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Monthly Musings - Summer 2009
Posted on: September 1, 2009




Summer 2009

Monthly Musings


Recognizing that our alumni, parents and friends all have less time to read the extensive amount of news and information we disseminate, Monthly Musings going forward will be a more succinct, yet still informal and newsworthy, communication designed to keep you better informed about the School, the Monastery and our community.  For day-to-day news about School and Monastery events, activities and "goings-on," we invite you to visit the "Recent News" section of our Web site:
Thank you!


School Offers Precautions, Preparations for H1N1 Virus on Campus This Fall:  The H1N1 virus, known as "swine flu," is in the national headlines as our students prepare to return for the start of the 2009-10 School year.  Since it appears that the virus will continue to spread this fall, and school campuses are expected to be especially affected, the Portsmouth Abbey administration and medical services team have been planning for such an outbreak on campus by monitoring updates from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the R.I. Health Department and other medical authorities.  Special campus-wide measures have also been implemented, including the placement of hand sanitizers in school buildings and a thorough review for all housekeeping and maintenance staff of the correct cleaning methods in all public areas of campus to best help control the H1N1 virus.

More detailed information and guidelines will be emailed to all Portsmouth Abbey families later this week.  In the meantime, Pam Gorman, director of medical services, asks for the cooperation of all students and their parents by adhering to the following recommendations:

  • Please remain home for 24 hours after symptoms go away if you are diagnosed with the flu, or are experiencing flu-like symptoms (fever and cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and possibly vomiting and diarrhea).  Be sure to contact your physician or medical care provider.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or, if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers.
  • Do not share bottles, utensils, towels and the like with friends.

Monastery to Commemorate Anniversaries of Monastic Profession of Dom Ambrose and Dom Edmund:  The Portsmouth Abbey Monastic Community cordially invites School faculty, family and friends to a Jubilee Mass, to be held in the Church of St. Gregory the Great on Sunday, September 20, at 11:00 a.m., to celebrate the 50th anniversary of monastic profession of the Very Reverend Dom Ambrose Wolverton and the 25th anniversary of monastic profession of the Reverend Dom Edmund Adams '57.  For more information, please contact Eileen McGuire at 401-643-1202 or    

Summer Program 2009 - Friends, Fun and Learning:  Students from Austria, Brazil, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Philippines, Spain, and the United States gathered this past summer to participate in the Portsmouth Abbey Summer Program from June 28th through July 25th.  The four-week program offered a wonderful opportunity to take traditional courses in literature, creative writing, public speaking, economics, and mathematics, while also introducing a Film & Culture seminar and workshop on the methods, means, and substance of visual storytelling.  Every student had an opportunity to participate in the hands-on afternoon enrichment activities of Landscape Painting and Environmental and Marine Science drawing on our unique position on the shores of Narragansett Bay.  Perhaps the lasting memory for the nearly 50 students were the friendships formed during the more leisurely trips to the many beaches, parks, and other beautiful areas that make Rhode Island such an attractive place be in the summer. View photos of the 2009 Summer Program.

Admissions Welcomes Class of 2013:  Summer has been exciting in the Admissions Office!  With the anticipation of a new school year right around the corner, we are gearing up to welcome over 100 new students to the Portsmouth Abbey community. This year's incoming Class of 2013 hails from 15 states, the District of Columbia, and 12 countries.  The Class of 2013 is extremely gifted, both in and outside the classroom, and we are all eager to welcome these new students to the Abbey community!

New Faculty:  A warm welcome to our new faculty members.  Allie DeSisto Micheletti '05 has joined the Visual Arts Department.  After graduating from the Abbey, Allie matriculated at Georgetown University and received a B.A. in 2008.  She will reside in St. Leonard's with her new husband, Nick '04Bill Rives '67 has returned to the Abbey after three decades teaching abroad to join the humanities department. Bill received his BA from Williams College and an MALS from Wesleyan. Megan Williams will be teaching mathematics.  Megan received both her B.S. (Mathematics/Education) and M.Ed. (Secondary Education) from St. Lawrence University.  She will be an assistant houseparent in St. Benet's. Ryan Dolan has joined us as assistant athletic trainer and head houseparent in St. Bede's. Ryan received a B.S. in Sports Medicine from Merrimack College and a M.S. in Exercise Science from Florida Atlantic University.

