different stages of community service at Athenian, your first priority should always be those you work in service of. It’s intended to be a sacrifice of your free time, a donation of your skills and effort, and a commitment to helping others. It is not always convenient, or easy, or even fun. But if you dedicate yourself to the work, even if it is just for one hour a week, it will be an enriching and life-changing experience and one that is full of lessons to learn if you keep an open mind.

Jennifer: When most people think about community service, they usually think “oh, this is just another thing I have to do to graduate. A few days at St. Anthony’s or Glide, and I’m done.” But I want to remind you that it can be more than that. There is a reason why Community Service is a part of the Athenian experience, let alone, a Round Square pillar. When you pick your project, pick something that you feel passionate about, something that you believe aligns with your interests. If you enjoy playing an instrument, you could give free lessons to younger kids in your area. If you do martial arts, then you could organize a self-defense workshop. There are tons and tons of projects and ideas you can take on, and they do not have to be boring.

 

Izzy: One of the things that I’ve always loved to do is to work with kids, and when I was designing my community service project for my junior year, I decided to work with Jewish Family and Community Services. I was able to start tutoring with an Afghan refugee family who had arrived in the United States only a few weeks earlier. During the rest of the summer and through my junior year at Athenian, I biked to Concord every weekend to work with the three boys on their English conversation skills, school work, and to spend time with the family. I’ve had the pleasure of handling this project off to Micah ’20 and Avrah ’19, and I am hopeful that it has the potential to stay in the Athenian community for years to come.

 

Jennifer: In the future, I hope to pursue a career in medicine and possibly establish a teaching hospital outside the US, so I decided to volunteer at the Sand Creek Kaiser Permanente. I have been a volunteer since January 2017 year and the experiences I’ve had as well as the people I’ve met are a part of the job that I appreciate the most. Never before did I imagine that I would be able to have such a deep conversation with a deaf woman I helped out at the pharmacy. I never thought that the impact I could make on someone’s life could be so huge and I take that experience to work with me every day. I think I’ve learned more about the place I’ve grown up in for the past 17 years in the last 6 months because of this job, and I am so happy I chose to do it.

 

Izzy: One of the reasons I think community service is a pillar of Athenian, and one that we pursue so actively, is because of where we stand as a school. This is a college prep private school. We just completed a multi-million dollar campus reconstruction, and virtually 100% of students graduate with the option of attending college. Because of the countless privileges we are provided by virtue of attending Athenian, it is so important that we continue to be aware that there are many people, in the Bay Area, in California, and across the world, who are not granted these same privileges. Community service allows us to practice kindness, activism, and self-awareness.

 

Jennifer: Another reason why I believe Athenian includes this pillar as part of its foundation, is because community service is not something you can learn in school. It’s something you have to experience firsthand in the real world, and it’s a space for you to reflect on what you know, or what you thought you knew. Giving back to the community and appreciating that which it has provided you is something many often take for granted. Understanding how you want to give back is another step in understanding yourself and what you stand for. It’s the part of you that Athenian wants you to recognize can make an impact not just as an average student, but as a global citizen.

Student-Led Conferences Focus on Mastery

A couple weeks ago, our 6th graders finished their first ever Athenian conferences! Spread over three days, 6th-grade conferences are an exciting component of the Middle School experience and one that has been specially designed to reflect our values as an institution.

More than a year ago, a team of 6th-grade teachers spent months creating a new way to introduce our youngest students to Athenian. A major component of their vision was a new “Mastery Rubric,” which we began to use last fall. This rubric was designed to gently ease our 6th graders into middle school by taking the emphasis off of letter grades and instead focusing on building six core skills: empathy, readiness to learn, collaboration, quality of work, demonstration of learning, and mindset. At the end of the first quarter of school, 6th-grade students received a rubric from each of their teachers which addressed their proficiency in each of these areas.

