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May 28
Class of 2020 Commencement


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Bear Pause:
10 Questions in 10 Minutes

Jon Friedell ‘85Jon Friedell ‘85, P'24, P'28, an avid biker and music lover, lives in Minnetonka with his wife, Jada, two sons, Jackson and Maxwell, and head of the household, Oscar, their 3-year-old Maltese poodle. Jon recently started his new role as Blake’s director of alumni and parent engagement. Read more about Jon in the latest edition of Bear Pause.

Send recommendations of alumni you would like to see profiled in this monthly feature to Or check out our list of questions and participate yourself! Visit the Bear Pause archives to read past interviews.

Alumni Spotlight

Nick Washuta ‘16 Nick Washuta ‘16 was selected as the Denver Outlaws second round pick (11th overall) in the 2020 Major League Lacrosse draft on May 4 and has officially signed to play goalie for the team. Nick played the past four years at the University of Vermont, where he led the country with a .609 save percentage while starting every game for the Catamounts as a sophomore. He became the first Vermont player to record 11 wins in a single season and finished with 12 in 2018. He earned All-Conference and All-Academic honors as a junior and ended his senior season ranked ninth in goals against average (8.89) and save percentage (.585).

Andrea Carla Michaels ‘76 is a consulting producer on the “Talking Feds” podcast, a roundtable discussion that brings together prominent former government officials, journalists and special guests for a dynamic and in-depth analysis of the most pressing questions in law and politics.

Nina Hale ‘85 shared that her eponymous internet marketing firm, which she founded as a solo practice in 2005 and grew to include nearly 100 employees, has changed its name to Collective Measures. Nina was featured in the Summer 2016 issue of Cyrus (“Agent of Her Own Design”).

Tom Winston ‘95 is the executive producer of “Rewind,” Sasha Joseph Neulinger's autobiographic documentary in which he uses home videos to capture the cyclical nature of child sexual abuse. The film had its premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, where it received a special jury mention, and is now available through PBS. Tom was featured in the Fall 2019 issue of Cyrus (“Call of the Wild”).

John Paul Farmer '97, New York City’s chief technology officer, talked with StateTech Magazine about his prioritization of ­digital services for New York City citizens and why he’s passionate about the issue.

Sam Starr '03 launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first book project in collaboration with co-workers from IDEO in Palo Alto, a global design consultancy. Sam and the team at created three homeschooling playbooks for kids (ages 5-12) that modernize sexuality education and help families have big conversations about empathy, safety and biology.

Fred Steiner ‘05 serves as portfolio manager at BCCM Advisors, where he is responsible for security selection, risk management and portfolio construction for the company’s Pan-Africa strategy. Fred discusses his work in an interview with the Zurich Project Podcast.

Katherine Aizpuru '06 was named to the 2020 list of Super Lawyers: Rising Stars in the Washington, D.C. area. The peer designation is awarded only to a select number of accomplished attorneys in each state.

Michael Graham ‘10 has returned to the Twin Cities to launch and run Capsule, a new kind of pharmacy based in New York City that provides a modern way to manage and receive medications, including free same-day delivery. Twin Cities Business Magazine wrote about the local launch.

Hirsh Shekhar '14, an M.D. candidate at Yale School of Medicine, co-authored an essay (“As COVID-19 Accelerates, Governments Must Harness Mobile Data to Stop Spread”) published in Scientific American.

Will Kaback ‘16 was named the recipient of Hamilton College’s Walter Pilkington Memorial Prize, which is awarded to a student who has rendered distinguished service to the community in the areas of print and radio journalism and dramatics.

Sasha Shogren ‘18, who played forward for the junior hockey team the Minnesota Magicians, has committed to play NCAA Division III for Hamilton College.

From the Archives

Olympic Day 1970

Boy running at Olympic Day 1970Olympic Day has been a long-standing tradition of the Blake Lower School. (This year P.E. teachers upheld the tradition by designing an at-home version of the much-loved event.) The first "Junior School Olympic Track and Field Day" was held around 1955. This month we're sharing a set of photos from Olympic Day 50 years ago. These pictures were featured in the 1970 Call O'Pan yearbook.

If you recognize anyone in the photos, or would like to share a recollection of Olympic Day for the school archives, please contact Blake's archivist Alex Bentley at

Today at Blake

Blake Community Finds Connection Despite Distance

2020 graduate wearing Blake face maskWhile the global pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, it has also given the Blake community an opportunity to find creative and meaningful ways in which to connect.


Two New Bettels Scholars Join the Team

Mallika Malaviya and Spencer Okoronkwo

Established in 1992, the Chub Bettels Scholarship Fund benefits Upper School student athletes with financial need who exhibit the qualities Chub encouraged and taught — honesty, pride, leadership and being a participant rather than a spectator in both academics and athletics. Two rising juniors are designated each year for the two-year honor as a Bettels Scholar.

Congratulations to this year's scholars from the class of 2022: Mallika Malaviya and Spencer Okoronkwo. They join the class of 2021 scholars Morgan Ramsey and MaKenna Vavrichek on the Bettels team. And congratulations to graduating scholars Grace Johnson and Landon Peterson. Look for information on the Bettels annual picnic in the next issue of Cyrus Monthly.

Blake Website Wins Gold in International Competition

Lower School students cheering in class

MUSE Creative Awards, an international competition for creative professionals, named Blake a 2020 Gold Winner in website design. In August 2019, Blake launched its redesigned website, which was created in partnership with the digital design and marketing firm Finalsite. This prestigious competition was created in 2015 by International Awards Associate Inc. “to answer a need for nurturing and promoting the designing ‘muses’ that push the evolution of design to the next level.”

Notes and Reminders

Watch Class of 2020 Commencement Ceremony on May 28

Graduation ceremony

Blake will air the class of 2020 commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 28 at 6:30pm CDT on the NFHS Network, an online streaming platform used by schools across the country. More information here. Help welcome our graduates into the alumni fold by submitting a message or tagging @theblakeschool in an Instagram post we can share.

Retiring Faculty Tributes

The following Blake faculty and staff members are retiring this year: Linda Barrows (college counseling liaison/essay coach), Diane Landis (Upper School theater), Patti Loftus (Highcroft campus pre-kindergarten), Brian Olson (Upper School instrumental music), Jackie Robie (Highcroft campus fifth grade), Kris Westberg (Highcroft campus fourth grade) and Jinnea Zarate (Highcroft campus administrative assistant).

Submit a note with your stories, thanks and thoughts for any of our distinguished retirees. We will share highlights from these responses with the retirees and our community. Watch for a link to more in-depth tributes in a future issue of Cyrus Monthly.

Applications Open for Bennett Gallery Exhibit

The Martha Bennett Gallery curatorial team is accepting exhibit proposal applications from students, parents and alumni for the 2020-21 exhibition season. All ideas are welcome. Questions? Contact students Elizabeth Bragg, Nora Cornell or Jenna Thrasher.

The Blake School, 110 Blake Road South, Hopkins, MN 55343