Breadcrumbs

The life and times of ASL Lifers

“Once an Eagle, always an Eagle,” we sing. Whether our students spent one semester or over a decade at One Waverley Place, they will forever be considered members of the ASL family. For the alumni who wear the distinction of being ASL Lifers, this promise rings especially true. Recognized at graduation as recipients of the Endurance Award, these students attended ASL from kindergarten or Grade 1 through Grade 12. Out of a network of 16,000, only 310 alums fit this bill. What was it like to grow up at a school and be a permanent fixture in a transitory community? We surveyed Lifers from the Classes of 1964 through 2016 to learn more. Here, we share memories and musings of these enduring Eagles.

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Charles Scudder ’64, Killingworth, CT

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
I constantly have to explain why I spent the first 17 years of my life in England but have an American accent.

How would you describe ASL's campus when you were a student? How did it change while you were there?
I started at ASL in 1952, the first year the School moved to Grosvenor Square. The building was a classic 19th-century residence with an impressive entry hall and sweeping staircases throughout. The second floor consisted of the old living and dining rooms—the partition between the two having been removed. This is where we had our assemblies, and I remember a visit from former President Truman who spoke to us there. The old bedrooms on the upper floors were our classrooms, and the old stables out back served as our gym. At the time, the American Embassy was housed on the south side of the square, and we all went to eat lunch in its cafeteria. We had to walk up to Hyde Park to play soccer and softball, much to the amazement of the local populace who had never seen softball played before. In 1958, the school moved from Grosvenor Square to two wonderful buildings in Gloucester Gate, which were part of the Nash Terraces around Regent’s Park. It was then that the School expanded to 12 grades. We played basketball and put on plays in the British Army armory around the corner on Albany Street and played our outdoor sports across the street in Regent’s Park. Classes were quite small (around 20 students), which gave everyone multiple opportunities to participate on school teams, newspapers, prom committees, yearbook production and other activities.    

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
I have wonderful memories of my time at ASL, and I think the very different backgrounds of my classmates, who came from all over the United States and Europe, together with their intellectual curiosity and intelligence, has stood me in good stead all my life.

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
I was the first student to graduate from the School after spending the full 12 years at ASL. The graduation ceremony was held at a theater in the old American Embassy on Grosvenor Square. Stephen Eckard (ASL 1951-1971), the first head of school, seemed quite pleased that someone had actually made it all the way through to graduation.

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
I keep in regular touch with all my classmates, many of whom I still regard as my closest friends. We had a wonderful reunion in San Diego some years ago to celebrate our 50th. I am planning to go skiing again with my classmate Jim McConkie next year in Utah where he lives.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Spectacular.

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Stephen Coloney ’77, London, UK 

What does being an ASL lifer mean to you?
Attending 1-12! I spent my formative years at ASL.

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
My first kiss.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Unique.

 

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Margaret (Coloney) Curry ’78, Silver Spring, MD

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
I take pride in being the first girl Lifer at ASL! Being a Lifer means that ASL was my second family while we were in London. It was a constant in my life. 

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Over the 12 years, it's hard to pinpoint one memory. There are too many. It's more about the people who came in and out of my life. I remember lots of laughing in the Commons, and usually getting in trouble for not doing my homework.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Margaret-Jean Upton was the person who set me on my path. She introduced me to literature, and it opened up a whole new world to me. Years later, on one of our visits to London, I watched Mrs. Upton chatting with my seven-year-old daughter about literature at a party—both of their faces lit up with enthusiasm. It was like life had come full circle. Her friendship and personal interest in me meant everything.

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
My Farrah Fawcett hair, or my attempts to achieve it. No, really, it was a nice ceremony. I remember singing in the choir for the last time. Singing at graduation was always a moving moment.

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
After co-founding the ASL Alumni Association in the early ’90s, I was pretty involved with ASL for a number of years. It was fun seeing old classmates and getting to know so many ASL grads from different eras.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Transformational.

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Sandra (Kenis) Sachs ’86, Munich, Germany

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
A privilege, an experience. Accordingly, I can't compare my school to any other as I only attended one!

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Rev. Sally Webster (ASL 1974-99), my second grade teacher, who has been there for me for my whole life. She allowed me to explore teaching by aiding in her classroom. She always had time to listen, advise and help guide me on my life's journey. She was an amazing role model who ultimately granted me the honor of performing the ceremony of marrying my husband and me.

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
There are several trips that stand out: Greece in sixth grade, Egypt my junior year, visiting Madrid. Memories were made and are still held close to my heart. I wish my children had similar opportunities.

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
I am still amazed how many ASLers I am still in contact with. Of course social media helps, but the common bond holds strong, and I often look up an schoolmate when traveling. I’m hoping to reunite with a good friend in Switzerland soon.  

