This area of our website focuses on individual graduates of MSS and their continuing journeys in the world. We are sure you’ll enjoy learning about these fascinating and unique individuals as much as we have.
Max Eyle, 2005 MSS Graduate
Maximilian Eyle continued his education after graduating from MSS at Roberts Middle School and then at Corcoran High School in their International Baccalaureate program. During his time there, Max continued with his love of theater and competed on the varsity golf team. Read his full story
He participated in Clear Channel Communications’ Image Campaign for the City Schools: “I was tired of people badmouthing the district … . I think I can make a difference. I’d say that a large amount of the kids there really want to succeed and take full advantage of the opportunities available to them.”
Max attended Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS), where he majored in history and American studies. He studied in Spain during his junior year through the school’s program in Seville. Over his four years at HWS, he developed several radio shows for stations in New York State and Spain. This included The Iberian Injection, which explored cultural differences and collective experiences of students studying abroad. He interned with the Finger Lakes Radio Group, which broadcasts on six local commercial radio stations. In 2013, he interned with National Public Radio (NPR) station WAER-FM, 88.3 in Syracuse.
Max enjoys playing harmonica and piano, and has been dancing tango since he was twelve years old. He has returned to MSS to do demonstrations over the year for the students, and he started a tango group at HWS. A long-time lover of food, Max enjoys brewing beer and cooking. He indulged this interest by working in the bakery and cheese shop at Wegmans during high school and college. Having graduated HWS in 2015, he has continued to pursue his dreams in Spain, where he is currently teaching English in Menorca for the Spanish Ministry of Education.
Luke Gianforte, 2004 MSS Graduate
Luke Gianforte graduated from MSS and continued his education in the Cazenovia Public Schools’ middle and high schools. During his high school years, he participated in Project Lead the Way, applying engineering, science, math, and technology to solve open-ended problems in a real-world context. Read his full story
Luke graduated from Cornell University in 2014 with a major in Animal Science and a minor in Agricultural Business. While there, he participated in the Dairy Fellows Program, learning about dairying’s diversity in New York State, nationally, and internationally. Luke traveled to California, Italy, and Germany to tour a wide variety of farms. Now Luke has returned to the Gianforte Farms to apply his skills of business management and familiarity with new field and processing technology.
Shortly after graduation, in 2015, Luke purchased 350 acres of farmland and increased the acreage of land rented by Gianforte Farms, doubling the size of his family’s working farmland. Luke was appointed to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency Committee in 2015. He has given a number of presentations to various farm-related businesses. He presented Farm Economics and Profitability and Cultivation Techniques to New York Certified Organic (NYCO), a group of organic farmers led by Cornell. He has also presented Organic Farming Practices to the State Fair horticulture judges and Generational Transfer of Farms and Farm Properties to the NOFA-NY state conference.
Luke and his family farm a total of 600 acres with ten grain crops. They employ cover-cropping, crop-rotation, wildlife ponds, tree plantations, nutrient management, precision-farming, conservation tillage, grass waterways, and raptor and pollinator habitat measures—and recently installed a windmill. Luke shared with us that, “It doesn’t matter what you are growing, conservation practices add value to the land. It’s the land that supports us.”
Gianforte Farms was recently awarded Farm of the Year by the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District Board. The award is given to farms that enhance the local environment with conservation and best management practices on the ground. Congratulations to Luke and the entire Gianforte family!
Carly Getz, 2003 MSS Graduate
Carly graduated from Syracuse University in 2013 with a dual degree in Public Relations and Marketing Management. While at SU, Carly held several internships and was active in a variety of student organizations. Read her full story
In recognition of her community involvement and academic achievement, Carly was selected as one of 35 Remembrance Scholars, an annual scholarship to honor and remember the 35 students who were killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988. After graduation, Carly moved to Detroit to take a public relations position at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She spent three years providing communications counsel to leaders of fifteen clients across business segments, including corporate social responsibility, public affairs and information technology. Carly was also active in Blue Cross’ Young Professionals Network, launching their first reverse mentoring program that took form as a LinkedIn training program. Carly brought LinkedIn into Blue Cross to train 20 young professionals to be trainers for the company. These young professionals trained hundreds of Blue Cross employees within the first year of the program, improving the employer brand and connecting generations within the workforce.
