Cincinnati Country Day School
April 2021 Alumni Journal
Mark Your Calendar for Giving Day
Despite the extraordinary circumstances presented by the pandemic, the superior education for which Country Day is known has shone through this year. From the diligent observance of safety protocols to the enthusiastic incorporation of new technology tools, our entire community collaborated to ensure students are in the classroom and learning together.
To celebrate and recognize this momentous school year, we invite you to JOIN THE FORCE on Giving Day, Tuesday, May 4, 2021, in support of the Country Day Fund. Help us reach our goal of $130,000 and reveal the identity of the three faculty members behind the silhouettes. As gifts are received throughout the day, their identity will be unveiled!
In addition, we have invited students and faculty to dress in their favorite Star Wars or space costumes on May 4 to celebrate an out of this world school year! We will have a virtual photo booth, allowing our community to participate in the excitement and keep track of the fun on campus!
On behalf of our students, faculty, and staff, thank you for the support you offer and the opportunities you provide!
Accelerating Alumni
Dr. Melissa Wachterman ’96 and Dr. Benjamin Sommers ’96 met at Country Day in eighth grade.
“I remember going out with him on a date and thinking ‘I’m taller than him’,” said Wachterman. They officially began dating their senior year at CCDS and have since married and welcomed two sons into the world. 
Melissa and Ben credit much of their success to the time they spent at Country Day and the amazing experiences they shared on campus. “I still find myself thinking of things Mr. Black would say in history class,” said Wachterman. “I remember Mrs. Butler always being a strong female role model, encouraging and helping me develop into my own.” 
In January, Ben was appointed by President Biden as Deputy Assistant Secretary for health policy in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Before that, he was a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Ben has received numerous awards including the Health Services Research Impact Award and the Article-of-the Year Award from AcademyHealth, and he was elected to the National Academy of Medicine in 2019. Ben found his niche for public policy during his time at Country Day. “I remember being fascinated by Doc [Nancy] Fogelson’s class on U.S. history,” said Sommers. “She taught us not only how to think about public policy, but also how to write about policy.”  
Melissa attended Haverford College and was drawn there by their honor code and student-led values, similar to CCDS. She then attended medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine where she received her Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health degree, as well as a Master of Science degree from Harvard School of Public Health. She is now a palliative care doctor and professor at Harvard Medical School. Her passion and career are centered around caring for seriously ill older adults. “Country Day cared for its students and ultimately played a part in my career choice where I felt like I could take care of people holistically.”
Ben is grateful for all the teachers that shaped his time at CCDS. “Mr. Black, the Dunns, Mr. Patterson, and Mr. Anders all come to mind when I think of the amazing faculty at CCDS that impacted my career.”
Ben attended Princeton University for his undergraduate degree in English and minor degree in Jewish studies. He received both his Doctor of Philosophy in health policy and his Doctor of Medicine from Harvard.
Ben’s message to the current students at CCDS is, “You never know what part of your education is going to matter in your future career.  Take advantage of everything at Country Day because you never know what role it may play down the road. The hard work really does pay off!”
“Country Day means so much to us,” agreed Wachterman and Sommers. “We found each other and some of our closest friends there. Even during the pandemic, we would meet with our closest friends from Country Day virtually and play board games together. Country Day is a special place.” 
Ben and Melissa reside in Brookline, Massachusetts, but plan to move to Washington, D.C. this summer as he transitions into his new role. 
CCDS Alumni Awarded Grammys
Kellen Pomeranz '07 won a GRAMMY award on March 14, 2021 at the 63rd GRAMMYs for her co-writing and co-producing the song "Conversations in the Dark" featured on John Legend's Grammy-award-winning R&B album "Bigger Love."
The song was performed by John Legend on the show This Is Us in January 2020. It also peaked on the Billboard charts at #10 in January 2020.
Aaron Dessner '94 was awarded a GRAMMY for his contributions on Taylor Swift's Album of the Year-winning album "Folklore." Dessner was nominated for two GRAMMY awards for co-producing and co-writing 11 songs on Taylor Swift's 8th studio album.
In addition, he and his brother Bryce '94 and other members of the band The National collaborated on the album as well.
This is Pomeranz's first GRAMMY and Dessner's second. He won his first GRAMMY award in 2018 for Best Alternative Music Album "Sleep Well Beast."
Homecoming and Reunion Weekend October 1-3, 2021
We currently plan to celebrate all reunion year classes ending in ’1 and ’6 on campus. In addition, we welcome classes who were unable to celebrate their reunions last year to join. Stay tuned throughout the year for more details. If you would like to plan your reunion, please contact Giles DeCourcy at 513-979-0283. (Pictured: Class of 1986 celebrated their 25th reunion in 2011.)
Senior Offered Scholarships; Must Make Tough Decision
Mason Mack '21 is a senior at Cincinnati Country Day School, and while his is not a unique story – many Country Day students are offered scholarships every year – his story exemplifies the extraordinary accomplishments and remarkable resilience and drive that are required to achieve such outcomes.
Mack was recently offered three prestigious, competitive scholarships from the University of Cincinnati – the Cincinnatus Presidential Scholarship, the Darwin T. Turner Scholarship and the Lindner Business Honors Scholarship. To be offered these scholarships is not only an incredible academic honor but is also a financial relief because the scholarships cover the full cost of tuition, room and board, and fees.
Through UC's business honors program, Mack could participate in work experiences throughout the city and study abroad within his first two years of college.
"I want to see the world, and this is a very attractive aspect of the experience that UC provides," explained Mack.
