Inaugural Run Through AWE Ceremonial Gate from the Class of 2013

DSC08497The Class of 2013 wanted to honor their Athenian Wilderness Experience with a lasting class gift of a decorative gate for Athenian’s traditional Run-In. To complete their 26 day backpacking adventure, students run the last eight miles back to campus, where the entire community welcomes them back on the field. Previously, students ran through a small gate onto the field; now, students run through a beautiful, symbolic gate inscribed with the words “There’s more in you than you think,” by Kurt Hahn.

DSC_0018To inaugurate the gate, alumni were invited back for a ceremonial jog-through. David Buchanan ’72, Nicola Place ’76, Bryna Winchell ’84, John Kohler ’88, Wendell C. Arnold ’92, Allison Fletcher ’96, Philippa Stewart ’04, and Beth Heinen ’05 represented all AWE alumni by jogging through the gate before the Death Valley 2014 group came in.

Allie Rowe, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Dick Bradford, Upper School Head and Academic Dean, and Gabe Del Real, Dean of Curriculum, emceed the event before the small group of alums and the Board of Trustees. Dick spoke about how AWE is the pinnacle of experiential education, students learn compassion for each other, and gain a better appreciation for the outdoors. He concluded with a piece of a poem by Tennyson:



I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’
Gleams that untravell’d world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!
As tho’ to breathe were life! 
strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The side of the gate facing the street reads "The Athenian Wilderness Experience"

The side of the gate facing the street reads “The Athenian Wilderness Experience”

Watch the 4-minute ceremony.

The gate’s design was a combination of student and alumni ideas, brought to life by Chad Dietz, a metal artist out of Monterey County.

“Not only did I notice my physical strength–feeling weak and still running farther than I ever thought possible–but I realized that as ‘strong’ as some people are on their own, knowing that you can ask for help and depend on your support system gives you immense strength to do things you never thought possible,” Emily Knell ’07 reflected on her own run-in experience.

Join Athenian in a Day of Giving: #GivingTuesday

Dear Athenian Families:


Grandma Jay, Eric, Meg, Cade, Uncle Mike
Thanksgiving 2013

I hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving break with your children. Meg and I certainly had a restful few days surrounded by friends and family. We know how much we have to be thankful for living and working in this Athenian community.

At The Athenian School, we’ve understood for a long time the importance of giving back. Our students not only study the world – they also work to change it for the better.  This year, on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, Athenian  is joining a call to action that will change the calendar and help make history. We are celebrating a day dedicated to giving  when charities, families, businesses, community centers, students, retailers and more will all come together for #GivingTuesday – a movement to celebrate giving and encourage more, better and smarter giving during the Holiday Season that we are proud to be part of.

I invite you to join us on #GivingTuesday as hundreds of Athenian alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and students celebrate the spirit of service and philanthropy that is at the core of what it means to be part of the Athenian community. Certainly, if you haven’t yet given to the Athenian Annual fund, please consider giving today. Know that this gift allows us to better deliver the unique Athenian School education that you have come to expect.

Please see below for more information on #GivingTuesday and for ways to get your family involved.


Eric Niles, Head of School

More About #GivingTuesday

join global movementA team of recognized experts and influencers, initially convened by leaders of 92nd Street Y and supported by a core group of founding partners, originally spearheaded this effort. Founding partners in 2012 included United Nations Foundation,, Mashable, Blackbaud, charity: water, GlobalGiving, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Kiva, Darden Restaurant Group, Groupon, Unilever and VentureThree Capital. Leaders in philanthropy, social media, innovative giving, grassroots organizing, marketing and communications are providing counsel and resources to help build this movement.

“#GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. “The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world.”

#GivingTuesday FAQs

Ideas to Involve the Family

foodHave a family conversation about your favorite foods and the healthy foods you having been trying to eat. Take some of those foods from your cabinets (non perishable) and bring them to your local food pantry.

Take an #UNselfie! How? Take a “selfie” with a caption explaining how or why you and your friends are “giving” this year. Use #Unselfie and #Athenian so we can find your photo.


Home Treasure Hunt! Look in your closets at home. Collect what is not being used, what hasn’t been used in a long time, and the extras you have, and donate to a program that sets up families in new homes.

“Change of Season” – At the beginning of each new season, think of one specific item that is needed. For instance, gloves and hats for winter, socks for fall, T-shirts for summer, etc. Do a collection in your neighborhood, building, or school for just that one item and donate.


Hold a neighborhood yard or bake sale and donate proceeds to an organization in need.

For an entire week or two, everyone in the family skips the “extras.” Take the money you would have spent on after school treats, a special ice cream, or coffees from your favorite vendor, and collect it all in a jar. Watch it mount and donate to your local food pantry to help others get the essentials foods they need.