Faculty Changes:  Kale Zelden assumes his new position as academic dean, taking over the reins from Robert Sahms, who served in that capacity for four years.  Robert will continue to  teach science, and Kale will continue to teach English.  Kate Smith has moved to the humanities department; Dan Hodes will no longer teach humanities, but is now spiritual life associate and will teach CD; Dimitra Zelden is now spiritual life assistant; Cecilia Schilling has become assistant houseparent in St. Mary's; Nick Antol has become assistant houseparent in St. Hugh's; Kelly Reiser will no longer teach biology but will remain as head athletic trainer and head houseparent in Manor House; and Michelle O'Connor has been made assistant director of the Summer Program.  In the office of Development and Alumni Affairs, Kate Spinella P '12 has become director of the parents fund in addition to director of alumni & parent programs.  Fran Cook P '10, '12 has assumed a faculty position as director of special events. Her responsibilities include the management of all major campus events.

Three Haney Fellowships Awarded:  2009 Haney Fellowships were awarded this year to three rising Sixth Formers for summer independent study projects.  Those students were: Lauren Brodeur, who assisted a missionary team with health care in Haiti; Patrick Hannon, who volunteered in the Dominican Republic to help disabled children; and Kathryn Yao, who studied Chinese language and culture.  These students will share their experiences first-hand in an upcoming Musings.

Bookstore News Regarding Textbooks:  The Abbey Bookstore will be open and in full swing during Registration Weekend, September 12-13.  For those who are interested in used textbooks, they will be available on a first-come, first-served basis during registration in the Administration Building on Saturday and Sunday.  If you are interested in used textbooks, please speak with the person conducting your registration when you check in.  

Fall Dance Program Updates and Equipment List:  For students who are interested in our Dance program during the Fall Term, Jay Bragan, Performing Arts head, shared news and updates. Click here to learn more. 

Register Now for Reunion '09:  Reunion '09 is set for September 25-27, and we look forward to welcoming back all classes ending in '4 and '9 as well as all post-50th reunion Diman Club members.  An enjoyable schedule is planned for the weekend, including golf outings at the Carnegie Abbey Club (fee required) and a New England-style Clambake Luncheon, "Back to the Classroom" sessions with favorite teachers, Headmaster DeVecchi's "Portsmouth Abbey Today," tours of the newly renovated Church of St. Gregory the Great, athletic contests on Saturday, and the Reunion Cocktail Party and Gala on Saturday evening.  Don't wait!  Register online here or by calling Cindy at (401) 643-1244.  See you in September!

Ninth Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament Tees Up for Another Great Day on the Course:  Friday, October 16, will mark the 9th year golfers have hit the links to help fund scholarships for Portsmouth Abbey students.  These scholarships assist students for whom a Portsmouth Abbey School education would otherwise be out of reach.  Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by lunch and 18 holes of golf on the challenging Carnegie Abbey Club golf course.  The post-tournament reception and dinner will be held at the Carnegie Abbey Clubhouse where tournament prizes will be awarded.  For more information, click here 

Inaugural Alumni Networking Event a Success:  Portsmouth Abbey's first Alumni Networking Event was held in New York City on June 17 at Papillon Bistro and Bar.  The reception was hosted by Janine Graebe '98, Ashley Jones '97, and Michael Anselmi '97.  More than 60 guests attended, including over 50 Portsmouth Abbey alumni.  Owing to the success of the event and the alumni feedback we have received, we hope to have another round of networking events in Washington, D.C., Boston, and elsewhere.  Stay tuned!  View photos of the NY Alumni Networking Event.

Campus Changes:  While things may appear "quiet" around campus during the summer months, several offices have remained busy, including that of Operations and Maintenance.  Paul Jestings, our director of operations, shared a punch list of renovations and improvements that are taking place, or have been completed, around campus since the end of May.  Some are more apparent than others, but all are valuable enhancements to our physical plant that will better serve our community. Improvements include: a new basketball court and picnic area behind the Loft; water, electricity and a new score board for the Father Bede Fields; a new fire alarm and sprinkler system for Manor House; Music Department enhancements; Church landscaping; and the resurfacing of the Carlos X. Araujo '96 Memorial Outdoor Track.  Read the full list of improvements here.