Carly is a member of Toastmasters International, a public speaking and leadership organization. This spring she competed for the first time, taking first place at the local level and second in the division. Carly recently took on a new job on the media relations team at DTE Energy, an energy and energy technology provider for residential and commercial electric and natural gas.
Outside of work, Carly and her fiancé, Derek Weed, have been busy fixing up their new home, planning their upcoming wedding in July, and spending time with friends and family.
Carly’s proud mom is our own Patricia Choice Getz, MSS Director of Support Services.
Jeffrey and Tyler Gabriel (’11) attended MSS since their primary (preschool) years, and continued their tradition of hard work and academic excellence when they graduated MSS and moved on to middle and high school at Jamesville-Dewitt. Jeff and Tyler have been on the High Honor Roll their entire high school careers. They are both members of JD’s National Honor Society, which recognizes students who have an exceptional record in academics and service to their school and community. Read their full stories
Jeffrey served as Junior Class Officer at JD. Beginning as a Freshman, he has been an award-winning member of the JD Model United Nations (MUN), serving as a club officer for three years and as Co-President his senior year. Jeff has been elected to serve as chair at many local MUN conferences. He was elected by his peers to serve as Under Secretary at the Rochester MUN conference in March and more recently elected as Secretary General at the November Hilton MUN conference, also in Rochester. Both conferences host over 800 delegates from across New York State. A swimmer since his time at Montessori, Jeff has competed on the JD varsity team for his four years of high school. He has been a member of JD’s State swim team for two years in a row, and with three teammates he holds the school record in the 200-m free relay. Jeff is planning to study math or chemistry in college and in the long term pursue a law degree. Jeff works summers as a lifeguard at Cavalry Country Club.
Tyler is a founding member and officer of the JD Investment Club, in which students participate in a virtual stock market to test research strategies and market trends. He, too, has been very involved in MUN since his freshman year, winning awards with the organization, and is Co-President with his brother this year. MUN members learn about diplomacy, international relations, and the United Nations. It involves and teaches research, public speaking, writing, critical thinking skills, teamwork, and leadership. He was also elected by his peers to be chair at New York State conferences. Tyler is a starter on the JD soccer team, which was 4th runner up in New York State in 2013. He is planning to pursue science and engineering in college. Tyler has worked with an MSS parent’s company, Hehl Construction, as a construction assistant during his summers.
Jeff and Tyler are the twin sons of former MSS Marketing Communications Director Rene Gabriel, who is rightfully very proud of her boys!
Shannon Quinn, 2008 MSS Graduate
Long-time staff at MSS can remember when Shannon Quinn (’08) began at MSS as a four-year-old at our original location at Temple Beth El. Eight years later Shannon graduated from sixth grade at our Waldorf Parkway campus. Read her full story
Shannon went on to attend the Baldwinsville public schools, and ultimately graduated high school at Manlius Pebble Hill. Now a junior at the University of Vermont, Shannon is an environmental studies major with a concentration in conservation and stewardship. Shannon’s long-term goal is to work in the field of wildlife conservation and management of Federal land and protected areas. With her strong interest in protecting the environment, she was the perfect candidate for the Wild Rockies Field Institute (WRFI) last summer, where she explored the complex cultural, political, and natural histories of some of the most interesting and beautiful landscapes in Montana. The college-accredited course at Montana Afoot and Afloat with the WRFI gave her the opportunity to backpack and kayak in Montana, learning about the human-land relationship.
Shannon and her colleagues spoke with tribal leaders, public figures, and spokespeople from the coal and renewable wind energy fields. This coming summer she will be training to become a whitewater rafting guide. Shannon enjoys backpacking, making art, swimming, dancing, and traveling. One of her life goals is to climb Mt. Denali, the highest peak in North America.