Want more? Check out these tips and ideas:

Athenian Asked to Mentor Schools in Making

MENTOR Makerspace

MENTOR Makerspace is a program created by O’Reilly Media (creators of Make Magazine and Maker Faire) in partnership with Otherlab and made possible by an award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The program aims to encourage and nurture the introduction of new design tools and collaborative practices of making to high school students. By creating makerspaces in an educational context, students can have access to tools and equipment that they might not have otherwise; they can collaborate on projects that are driven by their own interests, and by doing so, develop the capacity and confidence to innovate. Our goal is to establish the practices of making in high schools in 1000 schools over the course of four years.

There are 15 schools, mostly in the Bay Area, that are part of this year-1 pilot program, some of which were chosen because of their already-developed making facilities (like Athenian), and some of which are trying to develop theirs. While we will see some of this DARPA grant money and equipment, our function will be primarily mentoring other schools as part of our mission’s public purpose of private schools, as well as our engineering program’s stated purpose of K-5 public outreach. The opening conference we attended last June at the Crucible in Oakland allowed us to begin forming partnerships with and gathering best practices from some of the top local engineering schools. We will represent Athenian at the official public launch of the MENTOR Makerspace program next Monday, September 10th at the College of San Mateo. If you are interested in attending, you can reserve tickets here.

Athenian students mentored 5th graders from Montair Elementary last year.

Learn More:

Athenians at Bay Area Maker Faire 2012

Makerspace Directory

History of the Makerspace Project

‘Makerspace’ event helps kick off U.S. Department of Education bus tour across America

Athenian’s New Faculty and Staff

The Athenian School welcomes the newest members of our faculty and staff!  (The above photo shows new employees on an environmental tour of the school with Bob Oxenburgh, Director of Finance.)

New Upper School Faculty

Leslie Cushner, Humanities Dept – 9th grade teacher
M.A. in Indian Religions from the University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, IL
B.A. in Classics and Religion from Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Leslie has taught a diverse range of Humanities courses including medieval history, ancient literature, world religions and philosophies, as well as ethics classes. Leslie is reading-proficient in multiple ancient languages such as Latin, Attic and Koine Greek, Sanskrit, and Biblical Hebrew. An avid volunteer, Leslie has taught ESL in India, and currently volunteers as an ESL tutor/teacher and publications editor for the Tibetan Association of Northern California.

Alicia Dantzker, Science Dept – Biology teacher
B.A. and M.A. from Stanford
Alicia has taught at three Bay Area independent schools: Marin Academy, Urban, and Head Royce.  She also worked for Aim High and the Exploratorium.

Andrew Glassco, Foreign Language Dept – Spanish teacher
M.A. with a specialization in Spanish education from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
B.A. in English from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
Andrew spent four years abroad in Spain, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil, studying Spanish and teaching English. He led a group of students to the rainforests of Panama where they focused on projects pertaining to environmentalism and economic sustainability. Andrew has taught Spanish classes from elementary school level to college level and enjoys integrating technology into foreign language curriculum.

Gabe Hourcade, Foreign Language Dept – French
PhD in French literature from the University of California, Davis, CA
M.A. in French literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
B.A. in English literature from the University of Savoie, Chambery, France
Gabriel Hourcade joins Athenian after recently serving as an Assistant Professor of French at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA. Gabe has also taught English and French extensively throughout Europe (Austria, France, and Switzerland); when he lived in Switzerland, he taught snowboarding during the holiday season!

Mark Mendelson, Fine Arts Dept – Theater Arts Technical Director
B.F.A. in Theatre – Scenic Design from the California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA
Joining the Athenian drama department in a new position as Technical Director, Mark is an experienced award-winning set design professional. He has worked on many stage productions throughout the Bay Area as well as productions in the Hollywood / Los Angeles area, and in St. Louis, MO. Mark’s portfolio can be viewed at his website.

Adam Thorman, Fine Arts Dept – Photography
M.F.A. in Photography from Arizona State University
B.F.A. in Photography from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
An accomplished professional photographer whose works have been in numerous solo and group exhibitions, collections, and publications, Adam Thorman is an experienced instructor of photography and related disciplines ranging from digital retouching, image editing software and equipment to post-production and web design. Adam’s portfolio can be viewed at his website.

New Staff

Katrina Deliramich, Upper School Assistant Librarian
M.L.I.S. degree in Library Information Science from San Jose State University, San Jose, CA
B.A. degree in History, California State University, East Bay, Hayward, CA
Katrina recently served as Library Media Technician for the Ukiah Unified School District. She is a dedicated volunteer, sharing her time and knowledge with children, home-bound elderly, and library patrons. Katrina will oversee the Athenian library in the late afternoons and during evening study hours with the boarders.

