Alumnae Calendar

In May a reporter from Quartz at Work, a global business news organization owned by The Atlanticvisited Laurel's Butler Campus to observe students in Grades Three through Seven who are part of the school's Adventure Girls program as they participated in their long awaited overnight, representing the culmination of a year of adventures together. The article states that "While this may sound like a run-of-the-mill after-school program or summer camp, there’s an element that sets it apart: Adventure Girls is borne out of research on how girls can build resilience. The program aims to create stress-inducing situations and equip young girls with the tools to get through them. Girls get started young so that they’ll be prepared to handle the pressures of high school, college, and life beyond."

Adventure Girl leaders Shannon Lukz and Chuck Allen are both highlighted in the story, as is Dr. Lisa Damour, Executive Director of Laurel's Center for Research on Girls, who highlights the research initiative Laurel has embarked on in the last eight years to examine the relationship girls have with stress and how to build resilience—the ability to adapt well to adversity. 

The article states that "The research findings that Damour uncovered have been crucial for the framework that underpins Adventure Girls and the broader culture at Laurel School. This framework outlines five elements of resilience: creativity, purpose, growth-mindset, relationships, and self-care. Adventure Girls learn these tools in a variety of ways, often through more subtle cues, including the way the adults structure activities and discussions before and after."

The Adventure Girls program is year-round, and meets 12 times each semester. Girls take two to three field trips that involve adventurous activities like kayaking, climbing, or snowshoeing. The program works hard to get parents and teachers on the same page to work toward the same goal—fostering language and behaviors that teach these girls how to handle adversity.

Click here to read the full story. recently interviewed Trey Wilson, Laurel School's Director of Strategic Partnerships and Megan Pidcock '21 to learn more about the class 25 students took this past semester led by Denny Young and Steve Lindecke of the Elevation Group--Laurel partners with Elevation Group to produce LaureLive.

The article states that "Large-scale rock concerts have become a summer staple over the past few decades, but few, if any, are largely organized by high school students. That's the case, however, with LaureLive, a two-day concert event that was expected to draw 20,000 people to Laurel School's Butler Campus in Russell Township.

In the piece, Wilson states that "The students learn about things like talent acquisition, contract negotiations and emergency thinking and planning. Like, if there are 10,000 people, how many porta-potties do you need to have?" 

Megan said she was aware of the Laurel class that prepares for LaureLive before she applied to attend the school. It was something in which she was eager to take part. "I love music, and I never dreamed of going to a school with this kind of opportunity. The students involved in LaureLive's production can, on show days, work in the VIP lounge, work with youngsters at an educational activities area, or help to make sure the artists are comfortable during their stay, among other tasks."

Click here to read the full article.

In advance of the third annual LaureLive, which took place June 9-10, 2018 at Laurel's Butler Campus, Freshwater Cleveland spoke with Trey Wilson, Director of Strategic Partnerships, to learn more about the important role students play in working with Elevation Group to produce the two-day music festival. The article states that "A festival held at Laurel—consistently ranked as one of the area’s best K-12 schools—couldn’t exist without an educational component. That’s why Denny Young and Steve Lindecke [of Elevation Group] have, since the festival’s start in 2016, co-taught a class at Laurel’s upper school on music management and festival planning."

"They’ve done a terrific job," says Wilson, of the co-teaching team. Students take the class in order to have a role in staging the festival, whether that’s helping stagehands, working the box office, or even providing talent hospitality. "They’re on hand, in the trenches right next to us," said Young.

Students come to the class for the chance to meet big-name musicians, but they stay to learn the intricacies of running a music festival. "What surprises most of the girls is the scope of what goes into creating an event this size and scale,” said  Wilson. The class asks students to consider everything from food vendors to marketing to the number of port-a-potties necessary.

Click here to read the full story.

The Cleveland Jewish News recently connected with Valerie Zborovsky '21, for a story titled, "LaureLive Class on Ground Floor of Two-Day Music Festival." Valerie has been working throughout the semester with Elevation Group to learn about all aspects of event production. In the article she states that "her biggest surprise was learning that little details can make a big difference." Trey Wilson, Laurel's Director of Strategic Partnerships, was also included in the story stating that his favorite thing about the LaureLive class is that "the educators use 'the collective adolescent insight,' or the students' own curiosity to drive the discussion and select topics of conversation." Click here to read the full story.
The Chagrin Valley Times visited Laurel's Butler Campus in May to observe The Dig, an annual Grade Seven immersion unit that aims to replicate the Whittlesey tribe site. Hope Murphy, Director of Curriculum for Grades K-8, was included in the piece and stated The Dig was "brought to Laurel about 15 years ago when the school in Shaker Heights purchased the Butler Campus in Russell Township to promote outdoor activities. They lay out the site in grid lines and use the tools that archaeologists use. They collect artifacts and chart the data to put together a map of the dig site, which then gives them the ability to analyze how the artifacts fell in a meaningful way." The Grade Seven teachers collaborated with specialists from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to prepare the mock site and the artifacts, which display cut marks to indicate that stone tools were used to process them. In preparation for The Dig, this year's students heard from Barbara Brown, a paleontologist and Laurel alum who helped discover Lucy, a female pre-hominin of the species Australopithecus afarensis that dates to 3.2 million years old. Click here to read the full story.
The Alumnae Association honored three graduates of distinction at the Distinguished Alumnae dinner on May 17. recapped the honorees, highlighting the 2018 Distinguished Alumna Award, which was given to Marne Levine '88, COO of Instagram, a position she attained in 2014. Prior to joining Instagram, Levine, for four years, was vice president of global public policy at Facebook. Also being honored with the 2018 Young Alumna of Distinction Award was Tamara Broderick '03, an ITT career development assistant professor at MITThe third honoree was Kathy Chilcote Pender '55, a community volunteer and psychotherapist. Pender picked up the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Click here for the full recap.

