Magdalena Kala ’09 Featured in Forbes

News Type:  Main Date:  Friday, December 6, 2019
Magdalena Kala ’09 speaking to the Class of 2019 during the 126th Commencement ceremony.

Congratulations are in order for Magdalena Kala ’09, a vice president at Bain Capital. She was recently featured in Forbes' newly released “30 Under 30 In Finance 2020” as one of the top young financial minds. 

Kala left her home in Poland in 2006 to join the Mercersburg Academy community as a 10th-grade student. While at Mercersburg, she was valedictorian of her class; earned varsity letters in cross country and squash; served as a dorm prefect; and was a member of Cum Laude, The Fifteen, and The Mercersburg News. She was also a recipient of the Robert Michelet ’30 Scholarship Prize, the President’s Education Award, the Community Service Award, and the Harry Smith Senior English Award.

Following her time at Mercersburg, Kala graduated from Harvard University with an economics degree and earned an MBA from Stanford University. She is currently vice president of consumer, retail, and dining at Bain Capital in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also a former member of Mercersburg Academy’s Board of Regents (2015–2018).

Kala returned to campus in May to give the address at the school’s 126th Commencement ceremony. She told graduating students in the Class of 2019, “Mercersburg has allowed me and all of you to explore various interests without limitations on who you should and can be. Cherish that spirit of exploration as you go through the next stage of your life. Follow the jungle gym of your curiosity instead and see where it takes you.”

Kala was also honored in June with the Alumni Council’s Young Alumni Leadership Award, which was presented on Reunion Weekend as her 2009 graduating class celebrated its 10th reunion.

Join our school in congratulating Magdalena for all she as accomplished and for her Forbes honor. Enjoy this article and video from her interview with Forbes.

Fall Student Artwork Spotlighted in Cofrin Gallery

News Type:  Main Date:  Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Fall Student Art Show, highlighting student artwork from the fall term at Mercersburg Academy, is now on display in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Cofrin Gallery and gallery niche. A dessert reception will be held after Monday Night Dinner on December 9 at 7 p.m.

More than 70 pieces are featured in the show, curated from introductory classes in Ceramics I and Sculpture I (taught by Wells Gray) featuring poured glass sculpture and wooden sculptures, Painting I (taught by Syd Caretti) featuring final choice paintings informed by a famous painter, two sections of Drawing I (taught by Gray and Caretti) featuring students’ self-portraits, and two sections of Digital Photography (taught by Kristen Pixler). 

Cardboard sculptures from Maker’s Lab (taught by Andy Brown and Franklin Bell) students, along with music from Mixing Music in the Digital Age (taught by Bryan Morgan ’07) will also be on display. 

The show will conclude December 19.


Mercersburg Represented at Annual Conferences

News Type:  Main Date:  Thursday, December 5, 2019
Students and faculty waiting for a session at The People of Color Conference.
Pictured: Alex Cho ’23, Birdy McDonnell ’20, Isonah Dlodlo ’22, Carmen Martinez ’20,
Tanaka Mukudzavhu ’20, Matthew Tavarez ’21

A number of Mercersburg Academy faculty and students are on the road this week participating in two conferences. The People of Color Conference (PoCC) began Wednesday, December 4, in Seattle, Washington, and The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) annual conference started Thursday, December 5, in Boston, Massachusetts. Both conferences are favorites at Mercersburg, and faculty, staff, and students attend each year. 

The annual TABS conference is exclusive to boarding schools and has been at the forefront of professional development for heads of school and faculty. Mercersburg faculty are leading three workshops at TABS this year.

Head of School Katie Titus will co-lead a session with Head of School Rachel Stone of Canterbury School in Connecticut, "Leadership Structure for the Modern (Future) World." In this session, both heads will discuss the concept of distributive leadership (a model both have begun to implement on their campuses) and why it’s important for a school’s survival.

Dean of Curricular Innovation John David Bennett will join history department head Jay Bozzi and arts faculty member Kristen Pixler in giving attendees a glimpse into Mercersburg’s capstone experiences in a session called "A Yearlong Capstone Experience for Every Senior." The team will inform other schools on how Mercersburg works with students to fully immerse themselves in a project and offer insights on the successes and missteps.