Mady Alfieris, 2008 MSS Graduate
After Mady Alfieris (‘08 ) graduated from 6th grade at MSS, she attended Jamesville Dewitt Middle and Upper schools. While there, Mady was a strong leader and excelled in her academic studies. Read her full story
Mady was involved in student government and served as Student Body President in her senior year. She played on both the varsity volleyball and lacrosse teams. She actively volunteered in several organizations, and was able to balance all of this while working part-time.
Mady is now a Junior at The George Washington University in Washington DC. She is working on completing a double major and will graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Mathematics and a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics. This past semester Mady studied abroad in Vienna, Austria.
Mady is a member of the Alpha Phi chapter at GW and served on the Executive Board for her sorority as the Vice President of Risk Management. As a member of Alpha Phi, Mady helps organize events and raises money for the Alpha Phi Foundation, which supports women’s cardiac care. During her sophomore year in college, Mady worked as a Sports Statistician for The Sports Quotient. She also served as Vice President of the Mathematics and Statistics Association and is a member of Women in Business. Mady also worked as a Teaching Assistant in the GW Math Department and is a calculus tutor. She interned in Credit Risk Management at Morgan Stanley in New York City last summer and is excited to return there this June. Outside of school and work, Mady is an avid sports enthusiast and a yoga instructor.
Mady’s older brother, Michael Alfieris (‘06) also graduated from MSS and went on to the Jamesville Dewitt schools. He served as Student Body President his senior year, played on the varsity volleyball team, worked at Wegmans and achieved honors in academics. Michael went on to the University of Delaware and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Science with a Concentration in Physiology. He is now attending graduate school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, studying Cardiovascular Perfusion. He continues to be Mady’s mentor and best friend. Mady attributes her love for math and passion for learning to Jack Lawyer and Karen Kohl-Dyson, her teachers and role models during her time at MSS!
John French-Lawyer, 2006 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2006, John French-Lawyer continued his education at Manlius Pebble Hill School. At MPH, John played on the varsity tennis team. In his junior and senior years, he went with Operation Southern Comfort to help rebuild homes in New Orleans that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina. Read his full story
John went on to attend the Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology. He chose RIT for its robust co-op program, which gives students hands-on experience working in paid positions in their field of study. John was the recipient of a four-year RIT Presidential Scholarship, and was on the Deans List for all but one semester of his time there. John participated in the Delta Sigma Pi Business Fraternity, where he took on several leadership positions, including senior vice president. In that role he was responsible for the growth and social health of the chapter. The fraternity offered John leadership and management experience, as well as exposure to local business leaders. He received the group’s Most Outstanding Brotherhood Award multiple times and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in management information systems.
During his junior year, John completed a six-month IT co-op at Precision Castparts Corporations (PCC) in Groton, Connecticut. After a good learning experience, he decided to continue working with PCC after his graduation, entering its IT Development program. The program is designed to give young IT leaders wide range of experiences in two years. He began the program working in Spanish Fork, Utah, helping to deploy a new Enterprise Resource Planning system, and is currently working at the corporate office in Portland, Oregon, to deploy an enterprise infrastructure solution. He will complete the program in July 2018, at which point he will be placed in a growth position at one of the company’s almost 200 domestic sites.
Throughout his life, John has enjoyed the outdoors, and since graduation, he has begun exploring the national parks system. In the 16 months since his graduation, John has visited 18 national parks and monuments, including many of our country’s greatest natural phenomena. While some of these locations stood out for their vastness, others were more remote, and each adventure was an investment of time in enjoying what the outdoors has to offer.
