An independent day school serving grades K-12 | St. Paul, MN

Class Notes

Class Notes are a great place to read about the accomplishments and happenings in the lives of your old friends and classmates. Read class notes from the latest issue of SPA Magazine below or visit the Class Notes Archive to read notes from previous issues. To submit a class note, please complete the online submission form.

Winter 2020/2021

1951

Bruce Kemper shares that his first 18 years were spent in Wisconsin in a lake home where his wife and him raised their family of five, and he worked in the construction sales area for Weyerhaeuser Co. They then moved to the Gulf coast of Florida, where he started a State Certified Swimming pool and spa business, and, most importantly, “I was able to sail.” His boat was moored in back, just beyond the swimming pool, and he shares that they traveled as far as the Bahamas. After another 18 years, they moved half way back to Minnesota, retired in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and started to travel the US and Europe. He and his wife of 65 years have since moved to a retirement community in Burlington, NC. Bruce often thinks of how much of his good fortune is due to those 1940 years at SPA. People such as Max Sporer, Judge Hurd, Ameluxan, Al Smith, Hunter and his great and unforgettable classmates of 1951.

1954

Polly Cross Olmstead and Midge Hamm celebrated their 65th reunion by meeting for lunch in Stillwater when Midge was in town visiting sister Peggy. Other classmates were unable to join them but sent greetings.


Bonnie Mairs was inducted into the YMCA’s Hall of Fame at the organization’s General Assembly held in Anaheim, California in July. She was honored for her work with international education during her 36 year YMCA career and continuing in retirement.

1955

Felicity Swayze shares that for the past 20 years, she and her husband of 61 years, Townsend Swayze, have lived in Tunbridge, Vermont in a large house on 260 acres of land at the end of a dirt road where it was very beautiful but quite remote. Three years ago, the pair purchased a small house in Hartford, Vermont, which they had been renting out, but in November 2019, they decided to make the “aging peoples' move down to safer territory” and into the smaller house. She shares that they knew they needed to be closer to hospitals and other essentials given some health issues at the time and despite several tough months, she shares that they are settled, comfortable, and feel fortunate. Felicity reports that she has taken up writing again after publishing her memoir War Torn: A Family Story in 2017 and that she has joined a Writer's Workshop group on Zoom. She also plans to participate in a short story course sponsored by Osher at Dartmouth, adult learning resource. Finally, she shares that the family is doing well: her granddaughter Savitri is beginning her third year at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma; her grandson Ivan lives in Minneapolis with her daughter India Swayze and is a musician in his own band, which is getting some recognition; her son Peter still lives in Chicago and teaches English as Second Language to adult foreign students from all over the world; and she continually misses her brother Peter Vaughan '55 who passed away at his retirement home in France in 2014.

1956

Jonathan Rose was honored by the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law School at Arizona State University which has created the Jonathan & Wendy Rose Professor of Law, which they endowed. Jonathan is a longtime faculty member at the school starting his teachings in 1968, the second year that the College of Law was established. This position will support future faculty members and the work they are doing.

1964

Ward and Shotsy Johnson celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on November 27, 2019. The pair sends greetings to the St. Paul Academy and Summit School class of 1964.

1966

Lewis Griggs writes that after six months of chemotherapy for Stage III rectal cancer I, he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Lewis spent six weeks in the ICU with COVID-19, including ten days on a ventilator where he was touch and go. He shares that he feels “very blessed to have survived.” Since then, Lewis endured another round of intense radiation for his cancer and is now focused on lung recovery and physical therapy after losing forty pounds of muscle while in the hospital. He shares that he is determined to get better and “will discover again whatever learnings come from every crisis!”

1970

Angela Furtado writes that after her year as AFS student at SPA (1969-1970), she went back to Fortaleza, Brazil, and started college. In 1975, she got married and came back to the US, accompanying her husband who was pursuing a PhD in Economics at UC Berkeley. In 1978, their daughter Mariana was born. In 1980, the family went back to Brazil where Angela finished Law School at the University of Brasilia and worked for Congress. In 1983, soon after she graduated, the pair came back to the US again, this time to Washington, D.C., where her husband Antonio joined the staff of the International Monetary Fund and she got a Masters Degree in Comparative Law. Later, having lost interest in law, she joined the World Bank, where she started a long career in Corporate Communications. They lived in D.C. until late 2011 and recently both retired and moved back to California, this time to Los Angeles where their daughter also lives. She shares that her main activities these days are travel and photography. Last year, after 37 years in the US and realizing their roots here are stronger than in Brazil, the pair also decided to become American citizens. The process took one year and they received their citizenship certificate in June of this year!

1973

Leslie Butterfield retired to Sarasota, FL in 2015 and loves living in a place where nature and the arts are at the center of life. This year, she co-founded a non-profit that connects accomplished visual artists and poets with the opportunity to create artworks for common areas like waiting rooms in social services offices or laundromats. The non-profit believes art belongs to everyone and that it should be shared in spaces and for people who might not otherwise have art in their lives. 

