Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem shared a bright and exciting vision—for students and members of the Rivers professional community alike—highlighting the future of The Rivers School at Monday’s all-school assembly. Dahlem opened with an extended moment of silence in honor of the victims of 9/11 and their families on the 22nd anniversary of the tragic event. He went on to thank the community for an “amazing first week of school...the energy, the excitement, the engagement were so inspiring for me to see.”
“Happy New Year!” The calendar may still read 2023, but that was the greeting offered by Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem at an all-school assembly on the first day of school this past Tuesday, underscoring the excitement of launching into both a new academic year and Dahlem’s tenure as head.
For most of us, running the 26.2 miles of a standard marathon lies somewhere between a fantasy and a hard-won goal. But for Meghan Morgan '15, it's the equivalent of a stroll in the park: Morgan is an ultra-marathoner who finished in the top 10 among women at the Western States Endurance Run in June, traversing 100 miles of challenging terrain through snow, hills, backwoods, and canyons. Morgan, who ran cross-country at The Rivers School, recently spoke about her journey from Rivers to WSER and her experience on the trails.
The Rivers School is pleased to welcome the following new staff, faculty, and administrators to our professional community. A few of our new colleagues joined us starting this past fall and winter, so you may already recognize their names, while others are just beginning their Rivers tenures at the start of the 2023–24 academic year. Please join us in welcoming each of them to our community!
Sadie Carroll ’23 recently earned the national distinction of being a bronze medalist at the NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition. A cellist and composer, Carroll competed in the music composition category and earned the prize for her original composition, “Capriccio,” a classical piece for cello and piano, which received its premiere at Rivers in 2022.
The Sages & Seekers program has become an integral part of the sophomore curriculum at Rivers and a beloved community exchange. Alan Bodnar, Ph.D., a psychologist and four-time Sage for Rivers’ Sages & Seekers program, offered his reflections on his experiences as a participant in the program in a recent column for the New England Psychologist.
On July 1, the next chapter for The Rivers School begins as ninth Head of School Ryan S. Dahlem arrives on campus, ready to assume his new role. In anticipation of this pivotal moment, Alan D. Rose Jr. ’87, president of the Board of Trustees, shared the following letter with the Rivers community.
Groundbreaking is well underway for the new Parsons Quadrangle, a revitalized outdoor space for the Middle School set to open by the start of the school year in fall 2023. Named in honor of Ned and Lisa Parsons, the refreshed community space, which covers the area bordered by Prince, Haynes, Allen, and Carlin, will feature buildings accessible without ramps or steps and provide an updated recreational zone for students in Grades 6 through 8. It will also serve as a functional outdoor area for classes, meetings, and advisory spaces.
Grade 8 Portfolio Night celebrates both an ending and a beginning: the end of the Middle School years and the beginning of Upper School. For the students, parents, friends, and faculty members who gathered in Kraft Dining Hall on June 6, it also represented an opportunity to see the concrete manifestation of the accomplishments, goals, aspirations, and engagement that marked the just-ended school year.
Whether attending their fifth reunion or their fiftieth, alumni were thrilled to gather in Kraft Dining Hall on Saturday night to reconnect with old friends and catch up on what classmates have been up to post-Rivers. Nearly 200 alums came back to campus for the annual event, which this year celebrated graduates from years ending in 3 and 8.
Rivers celebrated its 100th graduation ceremony on Friday, and as befits a centennial, the weather was picture perfect, the festivities went off seamlessly, and the 98 members of the Class of 2023 were delighted to celebrate this milestone surrounded by friends and family.
Gathering under the tent on the Lank Quadrangle outside of The Revers Center, students, faculty, staff, and senior administrators joined Head of School Ned Parsons for Prize Day 2023. The familiar and celebratory ritual unfolded Thursday morning under blue skies and with the usual measure of accolades, cheers, and joyful tears.
Emotions ran high as more than 400 members of the Rivers School community gathered on May 19 to mark and honor nine years of outstanding leadership under outgoing Head of School Ned Parsons P’17. Ned’s wife, Lisa, was also celebrated for her extraordinary contributions to Rivers. For the festive evening event, held under the tent on the Lank Quadrangle in front of The Revers Center for Science and Visual Arts, trustees, parents, alumni, friends, and members of the professional community came together to express gratitude for Ned’s leadership—and high hopes for the next chapter in the school’s history.
This past Monday, there was one place in Weston where you could sample baklava, dumplings, brisket, samosas, and more, all under one roof. That location was the tent on the Lank Quadrangle at Rivers, and the occasion was the Global Fair Picnic, an annual event that celebrates the diversity of our community. More than 150 people—Rivers families, students, alumni, faculty members, and staff—turned out for the festive potluck; this year, for the first time, the program also included musical and spoken-word performances by students and an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
The 21st annual Rivers School Golf Outing brought together more than 120 golfers at the Charter Oak Country Club in Hudson on May 1. After a week of heavy rain, the sun made an appearance on the designated day, and Rivers alumni, parents, faculty, and friends enjoyed their time on the links.
