Alumni News

Alumni Care Package Tradition Continues

December 01, 2017

The PCDS community supports our students, even beyond graduation! Earlier this week, parents of recent PCDS grads returned to campus to put together care packages for PCDS alumni in college all over the US (and around the world!). Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!

New PCDS Alumni Facebook Page

October 30, 2017

Calling all PCDS Alumni: Be sure to “Like” the new PCDS Alumni Facebook page! Our old profile page has moved to this new, more engaging organization page so that we can keep you connected with your fellow alumni and up to date with all things PCDS!

An Epic Closing of the THRIVE Campaign at the 50th Annual Blue + Gold

October 24, 2017

On Friday night, thousands of our PCDS community members joined us at the 50th Annual Blue + Gold, where we celebrated the close of the THRIVE Campaign. Thanks to the overwhelming support of our community, we raised a remarkable $24.6 million, 2 years ahead of schedule.  

We kicked off the campaign at Blue + Gold just three years ago with the original “THRIVE-In Movie,” so we thought it fitting, moments before the traditional fireworks celebration, to close the campaign with the sequel, “THRIVE: The Finale.” Click the image below to watch our final THRIVE movie, which we hope gives you a chuckle. 

A heartfelt thanks to the 200+ parents, alumni, past parents, grandparents, faculty, staff, and friends who supported the THRIVE Campaign, which is the largest campaign in PCDS history. Though the THRIVE flags have come down, the spirit of philanthropy and bonds of community that have been fostered during this Campaign will serve the school for generations to come.

With great appreciation,

Andrew Rodin
Head of School
Gay Firestone Wray Chair for Leadership

Thank You Alumni

August 18, 2017

Alumni - your generosity truly makes a difference at PCDS. Your tax-deductible contributions to the school’s Annual Fund directly support our current students who receive financial aid. Thank you for making a PCDS education a reality for our kids who need it most.

Alumni Association Welcomes Class of 2017

June 12, 2017

On June 8th, the 66 members of the Phoenix Country Day School Class of 2017 became the newest members of the school’s Alumni Association. We are so proud of where they are heading next!

Check out the entire 2017 Upper School Graduation Ceremony here!

Arden O'Connor ’96 is Candidate for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Woman of the Year

April 19, 2017

Arden O’Connor ’96, Phoenix Country Day School’s 2005 Outstanding Alumna of the Year, is a candidate for Woman of the Year through The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Arden was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia) at age 25 and went through a bone marrow transplant. Arden’s brother (and fellow PCDS alum), Chris ‘02, was an exact genetic match and served as her bone marrow donor. To learn more about Arden’s journey, visit:

Elizabeth Dias ’04 Returns to PCDS

March 10, 2017

Elizabeth Dias ’04, award-winning Time Magazine Correspondent, returned to campus for speaking engagements with alumni and parents on March 2nd and with Upper School students on March 3rd. Ms. Dias has interviewed the Dalai Lama, traveled aboard the papal plane with Pope Francis, covered the 2012 and 2016 presidential campaigns, and has reported on foreign policy stories from Sudan to Cuba. The video of her engagement with PCDS students can be found here:

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year 2017: Stanley Casselman ’81

March 10, 2017

Stanley Casselman in his Jersey City art studioPhoenix Country Day School is proud to name Stanley Casselman ’81 as the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. Mr. Casselman, a graduate of Pitzer College who resides in New York City, is an acclaimed artist whose work has been featured in solo exhibitions from Vienna to Florida to California, and in group exhibitions throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, and Europe. Stanley’s work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and New York magazine, among many other publications.

Stanley’s unique method includes squeegees and sharp metallic blades, which he uses to spread vivid paint colors vertically and horizontally at varying strengths. The PCDS art faculty has selected 12 Upper School students to participate in a day-long “Master Class” in April in which Stanley will teach them his technique.

In tandem with challenging academics and a strong athletics program, Phoenix Country Day School values the intellectual and creative growth that can be found within its robust Arts programs. The Arts at PCDS allows students to explore their creative sides, to think outside of the proverbial box, and to grow in their own methods of self-expression. We are proud that Mr. Casselman’s interest in art began within a Phoenix Country Day School ceramics class, and we are delighted to honor him for his contributions to the art world and for his support of our students.

