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Pingree provides every student a vibrant learning experience that ensures they achieve, succeed, and thrive in school and beyond. Our dedicated and skilled faculty challenges and inspires students to grow and lead as scholars and global citizens with kindness, confidence and a sense of purpose.

Pingree Stories

  • Students

Pingree celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of reflection and conversation.

The Pingree community observed Martin Luther King Day on Tuesday, January 19 by engaging in a day of programming dedicated to reflection, conversation, and remembrance of the famed civil rights activist and all he stood for.

Students that participated in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) kicked off the morning with reminders to "be present," "experiment," "lean into discomfort," and "suspend judgment" as the community prepared to discuss challenging but important issues related social justice, equity, and diversity.

The keynote address, a presentation on Islam, Islamophobia, and social justice, was delivered by Dr. Amer Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed is an intercultural diversity consultant, college administrator, poet, and hip hop activist who speaks at campuses conferences, and other institutions across the country.

He began his talk by introducing members of the audience to the founding principles of the Islamic faith and used these core ideas, along with historical data, personal anecdotes, and other references to the Koran, to dispel some of the most common myths about the religion. Dr. Ahmed encouraged students, faculty, and staff to confront misconceptions perpetuated by the media — that Muslim women have no rights; Jihad is synonymous with "holy war;" Jews and Muslims are enemies; Islam is inherently "anti-American" and that Muslims and Arabs are one and the same — and to consider the negative affects such misconceptions have on the lives of practicing Muslims across the globe.

Later in the day, representatives from the YWCA Boston led the community in thought-provoking workshops meant to foster discussion on topics of race, privilege, sexuality, socioeconomics, and gender equality, among other issues. Following all-school exercises and conversations, community members broke out into smaller groups to further discuss their thoughts and ideas.

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  • Students

Members of Pingree's Robotics Team make it to the finals of their meet and qualify for regionals.

Members of Pingree Robotics Team 4716A — Jason Lafortune '16, Peter Kelly '17, and Pranay Veluri '19 — competed in a Vex Robotics Competition hosted by BU Academy on Sunday, January 10, making it to the finals of their meet and thus qualifying for regionals in Worcester in March.

Each year, Vex announces a specific challenge that competitors are tasked to complete. This year's assignment is to create a robot using only Vex parts that fits into an 18-inch cube that can scoop up soft balls and shoot them into an elevated net. Bonus points are awarded if the robot can lift its partner robot off the ground. All Vex high school competitions are carried out on a 12 by 12 foot field, surrounded by a 1 foot wall. Four robots compete at a time, with two on a red team and two on a blue. Click here to watch of video of team 4716A's robot in action!

Over 10,000 schools from around the world participate. The season follows the school year, with the World Championships taking place in Louisville, KY in April. In a typical tournament, 40 to 70 robots compete, with each guaranteed 6 –10 rounds of play in a round robin. The top 8 finishers move on to the elimination round, which features a best 2 of 3 quarterfinals, semis and finals. These top 8 draft two partner robots from the remaining ones in order to have the partners necessary to play the game.

The Pingree Teams:

4716A: Jason Lafortune '16, Peter Kelly '17, Pranav Veluri '19

4716B: Nick Wiles '17, James Lang '18

4716C: Alex Eramo '17, Matt Barrett '17

41716D: Tim Smith '16, Ankur Gupta' 17, Andreas Hansen '18

Pingree has three more scheduled competitions, in each of which they hope to finish high enough to qualify for regionals. From regionals they intend to qualify for the World Championships!

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  • Athletics

Nino Leone '16 signs with Uconn Football and Kerri Zerfoss '16 with Northeastern Women's Soccer

Nino Leone

Leone has been a four-year starter at offensive and defensive tackle. He is a three-time, First-Team, All-Evergreen League Lineman of the Year and was twice named a NEPSAC All-New England player. Following his senior year performance, Leone was deemed 2016 Evergreen Lineman of the Year and NEPSAC Class C Lineman of the year.

Uconn Head Coach Bob Diaco has already given Leone great praise. "He's a guy that's mature," he said. "He's tough. He's active on the field. He really took the time and care in vetting out the process and inspecting where he wanted to go and he had a lot of opportunities."