Dean of Academics Jennifer Smith ’97, Director of Learning Services Margaret Maciulla, and history faculty member Emily Parsons will present "A Research-Informed Approach to Homework Aimed at Reducing Student Stress." This is a hot topic among teachers, parents, and students; attendees will learn how a series of initiatives and policy changes have led to shorter, more meaningful assignments, and the positive effects for both students and teachers.

The annual People of Color Conference is presented through the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).  Both are committed to providing a space for professional development and networking for people of color as well as all backgrounds in independent schools. PoCC’s goal is to improve and enhance the interracial, interethnic, and intercultural climate in schools, as well as social-emotional outcomes for students.

Faculty members in attendance this year are Selas Douglas (history), Allison Stephens (history), Leela Woody (English), and Rudy Wise (admission). For more information on both conferences, please visit the TABS and PoCC. websites.

Christmas Candlelight Service Set for December 15

News Type:  Main Date:  Friday, November 22, 2019

Mercersburg Academy’s annual Christmas Candlelight Service will be held Sunday, December 15, in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. Services will be held at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., with light refreshments served in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Cofrin Gallery from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The service is open to the public and free of charge. Parking is free and the Chapel is handicap accessible. 

The 7:30 p.m. service will be streamed live on the school homepage and available to watch after the event. 

Rev. William R. Whitmore (Mercersburg’s school minister), will deliver the sermon, “To be with Christmas.” Members of the Mercersburg Chorale (under the direction of Bryan Morgan ’07), String Ensemble (directed by Michael Cameron), and Chapel Choir (directed by James Brinson), and several readers from the Academy community and the Borough of Mercersburg will also participate.

A carillon prelude by Brinson, as well as seasonal vocal and instrumental music, begins one hour prior to each of the two services. It is suggested that attendees arrive early for the best seating. 

A free-will offering will be collected to benefit the Mercersburg Rotary Club’s Santa’s Toy Box program, which purchases gifts for area underprivileged children.

This year, the Academy is once again offering the community an opportunity to donate a poinsettia that will adorn the Chapel during the service. Fill out the online form to dedicate a poinsettia in honor of a loved one. Dedications must be submitted by Monday, December 2.

The Chapel will host a Midnight Holiday Carillon Recital on Monday, December 24, at 11:59 p.m. 

On Sunday, December 8, at 3 p.m., the Chapel will host the fall concert of the Mercersburg Area Community Chorus. Richard Rotz, the Academy’s director of music, also directs the Community Chorus.

Aurelius Dunbar ’20 Signs to Wrestle at Penn State

News Type:  Athletic Main Date:  Thursday, November 21, 2019
Aurelius Dunbar ’20 with head wrestling coach Nate Jacklin ’96

Mercersburg Academy senior Aurelius Dunbar ’20 has signed a national letter of intent to join the wrestling program at Penn State University.

Dunbar, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania, is a two-time National Prep All-American, a three-time National Prep qualifier, and a three-time Pennsylvania state finalist. He is ranked No. 14 nationally at 160 pounds, and has earned NHSCA Junior All-America and Cadet Freestyle All-America honors.

At Mercersburg, Dunbar has compiled an 87-18 overall record in three seasons for head coach Nate Jacklin ’96, including a 31-8 mark as an 11th grader. He has placed second in his weight class at the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools State Wrestling Tournament all three years (145 pounds in ninth grade, 152 pounds in 10th, and 160 in 11th).

“I first met Aurelius at our wrestling camp when he was 7 years old,” Jacklin says. “He said his goal was to wrestle at Penn State. It’s a dream for every Pennsylvania wrestler, and it’s great to see it happen for him after all his hard work.”

Penn State has won the last four NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, as well as eight of the last nine titles. The PSU campus in State College is 85 miles north of Mercersburg.

“Maximum effort, speed, and finesse are what makes this possible,” Dunbar says.

Newsweek Ranks Mercersburg Among Top STEM Schools

News Type:  Main Date:  Monday, November 18, 2019

Mercersburg Academy was recently named to Newsweek’s Top 500 STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) High Schools for 2020, and was among the top 10 schools in Pennsylvania.