Alongside the rubric, the 6th-grade team also reimagined the 6th-grade conference. Once students received the rubrics from their teachers, they spent time during their weekly Flex periods analyzing them and writing notes about their strengths and areas for growth in each class and as a member of the Middle School community. The students then synthesized this information into a cohesive presentation and practiced in front of their peers so they would be ready for their conferences.

On the day of their conference, each student and their parents are met by their advisor and then welcomed into a room with all of their teachers. In the span of fifteen minutes, the students give their presentations and answer questions from their teachers and parents. The weeks leading up to the conference often inspire nervousness, but after giving their presentations the students often express pride and excitement. It’s a very positive experience and sets the tone for the rest of their middle school experience that the teachers are allies who are here to support student growth.

Athenian Students’ Innovative Projects

by Kate Oxley ’20
Originally published in the March 2018 edition of The Pillar, Athenian’s student newspaper

A scalable bionic heart. A bio-digester to make methane from compost. A mobile refrigeration unit with electronic generation for third world countries. A prosthetic limb that simulates a ball and joint socket. What do all of these have in common? They can all change the world, they all took hundreds of hours to develop, and they were all made by students while at The Athenian School.

Classes such as Applied Science, CADFab, and Engineering enable students to pursue personal projects while receiving class credit for their efforts. Many students rise to the opportunity and exceed all class expectations in their projects for more than just a good grade. These students can spend hundreds of hours in a semester on their project, but what drives them to do and learn so much in such a short period of time?

“I think individual passion should lead students through the learning process,” Dave Otten, teacher of Athenian’s new Science and Engineering class, said. “It should be the thing that keeps them going when they get stuck. When doing projects, it should help determine what they need to learn.”

One former student who thrived in project-oriented classes is Baxter Eldridge ’13. In high school, he claimed he had a tendency to work on “way too many projects at any given time” in and out of class. One of these projects was a scalable 3D printed bionic heart.

“There are these ventricle assistive devices, which were a super recent medical device when I worked on it,” Eldridge said. “They work like a motor, but the rotor in the motor is a turbine, think a jet turbine, so it pulls fluid through it as it runs…. There was this popular science article about these two doctors who were trying to use two of these ventricle assistive devices to make a complete artificial heart. The reason that’s currently somewhat challenging is that while these devices work quite well, they do damage blood cells. So, while one patient can handle the damage to blood cells caused by one of these devices, if you use two you damage too many blood cells to use as a long-term heart. My idea was to take the concept of the ventricle assistive device and the premise you eventually get to make it a complete heart, and focus on trying to make the device so you can tailor its output depending on the size of its patient… The goal of my project was that you could choose, let’s say three motors, then 3D print the size of the auger so the optimum running speed of the motor pumped out the optimum amount of fluid for the patient.”

Projects like these are one of many reasons that The Athenian School is developing a more project-based curriculum for the coming year. Whereas in some classes students currently find interest in the topics presented to them in class, Eldridge pushes Athenian teachers to tailor their curriculum to take cues from students’ passions, and to teach students how to deconstruct their ideas into smaller, quantitative milestones.

“Rather than telling students to produce this report, then this report, and this little thing, when you’re not really excited about each milestone, it’d be better to [build milestones where] you’ll be able to say ‘ok, now this is a real thing, I’m holding it in my hand,’” Eldridge said. “The school could [work on] taking ideas from understanding students’ goals and visions, then helping them see how to break those down into distinct and satiating milestones.”

Rock Williams ’17 and Ryan Keller ’17 were another pair of students who took project-based learning to a new level in their Applied Science class.

“I worked with Ryan on a ball-and-socket motor, which we’d originally planned on purchasing online for a robotic arm,” Williams said. “For all the joints of the fingers where all the phalanges meet the metacarpals, all of those have the range of motion of a ball-and-socket. Because of this, we thought it’d be easier to use a ball-and-socket motor, rather than a set of multiple motors.”