Kerri Zerfoss

In her 2016 season alone, Zerfoss garnered 28 goals and 8 assists for Pingree, bringing her to a career total of 78 goals and 55 assists. Along the way, she's picked up numerous awards and honors. The defensive midfielder is a former EIL Player of the Year, Salem News Player of the Year, EIL MVP, and Boston Globe All-Scholastic player. Over the summer of 2015, she was invited to train as a member of the Boston Breakers College Academy Team — a stepping stone to the professional level — and she was later selected to played on the 2015 All-American East Team for high school girls' soccer. At Pingree, she's helped to lead the Highlanders to three consecutive EIL Championships (2013, 2014, 2015) and back-to-back NEPSAC Class C Championships (2013 and 2014).

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  • Academics

Seven Pingree students are recognized with Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards.

Through the Scholastic Awards, teens in grades 7 through 12 from public, private, or home schools can apply in 29 categories of art and writing for their chance to earn scholarships and have their works exhibited and published.

Gold Key winners will go on to compete against all the other Gold Key recipients from around the country. At the National level, work can win a gold medal or a SILVER MEDAL. National Awards are announced in Mid-March. Gold Key winners are also eligible to participate in the Massachusetts Regional Awards Celebration on March 12, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Their work will furthermore be exhibited at EF (Education First) Two Education Circle, Cambridge, MA 02141 (near the Science Museum), from March 5–March 20, 2016. Silver Key winners are eligible to participate in the Massachusetts Regional Awards Celebration on March 12, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Congratulations to all of our winners!

Eli Giordano
Gold Key — Photography for "Ripples in Thought"
Teacher: Deb Vander Molen

Alonzo Jackson
Gold Key — Digital Art
Teacher: Deb Vander Molen

Jonathan Jalajas
Honorable Mention — Photography for "Goose on Pond"
Honorable Mention — Photography for "Identity"
Teacher: Deb Vander Molen

Abby Mosse
Honorable Mention — Mixed Media for "Untitled"
Teacher: Mallie Pratt

Miranda Nolan
Gold Key — Photography for "Swivel"
Honorable Mention — Photography for "Placa Sant Felip Neri"
Silver Key — Photography for "Unmade"
Silver Key — Poetry for "Questions and Answers"
Teachers: Deb Vander Molen and Michelle Ramadan

Martina Rethman
Honorable Mention — Dramatic Script for "The Ado"
Teacher: Michelle Ramadan

Ryan Waystack
Gold Key — Photography for "Limitless Stars"
Teacher: Deb Vander Molen

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  • Alumni

Pingree alumna Priya Donti '11 studies the people and policies behind a smarter energy grid.

Alumna Priya Donti '11 developed an interest in environmental sustainability early in her Pingree career as a freshman in Mr. Furnari's biology class. Hooked from the start, she would later go on to become an active member of the school's environmental club and a student leader of what was then Pingree's sustainability curriculum.

It wasn't until she started coursework at Harvey Mudd College, however, that Donti really began to combine her passions of sustainability and technology, ultimately choosing to pursue a joint degree in computer science and mathematics with an emphasis in environmental analysis. Having worked with Dr. Jim Boerkoel, assistant professor of computer science, on artificial intelligence research, Donti found herself wondering how the same work might be applied to the development of smart grids. It was this consideration that led her to apply for and receive a coveted Watson Fellowship, a one-year grant for purposeful, independent study outside of the United States.

Donti's research will bring her to four different countries — Germany, India, South Korea, and Chile — where she will be studying intelligent energy grids, commonly known as "smart grids," and the people and policies behind them. Though definitions vary, says Donti, she likes to think of smart grids as "intelligent energy grids that have the capacity to increase renewable energy use and facilitate universal access to power." In a traditional grid, energy runs from centralized power plants (such as coal and natural gas plants) to consumers, but as more renewable energy sources (such as wind parks or rooftop solar panels) come into play, grids must also accommodate the large amounts of energy being fed back into the system by these "decentralized" renewable sources. In the traditional system, utilities also have the ability to "turn on" extra power plants depending on how much power people are using, but that's not the case in a system dominated by renewable energy; utilities can't control when the sun shines or the wind blows. Additionally, many countries (including the U.S.) often face power outages due to grid failures and extreme weather, and increased monitoring could help improve grid reliability. The key is to create a grid that can handle it all.

Smart grid technologies are still very much in the developing phases. "It's a somewhat new field right now," says Donti, "but there are different ways that it can manifest itself depending on the different policies or structures of a given country. A lot depends on the infrastructure that's already there. There's a question of how much rebuilding you can do versus how much you just have to augment what's already in place."

