The Kenwood Press
: 06/15/2017

Village Chat June 15, 2017

Ann Q. Peters

This is the season for graduations, and we have a number of them to tell you about.

woman in grad cap
Empire College School of Law graduate Caitlin van Loben Sels. Photo ©2017 Steven Yeager Studio.
Caitlin van Loben Sels graduated Magna Cum Laude from Empire College School of Law on June 4, and as valedictorian, she gave the valedictory address. During her four years at Empire, Caitlin received many academic awards, including the Witkin Award for excellence in Contracts, Torts, Evidence, Civil Procedure, Real Property, and Best Oral Argument for her Moot Court class. Not only that, but during her time in law school, she and her husband Nathan van Loben Sels had a baby, Orion, in January of this year! At the moment, Caitlin works as a paralegal for the law firm of Andrian and Gallenson, where she plans to practice law after passing the bar exam. This is so impressive - good luck and congratulations, Caitlin!

As promised, here is a list of local high school graduates. These are the ones we know of, so if you're not on the list, please send in your information so we can run it next time.

Elizabeth Kolling graduated from Sonoma Academy and will be attending Columbia University in the fall.

There are a number of Cardinal Newman High School grads. Jack Duryea will be attending Indiana University in the Fall studying liberal arts and business, with an emphasis on Sports Management.

Catie Geib is headed to Montana State University in Bozeman (also known as Trout U according to her mom, Patti.)

Christopher Musser-Kirby is going to U.C. Davis to study Psychology.

Addie Greenleaf will be at Sonoma State University.

Niko Ivankovich is heading to California State University, Chico.

From Maria Carrillo High School, Henry O'Donnell graduated Summa Cum Laude and will be attending U.C. Berkeley to study integrative biology with a focus on ecology and conservation.

Avery Romano is going to the University of Portland.

Jack Murray will head up to the University of Washington.

Brianna Hayward is off to Arizona State University.

William Schoeffler will attend the University of Oregon.

This is quite an impressive list of grads, and we're so proud of all of you. Congratulations!

And where did these young adults get their start? Kenwood School, of course. On June 1 the school held it's lovely graduation ceremony, celebrating its biggest class in years - 34 students. There were two sixth grade classes, which is a rarity for our tiny school. Outstanding Students, one from each class, were Alex LemMon and Emaline Ricketts. The Danielle McKenzie Award for most Inspirational Student went to Christian Miller. The Kiwanis-sponsored Hope of America Awards were given to Luka Amand and Annika Umholtz. There were the usual laughs, and a few tears (Mr. Bales!), and the ceremony ended in a shower of multi-colored confetti.

For sheer beauty, it's hard to top the Promotion Ceremony for the fifth grade class at Dunbar School. It takes place on the Haver Stage, under gigantic oak trees, with a backdrop of the Mayacamas Mountains in the distance (see photo page 1). This year was bittersweet as it was the last year for Principal Melanie Blake who is retiring. Among the honors handed out on June 1, Christopher Rodriguez and Belen Madai Vargas-Perez were given the Muriel Owen Award of Citizenship. The La Luz Award went to Alessandro Quintero Leal and Vanessa Mercado, and Students of the Year were Abby Christine Sparks and Max Deane Savage. Congratulations to everyone, and good luck in middle school!

girl at desk
Kenwood School Secretary for the Day Eva Komar, hard at work.

Before school let out for the year, Kindergartener Eva Komar got a chance to be Secretary for the Day at Kenwood School. She got plenty of help from Suzanne Borgert, secretary for the rest of the year, who reports that Eva did an excellent job!

Georgina Dupar Pidge, born May 17.

