Dave Barney is Making A Splash!

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It seems like Chargers Swim coach and retired faculty member Dave Barney is all over the news lately. In March, Coach Barney was inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame. And more recently, our legendary coach was featured in a story on KOB-TV News – in honor of his 84th birthday! 

Dave Barney Inducted into High School Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame Swim Coach Still Winning at 84


Alums’ Band Wins JanSport’s Battle for the Bands! Repel the Robot will perform at SXSW 2015

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When Jarrett Shaffer ’08 and Sean Trauth ’08 organized a music tour in Texas–playing shows in Amarillo, San Antonio, and Austin–for their Senior Project, they had no idea they were foreshadowing their own futures. But now, nearly seven years later, these two Academy alums find themselves playing music together once again, in Texas.

Jarrett and Sean were both musicians while they attended Albuquerque Academy. Jarrett played the drums in the Charger Band, while Sean played both trumpet in the Jazz and Charger bands and guitar in the Guitar Ensemble. They both were in bands outside of school as well. Eventually, when Bazooka Jill, the band with which Sean played, needed a new drummer, Jarrett and Sean ended up in the same band.

“We worked really hard with two other Academy students,” says Jarrett. They played a lot of local gigs, and Sean and Jarrett began writing songs together. The Texas tour, toward the end of their senior year, seemed like the finale for this musical partnership. After graduating from the Academy, Jarrett headed back to Texas to attend Texas Christian University, while Sean enrolled at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles.

After their first year away at school, Sean and Jarrett decided to rekindle their musical collaboration, writing songs together via e-mail. “I hadn’t found a band in the area that was a good fit, so I emailed Sean to see if he was interested,” says Jarrett.

After completing an 18-month program in contemporary guitar performance, Sean returned to Albuquerque and enrolled in the University of New Mexico’s Music and Arts Management Program, while Jarrett pursued a business degree at TCU. They continued their long-distance songwriting collaboration.

When Sean graduated from UNM, he was offered a job with the City of Albuquerque but decided instead to take a leap of faith and moved to Dallas, hoping that he and Jarrett’s musical partnership would thrive with fewer miles between them. Turns out, Sean was right.
“Our styles really came together since Sean came to Dallas,” says Jarrett. “We have been able to find a consistent direction.”

Performing as Repel the Robot, the duo has found a lot of local success–with the help of their manager Allie Shaffer ‘06 (Jarrett’s sister)–playing their original music inspired by bands such as Coldplay, Linkin Park, and the Foo Fighters.

Recently, however, Sean and Jarrett have seized some opportunities to expand their fan base. Last year, they entered a songwriting contest sponsored by Indaba Music and were selected as one of four runners up, earning a trip to New York City to film a live music video.

More recently, Repel the Robot entered JanSport’s Battle of the Bands, vying for a chance to perform on Rainey Street in Austin during SXSW 2015. Out of nearly 1,000 entries, the band was selected as one of 50 finalists that competed for the top five spots through a Facebook voting campaign. After making it to the final cut, Repel the Robot was selected as the winner of this year’s JanSport’s Battle of the Bands. Congratulations Jarrett and Sean!

Lean more about the band and their music here. If you like what you hear and you live in Albuquerque, there’s good news. Repel the Robot will be playing at UNM Fiestas in April and they also have a new remix with the Albuquerque band, The Lymbs, that was released in January. To find out more about Repel the Robot, check out their web site.


Phil Wilkinson ’12 Brings The Yale Spizzwinks(?) to Albuquerque Academy

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The Yale Spizzwinks(?) are America’s first and oldest underclassman a cappella group. Since 1914, the group has entertained audiences around the world with its unique blend of sweet harmony and tongue-in-cheek humor.

Phil Wilkinson ’12, a current Spizzwink(?), is studying history and global affairs at Yale. He says he first became interested in college a cappella when the Whiffenpoofs, Yale’s all-male, all-senior singing group, came to perform at the Academy in January 2012.