Anna Weinberger, 2003 MSS Graduate
After graduating from MSS in 2003, Anna Weinberger attended Manlius Pebble Hill School. She graduated from the University of Scranton with an undergrad degree in business administration and a minor in accounting. She then went on to Syracuse University, graduating in 2015 with a master’s in library and information science. Read her full story
While attending graduate school, Anna enjoyed singing with the Spirit of Syracuse Chorus and interning at Southwest Airlines as the Corporate Archiving Intern. She especially enjoyed getting to travel all over the country on standby while at Southwest! She also worked at the Family Resource Center at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital. While at Upstate, Anna decided she wanted to continue working with children and to get her degree in library science, so that she could work full-time as a children’s librarian.
In May of 2016 Anna found her dream job, as the children’s services librarian at the Kingwood Branch Library in Kingwood, Texas (northeast of Houston). She loved working with her little patrons, especially doing robotics courses with the elementary children, and leading story time for rambunctious preschoolers.
Disaster stuck the Houston area with Hurricane Harvey in late August, and Anna had to evacuate her apartment due to the rising water. She waded through rain and chest-high floodwater with her cat Chip on her head in his cat carrier, and made it safely to her sister’s house in Porter, Texas, after riding in two boats, on the back of a dump truck and in a car.
By the end of the hurricane, though her housing com-plex ended up with 7.5 feet of water, Anna’s apartment was deemed livable and her belongings were all safe! Anna’s library — the Kingwood Branch-received 3.5 feet of water, and with the high humidity, that destroyed her Children’s Department. Furniture, electronics, craft supplies and all the books were ruined. Anna is now working at the Library Administration Building, and beginning the work of restocking her library and the three other Harris County libraries that were flooded.
If you would like to contribute toward the effort to buy new books for Anna’s library, donations are being collected by the Friends of the Library, Kingwood on their website kingwoodfolk.org. Any money donated will be funding new books for the Kingwood Branch Library.
Anna’s family has been connected with MSS for almost 20 years. Anna is the daughter of our primary music teacher and elementary art teacher Denise Weinberger. Her sister Julie W. Martin teaches in Maple Cottage, and her sister Jennie is a former Pine Cottage teacher.
Morgane Rigney, 2002 MSS Graduate
Morgane was one of our school’s very first students at our original location at Temple Beth El! Her family made the move with us to our current campus on Waldorf Parkway in 2000. After her graduation, Morgane attended Fayetteville-Manlius Schools, where she graduated in 2008. Read her full story
Morgane worked as an operations supervisor for a large monitoring station in Syracuse for many years and later moved to the Southwest, where she was a crew supervisor for a nature conservation corps.
When Morgane recently checked in with us, she let us know that she now works as a Hotshot Firefighter. She is part of an elite firefighting group called the Mormon Lake Hotshots, based in Flagstaff, Arizona.
There are many different kinds of wildland firefighting crews, and Morgane works in one of the most highly trained crews in the country, called an Interagency Hotshot crew. These crews battle the most serious fires nationwide and exceed the requirements of type 1 firefighters in terms of their extensive training and high physical fitness standards. They undertake difficult, dangerous, and stressful assignments. They respond to large, high-priority fires and are trained and equipped to work in remote areas for extended periods of time with little logistical support.
Morgane’s crew is highly trained and utilized to fight the biggest, hottest, most dangerous and physically grueling parts of big fires. Because they deploy to the nastiest fires, the crew travels all over the country and are typically on the road for about six months at a time (with breaks usually every 14 days).
While assigned a fire, they work 14-to 18-hour days, sleep on the ground and often eat dehydrated food. They utilize all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, and hike to fires in remote areas. On many fires they fought last summer, they hiked up to 15 miles per day carrying full gear (50-70 pounds).
Hotshots are considered professional hikers, and many of the men on Morgane’s crew are some of the strongest hikers in the country. Morgane is the only woman on her crew of 20, and she says that “I spend a good portion of the winter training to be able to keep up with my coworkers.” Chainsaws and hand tools are the most commonly used tools to construct handlines, removing all fuel material to stop a fire. Morgane tells us, “Working as a hotshot is definitely a kind of lifestyle. I’m essentially on from April to October and work and travel almost nonstop for six months. After October, I start my off-season with many of my coworkers, and I travel, relax, ski and climb, until fire season starts again in April.”
