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Cyrus Monthly spring masthead
JUNE 2020 NEWS FOR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS

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Oct. 8-11
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From the Head of School: Putting Anti-racism into Practice

In the weeks following George Floyd’s murder, I have heard from alumni, families and students who have reached out to ask about the specific steps Blake is taking to dismantle systemic racism in our own organization and to educate about its history in American culture. I’d like to share some of the ways we have been taking on this work over the past few years with regard to our curriculum and professional development, our hiring practices and the representation of school leadership.

While these are a few specifics, please know that we are committed to this work for the long term. No single workshop, curriculum unit or hiring decision will erase the historical realities of explicit and implicit racism at Blake and in our communities. We continue to dig deeper into what it means to become anti-racist educators in an anti-racist school and to put those two goals into practice.

Alumni Spotlight

Vasiliki Papanikolopoulos ‘12 When COVID-19 forced businesses to close earlier this spring, Vasiliki Papanikolopoulos ‘12 wanted to support the small local shops and restaurants she has always cared so much about. Her solution was to create two online platforms: Minnesotans Unite and Save Twin Cities Eats, where consumers can easily discover and support small businesses in their neighborhood. Vasiliki recently talked about her efforts to connect locals with opportunities to safeguard their favorite spots as a guest on Amy Schachtman Zaroff’s ‘90 series “Today is a Reason to Celebrate,” which helps people find a reason to celebrate every day during these challenging times. Listen to their Instagram Live chat here. If you would like to volunteer your services or have a small business in need of support, contact Vasiliki at hello@minnesotansunite.com.

Adam Ehlert ’91 has self-published a book chronicling his yearslong saga with cardiac arrhythmias. In “Atrial Frustration,” Adam shares the difficulties facing patients and providers alike when dealing with a condition that has no linear cure. Henry Riter, a cardiologist and fellow Blake 1991 classmate, wrote the book’s introduction.

John Redgrave ‘01 is co-founder and CEO of Sentropy, a company that builds software to help businesses protect their users and brands from abuse, harassment and malicious content. Learn more about the startup in this Tech Crunch profile.

Brother and sister Kendall Boyd Tyson ‘05 and Kyle Boyd ‘08 work at NHL Seattle as vice president of strategy and analytics and director of youth and community development, respectively. Their brother Kasey Boyd ‘10 coaches boys’ hockey at Blake, and their dad, Joel Boyd, is an orthopedic surgeon and team physician for the Minnesota Wild. Cheryl Boyd, their mom, served as Blake’s financial aid director and admissions team member. The Athletic recently ran a feature about the family, “Meet the Boyds: The Black Hockey Family You’ve Never Heard of in the NHL.” (This story requires an account to read in its entirety.)

Derek Hitchner ‘18, a member of Pepperdine University’s men's golf team, earned Srixon/Cleveland Golf All-America Scholar status from the Golf Coaches Association of America. To achieve recognition the player must be a sophomore, junior or senior and have a stroke average below 76.0, a cumulative grade-point average of better than 3.2 and participation in 40% of the team's rounds in 2019-20.

Congratulations to the class of 2020, whose members have officially joined the ranks of Blake alumni! A pre-recorded commencement ceremony aired on May 28 and is now available to view on YouTube. And see this Google map to find out which colleges and universities our graduates will be attending. Class of 2020, be sure to stay in touch with your alma mater. Update your contact information online to continue receiving Cyrus Monthly and other alumni communications.

From the Archives

LearningWorks at Blake

LearningWorks teacher and students in  2000

On June 26, 2000, the inaugural class of LearningWorks at Blake (LW) helped launch a program that many students and teachers since have called “life changing.” A partnership between Minneapolis Public Schools and Blake, LW prepares Minneapolis public middle school students for college and draws talented high school and college students into careers in education.

Two decades later, more than 800 students have graduated from the program, and more than 300 LW faculty have gained experience in teaching and been inspired to consider a career in education. Many of these aspiring teachers have been Blake Upper School students and alumni.

By design, LW students represent the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity found across all 18 MPS middle schools. The program’s power to make change is evident in its results:

  • 99% of LW students have graduated from high school;
  • 83% of LW’s last five classes are enrolled in or have graduated from college (national average is 38%);
  • 85% of LW’s high school-age students enroll in MPS college-prep programs, with direct positive impact on MPS’ graduation rates.

Find photos of LW in action throughout its 20-year history.

Today at Blake

Students Take the Lead to Support Community

2020 graduates Rosa Gerdts and Kennedy RupertA number of Blake students are spearheading projects to support people and businesses in their local community. From food collections to fundraisers for social justice programs, they are putting their thoughts and feelings into action for a greater cause.

Retiree Tributes

Patti Loftus, Jackie Robie, Kris Westberg, Brian Olson, and Diane Landis

Read highlights from the notes Blake community members wrote to this year's faculty retirees: Diane Landis, Patti Loftus, Brian Olson, Jackie Robie and Kris Westberg.

Blake Debate Competes Virtually, Wins National Tournament

Blake debate team on Zoom call

Debaters Morgan Swigert ‘20 and Jack Johnson ‘20 won the national Tournament of Champions, which was held this year via the online platform Zoom. Over their years on the Blake debate team, Morgan and Jack have won multiple tournaments, awards and bids, and, according to their fellow teammates, have "been outstanding role models and people to everyone on the team. Their legacy will continue on for years."

Notes and Reminders

Virtual Breakfast at Blake

Raina Green and Beth Calderone

In May, the school hosted its first virtual version of Breakfast at Blake. Raina Green, Middle School social studies teacher, and Beth Calderone, PK-12 social studies department chair, presented “We The People: Responses to COVID-19.” Attendees discovered how Blake’s learning environment transformed this spring as a result of the pandemic. Raina and Beth highlighted the creative and interactive ways students and faculty have integrated technology and information into the social studies curriculum. Find a video of their virtual presentation here.

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