In a few years Lisa and Carlee Pidge will have a Kenwood School student. They welcomed baby Georgina DuPar Pidge on May 17, and Lisa says, “Carlee and I are so beyond excited… We just sit here all day and stare at her!” Georgina weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces, and is 20 inches long. Lisa reports that she is “happy and healthy and just dreamy.” Congratulations, ladies!

man in post office
Michael Neisen putting his last KP in a P.O. Box.
Michael Neisen's last day at the Kenwood Post Office was May 31, and we're going to miss his kind demeanor and excellent work. He is retiring to help his mom after his father passed away from Alzheimer's in January. Michael will split his time between his house on Los Alamos Road and San Diego.

Michael says, “I wanted to let the community know that it's been such an honor to be able to work in a small community and provide the best customer service I can to a community that's been gracious and kind and funny. It's really a great community.”

It also feels like home. Michael grew up in a small rural town in Minnesota, but he grew up knowing he was gay, so that never felt right. When he moved to San Francisco in 1987, he felt a great sense of community and acceptance. He moved to west Sebastopol in 1993 and worked at the Occidental Post Office for 14 years, then transferred to Kenwood, where he's been working for 10 years. He considers Sonoma Valley his home, and wouldn't have retired this early if his mom didn't need his help. He really enjoyed his career with the USPS.

group of lawn bowlers
Sonoma Wine Country Games lawn bowlers, from left: Silver Award winners Gary Scott, Marilyn Garland and Jerry Garland, Gold winners Gerald Taylor, Roseann Zimbauer and Dave Zimbauer, and Bronze winners Ann Miller, Jim Krause and Liliane Rains.

The lawn bowling portion of the Sonoma Wine Country Games, for athletes age 50 and older, took place in Oakmont, and Oakmont teams did very well, taking silver and bronze medals. The gold medal went to a team from Santa Rosa, Gerald Taylor, Roseann Zimbauer, and Dave Zimbauer. The silver medalists are Oakmonters Jerry Garland, Marilyn Garland, and Gary Scott, and the bronze winners are Jim Krause, Liliane Rains, and Ann Miller. Go Oakmont!

three women
PEO Chapter JO members Kay Fish, Eleanore Schiro and Carol Uschyk present a check to grant recipient Jenna Hales (second from left).

P.E.O. International is an organization dedicated to helping women achieve academic success, in particular, women returning to higher education following life's interruptions (work and children leap to mind.) On June 1, P.E.O. Chapter JO, Santa Rosa, hosted scholarship recipient Jenna Hales at their meeting in Oakmont. Hales is a graduate student at Sonoma State, and is the recipient of a $2,200 Program for Continuing Education grant from P.E.O. This grant is awarded to outstanding women who have returned to college after having been away from school for a minimum of 24 months. She is studying for a master's degree in school counseling. For information on P.E.O. scholarships and loans, go to

woman with kenwood press
Fran Randol in the forum of Pompei, the great city square.

Back in May, Mark and Fran Randol traveled to the Piedmont region of Italy. They spent three days in the city of Turin, four days in Neive, a small village in the heart of the Piedmont wine country between Barolo and Barbaresco, and then took a 10-day cruise with port calls in Messina, Sicily; Malta; the Greek islands of Mykonos, Rodos (Rhodes), and Santorini; Piraeus (Athens), and Naples. While in Naples they visited the ancient Roman city of Pompeii which was destroyed in A.D. 79 when Mt. Vesuvius erupted covering the city in 20 feet of ash. And, they remembered to take their Kenwood Press along and send this photo - thanks, Mark and Fran!

That reminds me, we are running our summer photo contest, Pictures With The Press, and we invite you to enter. The only requirement is that the Kenwood Press be somewhere in the picture, so let your imagination run wild. There is even money at stake. First prize is $75, second prize $50, and third prize wins a hearty handshake from your Kenwood Press editors. The deadline is Sept. 5, and winners and honorable mentions will be published in our Sept. 15 issue. Send entries, 200 dpi or higher, to, and put “Photo Contest” in the subject line.

That's the news for now. Thank you to everyone who sent in their photos and items for Village Chat. It's easy to do. Just email, or call 833-5155 and chat me up! - AQP