This article originally appeared in the summer 2015 Harker Quarterly.
A Look Back at the 2014-15 Keller Tour
Every year Butch Keller, upper school head, and his wife, Jane, an upper school math teacher, look forward to the “Keller Tour.” The much-anticipated tour is actually an annual series of trips during which they visit with Harker alumni attending various colleges throughout the United States.
With the 2014-15 Keller Tour now behind them, the couple took time out to share some of the highlights.
“It seems like so long ago that we were chaperoning a debate trip at the Bronx Science High School and were able to slip away for dinner with the Columbia and NYU alums. That marvelous dinner was just a hint of the fun we would later be having during the Keller Tour,” recalled Butch Keller.
He went on to reminisce about the sun setting on a cold and windy day as he and his wife walked around the Boston College campus on a “wonderful tour” led by Michelle Douglas ’13, followed by a dinner with her and other alums attending the college.
The next day the Kellers visited Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where they enjoyed dinner with a large group of alumni there. Soon after, WeiWei Buchsteiner ’14, Shreya Indukuri ’12 and Kimberly Ma ’14 graciously showed them around campus.
Butch Keller noted that a fun fact of Keller Tour history is that Michelle Vu ’11 now “leads the way” with three Keller Tour din- ner appearances. “She first joined us in Boston her freshman year, then joined us this fall in New York while visiting friends, and then finally this year we were with her at the Boston College event,” he said.
Speaking of fun, he added, Naomi So ’11 was in Houston visiting Michelle Lo ’12 while they were on campus at Rice University. Won Hee Le ’10, also a Rice graduate, was also in Houston and joined along. “We truly appreciated those three spending their day with us!” Jane Keller said.
Dinner that night was casual yet informative as the Kellers caught up with three additional Rice students: Kevin Mohanram ’14, Sapna Suresh ’14 and Shilpa Nataraj ’12. While in Houston, the Kellers had the unexpected pleasure of spending time with Duke University student Drew Goldstein ’13 who was in town for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament as one of the team managers.
After the trip to the Northeast, the Keller Tour was off to sunny Southern California where Johnny Hughes ’14 escorted them around the Loyola Marymount campus, showing his dorm, class buildings and other hangout spaces with great pride.
“It was obvious that Johnny had chosen a perfect home for his college experience. The LMU campus was beautiful with views spanning all of Los Angeles and out to the Pacific. Dinner following was a continuation of stories about his life at LMU [and] recollections of his time at Harker and how well-prepared he felt to begin his new journey,” noted Butch Keller.
The following day, as the trip wound its way to a close, the Kellers traveled to Chapman University to tour the area with Nick Navarro ’14 before joining Alice Tsui ’13 at a local bistro for lunch.
The first Keller Tour occurred in spring 2009 when the Kellers headed to New York to attend a performance by The Harker School Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Several alumni living in the area heard the Kellers were in town and asked them to stop by. Soon after, requests began flooding in from other alumni to “come out and see us,” recalled Butch Keller.
Today, he added, the tour serves as an opportunity not only to stay in touch with alumni, but also to visit with them while they are still in college, gaining invaluable feedback on how well Harker prepared them for university life.
“The Keller Tour concluded this year with many smiles and joyous moments leaving us excited to plan ahead for the 2015-16 tour!” he said.
Record Attendance for Alumni Families Easter Egg Hunt
The beautiful Union campus was once again the perfect setting for the fifth annual Harker Alumni Families Easter Egg Hunt. Held in March, the egg hunt attracted a record high of more than 130 people, with over 1,250 eggs hidden.
Previously, the egg hunt had been held at the lower school campus. This year saw age divisions for egg hunting, and arts and crafts activities. Eggs were strategically hidden throughout the grounds. The day also featured a fun bounce house and surprise visit by the Easter Bunny, who posed for photographs with the children.
“It was a wonderful morning of catching up with old and new friends,” recalled Karri Sakai Baker ’84, Harker’s director of alumni relations.
Harker Alumnus Travels the World Working as a Private Chef
Harker alumnus and class agent Stephen Worsley ’72 has had an incredibly interesting and unique career, living out of a suitcase and traveling around the world working as a top Michelin-rated chef.
Professionally known as “Chef Stephen,” the alumnus who “loves to cook and travel” recently stopped by the upper school for a visit with Karri Baker ’84, Harker’s director of alumni relations.
Harker Quarterly met up with Worsley for lunch in the Edge, where he was reminiscing with Baker about his days at Harker’s predecessor, the Palo Alto Military Academy (PAMA), a school for boys in grades 1-9. Together, he and Baker pored over old photos taken when Worsley was a young PAMA boarding student.
Harker food, he observed, has come a long way since PAMA’s school cafeteria. Worsley said he was “amazingly impressed” with all the lunch offerings at the upper school, made from scratch with fresh, locally purchased, well- balanced quality items. He even had a chance to chat with Harker’s kitchen staff about their work and healthy food philosophy, which is similar to his own.
Worsley recalled watching with fascination as the PAMA cook, Mrs. Kennedy, made grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots for the boys. “I used to love hanging out and watching her. It was so exciting to me. It probably had something to do with planting the seeds of my becoming a chef!” he said.
To date, Worsley has worked as a chef in more than 134 countries, studying and preparing many types of cuisine for luxury vacationers worldwide. He spent two boating seasons as a chef for a cruise ship in Croatia on the beautiful Dalmatian coast. His working motto, he noted, is: “Have knife, will travel.”