Anthony Millington shares that while he did not graduate from SPA due to enrolling and graduating from boarding school, he has always remembered his class fondly. Recently, Anthony was married to Abby Sykes in NYC. The pair now resides on Rangeley Lake in Maine, just outside of Philadelphia. He welcomes the opportunity to reconnect with friends from SPA!

Charlie Zelle was named the next Metropolitan Council Chairman in January 2020 by Governor Tim Walz.

1980

Denise Callahan reports that in late August her youngest son Brady began his freshman year at St. Lawrence University, following in his oldest brother's (Andrew) footsteps. Additionally, their middle son James went back to Connecticut the first week of September to begin his senior year at Trinity College. Denise was excited both boys were able to be back on campus but also shared that the nest is not empty: Due to COVID-19, their eldest son Andrew has been back home with them, working from their dining room since mid-March. Even though 2020 has packed quite the punch so far, Denise and her family continue to be grateful for their “blessings: family, friends, good health, our jobs, and in-person school!”

Artemis Preeshl taught World Drama, Dance & Theatre as Faculty on Semester at Sea in Spring 2020. In Hawaii, Japan, Vietnam, and Mauritius, she served as trip liaison sailing on a catamaran, rappelling down a waterfall, boating in the Mekong Delta, and meditating on a sacred Japanese mountain. Additionally, Artemis has had several noteworthy opportunities and accomplishments over the years:

  • She was elected by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of TV and Radio Artists to the New Orleans Local Board in 2013 where she has served as Conservatory Chair. 

  • In Fall 2019, Artemis directed, designed accent, and choreographed for Abigail/1702, the sequel to Arthur Miller's Crucible. 

  • In Winter 2020, Stage Directors and Choreographers Journal published an article on her reconstruction of Anna Sokolow’s lost dance. 

  • The Gladys Delmas’ Foundation gave her a grant to study Eleanora Duse at Cini Foundation in Venice. 

  • This summer, she translated Il Fedele from 16th-century Italian. 

  • Routledge contracted Artemis to write Consent in Shakespeare: “Consent in Shakespeare: What Women Do and Don’t in Shakespeare’s Mediterranean Plays and Origin Stories (forthcoming, 2021).”

  • She was in a short film, Regret, in which she plays the lead as Mamzelle. The film premiered at Vero Beach Wine and Film Festival in Fall 2020. 

  • Since Europe is closed to tourists, Artemis also shares, "I walked an imaginary Camino Frances-in-place in the U.S dedicated to the memory of George Floyd. As a high schooler,  I taught gymnastics in his neighborhood at the Urban/West Central YMCA. Now, I am working an imaginary Camino Portugues in-place from Breonna Taylor. George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Rest in Power."

1982

Michele Bogotty Aschkenase’s book on expatriate life in Shanghai —Call Me Tai Tai—was recently published! It’s available on www.amazon.com.

1983

Jesse Singh lives in Minneapolis and works in Chicago. All three of his kids graduated from SPA and two have graduated from college. Jesse was fortunate enough to be able to take a company public during the pandemic. He is the CEO of the AZEK Company (Ticker AZEK) and after a brief delay, the company went public on June 12, 2020. It was the first, purely virtual IPO for the NYSE.

1987

Mark Thomas, a professor of neuroscience in the University of Minnesota Medical School and director of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction, is part of the UMN team who received a $9.9 million federal grant to establish the “Center for Neural Circuits in Addiction,” which he shares will help raise awareness that addiction does not represent a failure of an individual’s moral character but, instead, stems from a biological basis and needs to be treated as a chronic, brain-based condition. Read more at: https://research.umn.edu/inquiry/post/new-center-explore-brain-science-behind-addiction.

1990

Jason Kahn reports that he and his wife Shelia Schueller have lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan since 1999. He is a general practice physician, working with kids and adults, and spends a significant part of his time teaching medical students. The pair have a 14-year-old daughter, a rotating cast of dogs, and currently a quarantine dog named Letty. Even after 30 years, he still remembers the social studies activity where they marched to the athletic fields when learning about Mao's long march. In that class, he also remembers how each student was also assigned a character from the French Revolution and he was Jean Paul Marat, famously depicted killed in his bathtub.

Melissa Geller is a Gynecologic Oncologist at the University of Minnesota and has been living in Gem Lake for 11 years. She and Greg Smith ’89  recently celebrated their 20-year wedding anniversary and share that they have three children: Juliette (11 years-old), Helena (9 years-old), and Gabrielle (2 years-old). They also have a chocolate lab named Buzz and a quail named Rae! Even after 30 years, she remembers Winter Widji fondly and tells her girls about her experience sleeping in an igloo and listening to the ice crack below them.

Darren Strafelda has been in Sunfish Lake for five years and works for Mlazgar Associates, a commercial lighting agency that currently represents about 140 manufacturers. He has been with the company for 13 years and is proud to share that his company did the lighting for SPA’s Hugh K. Schilling Math and Science Center and US Bank Stadium. He has been married to his wife Stephanie for 23 years and the pair have a son, Boden, who is currently a junior at SPA. Boden plays hockey and baseball for the Spartans. Their family also has two labrador retrievers, Harley and Newman. As a family, the Strafelda’s travel all over the country for baseball tournaments, in addition to spending time at the cabin. Reflecting on his time at SPA, Darren remembers Mrs. Victor’s history class when Grant Murray popped an Alka Seltzer and faked a seizure. At that time, he thought it was the funniest thing he had witnessed but, understandably, it did not go over well with Mrs. Victor. Darren is looking forward to a non-COVID-19 reunion but enjoyed seeing all his classmates at the virtual 30th reunion this fall!