Vanessa Hourcade, Assistant to the Office of the Head of Upper School / Academic Dean
Castleton State College, Castleton, VT – completed coursework in Anthropology and Sociology
Vanessa has been working at Athenian since March of this year, nevertheless, we’d like to formally welcome her and share a little bit about her. Vanessa has worked in a variety of capacities at international boarding schools, including Agilon College, a Round Square school in Switzerland. She is dedicated to supporting students, faculty, administrators and staff as well as thrives on juggling multiple roles and tasks. Fluent in French and Italian languages, Vanessa embraces opportunities to interface with international students and very much enjoys multicultural environments. Vanessa sports a diverse range of interests, skills, and hobbies, including AASI Level II Snowboard Coach certification, carpentry, landscaping, sewing, drawing and painting.

Joanne Lee, Associate Director of Advancement, Annual Fund
M.A. in Organization and Leadership Studies from the University of San Francisco School of Education
B.A., New College of Florida
Joanne joined the Athenian Advancement team in April with a broad background in development, fundraising, philanthropy and giving campaigns. She is an avid supporter of volunteerism and enrichment programs that include music, the arts, languages, multiculturalism and professional development.

Margaret Perrone, School Nurse
We were unable to reach Margaret for her credentials and biography by the time of this publication.

Linda Rafferty, Director of Advancement
M.A. in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA
B.A. in Politics from Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Linda has 20+ years of experience in independent school work, primarily in development, but also in admissions and middle school teaching. Most recently, Linda served as Director of Development at McLean School of Maryland. Although most of her career has been in New York City and Washington DC schools, Linda is a 4th-generation Bay Area native who grew up in Moraga. She and her husband, Scott, and their two daughters, Annie (age 10) and Melina (age 7) are excited about experiencing this new chapter of their lives.

Dora Rodriguez, Transportation driver
Dora also joined Athenian earlier this year (April 2012). She has served our students well in getting them to and from school and events safely and happily. We warmly welcome her to the Athenian community.

2012-2013 Student Profile

Welcome to the 2012-2013 school year!

Here’s a look at this year’s student body:

This year’s 44 international students come from the places on the map:

Additionally, we have students who are citizens of: Canada, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Panama, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Uganda, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Vietnam.

Locally, our students are from: Alameda, Alamo, Antioch, Benicia, Berkeley, Brentwood, Castro Valley, Clayton, Concord, Danville, Diablo, El Cerrito, El Sobrante, Hayward, Hercules, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Modesto, Moraga, Novato, Oakland, Orinda, Piedmont, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, San Francisco, San Ramon, Santa Clara, Vallejo, and Walnut Creek.

Professor A.L.I. Revealed: Humanities Teacher Kal Balaven

Professor A.L.I. Revealed: Kal BalavenkatesanAfter five years at The Athenian School, humanities teacher Kalyan Ali Balaven has finally revealed his alter ego: Professor A.L.I.  As the Union City Patch proclaimed, Kal is like a modern day Clark Kent–a teacher by day and a hip-hop M.C. and spoken word artist by night.  Kal explains that Professor A.L.I is “an educator who uses hip-hop as a language to communicate my message Authentically, with Love, and Intellect.”  Kal previously kept his alter-ego private, as he wanted his teaching to be student-centered and feared knowledge of his personal artistic expression would derail his classes.  However, in the last year, the word has slowly gotten out about Kal’s alter ego (thank you, Google).  He decided to make the most of it and collaborate with a student who was also making a name for himself as a rapper.  Kal is now proud to share this other side of his life with the Athenian community.  Kal describes the evolution of the collaboration in his own words:

Native Sun by Professor A.L.I.

I remember when I first met Carter [Wilson ’12] five years ago; it was hard to miss him since he stood out as much as I did amidst our new peers.  I see him in my mind vividly, standing awkwardly in the sunlight upon a beach as part of an in-coming student orientation; and I’m sure he visualizes me in similar fashion.  He, a freshman, and I, the new teacher on campus, at a unfamiliar school were clearly feeling nervous about the community we were being enveloped in and showed it through our uncomfortable body language.  We clearly felt, then, like outsiders, like shadows cast in the light of the sun.

Four years later, as the June sun beamed down upon our heads, Carter would walk across the stage; and in the Athenian School tradition he picked an instructor to give a one-minute graduation speech on his behalf.   Carter chose me and I chose to deliver the speech as a rap, sans beat; it seemed appropriate since Carter’s alter ego was the young, up and coming rapper Captaincy and I was Professor A.L.I.