*Mr. Casselman will be formally honored as part of Alumni Spring Weekend April 28-29, 2017.

Art piece commissioned by Mr. Stanley Casselman for donation to the 2017 PCDS Bridge-the-Gap Auction:

PCDS Announces the Retirement of Mike Swingler

January 13, 2017

If this diagram makes any sense to you, you’ve either got a penchant for really terrible stick-figure art or a morbid fascination with seeing people plummet into shark- and crocodile-infested waters.

Or you’re one of more than 1,000 students who have taken physics from the incomparable Mr. Mike Swingler, who has informed me that at the conclusion of this school year, he will pack up the massive telescope, permanently ground the winged pig, shut down the piercing green laser, and even unhitch his secret hot wheels tracks. After 29 delightful years of diagrams depicting monkeys flying out of trees and cats getting jettisoned from moving objects, Mr. Swingler will say goodbye to PCDS and head off into the sunset with his wife, Jill, and good friend Fred.

Anyone who has been taught by—or who has taught with—Mr. Swingler will be quick to tell you, though, that his legend lives far beyond the iconic white-board renderings.

Mr. Swingler is, without question, brilliant. No one—not a current student, not a former student, and not a co-worker—can recall him being stumped by a problem. Ever!

Mr. Swingler is extraordinarily generous with his time. Show up to school any morning before the sun comes up: Mr. Swingler can be found working with his students in the classroom.

Mr. Swingler is always calm, cool, and collected. In the words of Ms. Catherine Smith, his famous co-conspirator for years, “He’s unflappable!”

Best of all, Mr. Swingler makes physics fun, and that’s no small task.

We will certainly miss our friend as he moves to take on this next chapter in his life. Please join me in thanking Mr. Swingler for all he has done for our community, and in wishing him the very best of luck.

Andrew M. Rodin
Head of School
Gay Firestone Wray Chair for Leadership

PCDS Celebrates Esteemed Trailblazer Gay Firestone Wray

November 30, 2016

Firestone family members who are PCDS alumni with Gay Wray. From L to R: Tim Wray ‘84, Sally Semegen ‘02, Maryanne Wray ‘77, Gay Wray, Laurie Wray ‘80, Mark Semegen ‘04, Nick Firestone ‘84On November 14th, we celebrated one of Arizona’s and PCDS’ finest leaders, Gay Firestone Wray. For over 50 years, the Firestone family has been instrumental in shaping our image, shifting our culture, building our buildings, and establishing a philanthropic community at PCDS. Generations of Firestones have attended Phoenix Country Day School, and there has been one constant since the beginning: the family matriarch, Gay Firestone Wray. Former PA President, former President of the PCDS Board of Trustees, current Advisory Trustee, and long-time advocate for our school, Mrs. Wray was one of the early visionaries who set about creating a school in the Southwest that would rival the great schools around the country. That she is still coming to Board of Trustees meetings is a signal of not only her dedication but her endurance!

Amidst twinkling lights in the Noyes Courtyard, an illustrious group of former Trustees and longtime friends of the School joined us in celebrating Gay’s legacy — among them former Headmaster Robert Pierce, Ambassador Barbara Barrett, and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. During the event, Mrs. Wray learned to her surprise (and, we hope, delight) that the Head of School at PCDS will forever be the holder of The Gay Firestone Wray Chair for Leadership.

Mrs. Wray epitomizes our rich history and bright future, and we are thrilled to honor her decades of commitment and service to Phoenix Country Day School.

PCDS Hosts New York Alumni Gathering

October 07, 2016

PCDS alumni gathering in New York CityOn October 6, PCDS hosted a regional alumni gathering in New York City, connecting with PCDS alumni spanning four decades. Assistant Head of School Roz Abero ‘ 89 and Director of Alumni Relations Leslie Feldman ’99 hosted alumni to an incredible event overlooking the city skyline. We’re proud to be a school with such a proud history and bright future!

