Alumnae Calendar
  • May 2017
    • ThuMay18 Distinguished Alumnae Dinner 6:15 PM
    • FriMay19 Alumnae Weekend
    • SatMay20 Alumnae Weekend
    • SatMay20 Alumnae Luncheon 11:30 AMLyman

The Laurel Swimming Gators were firing on all cylinders at the Northeast Ohio Swimming Districts, which took place on February 17, 2017 at Cleveland State University. In total, the team earned an impressive five spots on the podium and a total of 14 medals. More importantly, four Laurel swimmers qualified for States in three events!

Morgan Miklus ‘19 qualified in both her individual events, the 100 Free and 100 Back, where she placed 2nd in each. The 200 Free Relay team of Morgan Miklus, Katherine Hagen ‘18, Linzy Malcolm ‘20 and Erin Dyke ‘17 also qualified for states after each swimmer dropped at least a half a second from their time.

In addition, the 200 Medley Relay swam by Morgan Miklus, Rose Pophal ‘19, Katherine Hagen, Erin Dyke came in 8th, dropping four seconds off their time and moving two spots up. The 400 Free Relay swam by Katherine Hagen, Victoria Hagen ‘20, Linzy Malcolm, and Erin Dyke placed 8th after dropping an impressive eight seconds from their time to move up three places. Victoria Hagen, placed 16th in the 500 Free and Rylee Betchkal ‘18 moved up four places in her 100 Breaststroke.

Something must have been in the water because of the 19 events that took place, 14 were best times, four were second-best times and one was a second-best season time! Out of 36 teams in attendance Laurel came in 6th! Congratulations to all the swimmers on their hard-earned victories.

We look forward to States!

In her latest New York Times piece titled "When a Teenager's Coping Mechanism Is Spongebob," Lisa Damour Ph.D., delves into some of the typical coping strategies adolescents turn to when faced with stress. She states that "being a teenager isn't easy. Thanks to puberty, neurological and hormonal developments introduce teenagers to an era of emotional fragility so it's no surprise that adolescents find handy, if sometimes quirky, ways to reset when they are feeling overwhelmed."

Laurel Ninth Grader Samantha Eisner was included in the story, explaining that childhood pleasures offer comfort because "they take you back to the days when the biggest problem you had was choosing what crayon to color your dress in your third grade self-portrait."

You can read the full New York Times article here. A second story on the same topic also recently aired on CBS This Morning. Click here to take a look.



Dr. Tori Cordiano, a clinical psychologist and the Assistant Director of Laurel's Center for Research on Girls (LCRG), recently contributed to the article "Single Parenting: Communication is Key" in the January/February issue of Your Teen Magazine. In the article she states that "clear, fair communication between single parents and their teens helps to pave the way to a trusting relationship that withstands the ups and downs of adolescence."

Click here to read the full piece.

Cleveland Council on World Affairs Laurel StudentsCompeting against schools with teams of 20-35 students each, Laurel’s five Middle School delegates to the Cleveland Council on World Affairs' Junior Model United Nations Conference at John Carroll University produced three winners!

Representing France in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Sarah Goraya '21 and Ria Raj '21 won the Superior Delegation Award, which is the highest group award possible for each committee.

Representing the Netherlands in the Human Rights Commission, Izzy Atzemis '21. brought home the Gavel Award, which is the highest individual award possible for each committee.

In order to achieve these impressive results the students put themselves in the shoes of foreign diplomats and are then able to tackle and find solutions to the most pressing international issues. Through their commitment to the program the participants become empowered to investigate the world, recognize different perspectives, communicate ideas to diverse audiences, and apply what they learn creatively during research, debate, and conference time.

Congratulations to the three award-winners plus Carrie Bifulco '21 and Laine Roberts '21, who also represented Laurel well.

The Cleveland Institute of Art recently announced the winners of the Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. The annual competition is open to local students in Grades 7-12. The panel of judges is comprised of professional artists, art educators, writers and writing educators. As in past years, this year’s competition saw nearly 3,000 pieces of artwork and writing samples.

Congratulations to the following 29 Laurel students who won 35 awards (25 for art and 10 for writing) at this year's Scholastic Art & Writing Competition. Each Gold Key piece will continue to the national competition held in New York City.