Community Garden Yields Plentiful Produce, Goodwill:  The School community garden, led by Allie Micheletti '05, Nick Micheletti '04 and Brother Joseph, has been a great success during its first season.  Working with a small band of dedicated helpers, including faculty and staff, Brother Joseph, Allie and Nick have overseen the planting, growing and weeding of a wide range of vegetables on the half-acre plot, with great results: an abundance of lettuce, yellow and zucchini squash, cucumbers, carrots, green beans and beets, along with many herbs, pumpkins, spinach, cabbage, onions, and Swiss chard, all of which has been used for Monastery meals and to supplement the salad bar in the Dining Hall for the School community. Extra produce has been donated to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in Newport. The Dining Hall has supplied used coffee grounds and organic food scraps for the garden's compost bin, too.  Kudos and thanks to Allie, Nick and Brother Joseph, along with their volunteer gardeners, for their hard work and dedication in getting the community garden off the ground and maintaining it all summer.

Enjoy the Links at Carnegie Abbey:  Have you wanted to hit the links at Carnegie Abbey, but not yet had the opportunity? Portsmouth Abbey is pleased to offer its alumni, parents and friends a chance to enjoy the amenities offered at the spectacular Carnegie Abbey Club.  For a $1,000 fee (a portion of which is tax deductible), four guests of Portsmouth Abbey may play the fabulous 18-hole links course designed by Donald Steel.  Opportunities for play are limited and subject to course availability.  To arrange your outing, which may also include Clubhouse dining, for friends and family, please contact Director of Alumni & Parent Program Kate Spinella at 401-643-1276 or

Campus Wedding Bells:  Congratulations go to four School faculty members who were married this summer.  Polly Carter, director of the Annual Fund, married Nick Antol, assistant director of admissions, on August 23 in Bristol, RI, in a double wedding with Polly's sister and her fiancé. Classics teacher Nick Micheletti '04 tied the knot with Allie DeSisto '05 in an impromptu ceremony at the home of Allie's parents in Portsmouth, RI, on August 1.  Nick and Allie began dating while they were students at the Abbey.  CD teacher Dan Hodes was married on August 29 in Somers, CT, to Michelle Larosa.  And finally, Abbey alum and former development officer Pat Hewett '00 married his longtime girlfrend, Maura Naughton, in Milton, MA, this summer.  Best wishes to all the newlyweds!

Upcoming Events:

Monday, September 14
- Opening of School
Sunday, September 20 - Celebratory Mass Commemorating Dom Ambrose's 50th Anniversary of Monastic Profession and Dom Edmund's 25th Anniversary of Monastic Profession; 11:00 a.m., Church of St. Gregory  the Great
Friday-Sunday, Sept. 25-27 - Reunion 2009
Friday, October 16 - Ninth Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 23-24 - Parents' Weekend
Tuesday, November 10  - Boston Reception, Boston College Club, 100 Federal St., Boston, MA

Please contact Fran Cook at if you would like to attend, or have any questions about, our events.

Answer to May Question of the Month: In what year was no graduation ceremony held and why?  The year was 1935, and the cause was a serious outbreak of measles during the winter of 1934-35, which extended into the spring term, effectively eliminating all spring sports as well as commencement.  The school had been under strict quarantine at the height of the epidemic, and the decision was made by then-Headmaster Dr. Bateman to forgo commencement ceremonies.  The 23 graduating Sixth Formers received their diplomas informally in late June that year before leaving for vacation.          

Summer Question of the Month:  How many countries are represented by our entire current student body and faculty?  Please email your answers to   

We Welcome Your Input:  If you have questions, comments or ideas for Monthly Musings, please send them to the School's Communications Department at 


Kathy Heydt
Director of Communications



 Kathy Stark
Asst. Director of Communications

Jim DeVecchi

Annual Archive
2003-04 Musings
2004-05 Musings
2005-06 Musings
2006-07 Musings



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