Upon looking for a ball-and-socket motor, the pair discovered that it did not exist. Rather than moving on to a new project, they “decided to delve deeper into how [they] could counter this problem, and into the possible future applications of a ball-and-socket motor,” marking the beginning of a school-year long project to create a ball-and-socket motor for a functional prosthetic limb. Williams hopes more people can work on projects they are passionate about, however, he has some concern about the visibility of such projects.

“I think it’s difficult because, at least with the old Makers Studio, it’s a little hidden, like its own little world,” Williams said. “I think Eugene, Lori, and Dave do a really great job of getting projects going and getting them completed, but as a whole school, I don’t think the Makers Studio is completely integrated. It’s kind of like an isolated event.”

Another way to participate in these projects is through the entrepreneurship program. Laura Victorino, teacher of the entrepreneurship G period class, hopes to bridge the gap between business, technology, and social justice issues, however, she fears that false assumptions about entrepreneurship could discourage student participation.

“One of the things that disappoints me is that people associate the word ‘entrepreneurship’ with too narrow a set of ideas. People think it’s all about being the next Facebook or Tesla, and while those are very high profile entrepreneurial ventures, to me entrepreneurship is a much broader thing which involves making social change or solving health problems, or environmental problems, or education problems. I think you can bring an entrepreneurial attitude and toolset to all the important problems we have, not just entertainment or transportation or finance… Entrepreneurial thinking is one of the most valuable things you can learn to take to almost anything you do.”

Athenian will be opening the new Carter Innovation Studio in the fall of 2018, a significant upgrade from our current tucked-away Maker Studio. The Carter Innovation Studio will stand at the entrance to our campus and will be an integrated hub of learning for all of our students to work on projects. Athenian believes in hands-on education where students can work on real-life projects that have meaning to them. We can’t wait to see what our students will create in this new space. Learn more about the future of project-based innovative learning at Athenian.

Athenian Continues to Send Leaders Into the Educational Community

Two years ago, after years of contributions to and growth at Athenian, two employees went on to become Heads of Schools at independent schools in Marin and Washington, DC. This past year, two more veteran Athenians moved into leadership roles in the world of education. Nancy Nagramada is now the Head of Middle School at the San Francisco School and Lisa Haney is the Executive Director of the California Teacher Development Collaborative. Both Lisa and Nancy embodied so much of what makes Athenian special and we will miss their dedication, joy for teaching, genuine love of the students, and sense of fun and humor they brought to their work at the School.

Nancy began at Athenian in 2003 as our Dean of Diversity. Nancy wore many hats in her 14 years at the School. Teaching in the Middle School for ten years, she created signature curricular components including the 8th-grade English class family migration story project, the annual production of West Side Story, the 8th grade speech project, and the hallmark Interim trip to Washington, DC. Nancy ran Athenian’s Summer Programs for five years, furthering Athenian’s “public purpose” work through engineering programs for girls and a pilot partnership with Aim High. Nancy lived on campus with her family for ten years and was a pillar of the residential community. She rallied the faculty and staff every year for the Faculty/Staff show, pulling off elaborate musical productions to benefit the Starehe Schools in Kenya. Nancy was also the Middle School Dean of Faculty, a leader and participant in many school improvement projects and task forces, the leader of the Admission Ambassador program, and in her last year was the Special Assistant to the Head of School for Strategic Initiatives, and 9th grade history teacher. Nancy was always the first to volunteer, whether it be an improv performance, setting up a meal train for new parents, cleaning up a messy room, or rallying students and faculty alike for fun and games.

Nancy has now moved across the Bay and is taking her extensive teaching and leadership experience to a philosophically similar school in the heart of San Francisco. Like Athenian, The San Francisco School has been delivering an education rooted in intellectual curiosity, playfulness, diversity, and engagement to preschool through middle school students for over 50 years. We will miss Nancy’s energy, can-do attitude, and sense of fun that she brought to everything she was involved in. We know that Nancy will continue to be a fierce advocate for students and a champion of social justice in the world of education in her new role.