Victor D. Feeney Awardee – Oliver Mardsen ’16

June 15, 2016

Victor D. Feeney Awardee – Oliver Mardsen ’16Victor D. Feeney '67Each year, during the Upper School Awards Assembly, one member of the senior class is given an award in memory of a special alumnus. The Victor D. Feeney Award is bestowed upon a student who exudes well roundedness, a strong work ethic and an affable nature. Victor D. Feeney ’67 distinguished himself by his commitment to school life. After graduating from PCDS, Victor received his BA degree from Princeton and his JD degree from the University of Denver. Throughout his life, Victor displayed a contagious enthusiasm for living and a true love for academics and sports and his fellow man. Congratulations to this year’s Victor D. Feeney Awardee – Oliver Mardsen ’16.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year 2016: Christopher V. Walker ’65

June 13, 2016

Former Trustee Ken Allison and Headmaster Andy Rodin presenting Chris Walker ’65 with the honor of 2016 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year.Christopher V. Walker ’65 was a member of the first PCDS graduating class. Following PCDS, Chris distinguished himself at Claremont McKenna College and Georgetown University before embarking on a highly successful career in private equity and international finance, which included his role as a founding partner of Leonard Green and Partners, a Los Angeles-based private merchant bank. Chris is a dedicated advocate of the arts, having served in leadership roles at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles Opera; and the Trustee Council of the National Gallery of Art. Chris has also dedicated over twenty years as member of the Board of Trustees of Claremont McKenna College, chairing their $129 million capital campaign. In 2015, Chris was inducted into the PCDS Athletic Hall of Fame along with his fellow student athletes from 1965.

PCDS Masters' Lecture Series: Dave Martin on Global Terrorism

February 29, 2016

Mr. Martin is opening his classroom once again to PCDS alumni! Drawing on lectures and pertinent materials from his new course, Global Terrorism, Mr. Martin will teach returning alumni in Dorrance Auditorium and online via GoToMeeting. This three-part series will cover the roots of global terrorism, as well as the contemporary issues of 2016. Click here to learn more about the Alumni Masters’ Lecture Series.

A Note from the Headmaster: PCDS THRIVE is Alive!

November 18, 2015

PCDS Alumni:

On October 23rd, we celebrated our 48th Annual Blue + Gold, and as I admired the huge crowd, watched the kids dance to some great country music, caught up with alumni in the alumni tent, and took a pause to enjoy the fireworks, I found myself marveling at the fact that it’s only been one year since we publicly launched our comprehensive campaign, THRIVE, at the same event. What a difference a year makes.

Since the public launch, our new Dady Aquatic & Tennis Center has become the home of many new pool records, and just two weeks ago we opened the new Najafi Gymnasium and Garvin Family Walk of Champions at the Blue + Gold pep rally for our entire student, faculty, and staff community. At the pep rally, we showed a brief video that we are calling “THRIVE is ALIVE” (watch til the end; you’ll get it). I hear it from folks all the time: there is an energy here that is contagious. See for yourself.

I also wanted to let you know that we had a wonderful event before we kicked off the Blue + Gold evening officially naming our existing gym as the Alumni Gymnasium, in honor of over 50 years of athletics at PCDS. Also, as our Upper School students enter school each day, they now pass through the Garvin Family Walk of Champions, where we have proudly displayed memorabilia from our Athletic Hall of Fame members. These breezeways and buildings serve as another reminder that you, our alumni, have created the proud legacies our students THRIVE on each day.

We say that THRIVE is alive because our campaign has been re-invigorated by these new athletic facilities. Better yet, two more important facilities projects await. Next up is the Cole Center for Art, Science, & Innovation.

As students begin a well-deserved Spring Break this coming March, we will officially close the Hormel Arts Center and Madden Hall in order to begin its transformation into the Cole Center for Art, Science & Innovation – opening next August!

To be clear: the Cole Center is about much more than simply bringing outdated facilities up to date (though it most certainly does that). It’s about designing a flexible, integrated, and adaptive space that can meet the evolving needs of our faculty and staff, not just now, but into the future. The video linked here will give you some sense of what this facility can do for our students and faculty, as you’ll see evidence of our design principles that place an emphasis on mission-driven principles like 21st century learning, interdisciplinary thought, creativity, and collaboration.