As Carter was nearing his impending graduation, the elephant in the room was a potential collaboration between the teacher and student, between a Professor and a young Captain.  Carter had joked with me about the possibility in years past, but I shook it off with banter for I rarely admitted to anyone on campus that I was Professor A.L.I. and knew such a collab would’ve blown my identity out in into the sunlight.  For so long, I’d kept my artistry hidden in the shadows of my professional world and seeing the two worlds collide was, at the time, unsettling.

Yet, at the same time, Carter represented everything I strove to be an educator for.  He was a brilliant young man with deep inner-reflections who also thought out of the box.  He was the laid back freshman who’d emerged from the shadows of obscurity to embrace the lamp of learning.  And to top it off, unlike many young people, he possessed both knowledge and reverence for the true pioneers and “teachers” of hip-hop like Brand Nubian, Public Enemy & KRS-One.

So motivated by that realization, I showed Carter a song in which I sought to promote hip-hop as it once was, the art of expression of social/political issues that were relevant to the community at large.  The song had a natural intersection in the realm of equity and inclusion, a theme that was central to both Captaincy and Professor A.L.I.; it also spoke to our time at Athenian together, to community building and education.  We had embraced the light of our true selves on this campus, let down our guards, and allowed what we do as artists respectively to become a part of the landscape like the sun in the sky. It was the most appropriate intersection for a collab, and Captaincy laid the second verse on the song, and lo and behold, “Native Sun” was born.

The song was born of a reverence for Richard Wright’s seminal work, Native Son, and the language of hip-hop with the elevation of self in the speak of the Nation of Gods & Earths community; the same NGE community that gave hip-hop its slang and cadence.  Imbued with both “science & math”, the track is a metaphor of the passing of a torch; of a Professor taking his own light to elevate another, a student to become a “Sun”, to give off his own light, to embrace the highest expression of self, one that is celestial in nature.

The song’s journey is one that begins in the classroom, through the lecture of a Professor, sparking the imagination of students, and of one student in particular, Carter (Captaincy) who presents his own reality.  This should be the nature of any art, to spark more creativity, and to create more artists.  So like a sun that shines upon all and gives life meaning, by the light of the moon, its warmth and radiation, so too do the lyrics of the song give life meaning by shedding light upon the importance of equity and point out societal inequities that we live and breathe in on a daily basis.

“Native Sun” is a song off of the Emerald Manifesto album and the beginning of a new movement for me as an artist.  Up until now, as Carter, my peers, and many students will attest to, I’ve kept my artistic life and life as an educator separate.  However. I now see the empowering role that hip-hop artistry and lyricism can play in education and also vice versa.   Merged together, hip-hop & education shed light on issues that are not touched upon by popular media or given attention because they do not further the status quo.  It is the unexplored realm of voice, the subaltern, and as an educator I see the importance of the voice of the M.C.  After all, as I’ve said in the past, “a Professor has knowledge, but an M.C. has the audience.”

To that end, on Emerald Manifesto, I created songs that spoke to issues that didn’t see the light of day.  I spit verses about the social inequities of the caste system still in practice in South Asia, the movement of permaculture, the genocide in Bahrain, the importance of localized spending and the similarities rather than the difference between people living in the Middle East.  All of these issues are rarely addressed, yet are issues relevant to our world and more importantly the world inherited by our children.  The sun diminishes darkness, vanishes obscurity, and makes all things erudite.  I was seeking to do the same as an artist; in the end I was seeking to become a sun.

At Athenian, both Carter and I had become suns; we found a supportive community, one that encouraged artistic expression and explored ways in which educators and students could be learners outside of the traditional classroom setting.  In four years the icy wall I had created between my artistry and role as educator had slowly melted.  The Google searches that easily reveal the presence of my alter ego and calls to recite spoken word and a capella poetry had blown my carefully constructed cover as a mild-mannered educator along with my icy wall to bits.

When this happened, I saw an immense swell of support and love from a community that stood by its own.  Carter saw that too, and as he started to take the lyrics from his notepad to the mic, he too found his strongest support coming from the Athenian campus family.  Artistry thrives when it is cultivated with love, and we both found that from our respective peers.  So we too began to shine in our own right.

We also discovered, after five years at Athenian, that our initial reaction to being on the other side of the tunnel, in a city (Danville) that was really different from our respective homes of Union City & Oakland, was not what we expected.  In our time on campus, we discovered we were not outsiders but integral parts of the community as if we had always been there.  We felt like we were natives of that Mt. Diablo setting and it communicated in our body language that we had ascended to become part of what makes Athenian shine as a community, that we were “suns” in the NGE sense of the word. We were Native Suns.


I am currently working on my new project entitled Das Ka Rebel, taking the exploration of hip-hop and education to another level.  I will explore themes that make education truly innovative and experiential—while at the same time discovering all of what hip-hop could be.  Hip-hop after all was born in the West African griot, so I will seek to imbue the spirit of that oral historian as I weave the tales of our world as a testament to later generations, and, like the griot, impart lessons that will help them preserve our values while avoiding our mistakes.