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Seize the vast number of opportunities being in London has to offer and stay in contact with friends as you will always have a common bond that unites you.  

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Holistic. 

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Julie Seligson ’87, Stormville, NY

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
My roots and my whole childhood were at ASL with my two brothers, Steve ’82 and Dan ’85. ASL shaped our experience of growing up as Americans in London in the crazy ’70s and ’80s  during so many interesting geopolitical times. The harsh realities of IRA bombings, the coal miners’ strike and the first big airplane terrorist attacks on PanAm were the backdrop to our proms at the Savoy and the Ritz, pub lunches and, of course, Alternatives all over Europe with classmates, learning to be lovers of life.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Steve Wasley (ASL 1975-2008), my fourth grade homeroom teacher. He made everything fun, and he taught us to believe in ourselves. I felt invincible.

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
Greece in the sixth grade. We went to Crete and Athens and had more freedom than we'd ever experienced before while looking at the wonders of the world every day. 

How would you describe ASL's campus when you were a student? 
Each colored stairwell had its own personality depending on whose lockers were there each year. 

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Enjoy every minute of London and take all the magical experiences with you to help others want to learn and grow through travel.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Grounding.

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Yael Belkind ’90, Washington, DC

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
I’m honored to have been a part of a 13-year ASL experience that has been the foundation for everything!

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Inspiring.

 

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Shahriar Farrokhzadeh ’95, London, UK


What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you? 
Having friendships for life. 

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
Winning ISSTs soccer in Vienna. 

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
How amazing we all felt.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Experience as much as you can in life. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Incredible.

 

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Abdalla Zarroug ’92, Omaha, NE

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you? 
Belonging to the family and community of ASL.

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
Playing soccer in Budapest the year after communism fell, so it was still culturally different. I was immersed in a real piece of history by seeing how an entire culture lived so differently.

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Being with my friends and supported by my teachers, every day.

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
I knew I would be friends forever with the people around me. And it is still true.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors? 
Take advantage of the academic and cultural experiences, all of them. It will make you prepared for the future.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Impactful.

 

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A.M. Dupee ’03, London, UK

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
A lifetime of friends, a network to rely on, and a school that will always be a big part of me. 

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
Visiting the Loire Valley in 2000. We traveled, we ate and we bonded with much older classmates. It was an amazing trip.

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Returning to ASL as a coach. One of my proudest personal moments. 

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
I will forever be a champion of the School and will always want to remain involved. 

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Don’t underestimate the value of the education you received, both in school and while living in London. Appreciate the network you will have forever. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Tremendous.

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Nadia Kazolides ’03, London, UK

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
At a school like ASL, where my classmates would come and go, I found security in knowing that my school experience was and would always be ASL. 

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Only one? I was lucky enough to have four outstanding teachers for whom I shall forever be grateful: Heather Tolfree (ASL 1988-2003) in K1 and Grade 3—she remained close until Grade 8 and offered great support when my mother passed; Chris McColl (ASL 1999-2007) for his empathy and teaching me that writing can help to attract my desires, and manifest exactly what I want; Victoria Hamadache (1985-present) for her absolutely fabulous ways, constant encouragement and bright look on life; and Sana Shafqat (ASL 2001-present) for being kind when I had no one to sit with at lunch.

What was your most memorable ASL Alternative?
Going to Budapest as the only freshman with a group of seniors! 

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
Getting an award as a Lifer! 

What role does ASL play in your life today?
Immense pride to be part of the ASL community. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime education. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Familiar.

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Tim Coulson ’04, London, UK

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
It was a rarity. I think being a Lifer made it impossible for me to realize how special the education and overall experience was, because I had nothing to compare it to. Now that I am looking at schools for my own children, I appreciate how fabulous my educational experience was.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Laura (Rose) Bradshaw (ASL 1989-2003), my second grade teacher. She taught me to read.

What role does ASL play in your life today?
My friends from ASL remain my best friends today. The SLD program saved me.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Enjoy!

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Being on the rowing team that won ASL's first-ever medal at the National Schools’ Regatta in 2004. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Bubble.

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Alexander Fahmi ’05, San Francisco, CA

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
Special. ASL was home for me and my family for 13 years. I formed lifelong friendships with people I knew for only one or two years as they were passing through, traveled the world with friends, teammates and family, and saw the world through a different lens. I had the privilege of autonomy from an early age, getting to explore the city by bus, tube and on foot, something I take great joy in today in my home city. I learned to make fast friends with anyone and everyone who passed through those ASL doors. It truly is special to look back on my experience and carry with me the relationships, teachings and foundation rooted in one place, one home, for so long. 

