Taft Voices

Tafties come from all walks of life, each with a story that fascinates and inspires. Meet some of our students, faculty, and alumni here.

Botany Meets Technology

Ally Anderson '18

Ally Anderson '18 worked with scientists from the New York Botanical Garden to develop an algorithm for an electronic plant identification program.

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Global Journeys: Into the Rainforest

Natalie Waldram '18

Environmental Leader


Natalie Waldram ’18 is deeply connected to the environment. She spent time last summer in the Amazon rainforest, and at an environmental leadership academy.

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Be the Change

Aditya Balsekar '18

Founder, Meaningful Summers


Aditya Balsekar combined his passion for service with his talent as a leader to change his community for the better.

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Global Journeys: Havana Nights

Caleb Hannon '18


Caleb's efforts to immerse himself in other cultures have him on track to earn a Global Studies and Service diploma from Taft in June.

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A Healing Counselor

Liila “Lee” Hass ’77

A trained naturopath, yoga instructor, and counselor, Hass works as a high-needs support counselor at Risdon, and her role is to focus on inmates with mental health issues and other disabilities—people who have brain injuries from long-term drug use or trauma or who have other mental health issues.

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Rigor with Heart

Khalid Tellis


One day, Khalid Tellis may write a book he'll call Joy and Humor in the Classroom. For now, that's exactly what he brings to Taft.

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A Q&A with Max Sandvoss ’98 of First Light Farm & Creamery

Max Sandvoss '98

Read about the goat farm and creamery owned by Max Sandvoss ’98 in upstate New York and his transition from actor to experienced farmer and cheesemaker. He and his brother, Trystan, are committed to the entire natural process with grass-fed animals and organic pastures. First Light sells its cheeses at farmers’ markets and to stores and restaurants across six states.

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Four-Wheeled Love Affair

Nick Firestone ’84

Nick Firestone ’84 has loved racing since age 3. At 51, he’s a professional race car driver who has raced among the most acclaimed drivers in the world and has been racing since the late 1980s. Firestone’s niche is go-karts, and he regularly races in the U.S. and internationally.

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Taking the Lead

Peter Horne '18
Head Mon


Peter came to Taft to hone his leadership skills, and found even greater opportunity than he imagined.

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Sarah Surber

Sarah Surber teaches students to express thoughts and emotions though movement.

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Taking on the World

Ben Laufer '18


Ben Laufer has spent the last year working to change the world. He's done so with a global audience.

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Business Scents

Ashley Wilberding Balavoine '90

As a perfumer, Ashley creates scents that are in products most of us use every day.

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A Sense of Belonging

Lindsay Leal

Mathematics, Mid Class Dean


Lindsay Leal's time as a boarding school student help shaped her approach to being a boarding school teacher.

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A Baker Who Serves

Billy Himmelrich ’82

Since 1999, owner Billy Himmelrich ’82 has been running Old School Bakery in Delray Beach, Florida—known for its fresh bread with a delicious combination of taste and texture—and providing bread to top restaurants, hotels, and country clubs in Southeast Florida, along with donating unsold bread to the Palm Beach County Food Bank and helping raise money for hunger relief through events.

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Food Waste: A Matter of Mindset

Belle McDougald '17 and Emily Weaver '17
ISP Scholars

Belle and Emily wanted to educate the community about simple and sustainable ways to help the environment.
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Giving Voice to Passion

Kaedi Dalley '18
Singer, Actor, Leader

Kaedi Dalley's talent, passion, and leadership inspire respect and awe, while galvanizing our community.

  • Admissions
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A Climate of Change

Amy Lynd Luers ’84

When Latin American villagers needed help getting access to clean water, she answered the call. She co-founded an NGO called Agua Para La Vida to help build potable water systems in the region.

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A Place to Grow and Thrive

Emma Bellet '18 
Student Leader

Emma Bellet believes that Taft is a place to grow and thrive; a place where you will exceed even your own expectations.

  • Admissions
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A Shining Restoration

Todd Gipstein '70
Keeper of the Light

Todd Gipstein returned to his childhood home to bring new life to a historic landmark.

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World Views

Pilar Santos
Spanish Teacher, International Student Advisor


Pilar Santos knows what it is like to be young and far from home.

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From Discovery to Cure

Sydney Trevenen '17
Research Scientist


Listen to Sydney Trevenen talk about her summer internship with the Yale University Discovery to Cure program.

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Finding Balance

Andrew Farrier '17
Hockey Captain, Student Leader


Andrew Farrier came to Taft from a much larger school near his home in Canada. What he found is that the strength of a community does not lie in its numbers.

  • Admissions
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Building Energy's Future

Michael Klein '10
Civil Engineer

Michael Klein manages projects aimed at producing energy for local communities using natural, renewable resources.

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A Passionate Voice for Justice

Dr. Joyce Poole '74

For more than 40 years, Dr. Joyce Poole ’74, the 2017 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal honoree, has been a passionate voice—a protector and defender—of elephants, dedicating her life to their conservation and welfare.

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Instilling Confidence

Jennifer Kenerson
Mathematics Department Head

Jennifer Kenerson takes pride in watching students grow into confident learners during their time at Taft.
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Jack on the Box Productions

Jack Elrad '17


Jack Elrad has established himself as a talented videographer and producer, documenting life at Taft, and working with Hollywood's best.

  • Admissions
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For a Greener Taft

Carly Borken

Director of Environmental Stewardship


Carly Borken is an environmentalist, a woman of vision, a change agent.

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Fruit and Flora

Shemar Christian '17

Eliza Price '17

Shemar and Eliza spent the summer of 2016 working side-by-side with world-renowned scientists, graduate students, and college interns in the laboratories of The New York Botanical Garden.

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The Commish

Ozzie Parente
Boys' Head Soccer Coach
Upper Mid Class Dean

Ozzie Parente's strength as a coach and a teacher? He loves what he does.

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Alumna, Faculty, Role Model

Idara Foster '11
Penn Fellow in English

Idara Foster '11 left an indelible mark on the Taft community as a student. Her impact is no less meaningful now that she is member of the faculty.

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Living the Taft Motto

AJ Barre '17
Global Steward


AJ Barre brings his passions for service and soccer together to raising funds and awareness for global causes.

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Rocket Woman

Jane Kinney '06 
Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineer

When Jane Kinney ’06 was five she knew she wanted to be involved in aerospace. Today, her aspirations have become a reality.

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Reel Stories

Andrew Eisen '04

It may seem trite, but for Andrew Eisen it was true: When one door closed, another opened. And the rest is history.
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Making Pictures

Yee-Fun Yin

Photography Teacher


Yee-Fun Yin wants his students to make pictures, not take pictures; to create art that is deliberate and personal.

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Enter Sandman: The Science of Sleep

Emerson Wickwire '91

Sleep expert Emerson Wickwire '91 studies the effects of what is known as “blue light” emitted from electronic devices on the body’s natural circadian rhythms, and discusses the importance of getting enough sleep.

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Common Threads

Eliza Denious '17
Head Mon


Eliza Denious is a head mon, a team captain, and a student who quickly recognized the ties that bind all Tafties together.

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Rhythm & Muse

Ciara Connolly '17 


Ciara Connolly finds inspiration wherever the music takes her.


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Catching Fire

Taft Filmmakers

What started with a poetic spark quickly caught Fire, and swept five Taft students into the white hot lights of the TriBeCa Film Festival.

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