“During my time at Academy, I pursued cello as my main instrument, but felt grateful for the vocal foundation Ms. Briggs and Ms. Bernard provided for me in Chamber Singers, Academy Singers and numerous musical productions,” says Phil. “When I arrived at Yale I embarked on the month-long a cappella rush process, trying to decide between 8 of the 15 groups on campus.”IMG_2147

The Spizzwinks(?) stood out to Phil for the grounded yet fun-loving nature of the members in the group, the strong ties of brotherhood they exhibited, and amount of travel opportunities they offered. The Spizzwink promise is that each Spizzwink will visit all six inhabited continents during his time in the group. This year, they have visited New Zealand, Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany.

The second part of that promise is that each Spizzwink will travel with the group to perform at least one concert in his hometown. Phil and the Spizzwinks(?) will perform at Albuquerque Academy on January 6. “Bringing my best friends to Albuquerque is something I have been eagerly anticipating since freshman year,” he says. “I look forward to sharing our music and energy with all the members of my Academy family.” That family includes his sister Sarah Wilkinson ’15, step-brother Danny Brown ’11, and and step-sister Alisa Brown ’13.

The Spizzwinks(?) sing over one hundred concerts every year, entertaining audiences across the country and around the world with the vast diversity of their repertoire of literally hundreds of Spizzwink(?) arrangements. Each, and every song, is arranged by a member of the group, and they sing everything from Top 40 hits and classic rock to jazz standards and spirituals–not to mention a song about a brokenhearted killer robot. Of course, no Spizzwinks(?) performance would be complete without a generous dose of their unique brand of humor. Since their founding, their original skits, cleverly integrated choreography, and unmitigated bashing of Yale’s athletic rivals have left audiences rolling with laughter at every performance.

“Singing in this group has enriched my Yale experience and defined my time here,” he says.

Tickets for the Spizzwinks’ Albuquerque performance are for sale online.


Jenna Kloeppel ’04 Joins Academy Alumni Team

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Since graduating from Albuquerque Academy a decade ago, Jenna Kloeppel ’04 has earned several degrees and traveled the world. But, now she’s back in Albuquerque and she’s thrilled to take on a new role as alumni coordinator at the Academy.

Jenna’s Academy classmates probably remember her as a singer–she performed in the annual musical all four years of high school, including a leading role in Carousel, and she was a member of the girls’ ensemble and the Academy Singers.

Jenna continued to sing as a college student at George Washington University. She was involved in several singing groups at GW, including University Singers with whom she traveled to Argentina, Slovenia, Croatia, and Uruguay. She also continued to sing a capella, opera, and French art songs (her favorite!)–all while earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology (with a minor in art history.)

Jenna also did a semester abroad while in college–exploring the language and culture of Prague. After college, Jenna returned to the Czech Republic for a year as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant teaching English to students with physical or learning disabilities.

While living in Prague, Jenna met her future husband Dietger, a Belgian grad student who was studying the Czech language there. Jenna and Dietger returned to the US, where they both began internships at different Smithsonian Museums. The following fall, Jenna began a masters program in museum studies at Georgetown. After completing that degree, Jenna and Dietger decided to return to Jenna’s hometown and were married in January 2012.

“My home is still here,” says Jenna. “I’m still very much rooted here and my family is here.”

Once back in Albuquerque, Jenna enrolled in a specialized master’s degree program in modern Native American art at University of New Mexico and worked as a registrar at the Gerald Peters Gallery in Santa Fe. She completed her degree in December.

While Jenna enjoyed being immersed in the Santa Fe art world, her work as a registrar was not fulfilling. “I did bookkeeping, managed the database, and shipped art, but it was all very repetitive and had little to do with my love of art,” she says. So, she decided to find a new job.

Having helped coordinate her tenth reunion last year–and really enjoying it, Jenna was excited to see a position open at the Academy that sounded dynamic, interesting, and people-based. “After being away for so long, I am really thrilled to come back to Albuquerque Academy,” she says. “My experience was the basis for everything I have done afterward–travel, music, art–they flourish here!”