I seek to shine like the Native Sun and give light to the “earths” and their seeds–so that they flower with knowledge and grow to regenerate this planet and allow it to flourish with love.  In the words of Tupac Shakur, “I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”  I feel the same way, and I will seek to move through this world with Ollin Tonatiuh, with the movement of the sun, riding the chariot in the sky of life-like Apollo, facing its demons like Surya, for I am Ra in Kemet, I am the Native Sun.

Alumni Profile: Elizabeth Marlow ’86

Elizabeth Marlow ‘86 is a caring woman with a bright smile and an unusual professional warmth. You would never guess from meeting her that she spends a majority of her time with criminals and ex-cons.

By trade, Elizabeth is a family nurse practitioner. Elizabeth (second from the left in the picture above) has more than 15 years of experience in primary, urgent, and mental health care. Like many nurses, Elizabeth is interested in helping people. However, the work she does goes far beyond the scope of a typical nurse’s job.

Working with Criminals

In 2009, Elizabeth founded The Gamble Institute, a community-based research and resource center for parolees. Elizabeth explains that her affinity for this work grew from her work with patients while first practicing in Bakersfield, a city with four jails.

I really liked them a lot as a group of people, and they really seemed to like me. We had a good working relationship as patient and provider….And the main question was, how were these people who I really like, and who present pretty well, and are kind of cool and funny, a sort of stylish population of folks, how could they be this way with me and then in this other way in the prison system? How does that happen?

Elizabeth has an unmatched knack for pairing empathetic, participatory medical care with data-driven research. This explains the breadth of her professional responsibilities, which currently includes clinical work at the San Francisco County Jail, researching and publishing as Assistant Adjunct Professor at the UCSF School of Nursing, and overseeing programs at the Gamble Institute. Some may think Elizabeth must struggle to balance several demanding positions. In truth, everything Elizabeth does is driven by the same purpose: helping others live their own life of purpose. When asked if she would ever consider cutting back in some way, Elizabeth responded hesitantly, “I would maybe give up one day a week at the jail.”

The Gamble Institute's Open House, 2011

With a youthful fire, Elizabeth insists that “We can change the system!” Although, she admits, “It’s much harder than I thought it was going to be.” However, difficult challenges do not deter her. She continues with conviction:

One of my big motivations and drives is to at least change the conversation. How can we put all of us out of business and help people live healthy, sustainable lives outside of the correctional system? And there are a lot of ways you can attack that. Mine is through community-based participatory research, working with people, getting them intellectually stimulated, getting to see that they can actually see beyond the confines of their world.

Working both one on one with clients in the jail and working systemically via research and the Gamble Institute, Elizabeth truly is changing the system. Countless inmates have benefited from her medical care, and now nearly 400 men have received training, counseling, mentoring, case management and/or recovery support at The Gamble Institute.

A Life of Service

While she feels that she has a natural bent for doing good (e.g., she was in the voluntary 200 Hour Service Award Club in high school), Elizabeth reveals that Athenian’s high academic standards and culture of positive change contributed to her career choices and success.

Elizabeth's yearbook page, 1986

The community service [requirement at Athenian] for me was a really big deal….I had such a good education there. It set the bar so high in terms of my own expectations for myself….I think that’s my whole belief that “I can change the world!” I really believe that still. I believe that I can be part of creating some kind of systematic change to make things better for people. And not just accepting that this is how it is, but really trying to think differently. [It was] not just the education I got at Athenian. The reading I was exposed to, the people I was exposed to, the teachers, the opportunities that I had there, really were what raised my expectations that I have for myself and the work that I’m trying to do.

Naturally, Elizabeth compares her early upbringing to that of the men and women she encounters in the jails. Unlike her clients, Elizabeth enjoyed the freedom to be herself in high school. “The school itself created a culture where all ideas are valued and all people are valued. And the students bought into it….That was a big part of my experience, just feeling like I could be myself [at Athenian].” Elizabeth wistfully wonders how many of the people she sees in her work would have avoided a life of crime if they had had the privilege of the intellectual stimulation, compassionate mentoring, and peer acceptance she experienced at Athenian. The well-rounded, fulfilling life she leads is the dream she has for the reentry population. Elizabeth also notes the exposure to “really good books” as an integral part of her schooling. In comparison, she encounters many men and women who are illiterate, and that many more who know how to read but have never discovered the joy of books. A large portion of Elizabeth’s vision for the future of The Gamble Institute is providing exposure to art and literature, so the reentry population can realize that “their brains actually work and are valued.”

