Robert M. Edsel Visits Seven Hills for 28th Annual Books For Lunch


By Emma Uible.

For the 28th Annual Books for Lunch, Seven Hills had the pleasure of receiving renowned historian and philanthropist Robert M. Edsel, the author of the popular non-fiction books The Monuments Men, Saving Italy, and Rescuing Da Vinci. In September 2009, Edsel’s second book, The Monuments Men, was published. It is a narrative telling of the story of the the Monuments Men, a US  Army battalion of men and woman who saved artwork in Europe in the midst of World War II. The Monuments Men is translated in more than twenty-five languages, and was recently made into a film directed by George Clooney that premiered in February of 2014.

As part of Books For Lunch, Edsel was the guest of honor at the annual Books for Lunch Dinner, hosted this year in the home of Mr. and Mrs. William M. Gale. The next day, Edsel spoke to 6-12 graders at an all school assembly, and later to adults, teachers and parents at a lunch held at Xavier’s Cintas Center.

Robert M. Edsel was originally a Houston businessman, but after getting out of the oil industry, he moved with his wife and son to Florence, Italy where he studied art and architecture. Edsel became especially intrigued as to the predicament of art throughout World War II, and how these cultural icons survived the turmoil of war in the midst of the destruction of the cities around them. What began as a question evolved into an impassioned journey to tell the story of the Monuments Men, the unsung heroes who saved the world’s greatest art and cultural treasures for the benefit of civilization. By 2001, that journey had become a full-time job. Edsel dedicated more than twelve years to painstaking and far-reaching research about the Monuments Men, which first culminated in the publishing of his book Rescuing Da Vinci. Edsel is also the co-producer of the documentary film, The Rape of Europa, based on the award-winning book of the same title by scholar Lynn Nicholas. In November 2008 the film was broadcast on PBS and subsequently received two Emmy nominations.

Edsel is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board for the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, a non-for-profit committed to “supporting the recognition of American Monuments Men as well as the search for remaining lost art from world War II in Europe,” according to the foundation’s website.

In his lecture in the all school assembly Edsel began by talking a bit about himself and then transitioned into historical information about the Monuments Men. Edsel discussed how these pieces of art were more than just art for Europeans, they were cultural keystones. He emphasized in his lecture the constant struggle the Monuments Men had during their deployment was, “were these pieces of art worth a human life?”

In the luncheon at Xavier’s Cintas Center, Nick Clooney, who makes a cameo in The Monuments Men film directed by his son, introduced Edsel at the luncheon by discussing how important and relevant Edsel’s story is to the history of our world’s art, and the recognition of these unsung heroes. In his speech, Edsel gave the audience a history lesson about the American World War II Monuments Men and their individual backgrounds. Edsel’s lecture was interesting as a result of his dynamic and engaging way of speaking and how it really drew the audience into the plight of the Monuments Men.  Discussing in detail individual men Dene Kelller, George Straight, and James Mortimer with the aid of photos projected onto a screen helped to make the men Edsel talked about seem even more relevant. Edsel stressed that, “this story is not just the story of the Monuments Men, it is the story of a society.”

During World War II, Hitler’s vision of founding an art museum in his home town of Lintz was brought into the early stages of fruition by his ordered stealing of art by Nazi soldiers. Edsel showed the audience with the aid of pictures about the various conditions this smuggled art was kept, most notably in salt mines throughout Europe, and a castle in Bavaria. One of the most iconic of the pictures Edsel showed was of the famous Florence San Marco altarpiece disassembled and in crates, which the Monuments Men found in a German salt mine.

The Monuments Men feature film written, directed, and starred by George Clooney premiered in London in February of 2014. Edsel stated that although the events in the movie seem dramatized, the historical basis for all the events are factual. As well, Edsel reflected that although the film was obviously made for Hollywood, the ability for the information about the Monuments Men to reach millions is truly extraordinary. As a result of the film, Edsel’s foundation received more exposure for Edsel’s foundation aimed at helping the original Monuments Men receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Edsel’s foundation founded in 2007, the Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art, uses heightened visibility about the Monuments Men to illuminate the path home for the hundreds of thousands of works of art, cultural objects, and documents still missing since World War II. Working with individuals who come forward with leads about missing cultural items facilitates the Foundation to return art to its rightful owner. Most recently Edsel has been advocating for the remaining Monuments Men from World War II to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Four Teachers To Join The Upper School Next Year

New Teacher 1

By Angie Li.

As a result of an increasing number of students in the Seven Hills Upper School, four new teachers have been hired for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. There will be one new teacher in each of the Departments of History, English, Math, and Science.

New Teacher 1

New Upper School history teacher Daniel Polifka.

It has not yet been determined which specific classes the new teachers will be teaching, but they will likely be underclassmen level courses.

Daniel Polifka, a current history teacher and lead advisor at Providence Country Day School in Providence, Rhode Island will be the new addition to the Seven Hills History Department. He has previously taught many History classes, including U.S. History, AP European History, Ancient World History, Modern World History, and electives such as Civil War Era and Civil Rights Revolution.

Catherine P. Levesque, current mathematics teacher at Providence Country Day School, will be the new Upper School math teacher. She has experience teaching Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Precalculus, Calculus, and AP Statistics. She was part of Summit Country Day’s class of 1994, so she is familiar with Cincinnati.

