Led this season by co-captains Nate Hefner '19, Kyle Aanstoots '19, and Ray Fluet '20, Big Blue has its sights set on a conference win.
The Bhavnani family has been involved with Pingry squash programs for over 10 years, so a gift to support the construction of eight squash courts in the new Miller A. Bugliari ’52 Athletics Center (BAC) was an exciting prospect. “Our oldest two boys, Shivan and Avinash, initially played tennis,” explains Anita Bhavnani P ’09, ’11, ’18. “But once they found squash, they found their passion and played all throughout high school and on into college. It was only natural for our youngest, Krish, to pick up the racquet—at seven years old!”
“Our experience with the sport has been gratifying,” Anita adds. “The level of athleticism and sportsmanship that squash has imparted has had a profound influence on our children. It has taught them to train hard, to trust themselves, to reach deep, to referee fairly, and to both win and lose gracefully. . . lessons that will serve them well their whole lives.”
With Head Coach of the Boys’ Varsity Squash Team Ramsay Vehslage as a consistent driving force, Pingry's team has done very well, finishing as high as 10th in the nation at the 2017 National High School Team Championships. “On our recent college tour for Krish, we realized for the third time how highly regarded Pingry's reputation is by the college squash coaches; and this was with no home courts to practice on,” says Anita.
“From our perspective, a facility like the BAC is a huge bonus. We have a great team already and with this facility, there is no limit. We are very grateful to Pingry for providing not only great academics but for allowing the boys the opportunity to be part of the squash team and grow as sportsmen.”
The Chens, who have supported the modernization of the Lower School, felt it only natural to help modernize the Upper School as well. “We wanted to balance the apportion of our support toward both campuses,” says Daniel. “We truly believe that the donation to Pingry would make it even better in every way.”
The Chens’ belief in building fundamental skills, as well as learning language and cultural competency, drove their decision to give both a math and Chinese language classroom. “As a former engineer, I strongly believe that the fundamental skills of mathematics, logical thinking, and systematic problem solving are critical for a student’s future development,” says Daniel. “I still rely heavily on these fundamental skills as an investment banker and as an asset manager. Equally important are the understanding of and appreciation for different cultures. The more we understand about diversity in the forms of language, ethnicity, and culture, the more we realize how crucial it is to embrace and appreciate it. With that in mind, we wanted to provide Pingry students with an important key to open the door for future opportunities.”
Thomas Diemar ’96 and Lauren Gruel Diemar ’96 have remained connected to Pingry for most of their lives. “My two older brothers went to Pingry,” says Thomas, “So when I left Far Hills [Country Day School], it was pretty high on my list.” Thomas jumped into the Pingry life with gusto, playing hockey, lacrosse, and running cross country all four years, and taking an active role in the Young Republicans Club and the Outing Club; Lauren swam and played tennis. “I had such a great group of friends,” says Thomas, “and so did Lauren. They’re all still involved in our lives today.”
“The most important part of my experience,” says Tom, “was getting to know the teachers. To me, the teachers create the soul of the school—they provide continuity as each class comes through Pingry, and they perpetuate the culture of excellence and honor at the School. My interests and values today were largely taught and reinforced by teachers like Mike Webster, Adam Rohdie, and Miller Bugliari, who continued to mentor me long after I left Pingry.” Tom has worked with PAA Boards and the 21st Century Leadership Society, acting as an “ambassador” for Pingry, and following in the footsteps of John Hanly and Mr. Bugliari.
Tom and Lauren have also joined the C.B. Newton Society by making a planned gift to Pingry in their wills. “Education has always been of the utmost importance to our family,” says Tom. “We wanted to make this gift to give people who might not have been as fortunate as we were the same opportunities and experiences that we had at Pingry.” The Lauren G. Diemar ’96 and Thomas Southworth Diemar ’96 Scholarship Fund, as named in Tom and Lauren’s wills, will provide a one-year scholarship to a student athlete who “achieves, under the current grading system of one through five, more ones than twos in effort, without regard to achievement.” “The only thing that is under your direct control is your effort,” says Tom, “whether it’s athletics or academics. As long as you are giving your very best effort, you’re going to get the most out of whatever you’re doing.”
“The biggest and most obvious benefit to us is the satisfaction that Lauren and I have in knowing that we will be able to help a student who demonstrates remarkable effort to attend the School, and promote the values that our family believes are most important.”
A member of the Class of 1956, Bob Meyer has remained engaged with Pingry for a long, long time. “I don’t think I’ve missed a year since graduating,” Bob says, adding with a chuckle, “Even when I was in Vietnam, I think I was able to make a gift to the Annual Fund.”
In addition to his annual gifts to The Pingry Fund, Bob supports the School through an estate gift and through an endowed fund. Supporting athletics and financial aid are especially important to him. “I feel, and a lot of other alumni feel the same way, that our time at Pingry prepared us well for college and beyond. To the extent that we can provide support for the programs, and especially to provide the means for more students to come aboard, I’m happy to do so. . . Pingry is an exceptional school and provides a terrific experience to everyone who is fortunate enough to attend—and I’m more than happy to help as many kids as possible have that experience.”
Seth Flowerman ’04 has given back to Pingry every year since graduation. A lead supporter of The Pingry Fund, Seth also has made significant contributions to Pingry’s new athletics facility. Named on Businessweek’s “25 Entrepreneurs Under 25” list in 2008 and one of the “Twenty Hot Young Entrepreneurs Under 30” in 2010 by Blogtrepreneur.com, Seth has built an extraordinary reputation in the business world at a very young age.
In 2010 and 2012, he came back to campus to share some of his business experiences as a Career Day speaker. In the summer of 2012, Seth welcomed a Pingry student from the Class of 2013 to intern at his company. The student shadowing him reported that, during this experience, she “acquired some fantastic contacts and gained great opportunities.”
When asked about what motivates him to support Pingry, Seth commented, “Pingry sets the standard for excellence. I was fortunate to be the 13-year beneficiary of a Pingry education and am pleased to play a small part to support the next generation of students. Blueprint for the Future will ensure they receive the outstanding education Pingry is known for.”
When deciding where to direct their gift to Pingry this year, Matt and Paige Guest P ’20, ’23, ’25 had not a moment’s hesitation. Their decision to fund the modernization of a Kindergarten classroom in the Lower School—one of the many important goals of Blueprint for the Future—was an outgrowth of their inherent appreciation for early education.
In describing the impetus for their gift, Paige remarked, “We feel that early education is essential in the formative years of a child’s life. It lays the foundation on which all subsequent life skills are built. We believe that supporting the enhancement of the facilities at the Lower School benefits all the children who come through Pingry, enriching the experience of both the teachers and students. Supporting this effort is rewarding for us, and we welcome the opportunity to participate.”
In the new classrooms, students will enjoy a more flexible, hands-on learning environment focused on building their skills in collaboration and problem-solving. With their generous gift, Matt and Paige have helped set the pace for the Lower School modernization portion of Blueprint for the Future.