The Gamble Institute

Currently, the Gamble Institute operates three programs: Super Tuesdays, Rollin’ Reintegration, and The Leadership Team.


Super Tuesdays combines technical and soft skills with the Parolee Power Works! Computer Literacy Course and Family Connections, a nonviolent communication training and mentoring program.

Rollin’ Reintegration is an intensive counseling and case management program for parolees.

The Leadership Team is a parolee-led leadership program that focuses on empowerment.

The Gamble Institute is still in its infancy. Elizabeth describes her vision of the Institute to be a more holistic venture. Ideally, the Institute would provide an education component, a knowledge creation aspect (participatory research), a substance abuse program, and a revenue-generating piece that would offer employment opportunities. In the immediate future, The Gamble Institute is looking for one more board member, a financial literacy class leader, and people to help with job preparation skills. If you or someone you know are interested in helping expand the reach of The Gamble Institute, please contact Elizabeth here.

Elizabeth’s experiences stand as a shining example of the outcomes the Athenian mission statement promises to its students: “The Athenian School prepares students for the rigorous expectations of college and for a life of purpose and personal fulfillment. Athenian goes far beyond excellent college preparation by inspiring students to become life-long learners and confident, successful adults. Students at Athenian develop a deep understanding of themselves, extraordinary skills for achievement, and the compassion to make a positive difference in the world.” Elizabeth admits to being prepared for college and has proved herself a life-long learner as well as a successful adult. Her ease with others reflects her own self-understanding, and her compassion has shaped her every action. Clearly, Elizabeth is living a life of both purpose and personal fulfillment and we are lucky to have her as a part of our Athenian community.

Connect with Elizabeth Marlow on LinkedIn here.
If you’d like to learn more about The Gamble Institute, click here.

Photos from

Potter Sisters in Two Night Production of Pride and Prejudice

Becky and Annie Potter are two peas in a pod.  They both went to Athenian; they both starred in nearly every Athenian theater production while they were here; both went to UC Irvine; both studied theater, and now, they are both in a production of Pride and Prejudice for the second year in a row with a local theater company. The Potter sisters are a dynamic duo who embrace theater arts with their hearts and souls. Annie and Becky began their theater careers at The Athenian School, and as such, agreed to share some thoughts about their experiences since leaving Athenian.  [col grid=”2-1 first”]

Becky Potter ’02

Becky is on the far left, bottom row
After graduating from Athenian, I began studying theatre at UC Irvine. I started by playing mostly animals and young kids (that’s what you get for looking young and being 5’1” in an acting program) but I did end up using my Shakespeare skills (thank you, Dick!) playing Silvius in an all female production of As You Like It. When I graduated from Irvine, I came back to the Bay Area and started working full-time at the Willows Theatre Company, where I had performed often during my time at Athenian and every summer in their annual production of John Muir’s Mountain Days.

While I was working during the day at the Willows, I began performing at night with Butterfield 8 Theatre Company. We do a lot of classical text-based work at Butterfield 8 and over the past five years working with the company.  During this time I was also getting my MA in drama from SF State and most recently became a member of the theatre faculty at Oakland School for the Arts where I co-directed the all school musical this spring (Les Miserables School Edition with 65 cast members grades 6-12!). I’m very excited to begin another year there in the fall and continue to juggle my teaching and directing at the school with performing with Butterfield 8 in the evenings as well…because I have all those great time management skills I learned at Athenian!

Becky’s Butterfield 8 Bio

Becky Potter (Elizabeth Bennet) is always thrilled to be returning to Butterfield 8 where she has appeared as
 Nerissa in The Merchant of Venice, Nancy in the staged reading
of Abigail Dreary, Cecily in The Importance of Being Earnest, Hermia in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hero in Much Ado About Nothing, Imogen in Cymbeline, Leona in Zelda’s Mama’s Cookin’, Thomasina in Arcadia, Ophelia in Hamlet, Viola in Twelfth Night, and most recently, as Lady Windermere in Lady Windermere’s Fan. Becky graduated from UC Irvine where some of her favorite roles included Claire in Fuddy Meers, Silvius in As You Like It, Dunyazade in Arabian Nights, and Ruthie in Bat Boy. In the Bay Area she has been seen in such shows as In the Beginning, Fiddler on the Roof, Inherit the Wind, Brimstone, and every performance of John Muir’s Mountain Days (all for the Willows Theatre Company) and in Peter Pan (DLOC). Becky currently teaching theatre at Oakland School for the Arts.