In planning her year of research and travel, Donti strategically considered where she wanted to go and why. She knew she wanted to visit a diverse set of countries at various levels of development. Equally important was a mixed array of governmental structures and policies. Finally, it was essential that she visit places at different stages of smart grid investment.


Germany is a highly developed country with great public support for renewable energy. As the amount of renewable energy in the grid increases, more smart strategies will be necessary to balance energy supply and demand. Proposed smart grid technologies could, for instance, go into a user's home and, based on the amount of energy that's available, remotely dictate whether a washing machine or dishwasher should or shouldn't be on at a given time. But Germans are known to value privacy and security and don't necessarily want their houses controlled by an operator. "So even though it's a really advanced country in terms of renewables," says Donti, "there comes this question of how can we make the grids smarter without making people uncomfortable."


South Korea is a developed, technologically advanced country, but according to Donti, the interest in smart technology seems to move "from the top down," with the federal government pushing for the new technologies. In South Korea, renewable energy is less of a social issue than it is in other countries. Donti hopes to study how the country's tactics compare with those of Germany, where the public is often more involved in the policy-making.


India is a land of extremes, with large, densely populated cities and a vast, rural countryside. This is a country where not everyone has access to electricity, and where electricity outages are very common for those who do have access. People in India steal electricity by connecting their own wires to the grid, and there is a good deal of corruption in the government. "I am curious to see how energy efficiency manifests itself in a place with such diverse demographics and a difficult political infrastructure," explains Donti.


Chile is a transitional country, but it's one that really values technology. In partnership with the U.S., the country is looking to build a smart city in Santiago, the nation's capital. That being said, areas to the north and south of Santiago are much more rural and impoverished, and Chile's geography as a long, skinny country makes building grid infrastructure potentially difficult. This raises questions of how the government will build technologies that can accommodate both ends of Chile's spectrum of development.

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  • Alumni

Langley Steinert '81 is the founder and CEO of CarGurusan online research and shopping site for cars.

Langley co-founded and was previously the chairman of TripAdvisor, which has become an essential online travel information and booking site. He also served as vice president of marketing and business development at Viaweb, an Internet commerce tools company that was sold to Yahoo! Inc. Previously, he held management roles at Papyrus, Lotus Development Corp., and JetForm Corp. He earned an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College and a BA from Georgetown University. He is one of three sons of the beloved and recently retired Pingree faculty member Ailsa Steinert (who was also his Russian literature teacher). In a recent conversation that ranged widely over his management philosophy and career trajectory, Steinert shared thoughts about the nature of entrepreneurship and the qualities of a successful business leader. We excerpt that conversation here.


Not everything you start instantly turns into magic. In both cases, TripAdvisor and CarGurus, what we started out with was horrible, completely wrong. The reason why both companies have done well, I would argue, is that we have been flexible in how we approach the market and what we are trying to deliver to consumers.

With TripAdvisor, the original idea was to create a search engine that would index all the articles out there on the web about Paris. So literally we spent two and a half years developing the search engine, and suffice it to say, it was a complete disaster. We almost ran out of money, and the idea of adding user reviews was kind of an afterthought. We said, gee, let's try this, and that's when the site took off.

Same thing with CarGurus. The original idea was to create another TripAdvisors for cars, and people would write user reviews and get involved in forums and have discussion forums about cars. That didn't really work out that well either. We had to reinvent the company about two years into it, where we focus more on shopping, helping people get great deals as they shop.

I think one of the keys to entrepreneurship is being really flexible about how you define your product and how you approach your customers. The number one thing you need to think about when you start your company is not becoming so rigid in your product or customer approach that you are inflexible about changing a product that's not working.


Don't raise a ton of money. Raise enough money to prove that it works, then when it works, raise more.


My kids always ask me, "What do you do when you go to work?" It's hard to say these days! In the first year or two, you're really about the product, and you are about working with the developers to find the product. Later, you become what I call the conductor of chaos. You are trying to make sure things don't go off the tracks. I do a little bit of everything, a little bit of product, a little bit of sales, a lot of HR stuff. Probably my biggest role at the moment is making sure that I've created a culture where people feel valued and enjoy coming to work.