If you could cultivate one area of your life that would help you live longer, avoid illness, stave off depression, flourish in your relationships, and even strengthen democracy, what would it be? Dr. Marisa Franco’s research reveals that the key to all these areas is forging human connection through secure friendships. A professor, psychologist, and a frequent national speaker on the topic of fostering belonging and improving mental health, Franco visited the Rivers campus in April as the 2023 Hall Family Speaker on civic engagement. In her time on campus, Franco met with students, parents, and alumni to dissect key themes in her 2022 New York Times best-seller Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends.
The Rivers School hosted the third and final parent/caregiver session of the Rivers|McLean Partnership Program on May 9 in Kraft Dining Hall. These workshops were introduced during the 2021–2022 academic year thanks to the generosity of the Bartlett Family and the Bartlett Family Fund for Wellness. Part of a partnership between Rivers and McLean Hospital’s School Consultation Service, they are designed to foster and normalize conversations about mental health and provide useful tools for parents/caregivers to utilize at home with their children. The theme of this session, “Building Connections,” focused on the challenges of navigating difficult conversations with kids, discussing mental health within a family, and learning the skills that adults need to make these conversations with their children productive.
Rivers alum Thando Khumalo ’19 was selected as a Fulbright scholar to Italy for the 2023–2024 academic year. Her project, “An Investigation of Selenium-based Compounds that Inhibit SARS-CoV-2,” will utilize computational research to discover new selenium compounds that can be used to treat COVID-19. Khumalo will partner with Brookhaven National Laboratory and a research team of faculty and students at the University of Padova. The Italian Fulbright Commission awards 16 grants for open study/research per year for U.S. students.
In ongoing observance of Jewish-American heritage month in April, Rivers offered a reflection for Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, in an all-school assembly featuring guest speaker and former Rivers faculty Carol Davidson P ’02. Yom Hashoah is officially observed this year beginning at sundown on April 17 and ending with sundown on April 18, and compels us to remember the truth of the Holocaust through the stories of those who lived and perished.
It was back to school last week for students—and back to Rivers for incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem, who paid his second extended visit to campus to meet with various constituencies in the community from March 27 to 29. Dahlem was accompanied by his wife, Anne, and the Dahlems took the opportunity to further acquaint themselves with the community ahead of their July move to Weston. Dovetailing with a busy admission session, the visit advanced Dahlem’s immersion by broadening the focus to current and newly admitted families.
The Rivers School invited School Yard Rap founder Brandon “Griot B” Brown to an Upper School assembly this week to help retell Black history through a new lens. Brown, a former teacher, rapped through upbeat lessons and engaging illustrations that mirrored his words. The goal: to reframe Black history by leading students through the long list of outstanding contributions and achievements of minorities—including scientists, mathematicians, innovators, educators, founders, and musicians, among others.
Can a banquet-hall waitress find happiness with the lead singer of a cheesy ’80s wedding band? That is the question asked and answered—in the resounding affirmative—by The Wedding Singer, this year’s Rivers winter musical. A cast and crew of dozens of students brought boundless joy, energy, and talent to the Eleanor Welch Casey Theater at Regis College on Thursday and Friday, lighting up the stage with razzle-dazzle big numbers, moving ballads, snappy dialogue, and all the glitzy glamor of New Jersey in the Reagan era.
Incoming Head of School Ryan Dahlem visited The Rivers School on February 2 and 3 for a two-day immersion in the life of the school that included classroom visits and meetings with students, trustees, faculty, staff, deans, and department chairs. The itinerary, mapped out by the Heads Transition and Support Committee, was designed to give Mr. Dahlem an opportunity to experience the culture and community of Rivers firsthand before his official start in July.
Whether working in porcelain or wood, acrylics or charcoal, prose or poetry, Rivers students are skilled at expressing themselves and creating memorable works of art. That skill was recognized recently when the Massachusetts results of the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition were announced. Thirty-one works of visual art by Rivers students were honored, and three works garnered awards in the writing categories.
The Lunar New Year, celebrated throughout Asia, began on January 22 this year, and Rivers marked the occasion with not one but two special events during the 15-day holiday. On Tuesday, January 24, the community enjoyed a festive evening of Chinese food, martial arts demonstrations, and dance performances. Then, at Monday’s all-school meeting, student members of the AAPI affinity group and Mandarin class members hosted a presentation that included a video and a special musical performance.
At yesterday’s all-school meeting, following a celebration of Lunar New Year featuring musical performances and a video presentation, Rivers administrators and students addressed the recent death of Tyre Nichols, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of Memphis police. Nichols was brutally beaten following an unexplained traffic stop, and his killing—along with the release of video footage of the incident—has sparked protests around the country and renewed the focus on police brutality and systemic racism.
In his long history with Rivers, Alan D. Rose Jr. ’87 has worn many hats, as student, alumnus, volunteer, Alumni Council president, and, for more than 15 years, board member. Now he’ll be trying on a new one for size: Rose was recently selected to serve as president of the Rivers Board of Trustees; his term started January 1, 2023. He succeeds Harley Lank P’21, who has been board president since 2018.