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Annie Potter ’07

Annie is second from the right

I just graduated from UC Irvine this year. I double majored in history and drama and minored in French, which was surprising for me. I did two summer trips abroad.  The first was an archeology dig through UCLA in Kent in a little village outside of Canterbury working on an Anglo Saxon Monastic site, and I also spent a summer in Paris with the UCLA summer program where we took walks around Paris and learned about Medieval French history. I performed in many plays at Irvine and also assistant directed a couple including Cyrano de Bergerac and Curse of the Starving Class. I graduated with Honors in Dramatic Literature, History and Theory, which mostly means that I focused on the theoretical side of theatre. I wrote an honors Thesis for that program on Popular Theatre during the French Revolution.

I’m sort of the expert at being a little sister because I was also a little sister at Irvine. Being a little sister at Athenian was slightly warm and comforting because I always felt that I had an insight into the way things worked that some class mates with out siblings might be lacking. I felt that at Irvine too. Maybe I’ll do my graduate work somewhere Becky didn’t go before me.

I remember that in my sophomore year at Athenian, I seriously considered if I could really study acting in college. Marc Lionetti said something that sort of solidified that it was a totally acceptable thing to do, and I’m glad I did even though I feel like now I’m leaning toward the slightly more academic in my interest in theatre. I think that becoming interested in critical theory of theatre is almost impossible not to do coming from Athenian.

Annie’s Butterfield 8 Bio

Annie Potter (Lydia Bennet/Georgiana Darcy) could not be more delighted to be in this production of Pride and Prejudice. She was last seen at Butterfield8 in the staged reading of Abigail Dreary and also performed in The Birdhouse and Much Ado About Nothing. She attends The University of California Irvine where she studies drama and history, and has recently appeared in Into the Woods and The Servant of Two Masters. She has also performed in many productions at the Willows Theatre, including many years of Mountain Days. Favorite Productions include: In the Beginning, Big River, Urinetown, 
Pippin, Bat Boy and Lorca in a Green Dress.[/col]

Becky on Butterfield 8 and Pride and Prejudice

Butterfield 8 was founded as the theatrical branch of the New Urban Dance Company. Artistic Director John Butterfield originally formed a group of actors to perform monologues to compliment dance pieces and eventually the company branched off to do its own theatrical work. Butterfield 8 performed shows at the Lesher Center and Town Hall Theatre before finding a home in Concord at Cue Productions. The Mission of Butterfield 8 Theatre Company is to provide audiences a fresh take on classic plays and foster the creation of new works.

As a company member, the wonderful thing that Butterfield 8 provides is a home for a company of artists. We have a strong base of actors and designers all doing the work for the love of it and we have created such a strong ensemble that we are able to challenge ourselves with pieces like our world premiere production of Pride and Prejudice, which was created for the company by one of our members.

We originally staged Pride and Prejudice last year as a two-part event. Part 1 and Part 2 are performed on different evenings (some double days as well). Our commitment as a company to text work (and of our playwright Donald Hardy to the original story) makes Pride and Prejudice a unique piece of theatre where the characters speak much of the original narration from the book as well as the dialogue. Far from making the piece static, the ensemble is constantly onstage and moving as part of the action and doubling as multiple characters. We had a great run last summer and so we are remounting it this August with much of the original cast. For anyone interested in “word for word” style theatre, or fans of Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen, this is a not to be missed production!  My favorite compliments we got last year were from people who thought they hated Jane Austen but truly enjoyed our production!  As an actor, it’s one of the most challenging and rewarding roles I’ve ever played and I’m so happy to be a part of it!

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice runs August 1-26 at Cue Productions Live in Concord. The show runs mainly Thursday through Sunday.  For showtime and ticket information to see Annie and Becky, click here.


Photos provided by Becky and Annie, as well as

College Admission 2012

View Athenian College Matriculation 2012 in a larger map

Collectively, Athenian’s 73 recent graduates were accepted by 147 colleges and universities nationwide!  This is a particularly impressive feat given the record low admission rates this year.

100% of the Class of 2012 will be attending a four-year college or university.

  • 63% will attend a private college
  • 37% will attend a public college
  • 18% will attend the University of California
  • 35% will remain in California
  • 56% will go east of the Rocky Mountains
  • 2% will go out of the country

As students narrow down their list of schools, we encourage them to think about fit.  Athenian students end up going to a broad range of schools, each matched to a college or university that will enable them to pursue their individual goals and aspirations.  Many of this year’s students will be attending schools that prioritize environmental sustainability; 26 of the universities have LEED certified buildings and 23 have signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  A few have chosen to go to universities that support their specific interests: budding engineers will head off to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; aspiring artists will go to Parsons: The New School of Design and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts; and several soon-to-be successful business people will go to Babson College and NYU’s Stern School of Business.

