Alumni Newsletter – Spring 2014 – In Service of Others

The Hudson School

Alumni Newsletter – Spring 2014

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In great ways and small our alumni find ways to give and serve. The following are just a few stories of service by our alumni that have touched us recently.  Please continue to share your inspiring work with us.  – Sara Herrera ‘86

In 2013, alumnus Yotam Marom ’04 founded and became director of The Wildfire Project which fuses political education, skills training, group development, and direct organizing support in a curriculum tailored to specific needs of local groups.  Further, Wildfire develops leadership in front-line groups, maintains long-term partnerships with the communities with which it works, and creates frameworks for work between groups and across issue lines to forge a strong base of organizers ready to stand up to crisis.  For more information: www.wildfireproject.orgEmily Litman ’90 (daughter of Hudson’s former choral director, Joan Litman) is joyful and tireless in her dedication to our local animal shelter, the Liberty Humane Society.  If you had followed Emily throughout the year, you would have watched her raise hundreds in donations for the shelter, foster animals in need, and delight and cajole her friends with adorable pictures and stories of pets ready to be adopted.  Emily’s spirit gets everyone around her involved, spreading the love and pairing it with action.  She even got kids from her 5th grade class from the Learning Community Charter School, along with members of the Cantigas Woman’s Choir, to sing carols outside the Hoboken PATH train station on a cold winter’s night, raising funds for pets in need of

Alumna Ariana Small MS ‘07 is a public health major and junior at Muhlenberg College.  Last year she spent several weeks in Botswana and learned about the great work being done by The Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children –FIMRC around the world.  She is the founder of the Muhlenberg FIMRC chapter which has grown to 60 members in just six months and will be traveling to Peru this summer to work with FIMRC first hand.  Ariana has been fundraising for the trip and we’d like to help her reach her goal.  Please read her message below and visit her page: to learn more and offer your support.

After spending a few weeks in Botswana last summer, my passion for international health in developing countries expanded. My heart grew to learn about more cultures and countries and love and serve those who have little access to basic health needs. I believe that it was no coincidence that I discovered FIMRC last summer in Philadelphia. I fell in love with its values of improving the quality of health of children in developing countries while maintaining cultural sensitivity, self- sustainability, and the empowerment of locals. I leaped at the opportunity to start a college chapter at Muhlenberg College, but after many roadblocks, it is finally up and running. Within weeks our membership list has grown to 60 students (!!!) This is clearly a mission and an organization that draws people in. 

This summer, I will have the amazing opportunity to travel on a medical outreach trip to Huancayo, Peru with FIMRC during the month of June. My experience will enable me to learn more about the medical issues and struggles of Huancayo, and it will shape me in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine. As an extra bonus, I will be able to come back to the start of my senior year with an amazing experience of Muhlenberg’s partner country to inspire the chapter to continue to support Huancayo in all that we do. 

As a volunteer with FIMRC, I have pledged to fundraise $3282 for my upcoming trip. These funds will go towards maintaining stocked pharmacy shelves, operating community health outreach programs, and hiring quality health professionals to provide care to underserved communities that FIMRC serves. In addition, these funds will also cover the cost of my housing, food, and transportation, including round-trip transportation between the airport, clinic and community sites as well as round-trip transport to my housing, allowing me to focus my energy solely on volunteering.

FIMRC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Philadelphia. As such, your donation in support of my volunteer experience will be fully tax deductible, and you will receive an e-mail of confirmation from the Foundation’s headquarters acknowledging your donation and containing a receipt for your records.

I hope that you will consider supporting me by contributing towards my fundraising goal! Not only will this allow me to participate in this wonderful experience, but it will also allow to you actively contribute to the work that FIMRC is doing to drastically improve the lives of underserved people around the world. Thank you in advance for any support you are able to provide – I am truly grateful for any and all contributions!

I am also selling shirts for $20 which can be seen at Please email me if you would like to buy one! 