Morgane’s parents live in Fayetteville, and she is the oldest of her two sisters, Mia and Clair, and brother Sam, all of whom attended MSS.
Jonathan Koss, 2006 MSS Graduate
Jonathan Koss began at MSS at our first location in Temple Beth El and then moved on to Manlius Pebble Hill for middle and high school. At MPH he was captain of the tennis team and a National AP Scholar there. He also received a “5,” the highest score possible, on eight AP exams, including calculus, physics, economics, and chemistry. Read his full story
From 2012 to 2016 Jonathan attended Case Western Reserve University where he received concurrent B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and management – finance. He worked as a research assistant at the Case Biomanufacturing and Microfabrication Laboratory on an Android application to measure blood clotting of sickle-cell patients. The app is to be used with a phone attachment that has microscopic imaging capabilities.
Jon was also an investment banking intern focusing on derivatives at KeyBanc Capital Markets in Cleveland, in the summer of 2015, and a finalist in the Tibetan Innovation Challenge in 2015, where Jonathan met the Dalai Lama of Tibet. This past summer Jon was a cognitive automation intern at KPMG in Manhattan. Jon continued his education as a Tesla Scholar at Columbia University where he was a research assistant in the Laboratory for Intelligent Imaging and Neural Computing. One of his projects was programming an autonomous robot to perform complex tasks with guidance from a human controller via EEG. He graduated in 2018 with an M.S. in electrical engineering. Jonathan will begin at the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science this coming fall, doing research at Yale Medical School in pursuit of a Ph.D. in engineering.
Jonathan has co-authored many articles including: “Relating Deep Neural Network Representations to EEG-fMRI Spatiotemporal Dynamics in a Perceptual Decision-making Task” presented at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops 2018; “Task Level Hierarchical System for BCI-Enabled Shared Autonomy” at the 2017 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robotics; and “Point-of-Care System for Monitoring Cellular Adhesion in Sickle Cell Disease” at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society Conference. As this goes to press, he is preparing to present results of a study at a conference in Singapore.
Jonathan has stayed in close touch with his MSS friends John Alex French-Lawyer (2006) and Max Eyle (2005) and enjoys coming back to visit MSS whenever he can! He and Alex watched the eclipse in Portland, Oregon, last summer, and in December, Jon and Max traveled together on their Birthright Israel trips.
Maria Vazquez, 2010 MSS Graduate
After her graduation from MSS, Maria Vazquez went on to excel in middle and high school at the Jamesville-DeWitt Schools. She is currently attending Loyola University in Baltimore and is really enjoying her experience there as a junior with a major in information systems and minor in data science. Read her full story
Maria is on the board of the Crochet for a Cause Club, where students crochet bed mats for homeless people from recycled plastic bags. The club’s mission is “to aid the homeless by crocheting portable bed rolls from plastic bag yarn (plarn), to decrease waste, improve the environment, and to provide useful fellowship opportunities for our members.”
Maria has traveled extensively in Europe in recent years, primarily to Spain to visit family. She and her younger sister Julia Vazquez (2011) both learned to speak the Spanish language fluently while living in the country.
Maria participated in Loyola’s study abroad program this past summer, and she let us know that “the program was amazing; I couldn’t speak more highly of my experience. . . it was well-planned, educational and immersive.” Maria found that the Czech Republic was culturally quite different when contrasted with other European countries, due to its recent communist past. She and her fellow Loyola University students were able to speak directly with Czech people about their experiences during World War II, in both Prague and rural areas. They went to the Jachymov uranium mines to see POW camps and were surprised to learn that the recent history of the country is not taught to its young people. Maria’s family remains very connected with MSS, as her mother, Sharon Vazquez, is our Sixth Level Program director.