Lisa came on board at Athenian in 1991 as the Director of International Programs. Lisa taught ESL and started the first student club focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School called The Multicultural Alliance. Lisa’s continued interest in supporting deeper cross-cultural understanding inspired her to lead six international interim trips, two to China and four to Tanzania. Lisa’s global interest reflected in the courses she taught, including the 9th-grade world literature program. She developed a variety of seminars including Utopian Literature; Migrants, Nomads, and Aliens; and regional literature seminars focusing on Africa, South Asia, and India.

As Lisa’s role in the community expanded, her care for student and faculty wellness continued to focus her work. Lisa held a number of leadership roles during her time at the School, including Humanities Department Chair. She became the Upper School Dean of Faculty and advocated for and supported her colleagues as a member of the Upper School leadership team with strength and compassion. Lisa spearheaded a process to develop Athenian’s professional development and evaluation program and helped the School define its “Standards of Excellent Teaching.” Lisa worked closely with student members of the Gender Equity Coalition to found the Athenian Sexual Assault Prevention Program, now a required part of the Athenian curriculum. Creating a warm and welcoming space wherever she was on campus, students and faculty alike looked to Lisa for guidance and support.

Lisa’s substantial work developing teachers at Athenian was complimented by her work with teachers through UC Berkeley Extension and the Berkeley and San Francisco Unified School Districts. Lisa also has leadership experience with international and diverse school populations, including working with the State Department improving English language education in Tanzania. Lisa will bring all of this experience with her to California Teacher Development Collaborative where she will continue to be a teacher of teachers. Lisa is the perfect person to continue CATDC’s mission of supporting teachers to collaborate and create a teaching and learning environment that is rewarding, inspiring, and productive. Athenian faculty will continue to benefit from Lisa’s wisdom and care through CATDC professional development opportunities.

While we miss seeing Nancy and Lisa on a daily basis, we are lucky to have them remain members of our community. Both Lisa and Nancy’s spouses, Mark and Charlie respectively, work at Athenian and they both are parents of alumni. Nancy has a son in the Upper School who will now commute from San Francisco to remain an Athenian Owl. We are so grateful for Lisa and Nancy’s nearly 40 years of combined service to Athenian and we are thrilled they will remain directly connected to Athenian.

Gratitude and Meaningful Contributions

I am particularly grateful for our Athenian community this week. As our neighbors to the north battle unimaginable devastation, Athenians immediately jumped into action, creating supply drives, taking in the displaced, saving animals from shelters, and coordinating a school-wide response. When tragic events happen nearby, Athenian’s founding values of service and community hit home for all of us. I know that it takes a commitment to send your student to Athenian, and I am humbled by how easily and eagerly Athenians extend their commitment to our broader community.

As these events unfold around us, we must remain clear of vision and purpose. Our founder, Dyke Brown, started Athenian on the belief that “intellectual fitness in combination with moral virtue and concern for societal needs and civic responsibilities is the only way to truly educate our young.” I believe in the Athenian mission now more than ever. I see our students and alumni responding to crises in the world by wanting to help, and they know—even the 6th graders—that they can. We must continue to offer an Athenian education because we need young people who believe in goodness, who want to serve society, and who are committed to the well-being of humanity. Brown’s insight from sixty years ago remains true: “This is the kind of person our nation and the world needs, and this is the goal of The Athenian School.”

I am reminded of a poem Dick Bradford often reads in the fall, Nothing Gold Can Stay, by Robert Frost. Nothing that is beautiful can ever last, as is the devastating case in Napa and Sonoma. Loss is inevitable, and I want to teach our kids that the cycle of life and death reminds us how precious certain moments are, how much we have to be grateful for, and how each one of us can be a shining light in another’s time of darkness.

In the coming weeks, we will be reflecting with our students around many of these themes. We will encourage them to explore their feelings, to investigate life’s injustices, and to lend an able hand. We will leverage the resources of our School to offer aid where we can and to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the young people we educate.