The Cleveland Jewish News was also in attendance for the dinner. Click here for the news coverage.

The News-Herald recently highlighted Jami Morris '21 and her impressive third place finish at this year's Drive, Chip & Putt (DCP) National Finals, which took place on April 1 at the Augusta National Golf Club. Jami competed in the girls 14-15 age division and finished with the best drive of the group, which earned her ten points. She scored an eight in the chip competition and a four in putting. Jami made it through three stages of qualifying to get to Nationals and won her division at the regional at Jack Nicklaus' Muirfield Vollage Golf Club in Dublin, OH. See additional coverage highlighting Jami in Northeast Ohio Golf Online and  


In March Morgan Goldstein '18 authored a piece in Crain's Cleveland Business where she highlighted how planning, passion and dedication are critical for anyone looking to start a business. Morgan has been a chef for years and started on a professional path from a young age, appearing on the Food Network's "Chopped" in both 2015 and 2016. She is now the chef and founder of MHG Catering and is currently writing and publishing her own cookbook. Morgan is also a member of the Veale Youth Entrepreneurship Forum. You can read the full story in Crain's here.

Laurel's Director of College Guidance Missy Rose was recently featured in a Cleveland Magazine story titled, "How to Find the Right College for Your High Schooler." In the piece Missy highlights the financial aspect of selecting a college, stating "Don't wait until your child is accepted to her dream college and it's April of her senior year and you say, 'We can't afford this.' The earlier families talk money, the better." She goes on to suggest parents "Have the conversation with your child upfront. There needs to be schools on the list that are highly likely for affordability — and that can be overlooked.” 

In the piece, Missy also discusses how your children are watching. Laurel's Center for Research on Girls conducted a study that showed when parents’ expectations are significantly higher than girls’ expectations for themselves, "self-esteem plummets," she points out. "They are watching for signs of approval or disapproval, and that could mean a raised eyebrow, crossed arms, a tone of voice," she is quoted saying. "Most kids want to please their parents, and if they get a sense that certain schools are not OK, it’s tough for them to deal with."

Missy also discusses the importance of stopping at ten applications. "It’s a lot of work to apply to colleges. It takes a lot of time. They need to balance the application process with their courses, their extracurricular activities and for some families, the cost."

Congratulations to the Grade Five, Six and Seven girls who competed in the Greater Cleveland Council of Teachers of Mathematics (GCCTM) math competition at John Carroll University and at Hawken School this year. The tournament recognizes interest and perseverance in math outside the classroom, encouraging students to challenge their problem-solving skills in a competitive team format.

Of the three trophies available Laurel teams took all three! Congratulations to all the girls for their hard work and positive outcomes.  

5th Grade: (Trophy)
  • Clare H.
  • Sydney M.
  • Jazmin R.
  • Ella W.
5th Grade: (Trophy)
  • Gianna M.
  • Katie I.
  • Eve B.
  • Kelly K.
6th Grade: (Trophy)
  • Kaitlin E.
  • Amelia G.
  • Lexi C.
  • Karma A. 
6th Grade: (Blue Ribbon)
  • Riley O.
  • Grace G.
  • Kate T.
  • Shaliz B.
Grade Seven: (Red Ribbon)
  • Krista C.
  • Veda P.
  • Maria P.

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 Megan Findling.

August 2018 Alumnae Spotlight

Xiaoyu Gu ’01

Xiaoyu Gu still isn’t sure she knows what she wants to be “when she grows up.” Currently a Vice President at CarVal Investors, Xiaoyu and her team invest in companies that are experiencing challenges—but that’s far from her only interest. Originally intent on studying engineering at MIT, she changed gears and majored in economics and statistics at Harvard, launched businesses at a business incubator in Shanghai and earned a law degree and MBA, also from Harvard. Xiaoyu shares, “I believe that life is a journey that evolves over time, and that it’s important to be open to different opportunities, even if they don’t seem like the best fit or most natural career progression at first.” Come along and read about her life story thus far!

You entered Laurel in Sixth Grade. Why Laurel?

I was enrolled in Cleveland public schools when I first learned about Laurel. My teacher then told my parents and me that she considered Laurel the premier private school in the greater Cleveland area. I was very fortunate to receive a generous financial aid package from Laurel and enrolling was a dream come true.

