MAPS Class of 2021–2023 Selected 

News Type:  Alumni Main Parents Date:  Wednesday, May 19, 2021 Byline:  Mel Cort ’23

Twelve Mercersburg students in the 10th grade have been accepted to study with MAPS (Mercersburg’s Advanced Program for Global Studies) during the 2021–2022 and 2022–2023 school years. This marks the ninth group of students selected to join the MAPS program since its introduction in 2013.

The program stretches through both of the upper-class years, beginning with the required completion of the Thought, Knowledge, and Belief (TKB) course as upper-middlers and culminating with a Senior Research Thesis. The program is focused on expanding the existing curriculum in order to present promising students with challenging academic and co-curricular opportunities. Through MAPS, students gain skills in self-motivation, global citizenship, and creative thinking. 

“I was really grateful and excited when I got into MAPS,” says Greta Lawler ’23, one of the newly selected students. “I know it will shape my high-school experience over the next two years, so it sort of felt like I was getting accepted to go on a cool adventure or quest.”

From the rigorous coursework to lively Harkness style discussions and traveling, MAPS creates numerous possibilities for exploration and creativity.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know everyone else in my class, having fun in TKB, and figuring out what I want to do my research paper on,” Lawler says. The Senior Research Thesis and SEARCH (Study, Engage, Apply, Research, Create, Help) capstone project allows students to design their own research paper on global topics of their choosing.

Other requirements include advanced foreign-language study, 15 credits of approved MAPS courses in at least four different academic departments, significant efforts in community engagement, and participation in a required travel and study trip. 

 "The current MAPS students have done fantastic work through the disruptions of the past 15 months, but we look forward to the Class of ’23 having a more traditional MAPS/Mercersburg experience,” said David Bell P ’17, ’18, history faculty.

The incoming group features Koko Chen ’23 of Shanghai, China; Emma Hobbs ’23 of Hagerstown, MD; Jamie Hyung ’23 of Seoul, South Korea; Clare Ip ’23 of Hong Kong, China; Day Kim ’23 of Seoul, South Korea; Ian Kim ’23 of Houston, TX; Greta Lawler ’23 of Arlington, VA; Jooa Lee ’23 of Daejeon, South Korea; Priscilla Lee ’23 of Poway, CA; Catherine Orders ’23 of Charleston, WV; Brant Warner ’23 of Frederick, MD; and Jasmine Zhu ’23 of Chengdu, China.

2021 Summer Institute at Mercersburg Academy Announced

News Type:  Alumni Main Parents Date:  Thursday, May 6, 2021
Grant Lichtman

On June 14-15, this year's Summer Institute at Mercersburg Academy will bring educators together in an all-virtual conference with leading thinkers about the future of education. Unlike in previous years, this event is designed for Mercersburg's broader constituencies as well, including faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. 

The two-day institute will include keynotes, panels, interactive sessions, and workshops delivered or facilitated by guest presenters. 

“It seems like most major periodicals have written about how schools can or must change,” said John David Bennett P ’12, ’19, ’24, dean of curricular innovation at Mercersburg. “This conference will hopefully make that abstract conversation concrete, as some of the most influential voices for the transformation of schools will meet and interact with our community. So many of our questions will be answered,  and much of what seems elusively mysterious will be given form.”

This year’s featured speakers include Grant Lichtman, an amiable provocateur who has helped nearly 200 schools reimagine how they prepare their students for a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world. His most recent book, Thrive: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution, is a guide for anyone wondering why schools need to innovate and a map for how to inspire and create change. 

Dr. Pooja Agarwal

Dr. Pooja Agarwal is a cognitive scientist who has conducted research on how students learn since 2005; she teaches psychological science to exceptional undergraduate musicians as an assistant professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Agarwal is the founder of, a hub of research, resources, and teaching strategies based on the science of learning. Her research has been published in leading journals; highlighted by The New York Times, NPR, Scientific American, and Education Week; and recognized by the National Science Foundation.

Another featured guest of the Institute is the founder of The Brightworks School in San Francisco, Gever Tulley, whose school gives kids real problems to solve and the tools and agency to find solutions. Whether its kids design and building a roller coaster or construct and launch a weather balloon from scratch, Tulley’s school harnesses the best from all disciplines—from the aesthetic power of the arts to the storytelling of the humanities or the profound power of math “as a language that describes reality.”

This year’s event is free for participants. Registration is now open. If you’re an educator or are curious about the future of education and the voices influencing the education sector, we invite you to join us in June. Learn more about this year’s Institute on our website. (Please note that Tuesday’s sessions from 11 a.m. through the duration are limited to Mercersburg faculty only.)

For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen ( in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.

Gever Tulley

Food for Thought Springboard Hosts Alumni Foodies

News Type:  Alumni Date:  Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A collaborative writing reflection from Susannah Birch '21 and Ebube Onwusika '21 and faculty members Maggie Howes and Michele Poacelli P '24.