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Tim Watson (ASL1973-2007). He taught me so much through the years, took me under his wing and let me express my creative side in a way I hadn't found previously. The wood shop was an outlet for me, and Mr. Watson was my guide. He was always very direct with us, had a great sense of humor and encouraged us to show our passion through our craft. His teachings stay with me to this day, as I'm currently exploring getting back into the shop here in San Francisco. I also want to express my gratitude to Bhupendra Patel (ASL 1998-2019), who was so kind, thoughtful and genuine. As the first person you saw in the morning, and often the last one you saw on the way out, it's impossible to have asked for anyone better and more perfect for that seat. Thank you.

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
I had several, but ISSTs in the spring of my senior year, playing tennis at the Olympic stadium in Athens, has to be among the top contenders. Our tennis team had an up and down season,  and we headed into the tournament with low expectations but a strong competitive spirit. We arrived early and got to tour the Parthenon and local plazas. It was incredible to engage with and experience this ancient place for the first time. We came out of that tournament with team and individual medals alike, capping off a great season and high school sports career. 

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
The end of an era. We knew it would never be like that again, all of us who had literally grown up together going separate ways to different states and different countries. I remember a lot of hugs and a lot of tears. We had been part of something truly unique and special, and we would always have that. 

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
I keep up with a group of friends from different times in my life there, some of whom attended my wedding, including many friends' parents. It feeds my lifelong curiosity and desire to travel, see the world, meet new people and take in new experiences. It taught me independence, hard work and tenacity. In building new relationships each and every year, it has served me well in my day job today, which requires relationship development and constant change. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Formative.

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Edward Newkirk ’05, London, UK

What does being an ASL lifer mean to you?
Being a permanent part of the ASL community even as students come and go.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Lois St. Pierre (ASL 1978-2009) was an unbelievable help in figuring out how to think about and act on my neurodivergence; she was a great sounding board from Lower School all the way through my high school graduation speech, and we kept meeting socially even after her retirement.

What was your most memorable ASL activity?
Being drafted into the junior ISMTF math contest in eighth grade was the point where I really started thinking about where my intellectual interests were, and it started me down the path towards a PhD. I should also add that I did not remotely intend to be a Cuban waiter with a rose between my teeth when I signed up for high school choir, but joining the cast of Guys & Dolls to make up male chorus numbers was a great experience anyway.

How would you describe ASL's campus when you were a student? How did it change while you were there?
It felt like every time I went back to campus to see an old teacher, they were based somewhere completely different, and usually in a much-improved space. The School always felt self-contained and a good place to be.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Always keep learning and working on being the best version of yourself that you can, both for your own benefit and for the people around you.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Community.

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Michael Molinaro ‘09, New York, NY

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
It’s a unique club of people. So many friends would disappear after summer vacation and move back home, so to have this band of kids your age who spent all 12 years was kind of cool. 

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
My second grade teacher, Laura Bradshaw (ASL 1989-2003). Second grade stands out for me because we had so much fun and learned so much. I still remember Ms. Bradshaw’s “kingdom of color” project, in which my alliterative royal title was, “Michael, the Marquis of Maroon.” When the mother of one of our classmate’s was diagnosed with cancer, Ms. Bradshaw taught us about the Japanese peace cranes. Our class proceeded to make her 1,000 cranes, and they hung in my classmate’s house until we graduated. 

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
Varsity Baseball ISSTs in Cairo. We had to stop playing to honor the Muslim prayer calls that would play over the loud speakers. 

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
No one will truly be able to understand the experience you have had. 

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
I got stitches on a rugby trip to Brussels and convinced the chaperone (then athletic director Fred Koval (ASL 2006-09) to notify my mom only after it was done. Another funny incident was during an all-school assembly, lower school teachers used their special sing-and-response technique of singing a song to their students to get their attention and quiet them; students then sing the song back. At the assembly, HS students who attended Lower School recognized the song and automatically sang the response, to the bewilderment of everyone gathered in the gym.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Unique.
 

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Jesse Bandeen ’11, Philadelphia, PA

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
I’ve always been a bit of an outsider in terms of where I belong. Not entirely British, not entirely American, not entirely white, not entirely Asian. The one place I always felt that I belonged, without a doubt, was ASL. The community that the School offered encouraged me to do more than I ever felt possible, and it’s one of which I am always proud. Even though so much has changed in my life, I will always consider it a home.

How would you describe ASL's campus when you were a student? How did it change while you were there?
We were limited by space, but we had great facilities and made the best of what was available to us. I played basketball, which was always well attended because there were only so many places to hang out after school. It made for really exciting matches that I will never forget. Now it seems like the School is bigger and even more modern, which is exciting, but I still have a soft spot for the crowded hallways we would congregate in, and the ways we made the spaces feel like our own.