Blast From the Past…

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Help Albuquerque Academy Archivist Rich Adam identify these former students. If you recognize one or all of these hipsters from the 1970s (we’re guessing based on their awesome footwear – and lack thereof!), let us know!


Academy Welcomes New Alumni Director

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When Valery McKeon ’01 decided to move back to Albuquerque from New York City, she thought it would be great to find a job at her alma mater — Albuquerque Academy. But, she figured it was a long shot. “There aren’t that many openings at the Academy,” she says, especially those that suit her particular skill set. So, when her mom told her about an opening for the Academy alumni relations director position, she jumped at the opportunity to apply.

Valery believed her experience in fostering relationships, networking, and managing projects was a good fit for this position. And, the selection committee agreed. Valery was hired to replace Kim Wysong (who is moving to Tokyo later this year) in late June, and she says she is excited to be back at the Academy. “It feels very circular — in a nice way.”

Valery graduated from Drew University in New Jersey, with degrees in theater arts and American social history. For the past eight years, she has worked in the entertainment industry as a talent agent in New York City, representing actors in television, theater, and film.

“I am excited to begin building relationships with fellow alums,” she says. “I hope to find a lot of ways for the alumni relations office and alums to benefit one another.”

Valery’s first opportunity to interact with alums in an official capacity will happen later this month when the alumni relations office hosts a reception in honor of Mira Jacob ’91. In the meantime, Valery is already busy looking for reunion coordinators (class years that end in 5s and 0s) for next year’s Alumni Weekend.

If you are interested in getting involved with the planning for Alumni Weekend, or just want to get in touch in Valery, e-mail her here.


Campus Growers Market has Academy Roots

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The Albuquerque Northeast Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market is held on the Albuquerque Academy campus every Tuesday during the growing season. It’s connection with the Academy goes well-beyond its location.

In 2010, Jedrek Lamb ’02 opened the market for the first time. “The idea to have a market at the Academy came to me from a friend,” says Jedrek. Head of School Andy Watson supported the idea and with the help of many vendors, the ANEFAM has steadily grown.

“I believed the community would support a market,” says Jedrek. “I also felt it would be a great resource for students to think about local growth and sustainability.”

Jedrek decided to start establishing roots and growing food for his family and community to promote self-determination. “After working on computers for a government contractor and being involved in several election, voter registration, and lobbying campaigns, I became coordinator of the historic Hubbel House in the South Valley,” says Jedrek. This role led to his participation in a farmer training program sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee at the La Plazita Institute.

As a result of this program, the Agri-Cultura Network, a farmer-owned cooperative brokerage that provides subsidized food shares to low-income families, and supplies Albuquerque Public Schools and several local restaurants and hotels, was established. Jedrek serves as a board member for the Agri-Cultura Network, and is also a board member for the New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association that provides support to over seventy markets cross the state.

A few years into the project, Jedrek, who is owner, manager and vendor, says the market is doing well. “It is generally growing every year and we are still around, so that in itself, is a success. It will probably never meet my vision, but I like to dream big.”

The market is open on Tuesdays, from 3 to 6 p.m., through September 30. For more information, visit: www.abqnemarket.org.


Do You Know What This Is?

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This steel sculpture stands above the amphitheater outside the main door to the Simms Center for the Performing Arts. It was created by a 3D Visual Arts class taught by Lou Baudoin, but we aren’t sure about the year. Does anyone have any more information about the origin of the project? If so, send us an e-mail.


Kate VanDevender ’95 Wants Academy Videos to Tell the Real Story

Kate VanDevender '95 in Action
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“I wanted to show people that Albuquerque Academy is a community that can handle complex, intense situations.”

For Kate VanDevender ’95, creating compelling videos for her alma mater is more than just another freelance project. “Albuquerque Academy means a lot to me. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to give back to the school.”