What were your interests as an Upper Schooler and how did they inform your decision to attend Harvard University to study economics and statistics?

I enjoyed all the subjects I studied, mostly because I had such great teachers at Laurel! But I was especially strong in math and Dr. Stenson, my teacher, actually started a multivariable calculus class with just me and three boys from University School. The boys ended up going to MIT and Cal Tech, and I wanted to study engineering at MIT, but Harvard offered a competitive financial aid package. Because Harvard’s engineering department was tiny, I ended up choosing economics and statistics, both of which also involved a lot of math.

You’ve also spent time in China. Can you tell us about your time there and how the educational experience differs in Asia?

I was born in China and immigrated to the United States when I was six years old, so I never attended school in China. However, I have plenty of extended family who went through the Chinese system, which emphasizes doing well on the college entrance exam above almost all else. Education in China is very much test-based, with fewer outlets for extracurricular activities or other forms of self-expression versus that in the US. Because the two education systems are very different, Chinese who recently immigrated to the US, such as my parents and their friends, were especially curious about American schools. I wrote essays for Chinese newspapers about my school experiences that also helped me practice writing in Chinese. Knowing Chinese allowed me to work after college at a business incubator in Shanghai where we launched businesses such as a telecommunications service platform, a luxury train service and an apartment management company.

You worked in consulting and at the business incubation for three years before returning to Harvard for graduate school. What career did you have in mind when going back to school? What would you say to someone looking to switch career paths?

I went back to graduate school after working for a few years because I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I “grew up.” I knew from my work experiences that I wanted to work in business generally, and I hoped that graduate school would help me choose a specific career. Graduate school provided a great platform for me to explore potential careers, and four years of it meant that I had three summers to try different internships. I love my current job but, in a way, I still don’t know what I want to be “when I grow up.” I believe that life is a journey that evolves over time and that it’s important to be open to different opportunities, even if they don’t seem like the best fit or most natural career progression at first. It’s always more stressful to start a job search when one needs a job; it’s much easier to learn about potential jobs when one doesn’t need a position right away.

Earning a JD and MBA simultaneously sounds challenging! What advice would you give to students looking to pursue multiple interests? Any great time management tips?

Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! Sometimes the most urgent items aren’t the most important to get done. I found it helpful to set internal deadlines for myself. I also try to break large projects into smaller chunks, so I get to feel accomplished when I check off items on my to-do list.

Now you’re a Vice President at CarVal Investors, a global alternative investment manager focused on distressed and credit-intensive assets and market inefficiencies. Based in Minneapolis, you manage investments for the North American securities group. Can you tell us a little more about your job and what a typical day at CarVal looks like for you?

My colleagues and I invest in companies that are experiencing challenges—due to industry headwinds or mismanagement, for example. Sometimes these companies are in bankruptcy or have recently restructured. Our goal is to buy their debt or equity at a cheap price and then sell these securities months or years later at a better price when the companies recover. My typical day involves a lot of research, financial modeling and keeping up with news relating to the companies I cover. I try to learn as much as I can about a company, whether it’s through reading reports, talking to Wall Street analysts, asking questions of management teams, conducting site visits or sharing notes with other investors.

What are the most important skills to have to be successful in investment banking? Any unexpected challenges you’ve encountered?

Investment banking is a grueling job, especially starting out. However, you learn a tremendous amount in a short amount of time (partly because you often are working 100+ hours a week!), and it opens doors to myriad careers. As a junior banker, attention to detail, strong analytical skills, drive/persistence and a good attitude are all important. Senior bankers also must be strong communicators and salespeople, as they need to persuade their clients to pay top dollar for their services.

Laurel recently added a financial literacy component to the Upper School curriculum. For instance, one morning students were given a monthly income and had to allocate it for expenses and happiness points—including savings, rent, eating out, movies/concerts. What do you wish more women knew about managing their finances? 

I think women tend to underestimate the importance of financial literary and overestimate its difficulty. Knowing how to make smart decisions around saving and spending helps free up time and energy for the important and meaningful things in life. Many free or low-cost tools exist these days to help one stay on track. Committing to saving a small amount of money each month adds up to a large sum a decade or two later, and potentially a huge amount over a lifetime.

The Twin Cities will be having their first Sarah Lyman Day of Community Service this year! Look out for details to come and save Saturday, September 29 on your calendar. But on a typical weekend, where would we likely find you? Do you have any hobbies or interests you’re passionate about?

We like to be outdoors whenever possible in Minnesota. In the summer, we’re usually biking, hiking and swimming. In the winter, despite the cold, we try to cross country or downhill ski. We had our first child this April, so we’re excited to share our love of the outdoors with him. In my spare time, I like to cook and to read. I also volunteer my time with the Harvard Club of Minnesota, where I’m currently Treasurer. Since graduating from college, I’ve served as an alumna interviewer for Harvard and am constantly amazed by the caliber of high school seniors and inspired by all that they have accomplished by age eighteen!

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. 


Open House

Saturday, October 27, 2018
9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Lyman Campus

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"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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