We're not a manufacturing firm; we don't produce widgets or razor blades. Our biggest asset is our people, and they are really talented people, and they could work anywhere they wanted. So we need to make sure we do more than just give them a paycheck. We need to make sure this is a place where they really feel invested and excited to come to work. The biggest part of my job is to make sure everyone's happy. I'm the head cheerleader.

{THERE IS A FREE LUNCH} We have 110 employees, and twice a month, I take five randomly chosen employees to lunch — everyone from the lowest to highest engineers. We go to lunch and I say, "I'm not going to talk, I'm going to listen. You tell me what's wrong. Tell me what needs to change." I don't make any promises that I'll implement any of it. Usually out of those lunches, I get one pretty good idea of how to change the culture, a new feature we should put in the product — but I do think it makes people feel empowered. They feel they have a voice or a vote on how the company should be run.


We hate meetings in this company. So typically, I'll have one meeting a week with my entire management team. Everyone has to come with a onepager on what they are working on, what they did last week, and their goals for this week. We talk about that stuff and then we're done, and I don't have another meeting for the entire week.

If I'm working on something, I'll go grab someone, and we'll talk — we have adhoc meetings.


One of my least favorite ways to start a sentence is 'I think,' or 'I believe.' I really don't care what you think or believe — tell me what you can prove. When we make decisions, it's all about what data can you bring that proves or disproves your hypothesis. We go where the data tells us to go — there are no sacred cows. We are quick to kill things that don't work. We are always willing to test most anything, but if the data comes back and it says it's not worthy, we'll kill it and we'll move on.


What motivates me is helping consumers make better choices—running into a consumer and having them tell me how much they love the product. And I tend to be curious about data. I have 40 or 50 reports that tell me all different statistics on how the company is run, and I'm just curious. I'll always be developing my own hypotheses around what I think is going to happen. Every morning is little bit like Christmas in the sense that I get to see data that tells me whether it worked or didn't work. I guess it's like running a math experiment or a science experiment, where you have a hypothesis. And in my case, I've got 13.5 million customers that we can test things against. I like the fact that there's never a dull moment in my life. I feel blessed in the sense that I love coming to work, I love the people I work with, I love the problems I work with.


The one thing I can take away from TripAdvisor or CarGurus is that people find great value in transparency. The internet is empowering because it provides this great medium for people to get more information on very important purchases — be it buying a house, which is perhaps the most important purchase you ever make in your life, or a car which is probably the second, or even a vacation to Europe, which in the spectrum of your yearly life is a big investment.


The internet is an amazing platform to provide transparency for consumers, but if you flip it on its head, for the merchants, it becomes an amazing platform for them to tell everyone they are doing a good job. I think that at first blush, some of the merchants — a hotel merchant or, in this case, an automotive dealer — thought of the rise of the internet as something threatening. They didn't want people writing about their hotels or whether their services were priced correctly. But the more enlightened merchants began to embrace it and use it to their advantage. When I go to a hotel now, 7 out of 10 of them will hand me a card and say, 'If you had a good experience, would you be willing to go to TripAdvisor and write a good review?' They are empowering their customers to use a platform that at first blush, they wished would go away. In the case of CarGurus, a lot of good dealers will ask their consumers to write reviews on CarGurus, which ends up benefitting the dealer.


Do it because you love it. Do it because you're passionate about it. No matter what it is that you do in life, you need to do it because you love it. If the reason you're going into entrepreneurship is because you read about Instagram and Facebook and you want to make a lot of money — don't, because you'll fail. If you don't have the passion for what you're doing, you'll never be any good.

Whether you're a photographer, or a ballet dancer, or poet, or whatever, you have to pursue what is in your heart, not necessarily what's in your best economic interest. I made that mistake myself coming out of college. I thought, I'll go to Wall Street, because that's what everyone else is doing. And I hated it. Every day I woke up and I hated my job.

The reason I do this is because I love it. One of the greatest rushes is when you tell people you work at TripAdvisor or at CarGurus, and you see this look in their eyes, and they say, 'That's the coolest site, I love that site.' It's really rewarding to actually meet the consumers who use your products and to see how much it's helped them. That beats the heck out of working on Wall Street and just moving a bunch of money around.

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Coming Up at Pingree

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Presidents Weekend: No Classes
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Danny — Student
Mr. Haltmeier — Faculty
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School Closed Monday, February 8

School will be closed Monday, February 8 due to the winter storm. Pingree students and families should check email and class websites for updates.