Debbie Goldenberg is in her 25th year of teaching at Echo Park Elementary School in Burnsville. Her family consists of her husband Chad and her two daughters: Ruth, a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Rose, a sophomore in high school. Debbie fondly remembers Mrs. King, sharing, “She was amazing and always knew how to connect with students.” She also can’t forget her tennis, gymnastics and softball seasons, the 10 day Odyssey winter camping trip in northern Minnesota, and jumping in the frozen lake at Camp Widji.  

Charlie Neimeyer shares that he is a real estate agent and lives in St. Paul. He is married and has a 14 -year-old daughter and “one fat cat.”

Anita Kuba has lived in San Francisco for 17 years and is in Leadership Development for Google. She met her husband Ramesh in Business School and the pair has two kids, Meera (16-year-old) and Rohan (13-year-old), and a dog. Anita still remembers Mr. Lagos and the chalk pluming like smoke all over the room while he endlessly wrote and erased proofs. He always made her laugh.

Fritz Hoeschler lived in Pensacola, FL for 8.5  years after moving back for the military. He is a First Officer Airline Pilot and he and his wife, Julia, and have two cats, Fritz remembers Mr. Finch, playing in the Orchestra and Jazz Band, skiing in the Boundary Waters with Mr. Nelson, and back-to-back soccer championships. He shares that he really enjoyed the virtual reunion and continues to realize how cool his classmates are.

Sarah (Graebner) Reichert returned to Minnesota in 2000 and has lived in Minneapolis for the last 15 years. She manages the Customer Account Management group tied to Rosemount Aerospace Inc., a part of Collins Aerospace. The group supports the production and spare part requirements of commercial and military aircraft manufacturers and airlines world wide. Her husband and her have been married for 15 years and do not have any kids except their 13.5 year old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog who is their fur baby. The pair loves to travel — Croatia and New Zealand are next on their bucket list. Some of her favorite memories from SPA include: Widji week, playing volleyball, Odyssey, Senior Speech, and Senior Project. All were so memorable and influenced her path in life.

1999

Jessica Rollin is beyond grateful for many of her Class of '99 classmates who have reconnected during the COVID-19 pandemic and have a text chain with daily activity, as well as a biweekly Sunday zoom call. They are a group of doctors, teachers, journalists, lawyers, business owners, and leaders and she reflects that without the support of these people who have known her for decades and who are all incredibly strong and determined, she would be having a much harder time navigating these difficult times.

2000

Evan Berquist was recognized by the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) with an Excellence Award in Pro Bono Service. He was also recognized by the Minnesota Supreme Court thanking him for his work. He was one of only 29 Minnesota lawyers honored.

2001

Sarah Barnes Kinsella shares that she and her husband Mike welcomed a daughter, Madeline Mae, on June 23, 2020. Madeline joins older brothers Henry (6 years-old) and Edward (3 years-old). She currently works as a Sports Medicine physician at M Health-Fairview.

Ellen Tani and Aaron Fix got married in a small outdoor ceremony in St. Paul over Labor Day weekend with Alex Asancheyev '01 as their best man. Ellen and Aaron were in the same graduating class at SPA but had no classes together and barely knew each other, she shares. Eventually, however, they reconnected in Maine in 2015.

2004

Tyler Olson launched another new business this year, SHYLD Cybersecurity Academy, to train employees on how to implement the basics of cyber hygiene and stop hackers from stealing data. SHYLD successfully launched a kickstarter campaign in Fall 2019 and has received a fair amount of publicity over the last year.

2005

Tim Kraack is excited to announce the release of his new classical album, Melodramas, featuring the world premiere of his new composition, How the Water Feels to the Fishes, a collection of short pieces for piano and narrator with text by Dave Eggers. Melodrama is a musical genre from the 19th century that places spoken text over music. This is Tim’s sixth album of classical piano music and it can be found on his website and Spotify. A live premiere at SPA was scheduled for March but was canceled due to COVID-19. The event will be rescheduled for a later date.

2007

Serene Lawrence was recently appointed as Chief Operating Officer at Eighth Generation, an arts-based, Tribally-owned company in Seattle that is the first ever Native-owned company to create wool blankets. Serene is the first American Indian SPA graduate to achieve such a high-ranking position in the business industry. She was also named to the prestigious "Top 40 Under 40" list by the National Center for American Indian Economic Development (NCAIED). The NCAIED's "40 Under 40" award recognizes the top 40 emerging American Indians from across the United States who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and/or in their communities, especially during the pandemic.

2010

Anne Walli and Everett Wenzel ’08 were thrilled to announce the arrival of their daughter Dylan Joni Wenzel on July 11, 2020.