Jared Dunn, 2012 MSS Graduate
Jared Dunn began his time at MSS in Maple Cottage in 2004. From an early age, he loved singing and performing, but he really developed a love for theater with Mrs. Getz in the Willow Theater Workshops. After he graduated in 2012, theater became a cornerstone of his post-MSS experience. Read his full story
Since graduating, he has worked on over twenty school, community and regional theater productions. He was especially struck by the people and connections he made working in the Syracuse theater community, and his experiences led him to found At Rise Productions, a community theater company that targets high school students as artists and audience members. This past May, he directed At Rise’s first production, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. For this, he was nominated for a Syracuse Area Live Theater (SALT) award for Best Director of a Musical in the community theater category. The cast, pit crew and creative team of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown were all students 18 years old or younger, although they received plenty of help and support from parents and mentors, including MSS alumnus Luke Tarnow-Bulatowicz (2010). The cast included Jared’s two brothers Ryan Dunn (2014) and Justin Dunn (2018), who played Charlie Brown and Woodstock, respectively. The cast also featured former MSS student Blake Lucas in the role of Linus.
This summer, Blake unexpectedly passed away, leaving the community reeling from the loss of a loved one. Blake and Jared’s friendship started when they were in Cedar Classroom together, and although they had been out of touch for a few years, their old bond came back naturally when they worked together on You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. After Blake’s passing, Jared helped put together a cabaret fund raiser for Blake’s family in his memory, featuring nine original songs that Jared co-wrote with his friend Nancy O’Connor, the music director of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The entire cast was there to sing the songs, and friends and family came to offer their love and support. Luke returned to Syracuse to help with the tech aspects of the show. It was incredibly difficult, but it was beautiful to see everyone gathered there to honor Blake with music. After graduating from MSS, Jared first attended Wellwood Middle School in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District for two years. The contrast between MSS and Wellwood sparked Jared’s interest in learning about different kinds of education, and in ninth grade, he decided to homeschool. After his year of homeschooling, Jared spent his sophomore year at FM High School before moving with his family for ten months to Almuñécar, Spain, where he attended the local Spanish public high school. For his senior year, Jared returned to FM High School from which he graduated in 2018.
Jared is now spending a gap year in Spain, something he had been planning to do since he was very young, before attending Brown University in the fall of 2019. He is currently volunteering with Aiurri Montessori, a Montessori school in Vitoria-Gasteiz, which is a city in northern Spain in the Basque Country. He volunteers four days a week, helping out in the three- to six-year-old classrooms in the mornings and teaching English to the six to nine-year-olds in the afternoons. He plans to stay in Vitoria-Gasteiz until the end of January, and do some more traveling around Spain and Europe, volunteering with more schools.
Elissa Kempisty, 2012 MSS Graduate
Elissa Kempisty graduated after her primary and elementary years at MSS in 2012 and continued her education at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA). She was a member of the track team – long jump and triple jump-and was a sectional champion in both categories from 9th to 12th grades. She was a member of the National Honor Society and received the Brother B. James Quinn Religion Award at graduation. Read her full story
Elissa’s dream growing up was to be a champion figure skater and synchronized skater, and ultimately part of Team USA. She followed that dream her entire school career at MSS and CBA, and continues now at Babson College. During high school she was a member of Mirror Images Synchronized Skating Team, and she also trained in Skaneateles, Baldwinsville, Ithaca and Cortland. During the 2017-2018 season, she trained with her current junior-level team, the Lexettes, and she makes the trip to Boston many times a week to work with them. In the 2018-2019 season, Elissa and the Lexettes were in the top five at both internationals in Sweden and France. They are part of Team USA, representing the U.S. worldwide, and are the 2018 U.S. National Silver Medalists. She will be training with the senior team National Champions, the Haydenettes, this spring and summer in anticipation of becoming a member of that championship team this fall. All the teams give back to the community through volunteer work and exhibition skating.
Elissa says this about her passion for skating: “‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.’ This quote by Henry David Thoreau has followed me throughout my life, as has my dream to skate for Team USA. To all of the students at Montessori, if you have a dream, chase it! You never know where that dream will take you, and don’t let anyone tell you it’s impossible because those are the dreams that are worth it.”