In addition to UC's scholarship package, he was offered the Ohio State University's Morrill Scholarship, which is the school's "premier diversity/merit scholarship program, rewarding academically talented students who are actively engaged in diversity-based leadership, service and social justice activities." Mack finds himself drawn to the program.
"I am passionate about strengthening myself as a leader and working in my community," said Mack. "This scholarship from OSU is focused on making a push for diversity and change – that makes it really attractive to me. From a social justice perspective, OSU is more attractive to me and could open new doors for what I really want to do and set me apart after college."
Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors - Final Episode
A ton of slapstick and wild comic confusion happens when two sets of twins, separated at birth, wind up in the same town on the same day. Friends mistake friends, wives mistake husbands, merchants mistake customers, and the seaside city of Ephesus will never be the same again. 
Broken down into episodes, the Cincinnati Country Day Upper School Theater program brings Shakespeare’s shortest, funniest and “sitcomiest” comedy to the small screen with an homage to those sitcoms we have loved over the years.
Country Day Girls Ruling Their Own Experiences
During March in which we celebrated Women’s history and accomplishments, some Cincinnati Country Day School seventh grade students began empowering themselves and one another to “Rule their Own eXperiences” (ROX). Through their involvement in ROX, 10 students spend one hour a week together for 20 weeks to talk through topics such as self-awareness, team-building, healthy communication, and building effective friendships and relationships.
"There are so many cool things about this program, which is all about female empowerment and raising our girls to rule their own experiences," said Alexis Nordrum, school psychologist and licensed ROX facilitator. "Basically, we help girls recognize the messages that they hear regarding girls' abilities and opportunities and we give them the tools they need to create their own messages and narratives while also supporting one another."
The students also talk about navigating social media, body image, stress, pressure, and the media. They work with one another and their adult facilitator – Nordrum – to help plan for their futures by considering their academic and career development as well as their leadership opportunities.
A guest speaker recently visited the group and spoke about her career and the obstacles of being a female in technology industry. Lauren Legette '07 has gone on to have a varied and exciting career with tech-forward companies like the Food Network, Uber, and Facebook. She spoke to the students about her experiences and answered their questions about her role in her current position at Facebook as well as how she got to where she is today.
Student Spotlight
Anyone who knows Franco Valentin ’21 will tell you that he represents Cincinnati Country Day School with class and charisma. Franco is from Indian Hill and started at CCDS in lower school, returning for his freshman year in the upper school. His sister Emma '23 is also a student at Country Day. 
“Franco is a caring individual who is modest about his accomplishments,” said Merle Black, upper school history teacher. “Even with his popularity among his peers and his achievements in the classroom, on the court, and in student government, he is a humble person. In every respect, he ranks among the best students I have taught over my 39 years in teaching. Franco makes a positive difference in the lives of others.”
Franco played a large role on the basketball court, leading the team in three-point shots this year. “Franco is a great kid who represents the Country Day basketball program with class both on and off the court,” said Greg Ross, boys basketball coach. “He is the type of player all coaches love having in their program. He is a hard worker, is supportive of his teammate, and always puts the team first. It has been an absolute pleasure to coach him, and he we can’t wait to see what the future has in store for him.”
Franco will major in Marine Biology and minor in English at University of Miami, Florida. “I love writing poetry in my free time,” said Valentin. “Mrs. (Grace) Brown has prepared me well for writing at the next level.”
Franco said he will miss not only his friends at CCDS, but the faculty as well. “They have become not only my mentors, but my friends. Not only do they make sure I am succeeding in the classroom, but outside of it as well.” 
Faculty Feature
Ann Gardner has been teaching in the lower school at Cincinnati Country Day School for 24 years. 
Ann shares that “CCDS is a special place. There are not many elementary teachers that can say they get to watch their students grow up in front of their eyes or even attend their high school graduation. I look at them walk across the stage and still think of their time in lower school and smile seeing them as adults, utilizing the potential I always knew they possessed.”
Ann loves the small class sizes and ability to focus more on the specific individualized attention she can spend with each student. “Country Day promotes active learning, whether in the classroom or outside on the 62-acre campus. We have time to concentrate on how we can encourage each student to perform their best and get them to believe in themselves and their abilities,” said Gardner.
“The community, faculty, and students are what make this school so special to me. Parents understand the value in their children’s learning experience here and trust me to guide them in the right direction. They care about my feedback and respect my opinion. This community and campus are a hidden gem!”
In her free time, you will find Ann taking a yoga class, exercising, reading, and baking her famous chocolate chip cookies. Her son Jack ’18 is a junior at University of Cincinnati and her daughter Maggie ’21 is a senior and is choosing between the Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati. 

Country Day is fortunate to have such an inspiring faculty member like Ann and we thank her for her service to and passion for our students! 
Pictures of the Month
Eighth grade United States History students explored, wrote research papers on, and created accompanying visual pieces to capture the essence of their project focusing on life at the turn of the century in America.
Fourth graders participated in the CCDS Invention Convention 2021 by choosing an Ohio inventor, researching the individual and the invention the person was responsible for creating, and presenting the findings.
Second grade students presented their biography reports as a wax museum, a joyful annual tradition at Country Day. Each second grader selected a person of importance who had made a difference in the world.
Congratulations to our Nighthawks raffle winners! Thirty lower, middle, and upper school students took home either a Nighthawks-branded water bottle, lanyard, shirt, or hat!
Seniors were treated to a surprise lunch hosted by the parents of the Senior Class.