One interesting aspect of working as a chef on a boat is that, although you get to travel a lot, you never really see much of the sights, Worsley said. “Because the next meal is the most important thing, the moment I step off the boat I’m heading for the local market in search of the best fresh fruits and vegetables they have,” he explained.
Worsley makes himself available for private hire, ready to go almost anywhere at a moment’s notice. He especially likes to work with “foody” sailing families (of up to eight with a crew) specializing in fresh fish presentations. Among his tailor-made culinary experiences are classical French catered dinners, romantic candlelit dinners, casual yet sumptuous lunches, and a variety of other gourmet meals.
“I love the international markets as I learn so much from these hardworking people, from Calcutta to Rio,” he said, adding that one of the most important lessons of working as a chef is to always “consider the audience” and know the tastes of those for whom you are cooking.
Worsley credits his time at PAMA with helping to instill a strong work ethic. He worked his way up through the PAMA ranking system to win a special “Drill Down Award” and become the school’s “most improved cadet.” He said he also learned how to juggle two worlds – that of a young man attending a military academy while simultaneously growing up in the radically changing times of the ’60s and ’70s.
“I am a living reminder of Harker history,” he said, referring to PAMA’s creation in 1919 under the direction of Richard P. Kelly. Donald L. Nichols assumed leadership of PAMA in 1950 and Howard E. Nichols assumed leadership of the school in 1973, eventually dropping the military program and expanding academics and other program offerings.
Alumni Association Warmly Welcomes Class of 2015
The Class of 2015 was officially welcomed into the Harker Alumni Association during an induction luncheon in the Nichols Hall atrium on May 21.
The event took place after the seniors’ graduation rehearsal at Mountain Winery, giving the students a chance to pause and reflect upon their final year at Harker.
During the luncheon, prizes were handed out to students who had participated in the senior trip’s volleyball tournament and sandcastle-building contest. The seniors were then introduced to their class agents, who will act as liaisons between Harker’s alumni department and the 2015 graduates.
In preparation for college, each senior received what has become a fun Harker tradition: a laundry bag along with instructions on doing one’s own laundry. Finally, the soon- to-be-graduates wrote special messages to friends, teachers, parents and others to be placed in a time capsule that will be opened at the Class of 2015’s 10-year reunion. They hung out after the event to sign yearbooks and visit with friends from other grades.
Alumni Association Sponsors Harker Golf Classic at Renowned Stanford University Course
This year marked the first time the annual Harker Golf Classic was presented by the Harker Alumni Association. The successful event took place on April 13 at the Stanford University Golf Course, raising funds for Harker’s general endowment fund.
The 2015 Harker Golf Classic brought together Harker alumni, parents, alumni parents and their friends, totaling about 80 golfers. The fundraiser was largely spearheaded by Jeremy Pomer ’91 and Jeff Rogers ’84. Former Harker faculty member Howard Saltzman and current lower school math teacher Pat Walsh served as honorary marshals for the day, handing out prize ribbons and libations to golfers.
A variety of special awards and prizes, as well as numerous generous sponsors, helped make the event special. Capping off the occasion was a 19th-hole reception on the clubhouse patio for golfers, as well as non-golfers wishing to join in on the fun.
At the end of the day, the winning foursome was announced: Jen Eng, Raymond Hsieh, Herb Repp and Robert Nakamura.
The Stanford golf course, designed in 1930 by renowned golf course architects William Bell and George C. Thomas, is located in the foothills above the Stanford University campus. In 2009, it was rated the nation’s third-best college course by golf coaches.
“It was a great game of golf and, more important, all the participants left with the wonderful knowledge that they had helped raise funds for Harker’s general endowment, which will benefit future generations of students,” enthused Karri Sakai Baker ’84, director of alumni relations.
Please join us in congratulating the following alumni:
Sasha Stepanenko ’06 has had a busy year, finishing her Ph.D. program in clinical psychology and getting married in March. Many of her classmates were in attendance, including Casey Near, who officiated, and Gail Nakano and Ankur Gupta, who were in the wedding party. Sasha and her husband, Ryan Soykin, also enjoyed spending time with Alexi Ladonnikov ’05, Casey Blair ’06, Naushad Godrej ’06, Mariah Bush ’06, Steve Boyle ’06 and Shivani Bhargava ’06.
Last year for the summer issue we ran an alumni Celebrations photo about a couple (Heidi Wang ’08 and Neil Chao ’06) who had some of their engagement photos taken at Harker’s upper school campus. This year, we are thrilled to report that a couple from 2003 took things a step further and actually got engaged on campus! Congratulations to Jigish Patel, who proposed to Charitha Reddy in the gym at the upper school, which had been cleverly decorated to look like a scene from a high school dance, thanks to assistance from Joe Rosenthal, executive director of advancement. Rosenthal recalled coaching Jigish in basketball back in grade 5, and was thrilled that Jigish contacted the alumni office and expressed how much Harker still meant to both him and Charitha. “We had been good friends in high school and reconnected a few years ago so it seemed like a natural place to propose since it was filled with good memories for both of us! It was really hard keeping it a secret but I had a lot of help from both of our families so she would be surprised!” said Jigish.
“We are so glad to have them share this special moment as part of the Harker family!” said Rosenthal.