Gold Keys:

Mia Freer ‘17
Drawing and Illustration

Caroline Kahn ‘17

Grace Murphy ‘17

Lucia Pabon ‘17

Micki Reisman ‘17
Ceramics and Glass 

Henley Schulz ‘18

Christina Steele ‘17

Silver Keys:

Nicole Ahmed ‘17
Ceramics and Glass

Katie Dinner ‘17

Isabel Friedman ‘17

Ellie Martin ‘17

Caroline Megerian ‘18

Audrey Moore ‘17
Ceramics and Glass 

Maggie Navracruz ‘17
Architecture and Industrial Design
*Done at CIA Summer Pre-college program

Julia Saltzman ‘17
Digital Art 

Amanda Shao ‘18
Ceramics and Glass 

Natalie Thomas ‘17
Drawing and Illustration

Adelle Walker ‘17

Honorable Mentions:

Katie Dinner ‘17

Mia Freer ‘17
Mixed Media 

Alex Harris ‘17
Mixed Media 

Sophie Hatch ‘17
Mixed Media

Bridget Napoli ‘18

Julia Warner-Corcoran ‘17
Drawing and Illustration

Violet Watterson ‘20
Mixed Media


Silver Keys:

Madeleine Massey ‘18
Poetry (four entries honored with Silver Keys)

Olivia Savona ‘19
Critical Essay

Brooke Siegler ‘17
Personal Essay/Memoir 

Honorable Mentions:

Madeleine Massey ‘18
Personal Essay/Memoir

Janaan Qutubuddin ‘20

Tuyen Reed ‘20

Daania Tahir ‘19
Personal Essay/Memoir

"Parents play a key role in shaping sexual decision-making among adolescents--especially for girls." The Director of Laurel's Center for Research on Girls (LCRG), Dr. Lisa Damour, penned an article in The New York Times on "Talking With Both Daughters and Sons About Sex." Her article highlights a "2016 review of more than three decades of research findings that teenagers who communicated with their parents about sex used safer sexual practices. Likewise, new research from Dutch investigators who studied nearly 3,000 teenagers found that young adolescents who reported feeling close with a parent were unlikely to have had sex when surveyed again two years later. Notably, both research teams found that daughters benefited more than sons, and that the effective conversations and relationships were typically had with mothers."
To read the full article in the New York Times' "Well" blog, click here

Katie Dinner NCSY 2017NCSY held its five-day shabbaton called Yarchei Kallah in New York City, where more than 350 teenagers gathered for Jewish learning and fun. Cleveland brought 30 teens, the most of any region, which included Katie Dinner, a senior at Laurel.

The group began by spending two days touring New York City and ended with an international shabbaton for NCSY, full of Jewish learning and connecting with other Jewsish people from all over the country.

Click here to read the full article.

Beebot Tinkering StationLaurel’s Pre-Primary and Primary tinkering stations were featured in during computer science week. By tinkering less, girls miss out on opportunities to practice skills such as spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning and critical thinking. During the schools' recent Computer Science Education Week, an annual program dedicated to inspiring K-12 students to take interest in computer science, Laurel offered up extra "tinkering stations" for students that will be used for additional computer science activities through February. Click here to view the entire article.

Benjamin LightWhen Laurel School announced its new Director of Advancement in October, they were pleased to call Benjamin Light one of their own – not an alumna of course, but a parent and a big fan of the school and all things Cleveland.

Benjamin Light comes to Laurel from The Gathering Place, where he was involved in all aspects of the agency's fundraising and special events. He most recently held the position of COO, where he was responsible for all finance and administration of this $2.3 million agency.

Benjamin’s extensive fundraising skills coupled with his strategic thinking and years of experience and knowledge of the corporate and philanthropic landscape in Cleveland make him a strong fit for this role. As a Laurel School parent, he also has a unique perspective on the school's mission and goals.

“This offers new challenges, in a new environment and I wanted to bring my professional energy to another organization.”

Click here for a link to the full article in the December 2016 issue of Currents Magazine. The announcement of Benjamin Light's new appointment was also covered in Crain's Cleveland Business, the Cleveland Jewish News and the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Library – now sometimes referred to as the Learning Common, yet the basics are still in place. Just as business and research collaboration are different today, learning is different, fueled by our access to sources from all over the globe made instantly available. As the worlds of business, science, economics, medicine, and law have changed, so has obtaining and researching information.

Currents talked with professionals at four local private schools to take a look at how and why school libraries have reinvented themselves while still maintaining tradition. Laurel's own Kirsten Rosebrock-Hayes, Middle and Upper Schools Librarian, offered up her insights on how technology has transformed her role at our school. Excerpts from her interview follow.

 “In the role of the librarian I’m a reader’s advisor, Internet Sherpa (I made that up), collection caretaker – I make sure we have reliable and correct information. I wear so many hats,” says Kirsten Rosebrock-Hayes of Laurel School.

In many ways, a librarian’s work as guide and teacher hasn’t changed. In fact, in some ways their work is more pressing and more vital than ever. When faced with the dizzying array of information available, it’s the librarian’s role to teach students to have a discerning eye. 

“A big part of my job is to help students discern what information is worthwhile and trustworthy online,” Rosebrock-Hayes says. “Anyone can post anything online, but do you necessarily want to use just anything in your research project?”

Click here to view the full article from the December 2016 issue of Currents Magazine.