Not surprisingly, due to the emphasis on finding an individual fit, there are only a handful of universities which attract more than one Athenian.  They are:
[col grid=”2-1 first”]New York University 7
Chapman University 3
Drexel University 3
UC Berkeley 3 [/col] [col grid=”2-1″]
Oregon State University 2
The George Washington University 2
UC Davis 2
UC Santa Cruz 2
University of Vermont 2 [/col]

A Sample of Universities Students Were Admitted to

Morehouse College: the only all male, historically black university in the country has graduated the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Shelton “Spike” Lee, Herman Cain, Walter Massey, Shakir Stewart, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Pitzer College: requires students to engage in a “Social Responsibility,” either through coursework that includes a community service component, or through non-academic service to the school.

Carleton College: ranked #1 for undergraduate teaching at a national liberal arts college by U.S. News and World Report, known for it’s 9 to 1 student-faculty ratio.

The George Washington University: located four blocks from the White House, more than 90% of its students have internships on Capitol Hill, with leading NGOs, and other local organizations.

Muhlenberg College: like Athenian, Muhlenberg educates the whole person with a focus on “understanding the diversity of human experience” through liberal arts education.

Oberlin College: the first coeducational college in the United States, Oberlin graduates go on to earn more PhDs than any other university in the country.

Swarthmore: joining the “no-loans movement,” Swarthmore  students earn an education debt-free while engaging in Community-Based Learning at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

Reed: produced 32 Rhodes scholars, second only to one other liberal arts college, and has a primarily student-run nuclear reactor.

Barnard: the all women counterpart to Columbia University, has one of the top five career service centers and graduated Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, Martha Stewart, Jacqueline Barton, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

University of Michigan: one of the largest research institutions, offers thousands of research opportunities for undergraduates and has spent over $1 billion on research in one academic year.


This year’s class was accepted to the following colleges and universities.  Fourteen of the universities students were admitted to are highly selective** and an additional 50 schools are considered very selective*.

[col grid=”2-1 first”]*American University
Arizona State University
*Babson College
**Barnard College
Belmont University
*Boston College
*Boston University
Bradley University
*Brandeis University
*California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
California State University, Channel Islands
California State University, Chico
California State University, East Bay
*California State University, Long Beach
California State University, Los Angeles
California State University, Monterey Bay
California State University, Northridge
California State University, Sacramento
*Carleton College
*Carnegie Mellon University
Case Western Reserve University
*Chapman University
*Colgate University
*College of William and Mary
*Colorado School of Mines
Colorado State University
*Connecticut College
**Dartmouth College
DePaul University
Dominican University of California
Drew University
Drexel University
**Duke University
Eckerd College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – FL
Emmanuel College
Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts
*Fashion Institute of Technology
Florida Institute of Technology
Florida State University
*Fordham University
*Franklin and Marshall College
**Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
Goucher College
Hampshire College
Hofstra University
Howard University
Humboldt State University
Indiana University at Bloomington
Ithaca College
**Johns Hopkins University
*Lafayette College
Lake Forest College
*Lehigh University
Lewis & Clark College
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola University New Orleans
*Marist College
McDaniel College
Mount Holyoke College
*Muhlenberg College
*New York University
*Northeastern University
*Oberlin College
*Occidental College
Oregon State University
*Oxford College of Emory University
Pace University, New York City
Pacific University
Parsons The New School for Design
Pennsylvania State University, Abington
**Pitzer College
[/col] [col grid=”2-1″]
*Reed College
*Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey at New Brunswick
Saint Louis University
Saint Mary’s College of California
*San Diego State University
San Francisco State University
San Jose State University
Santa Clara University
Sarah Lawrence College
*Scripps College
Seattle University
*Skidmore College
*Smith College
Sonoma State University
Suffolk University
**Swarthmore College
*Syracuse University
The American University of Paris
The College of Wooster
The Evergreen State College
*The George Washington University
The University of Arizona
The University of Montana, Missoula
**Tufts University
**Tulane University
*Union College
University at Buffalo The State University of New York
University College London
*University of British Columbia
**University of California at Berkeley
*University of California at Davis
*University of California at Irvine
**University of California at Los Angeles
University of California at Merced
University of California at Riverside
*University of California at San Diego
*University of California at Santa Barbara
University of California at Santa Cruz
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Denver
*University of Connecticut
University of Denver
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of La Verne
*University of Massachusetts, Amherst
*University of Miami
*University of Michigan
University of Nevada, Reno
*University of New Hampshire
University of Oregon
**University of Pennsylvania
University of Portland
*University of Puget Sound
University of Redlands
*University of Rochester
*University of San Diego
University of San Francisco
**University of Southern California
University of the Pacific
University of Utah
University of Vermont
*University of Virginia
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Washington State University
**Washington University in St. Louis
Western New England University
Wheaton College MA
Whitman College
Whittier College
*Willamette University [/col]

Data was compiled from a variety of sources, including U.S. and World News Report and The New York Times The Choice Blog.