Now, we simply want to ask you to think about what is meaningful in your life and where you can make contributions that support your values. I donate my time and money to humanitarian relief organizations, to support orphans in Uganda, and to Athenian, because I believe in those causes and I want to model for my children how just one family can make a difference. Please join me in reflecting on what is meaningful in your own life and where and how you and your family can make the world better than you found it.

Thank you for being a part of this community. Your children inspire me every day and I am grateful for the energy, joy, and love they add to the world.

With humble gratitude,

Eric F. Niles

Head of School

Athenian’s New Food Services Provider: Epicurean Group

by Dara Goldfein ’19, published in the May 2017 student newspaper, The Pillar

After a long history of relying on the Sodexo food service company as the primary food provider for the Athenian community, the Athenian administration has decided to make changes in the food program and switch food providers to another Bay Area company known as Epicurean Group.

“Epicurean Group is a food-service management company headquartered in Northern California and dedicated to sustainable dining,” the company’s statement said. “Our artisan approach and sustainable practices support local, organic farms and ranches and the sustainable seafood model of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.”

The change in food providers was unknown to many students but fits into the general pattern of change that the Athenian community will experience over these next few years with the Master Plan, new classes, and new faculty.

“Sometimes it’s really a good time for a change and to get some fresh blood and fresh ideas. Our contract was coming to an end with Sodexo so it seemed like a good time for a change,” Chief Operating Officer Leslie Lucas said. “We’re looking at a change, a change in our master plan and our Main Hall, etc.”

The decision to use Epicurean was based on a few factors, one of which was the necessity of finding a provider that can accommodate a boarding program.

“It’s key that we found a service provider that can handle boarding programs because there are a lot of service providers that just do lunch,” Lucas said.

A main factor of choosing to leave Sodexo for Epicurean Group was Athenian’s interest in companies with progressive values that are more suited to the mission and image of The Athenian School.

“One of the the things that was really important for us was to make sure that our food service provider was really in line with our mission, ordering from local vendors, and managing environmentally sustainable purchasing programs as well as providing some educational programs in nutrition,” Lucas said.

Epicurean’s website makes sure that their clients know that their top priority is invested in more progressive, forward-thinking ideas.

“Epicurean Group follows environmentally and socially responsible management practices. Everything is made from scratch, not from cans delivered from a warehouse,” a statement from the Epicurean Group said.

Epicurean is also invested in the wellbeing of their clients and alters their agenda to fit the specific considerations of their clients.

“Our clients benefit from eating fresh, healthy ingredients – and they assure us that our food tastes better!” said Mary Clark Bartlett, Founder and CEO of Epicurean Group.

While Epicurean maintains progressive ideals, some hope that the tradition of Athenian’s food is still honored.

“I’m hoping that they are able to take in some of the old tradition and cultures [of the food] and bring in even more cultures to our food” Jennifer S. ’19 said.

Currently, the Athenian students are comfortable and happy with the employees of Sodexo that make and serve students and faculty food everyday.

“I think that they [Sodexo’s employees] are doing a really good job having them help out and everything I really think that they are taking good management and they take safety as a priority” Jennifer said.

Even with the new food company, the Athenian administration made sure to implement a course of action in order to retain the Sodexo employees that have been a part of the Athenian community.

“They are all going to be interviewed….and Epicurean has talked about looking at the employees that are currently here and seeing who is going to be a good fit for us,” Lucas said.

Epicurean Group is the main provider to many other schools in the bay area, including Sacred Heart Prep in Menlo Park. The students at these private schools seem to enjoy the staff and management that Epicurean provides for them.

“I love the staff. They are all very nice and helpful, and they keep the cafeteria running smoothly,” Gabrielle I., a sophomore at Sacred Heart Prep High School, said.

However, while the current Athenian food system connects the students very well with the employees, at other schools where Epicurean is provided, the process strays away from the same environment that is fostered at The Athenian School.

“We don’t get to interact with the cooks very often but the servers and cashiers are always nice,” Daphne C.. a sophomore at Sacred Heart Prep High School, said.