  • February 2017
    • MonFeb27 Dare Week
    • TueFeb28 US Parent Coffee 8:15 AMLyman
  • March 2017
    • WedMar01 Ash Wednesday
    • ThuMar02 Coffee with Klotz for Accepted Families Pre-Primary and Primary 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
    • ThuMar02 US Musical: Little Shop of Horrors 7:00 PMLyman, Chapel
    • FriMar03 US Musical: Little Shop of Horrors 7:00 PMLyman, Chapel
    • SatMar04 US Musical: Little Shop of Horrors 7:00 PMLyman, Chapel
    • MonMar06 Dream Week
    • MonMar06 MS Spring Sports Begin
    • MonMar06 US Track Practice Begins
    • MonMar06 US Track Parent Meeting 6:00 PMLyman
    • MonMar06 Grade 4 Art Show Opening 6:30 PM to 7:30 PMLyman
    • TueMar07 MS Spring Sports Parent Meeting 5:15 PMLyman
    • TueMar07 Cum Laude Induction Ceremony 7:00 PMLyman

Alumnae Spotlight

alumnae spotlight banner

Alumnae Spotlight showcases amazing Laurel women and the paths they have charted since graduation. Whether they are doctors, designers, artists, authors, scientists, lawyers, teachers, entrepreneurs, engineers, pharmacists, or civic activists or volunteers, Laurel women inhabit nearly all careers and corners of the world helping to make it a better place. Our alumnae and the journeys that they have taken speak to the essence of a Laurel education and what makes this School and the community of women who call it their own distinctive. This space highlights their fascinating lives and the mountains they continue to move. If you would like to be featured in our Alumnae Spotlight, or know of an alumna who might, please email Julie Donahue.

December Alumnae Spotlight

Susan Kessler ‘95

Laurel School alumna Susan Kessler '95

As Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Bushwick Starr Theater, as well as Associate Chair of the Skidmore College Theater Department, Sue Kessler ’95 has ample opportunity to express her creativity and help foster the growth of creativity in others. As a New York-based theater artist and producer, Sue has dedicated much of her life to connecting people in meaningful ways through art. The Bushwick Starr began simply as a rehearsal space for Fovea Floods, an experimental theater company of which Sue was a part. She was instrumental in helping to transform this rehearsal space into a full-scale black box theater, attracting performance artists to the then up-and-coming exciting community of Bushwick, Brooklyn. The Bushwick Starr has flourished into an OBIE award-winning theater that the New York Times deemed “a bright spot on the Off Off Broadway map.”

Additionally, Sue is in the process of developing a Theater Management program at Skidmore College, where she earned a BFA in Studio Art. She serves as the Co-Chair of the Saratoga Springs Arts Commission for the Mayor’s Office. Sue attended Laurel from First through Twelfth Grade. She and her sister, Alice Kessler ’00, are members of the Green Team.

What is the most important thing you learned at Laurel?

In a word, empowerment. Laurel taught me the tremendous value of letting my voice and my ideas be heard, without any burden of doubt. I remember my first week of college, having my first real experiences with a coed classroom, and noticing immediately the gender divide. The girls spoke up far less in class, and seemed too easily boxed out of conversations, etc. Not I. I kept raising my hand and sharing my ideas, and each time I did that, I felt so lucky and so proud that Laurel nurtured me and fostered my confidence and identity. I definitely still draw on that to this day—knowing that I should never be afraid to express myself. It’s a huge gift and has served me well in all of my endeavors.

What do you think makes a Laurel education distinct?

Laurel cultivates a vibrant learning environment where young women can safely express themselves, stretch themselves, ask questions, take risks, and share their ideas without fear of failing. It provides a holistically supportive and well-rounded education, and one that is so important in this day in age, where young women need more than ever to be encouraged and empowered as they discover their voices. And, I love that Laurel isn’t heavy handed about its approach. Empowering and celebrating young women happens every day there— it’s natural, it’s the norm— so you leave wearing this cloak of knowledge that yes, you are capable of great things, of course you are!

Did you always want to pursue a career in the performing arts?

I was always a bit of a Renaissance woman, so I dabbled in visual art, performing art, music, and literature (I also played field hockey!), and I continued to explore those forms at Skidmore, taking full advantage of its liberal arts curriculum. My intention was to become a photographer and/or filmmaker, but theater kept pulling at me. I think I eventually gave myself over to the performing arts for two reasons. First, it’s a community. As a visual artist, you often work alone, or in your own world of ideas, anyway. I learned that I thrived far more in a social and collaborative environment. Second, I fell in love with the power of live performance to engage people, ignite conversations, inspire ideas, and transcend barriers. Living in the digital age that is so saturated with media, the experience of witnessing live performance is becoming more and more rare. I feel strongly about fighting for this experience. In the simple act of choosing to enter a room as either a performer or audience member and share that space for an hour or two— fully commit that time to one another with your cell phones off and your digital comforts out of reach— there is a special and important kind of communion that takes place in that room. People listen more. They allow themselves to be more open. Perhaps they are enlightened or leave feeling changed, hopefully in a good way. Perhaps an unexpected conversation has begun or a new idea is sparked. I believe that having these real-time encounters with one another is vital to a healthy culture, and I’m proud to be one of the gardeners tending to the performing arts soil.