Please let me know of any questions you might have, or feel free to contact FIMRC directly via the information provided below!  I look forward to sharing my experience with you when I return!


Ariana (

FIMRC Information:
Phone:   (888) 211-8575 ext. 2

Mrs. Newman had a surprise visit at school late Saturday afternoon during one of the many snowstorms this winter by Val Chmerkovskiy ’04.  A talented dancer who won many international competitions while he was still at Hudson, Val has gone on to become a TV celebrity on Dancing with the Stars.  But he has also been active in service work.  Val recently met up with the founder of Pencils for Peace, a foundation started to help children in war-torn countries get the school supplies they so badly need.  

Like Pennies for Peace, another foundation many of us know about, Pencils for Peace was started when Val’s friend asked a small child what he would want if he could have anything in the world.  He thought at first that the child was joking when he replied “a pencil” but it turned out that the child meant it.

“Having an alumnus of our school connected with such a worthwhile endeavor might also provide the motivation our students need to understand that they can make a difference. Val has offered to return in June after he completes his latest filming of Dancing with the Stars to speak to our students.  Maybe he would honor us by performing at our spring concert on May 15 or speaking at graduation on June 15.  Most important to me, however, he learned the importance of service work and is incorporating this into his every day adult life.”  ~ Mrs. Newman

On February 5th, The Hudson School Board of Trustees held their annual dinner at the magnificent Amanda’s Restaurant in support of our scholarship fund.   Danielle LoPorto, high school class of 1996, mom of a current 6th grader, an incoming 6th grader and two, additional Hudson School hopefuls addressed the attendees.

…Unbeknownst to me during my years at Hudson, many of my friends were on scholarship. It makes sense now as an adult, as I had friends who lived in the projects, friends who came from towns I wasn’t allowed to travel to alone, friends from every socioeconomic background, every ethnic background; friends from Brazil, from Ghana, from Russia.  At school, however, it was always a level playing field.  We were all there learning together, unaware that there were any differences save for the occasional accent…

 … trying, again, to explain to a friend why I was putting my newly-12-year old son on a 45-minute train ride each day to go to school in Hoboken, when our middle school is a three minute drive away.  Well, because it’s The Hudson School!  Because it is unlike any other school I have ever heard of; because it is the complete embodiment of the virtues and values that I hold most dear;  because the teachers are unrivalled in their passion and dedication;  because last week I watched my timid, reserved, quiet, son get up on stage and sing to an audience full of strangers. 

…I was taught that education is paramount; that it is the necessary ingredient to changing the world.   It has also always been the path to success, however you define it.  There was a time you could achieve great things without necessarily going to college; a time where hard work and determination could take you pretty far.  Today’s world is not as accommodating, though… So how do you do it without selling a few body parts or saddling your children with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt as they try to start their lives?

Well, I just learned that last year’s 25 graduates from Hudson amassed almost $2 million in academic scholarships, not loans, ACADEMIC scholarships. THAT’S how you do it.

From what I understand, when Mrs. Newman started the Hudson School, her original intent was to eventually hand over her design to the school board so they could institute her model in the public schools, but they declined.  It was always meant to be accessible to all students, not just those whose parents had the means, thus the scholarship fund.  When I speak about Hudson I never use the word “Private” because to me that connotes elitist and exclusionary.  And Hudson is the polar opposite of that.  I try to explain, again to those bewildered looks, how the goal has always been to provide access to any child who is deserving and willing to work hard.  But I know it gets harder and harder to reach that goal every year, especially as the economic gap widens. 

I can’t speak for everyone who is a recipient of scholarship funds but I can tell you that when Mrs. Newman told me that we would find a way for my son to be a Hudson schooler, I had never felt so much gratitude. I also promised to work my behind off to support the scholarship fund any way I could.

I’m happy I could be here tonight to thank you all personally for giving my son and hundreds of other kids a chance that they would have never otherwise had.

It means everything.

