By Marta Picoto, EPS Class of 2014 and Current Trustee
Going to college was not an easy transition. Suddenly, after seven years in a cozy office park with the teachers and classmates I had grown up with, I was sitting in a large auditorium among fifty new faces and one chemistry professor who would never memorize my name. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone. Three of my classmates, Taylor Wilke, MaxSheffield, and Keith Nussbaum, had also braved the journey to Walla Walla, yearning to continue their education at a small liberal arts college that appeared to mimic the EPS culture and community that we were all so fond of. Although it was a welcoming and lively community, it never felt quite like EPS. As all of us found our place on this new campus, I still looked forward to the times in which Taylor, Max, Keith, and I would get together and reminisce about our senior year—how we missed Mr. Keedy’s ten-page English paper (as now ten-page papers were practically a weekly occurrence), the EPS gourmet lunches (everything besides the smoked trout), or Mr. Delaney’s three rules and distaste for carrots. I loved keeping the memories alive.
A FEW YEARS AGO, I ATTENDED AN ALUMNI EVENT AT KIRKLAND’S FLATSTICK PUB AND WAS STRUCK BY THE PURE FRIENDSHIP THAT I HAD DEVELOPED WITH MR. GUMMERE AND MS. BEHRMANN. WE SPOKE ABOUT OUR FAMILIES, OUR JOBS, AND OUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.
I looked forward to alumni events to continue to reconnect with the people who shaped myEPS experience. A few years ago, I attended an alumni event at Kirkland’s Flatstick Pub and was struck by the pure friendship that I had developed with Mr. Gummere and Ms. Behrmann. We spoke about our families, our jobs, and our plans for the future. I laughed until my cheeks hurt as we shared our most honest opinions about the high school overnights, capstone projects, prom, senior pranks, and of course, my unnecessary perfectionism—as Mr. Gummere put it, “I wish you had just turned in one thing late!” It reminded me of when Ms. Behrmann would come to visit Max, Taylor, Keith, and me in Walla Walla. We always enjoyed taking her to brunch and hearing about all that had happened since graduation. Apparently, achieving alumni status meant that I suddenly had access to all the behind-the-scenes details. Speaking with her felt like I had never been just a student, but a friend and confidant. Unsurprisingly, it was the same with Dr. Macaluso, our fearless Head of School, who I admired and looked up to since the first day of school. Over the years, she witnessed many of my successes and failures, not only as an EPS student but as one of her own students in the Happiness and Philosophy courses. I have always strived to make her proud, and when she asked me to join the EPS Board of Trustees, I knew that I wasn’t done yet.
IN CELEBRATING THE ACHIEVEMENTS OF ALUMS, WE ALSO HONOR THE EPS FACULTY, STAFF, AND STUDENTS THAT ARE AT THE HEART OF THOSE ACHIEVEMENTS.
I was thrilled and honored for the incredible opportunity of giving back to the EPS community. Walking into my first Board of Trustees meeting, I felt both excited and nervous to sit among a group of knowledgeable and successful EPS parents and leaders, many of whom had been integral to my education. I won’t lie—I was struck with imposter syndrome. On the outside, I still looked like a student, and I felt like one too. After all, I had just started graduate school. But as I was welcomed as the first-ever alum on the Board, I realized that so much had changed. I had not only graduated from EPS, but also from a secondary institution for which EPS had prepared me. I felt confident in my perspective as an alum. I could not only speak to my own EPS experiences and preparedness for college, but I strove to act as a liaison for other alumni to share theirs.
THIS PAST YEAR, THE BOARD WELCOMED ANOTHER GRADUATE, THEREBY STRENGTHENING THE ALUMNI VOICE. AS ALUMNI, WE HOLD A UNIQUE AND OBJECTIVE PERSPECTIVE ON THE STRENGTHS AND CHALLENGES OF THE STUDENT EXPERIENCE THAT ARE INCREDIBLY VALUABLE TO THE GROWTH AND SUCCESS OF EPS.
This past year, the Board welcomed another graduate (Chase Johnsen, EPS Class of 2016), thereby strengthening the alumni voice. As alumni, we hold a unique and objective perspective on the strengths and challenges of the student experience that are incredibly valuable to the growth and success of EPS. In celebrating the achievements of alums, we also honor the EPS faculty, staff, and students that are at the heart of those achievements. And finally, by connecting alums—who are growing experts in many fields—to the present EPS community, we can build a supportive network for current students and recent graduates. As we near the twentieth anniversary of EPS, I hope to commemorate alumni and their families for all that they have accomplished and for all that they contributed to EPS. And most of all, I hope to continue keeping the memories alive.