Kate has been producing videos for the Academy, on and off, since 2006. After earning a degree in theater from Northwestern University and working as an actress in New York for six years, Kate came home to Albuquerque for a while, before eventually moving to Los Angeles.

While she was back home, she was approached by the Academy to work on an alumni video. Since that first project, Kate has worked on a number of videos for the school, including the recent Warriors and Champions Annual Fund videos.

When she began the creative process for this project, she had a very specific idea in mind. “I had a positive experience at Albuquerque Academy,” she says. “But not because it was idyllic. It was complex and difficult, but I always felt supported as I worked my way through the challenges of growing up.” Kate feels that the Academy public image is often idealized and she wanted to present instead a full picture of what it is like to be a student at the Academy—today or in the past.

In a way, she says, she wanted to give the school a soul. “I wanted to show people that Albuquerque Academy is a community that can handle complex, intense situations.  To me, its strengths are compassion, a willingness to understand differences, and a passion for helping students excel,” she says.

Kate believes that no one understands this better than alumni, having experienced it first hand. Through these videos, she is hoping to draw a connection between the stories of today’s students and the experiences of alums, no matter when they attended the Academy.

“I am so grateful to the Academy and delighted to give back,” she says. “I’d like to help the school create more of a connection with alums.  She understands, she says, that it takes some time before some people are ready to revisit a place that for most was such an intense experience. “But, if you are ready, it’s an amazing community to re-enter from adulthood.”

Kate is busy working as a comedy writer in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer on a new CBS sitcom, Friends with Better Lives, which will premier on March 31, but she says, she can always find time for an Academy project.

“I look for projects that are meaningful.  And the Academy Warrior videos are exactly that.”


Where is Vince Cordova Now?

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When Vince Cordova retired in 2002, after more than 30 years of teaching math at the Academy, some people may have thought they wouldn’t see Vince around campus very often. They were mistaken.

In fact, if you’re looking for Vince these days, there’s a good chance he’s on campus, picking up one of three grandchildren who currently attend the Academy.  Another granddaughter, Rosalinda Ortega ’09, is now attending Santa Clara University in California. Rosalinda was a first for the Academy– the first graduate of whose parents are both alumni.

Vince also visits the other local schools his grandchildren attend. His twin grandsons graduated last spring from Sandia High School and College Academic Technological Academy Charter School, and his granddaughter is a junior at Eldorado High School.

Vince and his wife, Mary, recently celebrated 55 years of marriage.  In addition to their impressive track record in matrimony, Vince and Mary were also successful in helping to initiate the Special Olympics in New Mexico. The organization’s first Albuquerque track meet was held on the Albuquerque Academy track in 1970. As Academy basketball and track coach, Vince was no stranger to athletic competitions.

Vince remains active in the local community, including his work as president of the Albuquerque Partnership Board of Directors. As a member of the admission committee for the University of New Mexico School of Medicine BA/MD program, Vince plays a critical role in helping recruit New Mexico students who will help alleviate the severe shortage of physicians in the rural areas of the state.

Vince says he has cut back on consulting with both national and regional organizations, but his counsel is still sought and appreciated.

Next time you are on campus, take a look around. If you see a man with a broad smile, a warm handshake and un abrazo–who has a story to tell–it just might be Vince.

The Many Hats of Vince Cordova

  • Math Faculty
  • Track Coach
  • Basketball Coach (led the team to its first state championship in 1981)
  • Assistant Director of Admission and Financial Aid
  • Director of Diversity
  • Dean for Student Affairs (Grades 8-12)
  • Head of the 10-12 Division
  • Special Assistant to the Head of School for Faculty Recruitment and Divers

Blast From The Past

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Mystery Solved (almost!)

We received a few e-mails from alums about our mystery “stylish” students. The consensus is that they are all from the Class of ’73 (from left to right): Tom Dauphinee, Van Romero, and Joe Maloof. However, we didn’t receive a positive ID on our mystery man behind the surveyor’s transit. Anyone know who this is? Let us know. Thanks!