(Pictured:Jalil Mohammed ’96, Nora Martinez DeBenedetto ’96 and Danielle LoPorto ’96)


What Have Alumni Been Up To?
  • Ken Kwiatkowski ‘85– Son Roman, with his best bud.
  • Drew Martin ’86 – New baby Charlotte joins big sis, Olivia. 
  • Anna  Woehrle ‘89 – What!?  Anna’s living in Alaska at the
    Iditarod training facility…more in our next Issue!  
  • Roland Ramos ’91 – Recently returned from a multi-week curator program in Vienna.
  • Bobby Menendez ‘03 has joined the board!! 
    [sorry, no pic J] We now have two alumni serving on The Hudson School Board of Trustees.
  • Sierra Shade Holland ’12In Ireland for the semester  (Peace Wall, Belfast)


It Felt Like Love– starring alumna Gina Piersanti has been winning awards all over the place and hit theaters this March!  Its first stops were in New York and LA.  Stay tuned for more cities and theaters to be announced in the coming weeks! Read one of the many glowing reviews here.         


SOME FINE DAY comes out July 1, 2014 from Strange Chemistry. It has big storms and krav maga and bullet trains and mutants and romance.

Yes, Virginia, there will be superstorms…

Sixteen-year-old Jansin Nordqvist is on the verge of graduating from the black ops factory known as the Academy. She’s smart and deadly and knows three things with absolute certainty.
She knows that when the world flooded and civilization retreated deep underground, there was no one left on the surface. She knows that the only species to thrive there is the toads, a primate/amphibian hybrid with a serious mean streak.  Most of all, she knows there’s no place on Earth where you can hide from the hypercanes, continent-sized storms that have raged for decades.

Jansin has been lied to. On all counts.

Faced with the truth in the form of a charismatic young survivor named Will, Jansin vows that her former masters will regret making her what she is…


Thank you to everyone who responded to our recent call for updates!  Please continue to send us your news and share your thoughts about Hudson.


Upcoming Alumni Events

  • Annual Alumni/Varsity Basketball Game – June 11, 2014 
  • 5k Run/Walk – Hudson alumni associationFall 2014

Alumni Service Opportunities (PICK ONE!)

  • 5k – plans are in the works for a Hudson 5k for early Fall.  Volunteer to be part of a planning & production committee.  We need you! Everyone can help!  Email:
  • Alumni Class Reps/Alumni Association Board – We need many voices.  Join us in creating a Hudson Alumni Association Board.  Let me know if there is a special capacity in which you can serve.  Email:
  • 2014 MINI-COURSES Wednesday, June 11 (8:30 a.m.-12:30 Noon approximately) Traditionally, The Hudson School ends the academic year with a day set aside for special activities, known as “mini-courses.”  We invite parents, teachers, trustees and alumni to come up with suggestions for a three-hour mini course.  Funds and time are limited, so creativity is key.  Some courses that involve our students in service opportunities are appropriate.  For example, students might want to help with a park cleanup, put together a sing-a-long or concert for a senior citizen’s center, help re-shelve the pantry at a soup kitchen, bake muffins for a homeless shelter or plant a garden.  Not all mini-courses need to be service projects, however. In the past, students enjoyed trips to TV and radio stations and recording studios, behind-the-scene tours of ballet and theater companies, some good movies, biking in Battery Park, chess tournaments, golfing and brunch in a restaurant where they practiced their foreign language skills.  Use your imaginations, talents and connections, and check the newspapers for organizations seeking volunteers, or lean on contacts you may have to sponsor a meaningful mini-course.  If you would like to offer a mini-course,  Please email Mrs. Newman by Monday, May 19.

Staying In Touch

The Hudson School Alumni Association
The Hudson School | 601 Park Avenue, Hoboken, NJ 07030
Phone: 201-659-8335  |  Fax: 201-222-3669  |  Email:

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2016-10-20T17:18:55+00:00 April 24th, 2014|

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