What was your most memorable ASL trip?
We went to Cairo to compete in a volleyball tournament. It was my first time in Egypt, and it was really exciting to be able to travel to such interesting places for sports. We played really well in the tournament but interestingly, between matches, I had to take my SAT IIs, which were scheduled the same weekend. I ended up taking the test in Cairo along with some of my fellow students!

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
A lot of my best ASL experiences are tied to the sports I played. I did varsity volleyball and basketball, and both were so important to me. I think often how very little feels as important as those largely inconsequential high school games felt at the time. Working with my team and the coaches towards a goal and facing difficulties together—those moments on the home court and at away tournaments continue to be cherished memories as well as foundational building blocks for what I have learned about leadership in the business world.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
The differences that feel like weaknesses now often become your strengths in the future.

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Foundation.

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Vivek Jois ’11, London, UK

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
Being a Lifer is so much more than just spending 14 years at the School; ASL has continued to be an integral part of my life well beyond graduation. ASL is the community that I have been a part of for the longest time (24 years and counting), and although I do not visit Waverley Place as much these days, it will always feel like home to me.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
There were, and are, too many amazing teachers at ASL for me to pick just one! A few weeks ago, I was going through some of my old cello music, and I came across an email that Lorraine Davis (ASL 2002-present) sent to our extracurricular strings quartet on a Sunday afternoon in 2009, in which she meticulously outlined the parts for us to practice and provided a recording of what the finished product should sound like. I could not fully appreciate this, at the age of 16, but it is truly a privilege to have teachers who take such a vested interest in their students’ development that they are willing to spend their own weekends preparing them for an after-school activity. I think that is a reflection of the professionalism and dedication of the entire ASL faculty. Others that come to mind are Peggy Elhadj (1996-2021), who instilled in me a lifelong appreciation for, and deep interest in, Middle Eastern and Afghan culture; Meghan Tally (ASL 2007-15), who taught me important lessons about leadership and stewardship; Victoria Hamadache (ASL 1985-present) encouraged my creativity and allowed me to learn French in non-traditional ways (by listening to French hip-hop artists and creating my own song for my final project); Salma Raza ’93 (ASL 2005-present), who led an Alternatives trip focused on art in London my senior year. I have been fascinated by street and pop art ever since.  

What was your most meaningful ASL activity?
I made so many good friends from ASL and other international schools by participating in the Junior/Senior International Honor Orchestra, and we would look forward to seeing each other every year in a new location—Beijing and Vienna were the most memorable for me. 

What do you recall about your ASL graduation?
Giving my friend Lorenzo Aversa a standing ovation following his salutatorian speech.

What role does ASL play in your life today? 
I am proud to still be deeply associated with and involved in the ASL community, especially as a member of the ASL Giving Committee. I still keep in touch with and see several of my friends from ASL. In my work, I often cross paths with current and former members of the ASL community, and it is always nice to trade stories of our experiences and reflect on how the School has changed since our time there. There are two characteristics that I see in myself as an adult that I can attribute directly to my experience at ASL: an openness to meeting new people and exploring new passions and activities, and an ability to ask thoughtful, complex and sometimes difficult questions.

What advice do you have for ASL seniors?
Your time at ASL is a starting block for you to chase down every aspiration you have for your life and career —this foundation is one that few people receive, but one that you will be able to provide to others through your words and actions.  

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Formative.

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Carrie (McMahon) Running ’12, Seattle, WA

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
Unique and memorable experiences that I'll cherish forever.

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
I cannot answer this question—SO many to name here. I would like to give a shout out to Tony Bracht (ASL 2006-present) who made math fun and is a great person. 

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Alternatives and traveling for sports in general. I was able to see so much of Europe growing up, and that has given me such a unique perspective on life. 

What role does ASL play in your life today? Explain.
Growing up, I thought my experiences at ASL were very normal. I've now been living in the US for years, and it wasn't until I moved here that I realized my experiences were unique. ASL has made me me, and I'm proud of who I am. I have a diverse perspective on life due to all of the cultural experiences I was exposed to. I couldn't be more grateful for all that ASL has done for me. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Life changing.
 

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Milo Kremer ’16, New York, NY

What does being an ASL Lifer mean to you?
It is an immense privilege (in every sense of the word). ASL has opened so many doors for me. I am grateful for my teachers, friends and parents. 

Describe your favorite ASL teacher and explain why.
Neil Basu (ASL 2012-present) pushed me to think beyond my own immediate community and engage with systemic social issues. 

What do you consider to be your favorite ASL memory?
Watching the sunrise from Primrose Hill with my graduating class. 

What role does ASL play in your life today?
Lifetime friendships, global communities and ambition to make a meaningful difference. 

If you could describe your ASL student experience in one word, what would it be?
Perspective.