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Wet Clay

Taylor Stockdale
Recently while attending a Webb reception in San Francisco, I spoke with alumnus Dan Murray ’89 for some time. Dan, now in his 40s, was one of the original students I met when interviewing for my first job at Webb in 1988. While we were reconnecting, Dan described for me his feeling that being at Webb felt to him like being made of wet clay. Meaning, as a high school sophomore, he felt he was still very much developing as a person—and he knew that the faculty at Webb at the time were playing a huge role in shaping him.

I found this metaphor powerful, and my mind jumped back to Thompson Webb and those years in the 1930’s when his office was literally in the open air, as he built his chapel by hand. One can’t help but wonder what he was thinking as he molded that wet clay, much like his school was molding each student who enrolled there. He followed not only into his family tradition, but also he reshaped that tradition and made his own mark on the world by using what he found in Southern California.


I have always felt that our high school years are the most formative, and this image of wet clay really brought it home for me. Working with young students of “wet clay” allows a creative faculty to leave impressions that will be shaped and reshaped in the years to come. Wet clay facilitates both original creations, as well as the reworking of the old into something new. Life itself, the nature of which is constant change, depends upon this flexibility.

At this same reception, I had the opportunity to also reconnect with a great number of alumni, including Otis Y. Chandler, ’96. Otis came to Webb carting with him a family legacy in print media. Of course, Harrison Gray Otis and Harry Chandler built the Los Angeles Times into one of the leading newspapers in our nation. When Otis Chandler III graduated from Webb, he decided to carry on the family legacy, but in an entirely new way. Otis started Goodreads in 2007, and it is now the online home to more than 40 million book lovers and readers around the globe. He took what was in his DNA and what he learned along the way and created something entirely new.

Similarly, we have no shortage of Vivian Webb graduates who are now very successful women. I am thinking of such inspirational leaders as Julia Marciari-Alexander ’85, now the Executive Director of the Walters Museum, Faye Karnavy Sahai ’86, a top executive at AIG in San Francisco overseeing the company’s global innovation and digital business centers, restaurateur and chef Jenn Louis ’89, Caroline Adler ’00, Special Assistant to President Obama and Deputy Communications Director to First Lady Michelle Obama, and so many more.

These are but a few examples that represent thousands of alumni who were nurtured here and I believe in some small or big way “formed” on this campus.

I’ve often asked myself, when I interviewed at Webb as a teacher all those years ago, and met Dan and his friends, what was it about them that convinced me that this was the place I wanted to be? Although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I think it was this sense of students who were in this process of discovery, students who benefitted from Webb’s rich history and traditions, but were not mired in it the way you see often at other older insitutions. Like the founder himself, these were students who were eager and excited to take risks, create their own passions, and leave their own stamp on the world.

This edition of Webb embodies this spirit of taking the wet clay of our history and legacy, and molding each student’s foundation today and in years to come. This generative process of continually renewing our core is the essence of Webb, and perhaps, our greatest attribute of all.
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Alumni News

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  • L to R: Rachael Schiffris ’11, Katherine Kilmer ’10, Ed Ratinoff ’83, Sarah Sun ’10, Ariel Fan ’10

    Networking Essentials with Webb Alumni

    Michael Simonelli
    On January 12, 2019 five accomplished alumni returned to campus for our first ever Networking Essentials with Webb Alumni session. The panel of speakers represented several industries including law, real estate, green energy and marketing. Eager students spent their Saturday afternoon with our incredible alumni learning about the vital skills needed to effectively network and succeed in the increasingly complex job market. Each panelist spoke about a different aspect of networking and gave a brief background of their journey after Webb.
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    Young Alumni Return to Webb

    During the first week back from winter break, students and parents had a chance to hear from young alumni about their experiences at college including managing academics and being away from home, maintaining a healthy mind and body, as well as a panel on college athletics.
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  • Marcelo Leonardi '94 Receives Distinguished Coaching Award

    USA Water Polo has announced Marcelo Leonardi '94 as the Midwest Zone recipient of the Sandy Nitta Distinguished Coaching Award. Leonardi is the Head Coach of the women's water polo team at the University of Michigan.
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  • Holiday Events in Los Angeles & San Francisco

    We enjoyed seeing alumni, parents and friends at the holiday events in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
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Webb News

List of 4 news stories.

  • Fall/Winter 2019

    “The process of finding the right college is more often than not riddled with anxiety for both students and their families. It is paradoxically both increasingly complex and more streamlined than ever. Technology allows students to simply add multiple colleges to the Common Application with a few clicks. And yet the convenience doesn’t reflect the intricate web of criteria that factor into applying to one college over another.”
     
    So opens the feature to our recent issue of WEBB Magazine. Reported and written by Christopher Michno, the piece delves into the myths and truths intertwined in the college admission process. He also offers up a series of personal success stories from recent Webb alumni now thriving at Stanford, Columbia, UC Berkeley and beyond. Part two follows young alumni who chose colleges related to their avocations—like art, business, engineering and others. The feature photography is done by Elisa Ferrari and focuses on the beautiful and varied architecture of the Claremont Colleges.
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  • Winter Dance Performance

    The Winter Dance Show 2019 UN / covered - is an exploration in what it means to cover and uncover - in music, dance, costuming, and text. Featuring choreography by dance coach and Webb faculty member Michael Szanyi and senior dance students, the show highlights self-expression through movement. How do we make something known? How do we bring that to light? By uncovering dance, the show asks audience members to explore how the study of movement informs their human experience.
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  • The Art & Science of Decision Making

    It is no accident, I believe, that at this very moment there is a riveting tale in The New Yorker  about the art and science of decision making. Or, at least, not an accident that I found it and read it. Here at Webb, at this time of year, there is no shortage of students and families making some of the most important decisions (they believe) of their lives--from admission to and enrollment at Webb, to college admission for our seniors. Joshua Rothman rights beautifully about it here, bringing in examples from Darwin, Tolstoy, the modern parent and more. Read it in The New Yorker.
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  • Dr. Farke & Alf Museum in The Washington Post

    Augustyn Family Curator and Director of Research & Collections Andrew Farke is quoted today in The Washington Post on the impact of the federal government shutdown on fieldwork planning for paleontologists. Beyond the impact on visitor centers at such places as Dinosaur National Monument and the Petrified Forest National Park, research and fieldwork on federal lands has been dramatically affected, too. Read more in The Washington Post.
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