The announcement was made in conjunction with National STEM Day (November 8), and more than 30,000 private and public schools in the United States were considered for the ranking.

Mercersburg received a rating of 90.96 out of 100. Only 17 schools in Pennsylvania were named to the list.

Scores were determined by Newsweek and by utilizing regression analysis to evaluate which primary and secondary institutions in America best offer students quality experience in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while also preparing them for post-school life.

View the announcement and complete list from Newsweek

Gray, Metcalf Sign to Play NCAA Division I Basketball

News Type:  Athletic Main Date:  Thursday, November 14, 2019
Quintin Metcalf ’20 and AJ Gray ’20 with Mercersburg head coach Sean Crocker

Two Mercersburg boys’ basketball standouts have each signed a national letter of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at the Division I level in 2020-2021. AJ Gray ’20 is headed to the University of Hartford, and Quintin Metcalf ’20 will play for St. Bonaventure University.

Metcalf, a 6-foot-8-inch power forward from Seoul, South Korea, held offers from fellow Division I schools Drexel, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Howard before choosing St. Bonaventure (which is located in Olean, N.Y., and plays in the Atlantic 10 Conference). He is in his first year at Mercersburg after returning to his native U.S.; Metcalf is a three-time recipient of Stars and Stripes Pacific’s Boys’ Basketball Athlete of the Year award.

“Quintin works so hard and has really earned everything he’s gotten,” Mercersburg head boys’ varsity basketball coach Sean Crocker says. “He is still just scratching the surface of his level and it won't shock me to see him excelling from Day 1 at St. Bonaventure. His ability to stretch the floor and put the ball on the floor with his size makes him next to impossible to guard with one player.”

Gray, a 6-foot-4-inch small forward from Rochester, N.Y., was named Mercersburg’s most valuable player in 2018-2019. He is also a standout track & field athlete, having placed second in the high jump, third in the 100-meter dash, and third as a member of the Blue Storm’s 4x100m relay team at the 2019 Mid-Atlantic Prep League Outdoor Championships.

“AJ’s explosiveness is hard to match,” Crocker says. “His growth on the defensive end of the court over the last year has really been tremendous and will allow him to be able to control the game on both ends of the floor. His first step is one of the quickest I've ever seen. His hard work will put him in a position to contribute from the start at Hartford!”

Hartford plays in the America East Conference; its campus is located in West Hartford, Conn.

The Blue Storm opens its 2019-2020 season Friday, November 22, against West Nottingham Academy at the Westtown Invitational in West Chester, Pa. Mercersburg’s home opener is Wednesday, December 4, at home against local foe St. Maria Goretti High School (6:30 p.m.).

Mercersburg Academy Announces 2020 Class of ’32 Award Recipients

News Type:  Main Date:  Friday, November 8, 2019

The Class of ’32 Distinguished Alumnus Award is Mercersburg’s highest honor, presented annually to an alum who has most distinguished himself or herself through character, service, and achievement. This year the school will recognize Deborah J. Simon ’74 and Paul C. Mellott Jr. ’70.

Deborah J. Simon ’74 is chair of the Simon Youth Foundation, whose mission is to foster alternative educational and mentoring opportunities, and serves on the boards of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Youth Renewal Fund, the Indianapolis Zoo, the Indiana Museum of Art, the Herron School of Art at Indiana University, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Foundation, and The Juilliard School. She is past chair of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and former senior vice president of Simon Property Group, one of the largest real-estate companies in the world.

Deborah Simon ’74

At Mercersburg, Simon participated in Stony Batter Players, the Chorale, and The Mercersburg News. She was a member of the Fifteen, served as a dormitory prefect, and was a declaimer for the Irving Society.

Simon served as a member of the Board of Regents from 1992 to 1994 and was re-elected in 2000. She has served as president of Mercersburg Academy’s Board of Regents since 2017. Simon received the Alumni Council Service Award in 2009 and was co-chair of the Daring to Lead Campaign (which raised more than $300 million).

“Debbie’s genuine love for the school comes through so loudly because of how it genuinely impacted her. She finds so much joy in giving back to the school,” says Board of Regents President Emerita Denise Dupré ’76. “She has, every step of the way in her tenure on the Board, been an advocate for making the school a better place, and she steps up to the plate with her ideas, wisdom, and incredible generosity. Debbie doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk, and it’s often at a prodigious pace—so you’d better be ready to go fast if you’re going to be on her team.”