We have accomplished so much through the THRIVE Campaign so far, yet we cannot achieve all that we want for our students without our entire community’s support. Since 1961, we have relied upon the extraordinary philanthropy of our community to build and sustain a campus that enables our program to soar. Now is the time to make a difference that will serve our current students—and the generations to come. Please contact me to discuss ways in which you can get involved. It takes a village, and we have a pretty spectacular village.

I look forward to seeing many of you on December 19th at the annual PCDS Alumni Holiday party (details to come). Please know that we appreciate all you continue to do to support your alma mater. If you haven’t been on campus in a while, consider coming back home to see how things have changed and grown – we think you’ll be impressed!

Andrew Rodin

A Note from the Headmaster: PCDS THRIVE Campaign, Year 2 Update

September 25, 2015

Dear PCDS Alumni,

I write today with exciting news. It may surprise you to know that long after you graduate, you are constantly on our minds. So much so, in fact, that as we near the completion of building our second gymnasium as part of the THRIVE Campaign, we made a decision that I hope will make you smile.

I am excited to announce that, through a unanimous decision, we are renaming the gymnasium that served our students for the past 30 years the “Alumni Gymnasium”. We will make this new name official on Friday, October 23, 2015 at a special alumni celebration directly prior to the 48th Annual Blue & Gold picnic. If you are going to be in town, please join us for what promises to be a special evening. This naming of the Alumni Gymnasium is in honor of you!

I also wanted to give you a progress update on our ambitious THRIVE Campaign, which launched publicly just one year ago. I’m delighted to share with you that we are now two-thirds of the way towards our goal of $22 million, with almost $4 million having come in within the first few weeks of this school year. Compared to national independent school campaign standards, you should be proud to know that your alma mater is forging ahead with exceptional speed, thanks to our remarkable donor support, including that of several alumni. What’s more, the energy behind the THRIVE Campaign has galvanized our community in a way that I’ve only seen at the very best schools across the nation. For a brief but powerful video highlighting what has happened because of the Campaign thus far, click here. 

Lastly, I wanted to fill you in on the naming of several new facilities on campus:

  • The new gym, slated to open in less than a month, will be called the Najafi Gymnasium, named for Jahm and Cheryl Najafi, along with their children Cameron ’19, Olivia ’19, and Sophia.
  • The thoroughfare between our current gym and the Najafi Gymnasium will be called the Garvin Family Walk of Champions, named for Sam and Rita Garvin and their children Sam ’16, Allison ’19, and Lauren ’19. Special cases inside the Walk of Champions will display memorabilia highlighting the achievements of our Athletic Hall of Fame members, and our celebration on October 23 will unveil these new showpieces.
  • The new pool and tennis center that opened at the beginning of last year will now be named the Dady Aquatic & Tennis Center, named for Don and Dominique Dady and their children Cole ’16, Samantha ’18, and Jessica ’20.
  • The Arts & Sciences renovation project, the project next up in the THRIVE Campaign, just recently received an incredibly generous gift from local businessman Chris Cole, and it will be called the Cole Center for Art, Science & Innovation. You’ll be hearing more about that project soon.

Part of our success with the Campaign is that many people, alumni in particular, are making the largest gifts of their lives through multi-year commitments—including your very own Alumni Board President Augustine Gomez. And bookending things in a really poignant way, we’ve received a generous campaign gift from a member of our first graduating class, as well as a gift from a member of our most recent graduating class. Our rapid progress is truly a testament to our generous and supportive community of parents, grandparents, alumni, and friends.

I know that many of you will be connecting with each other this fall through Alumni Association events being held in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston, New York City and right here in Phoenix. If you have questions about anything that’s happening back at your alma mater, I hope you’ll ask us. We’d love to hear from you.

I am constantly inspired by all that our alumni accomplish after they leave the Eagle’s nest. Thank you for remaining active, proud members of the Phoenix Country Day School community.

Andrew Rodin


PCDS Alumna in Action!

September 24, 2015

Elizabeth Dias '04 Traveling wit Pope Francis Elizabeth Dias, Class of 2004, is currently traveling with Pope Francis during his trips to the US and Cuba. She writes for Time Magazine, and was co-author of this week’s cover story. PCDS alumni are making an impact around the world, while both making— and writing— the news!

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