What drew you to Skidmore after Laurel?

I actually had my heart set on going to a visual arts conservatory in New York City. Skidmore was sort-of a back-up plan. My dad taught at University School for over 30 years and was close friends with the then-headmaster Rick Hawley, whose daughter was at Skidmore. My dad said, “Please just apply to one school that’s not in NYC—some place in a nice safe college town—how about Skidmore? Jessie is there and seems to love it.” So I applied almost begrudgingly, but I’m very relieved I ended up there.

Describe your journey co-founding The Bushwick Starr.

It was really an accidental journey. I never planned to run a theater—one thing kept leading to another and in many ways, I just followed the breadcrumbs. As we were developing the loft space into a theater for our company (Fovea Floods), the neighborhood around us also was developing. More artists were moving in, and we started to realize that we had the opportunity to open our doors to the public and make a community space. After a couple of years of experimenting and trying out different models, that’s when I realized (along with my partner, Noel Allain) that we wanted and needed to be more than just a venue. We wanted to be an arts center with a strong vision, a supportive home for artists, and a hub for important community interactions. At that point, things really kicked into gear, and we charged forward with full intentions of becoming a vital and thriving arts destination. The biggest challenges we’ve faced, and still face to this day, have to do with real estate. Our neighborhood in Brooklyn has been rapidly gentrifying for years, so there’s a looming threat of being priced out or displaced in some way. In the future, we are making plans to secure a new, more permanent home for the Starr. It will be a bigger venue, with more space and amenities for our artists, audiences, and staff— but best of all, it will be on the street level, where we’ll be able to open our doors to our community in a more meaningful and productive way. We have hopes for a little cafe and/or community art space on the ground floor. Fingers crossed!

Tell us a bit about Skidmore and the work you do there.

Skidmore is still the dynamic liberal arts environment I remember it to be, and it’s really nice to be back. When we moved here (because my husband took a full-time teaching job in the Theater Dept.), I had no designs to work at the college. But the college quickly approached me about helping to develop a Theater Management program, which is something they had wanted to do for some time. I basically oversee the Theater’s producing operations, including creative fundraising and marketing, audience development, curation/programming, and artist conservancy. I mentor a group of talented and dedicated students who fulfill various management positions throughout our performance seasons.

What do you love most about your job(s)?

I love that I’m dedicated to supporting artists being seen and stories being heard. I love that my work reaches the public and has the potential to spark change. I love the inherently positive nature of making art. And I love, again, the sense of community that is both offered and received— sometimes in the most unexpected ways, in the most surprising places— through making theater.

What do you do in your spare time?

I read, mainly biographies lately. I play music with a very casual and humble “band” up in Saratoga. I knit. I take pictures. And I color in coloring books with my 5-year-old daughter, Willa.

What advice would you give to current Laurel girls?

Celebrate who you are, even when—especially when—things get tough, or people don’t seem to understand you. As a young person who is still discovering who you are and what you want in life, it’s important to listen to your natural instincts, trust your inherent morals, and let your inner compass guide you. In the words of Joni Mitchell, one of my favorite power females, “It all comes down to you.”

An All-Girls’ Independent College Preparatory School for Grades K-12 and Coed Pre-Primary
Lyman Campus Butler Campus

Laurel's Mission Statement:

To inspire each girl to
fulfill her promise and
to better the world. 


Middle and Upper School Open House

Saturday, April 8, 2017
10:30 am-12:30 pm
Lyman Campus

More information and RSVP

"Laurel transforms students into strong women through an exemplary education and an atmosphere built on growth." Caitlin Cronin '16

"During my time at Laurel, I developed the mental aspect of my tennis game -- staying focused and staying in every match. The support that I've gotten from my team and my coaches has really helped me to do that." Danielle Buchinsky '15

"Laurel encourages its girls to try things they think they can do, things they don't think they can do, and even things they never thought about doing." Jazlynn Baker '16

"Laurel is a place where almost every girl can find a home. The community here is extremely accepting and diverse, and every student has her own ideas and opinions that are valued by everyone."Rebecca Brichacek '16

"Confident, independent, open-minded, fearless. That's what comes to mind when I think of what Laurel has given to my daughters." Laurel Parent


“The greatest gift Laurel gave me was the gift of lifelong friendships with classmates, teachers and parents of classmates. We have a special bond based on our shared experiences.” 
Betsy Sweeney Backes ‘78

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