Her great love for her alma mater was fervently displayed in the fall of 2013 with the announcement of a $100 million lead gift to Mercersburg’s Daring to Lead Campaign. At the time, her gift was the second-largest gift ever made to an independent school in the U.S. The Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre, the Simon Student Center, and the Prentiss Center for Alumni and Parents at North Cottage are among the visible results of Simon’s generous support of Mercersburg. Her gift is being used to broaden tuition assistance toward the school’s goal of access and affordability, while also enhancing programming and assisting faculty with advanced education, sabbaticals, and other benefits. She has been a leadership donor with 39 consecutive years of giving to the Annual Fund, and is a member of the McDowell Society and Marshall and Irving Alliance. Simon has also established more than a dozen endowed funds, supporting nearly every facet of the Mercersburg community.

Simon, a graduate of the University of Southern California, lives in Carmel, Ind. She enjoys traveling and divides her time between philanthropic interests and investment work.

Paul Mellott ’70

Paul C. Mellott Jr. ’70 is chairman of Mellott Company, a three-generation family company supporting customers in aggregate, slag, construction, and environmental industries in Warfordsburg, Pa. Mellott joined the company in 1974 to help guide the growth and development of the organization.

Mellott graduated from Mercersburg in 1970 and received a bachelor’s degree in business from Boston University in 1974. During his tenure at Mercersburg he was a member of the Irving Society and the French Club, served as a Blue Key and a proctor, and captained the varsity basketball team.

“Paul has been a lifelong supporter of Mercersburg,” says Regent Emerita Gail Reeder and her husband Jeff P ’97, ’00. “Among his classmates and in his community he is a proud advocate for the school, promoting it to anyone who will listen. He is a respected leader in his industry and his community where he shares his time and talents by serving on many boards and has received numerous awards and recognition among his peers. It is an honor to call Paul a friend.”

Mellott Company has been an industry leader, expanding into the fields of parts and services, equipment and rental services, and screen media services. Mellott Company also represents the Mellott brand of parts and portable plants, Continental Idlers, and AZFAB Fine Aggregate Dewatering Products. The company acquired the assets of Superior Machine of North Carolina, now known as Marion Machine, in January 2018. Marion Machine has been in business for 83 years and provides parts and equipment storage as well as sales and technical assistance for Mellott Company.

In 2011, Mellott was named AggMan of the Year, which is the industry’s top honor and given to the executive that has made a profound and lasting impact in the industry. He has been named by the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association as the recipient of the Barry K. Wendy Memorial Commitment Award for his dedication to the construction aggregate industry. 

Mellott has served on the boards of many professional and community organizations, including Penn-Mar Development Company, Association of Builders and Contractors of Cumberland Valley, and the Hagerstown Trust Company.

He has been a leader at Mercersburg, having served as a class agent for 45 years, a William Mann Irvine Society Annual Fund chair, a Mightily Onward Campaign capital gift solicitor, and a Daring to Lead Campaign host committee member. Mellott is a leadership donor with 39 consecutive years of giving to the Annual Fund, and is a member of the Via Lucis Society and the Marshall and Irving Alliance. In 2015, he established The Mellott Brothers Scholarship Fund with his brothers, Herm  ’72 and Brian ’75. Mellott is serving as co-chair of the Class of 1970’s 50th Reunion Committee.

Mellott focuses his philanthropy on local initiatives for youth, including Mellott University (a nine-month program for students who are interested in a career in the aggregate industry). He also enjoys playing golf, keeping up with politics and current events, and traveling with his wife, Lotta.

We look forward to honoring Deborah and Paul with a dinner that kicks off Reunion Weekend 2020 Thursday, June 4, 2020, on the Mercersburg campus.

November, December 2019 Carillon Recitals Announced 

News Type:  Main Date:  Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Buck Lyon-Vaiden
Jim Brinson

Mercersburg Academy announces carillon recital dates for November and December 2019. Recitals take place on the school’s Swoope Carillon on most Sundays during the academic year; recitals begin at 3 p.m.