We created the "Food For Thought" course with the intention of it being a yearlong Springboard senior capstone class. COVID-19 required the school to adapt the term calendar, and our year course was condensed to nine weeks. We planned on field trips out into the broader world: farmer's markets, restaurants, food pantries, and cooperatives. This also changed because of COVID-19; travel was off the table. But even with these changes, we still imagined wonderful interactive shared cooking experiences on campus with the students. And then, it was announced that the first seven weeks of the winter term would be virtual. Just as we were hoping to expand our students' perspectives, the world seemed to shrink around us; we were reduced to little two-dimensional squares on an 8x13 computer screen. Meetings in a virtual classroom become mundane sometimes, even when teachers and students give their all to avoid this.  

As we tried to make the most of our situation, an exciting resource came to our aid: Zoom visits with alumni—all of whom shared their unique food stories and experiences. The visits began midway through the second week of classes in January with Bassirou Diakhoumpa '18 and spanned the term to the end of March with Robins McIntosh '70. The presentations and discussions transformed our little Zoom squares into windows to the food world. They gave our students vistas and viewpoints we couldn't have otherwise provided.

We, the teachers, and our students realized the value of these visits early on.

Susannah Birch '21 recounts:
"The alumni speakers in Food For Thought were an absolute highlight of the Springboard class. The alumni offered valuable perspectives and insights on topics ranging from aquaculture to what it is like to start your own business. All the speakers were positive and very engaged with the students, and as a class we were able to have many great discussions which really made our Springboard experience unique and unforgettable. Some students even reached out to our speakers for input on their final projects! One of the best parts of having the speakers is that we got to hear about all the places that food could take us in our lives and the range of possibilities for us after Mercersburg and college. As seniors, I think it is especially important for us to get encouraging and practical career and life advice. Food for Thought could truly not be as amazing as it is without the voices of alumni speakers."

Who were the students' favorite speakers? Who had the strongest impact? It would be impossible to say. The alumni speakers were a buffet of offerings, and students took away a savory bite from each.

Ebube Onwusika '21 shares her takeaways from Arlo Crawford's ('96) visit in February:
"Arlo Crawford gave us an exciting, honest conversation about who he is and how food and writing play into that. As someone who enjoys writing too, speaking with Arlo was enlightening and made me think more deeply about what and why I write. In the short 50 minutes he had with our class, Arlo talked about writing as a form of self-expression for him. He said 'find the things that are already important, and tell people about it.' That's what Arlo has done with his writing, like his memoir A Farm Dies Once a Year, published in 2014. Arlo Crawford had important connections with food and used his go-to self-expression medium to tell others about it. His work inspired me, and his vulnerability with our class made for an overall great conversation, one I'll remember for a while."

Long after we forget the challenges of teaching Food for Thought online this winter, we'll remember the speakers who added flavor, texture, and of course spice to our course. We're so grateful they came to the table.

Sincere thanks to Bassirou Diakhoumpa '18, Cara Fraver '99, Arlo Crawford '96, Rahde Franke '06, Lauren McCartney Hottle '02 , Ravi Jolly '00, Robins McIntosh '70, Emely Sabater '05, and Molly Marino Zemek '94.

"The Gangster of the Pen": Joseph Stalin on Max Eastman (1900)

News Type:  Alumni Date:  Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Did you know there are two Mercersburg alumni who have served as editors of Reader's Digest? Last month we highlighted Peggy Northrup '72, one of our early female graduates. This month we share a little history about the other: Max Eastman, Class of 1900, a more controversial alum who once counted Leo Trotsky as a friend and Joseph Stalin as a sworn enemy.

Max could be found hanging out in speakeasies with Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald or getting into fights with Earnest Hemingway in the office of Scribner's. He came to Mercersburg in 1899 as an 11th grader who was shy, unconfident, and unsure of his direction in school. By the time he graduated and headed to Williams College, he was the valedictorian, won declamation, and earned the highest academic marks in the history of the school to that point with an average of 99.

Max was a poet/writer/critic/gameshow host/magazine editor and all-around man of the world. He published more than 20 volumes throughout his career on a variety of topics, from poetry to communism. Max was simultaneously promoting the cause of women's suffrage and an early adopter of the free love movement of the roaring '20s. In the early 20th century, he and his sister Crystal were the editors and creators of the liberal magazine The Masses/The Liberator, which featured the works of such luminaries as Hellen Keller, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Carl Sandburg, and many others.

As an outspoken and leading socialist of the early 20th century, Max changed his philosophy after the Great Depression and became a staunch conservative voice that led him to be a roving editor of Reader's Digest in the 1940s and later write under William Buckley at the National Review. Max has been criticized for having opinions on both sides of the fence on issues and often completely changing his stances. He was one of Mercersburg’s most complex, contradictory, and truly fascinating characters.

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