Academy Carillonneur Jim Brinson will perform on November 10, and guest carillonneurs Buck Lyon-Vaiden and John Widmann will perform November 17 and Christmas Eve, December 24 (at the stroke of midnight), respectively. 

Brinson has been a member of Mercersburg’s music faculty since 2003, and also serves as the Academy’s organist, directs Magalia (the school’s female student a cappella ensemble) and the Chapel Choir, and works with the Chorale. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, and an associate member of the GCNA. Brinson is a graduate with distinction of both Union Theological Seminary’s School of Sacred Music and Rhodes College; he is experienced in choral arts, organ performance, and music history.

Lyon-Vaiden, of Owings Mills, Md., retired from the foreign language department of McDonogh School in 2007. He became interested in the carillon while a student at the University of the South (Sewanee) in Tennessee, where he began studying in 1963 under Albert Bonholzer. An associate member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, Lyon-Vaiden has been playing the McDonogh Carillon since its installation in October 1978 for various school events and weddings in that school’s Tagart Memorial Chapel. He has coordinated the McDonogh summer carillon recital series since its inception in 1979 and continues to serve as school carillonneur there.

John Widmann

Widmann is a frequent guest recitalist at Mercersburg. He began studying the carillon with a Mercersburg Academy student in 1986. (Unfortunately, the student’s name has disappeared into the ether of history.) Widmann became a GCNA member in 1996; he is the city carillonneur of Frederick and is a music teacher in Frederick County Schools.

Recitals can be heard from the Prentiss-Zimmerman Quad on campus or the Irvine Memorial Chapel, which includes the Swoope Carillon and its Barker Tower. There is no admission charge and all are invited.

Mercersburg’s Swoope Carillon is one of 163 traditional carillons in the U.S. and includes 50 bells. The carillon series is funded in part by a generous endowment established by Robert M. Kurtz Jr. ’52 in memory of his parents, Robert M. and Dorothy Betts Kurtz. 

Read more information about the Swoope Carillon.

Senior Capstone Classes Experience Trips, Work on Projects

News Type:  Main Parents Date:  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Student work in the Maker's Lab Springboard course

Members of Mercersburg’s senior class spent the day October 24 focused on their capstone work—either by spending the day off campus to meet professionals in the fields they are studying, or utilizing dedicated time to work on their projects.

Students in Mercersburg’s Advanced Program for Global Studies (MAPS) were busy with an “in-house” research day in the library. “They focused on their SEARCH topics, providing updates, fielding questions, and engaging in reflective sessions,” said Peter Kempe, director of MAPS. 

Some Springboard classes spent time off campus for field trips, while others remained  on campus for focused work. 

“The students took advantage of one of three opportunities during the capstone field trip day: they have an extended period of time to focus on their individual exploration of their topics, or they meet with professionals in the fields they’re delving into, or they have a day-long immersion that will deepen their knowledge or even shift their perspective,” said John David Bennett, dean of curricular innovation and director of Springboard. “Whatever they do, all students will hopefully finish the day looking at their coming work with brighter, newly refreshed eyes.”

Commarts students (taught by Kristen Pixler) had an intra-class mural battle on the Quad; Maker’s Lab students (led by Andy Brown and Franklin Bell) had the day to work in the Maker’s Lab in the Burgin Center for the Arts; and Rapid Application Development students (taught by Brown) spent the day in the lab to working on projects. 

The Entrepreneurship class (led by Todd McGuire) went to Washington, D.C., for the day to work with a number of Mercersburg alumni entrepreneurs, including Michaella Hoehn-Saric ’13, Lacy Rice ’79, and Alec Harris ’00; Fight Against Disease (taught by Eric Hicks) visited the Chambersburg Hospital; Parallel Histories (led by Doug Smith) participated in an off-site writing retreat to work on projects about racial integration in 1964 and Calvin Coolidge’s long relationship with Mercersburg Academy; Write Your Novel (taught by Bennett) students attended a writing retreat near Frederick, Md.; and Positive Psychology (taught by Brett Potash) visited the Shambhala Meditation Center in Washington, D.C.

Read more about Mercersburg’s Capstone Experiences.


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