New Teacher

New Upper School math teacher Catherine P. Levesque.

Jennifer J. Torline, a current science teacher at McAuley High School in Cincinnati, Ohio will be teaching chemistry at Seven Hills next year. She has experience teaching AP Chemistry as well as other classes, and will be a reader for the upcoming AP Chemistry Exam in May.

Mark W. Beyreis, current volunteer chair of the Marketing Committee at the Madisonville Education and Assistance Center, will be the new English teacher. He has experience teaching high school english, as well as extensive marketing experience that he is ready and willing to make use of in the classroom.

13 Students Inducted into Cum Laude


By Emma Uible.

From the latin phrase to mean “with outstanding honor,” Cum Laude is traditionally a society within high schools around the country highlighting achievement in and out of the classroom.  This year, the Seven Hills Upper School inducted thirteen new members into the Seven Hills chapter of the Cum Laude Society on April 9th.


Stefan Antonsson,  Grace Cawdrey,  Alayna Choo,  Jeff Dedeker, Pearce Kieser,  Ben King,  Ellie Pasquale



Zachary Abraham,  Roshni Bagli,  Hadiya Harrigan,  Brian Hu,  Andrew Ligeralde,  Ben Sorscher,  Gregory Sun,  Phoebe Um


Book Review: Monuments Men by Books for Lunch Author Robert M. Edsel

Monuments Men

By Brandi Bryson.

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel is a compelling novel about World War II from a different perspective. Monuments Men is one of three novels by Edsel about WWII, along with Saving Italy and Rescuing Da Vinci. The Monuments Men were a group of men and women in the Allied army from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program (MFAA). A majority of the Monuments Men had expertise as museum directors, curators, art scholars, artists, architects, and archivists. Their job was to save as much of the culture of Europe as they could during combat.

Robert Edsl

Robert M. Edsel, the author of Monuments Men.

Monuments Men uses the battles of Salerno, Naples, D-Day, Saint-Lo, Aachen, and the Bulge to narrate the story of those whose purpose was to protect cultural monuments from the destruction of the war. It is split into five sections that illustrate the development of World War II and the mission of the Monuments Men. In each section, documents and photographs are included that make the novel more impactful by bringing the pages to life with authenticity.

The first section is about the beginning of the war. The first few chapters delve into the German history that leads to Hitler’s motive for the cultural purge. Edsel illustrates the developing exclusion of Jewish German citizens and Hilter’s plans to make Germany into the largest empire of the 20th century. Hitler aimed to turn Germany into the likes of a Roman Empire, and he wanted to created a magnificent art museum called Führermuseum. He aimed to construct an amazing culture center in Linz, his Austrian hometown. The MFAA was created soon after in 1943 to fight back and keep safe the same pieces that Hitler planned to add to his collection.

The following sections give a detailed report of the prominent battles that follow. The MFAA’s successes, and few failures, are recounted, with missions from places such as Normandy and Belgium. The story of the Monuments Men officially begins when George Stout was added to the unit. Stout was a field general and apart of the first unit of soldiers. He was one of about 350 men and women who participated throughout the years in securing and protecting artwork.

Monuments Men

One of the difficulties of the MFAA’s mission was gaining support and funding. Often to rescue important monuments usually entailed convincing a high-ranking officer to divert time and resources from warfare to art. Nonetheless, the Monuments Men’s discoveries throughout the war included five railcars containing 148 crates of stolen paintings. In some crates were the possessions of the major art dealers of Paris taken by a special German cultural conservation program for the Führermuseum. Two of France’s greatest treasures, the Bayeux Tapestry and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, luckily remained in France during the war. However, in Hitler’s view of the future, they were destined to become treasures of the great German empire.


The account concludes with the men discovering a salt mine in Austria, which appeared to be destroyed. When they cleared the rubble, countless boxes of works were found in the tunnels. One specific piece found was the Madonna and Child crafted by Michelangelo, which was found along with 136 other sculptures and 6,577 paintings, books, and objects of art.

The Monuments Men weren’t officially acknowledged until 2007 when the unit were awarded a medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, despite the efforts of the Monuments Men, thousands of significant pieces and paintings are still missing. Some will continue to be located and returned to the descendants of rightful owners while the rest is lost forever. Either way, Monuments Men shows one of the most influential events in history in a different light, prompting us to reconsider the definition of warfare and how to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

Preview: Spanish Exchange Trip


By Stuart Edwards.

On March 13, 26 Seven Hills students depart for Spain with Seven Hills’s semi-annual Spanish Exchange program. Students will spend three days in the Spanish capital, Madrid, exploring the city in order to experience the culture of the nation. Subsequently, the students will travel by bus with Upper School Spanish teachers Teresa Bardon and Ismael Godoy to Bilbao, Spain, staying with students from Askartza Claret Ikastetxea, an area secondary school. “We are there to learn,” said Connor Barnhart (11). Students will be following a specially arranged school schedule, taught in Spanish, in order to experience life as a Spanish high school student, including classes in Art and Culture, and tours to the surrounding area. The excursion to Bilbao will allow students to experience the differing culture of the Basque Country, an autonomous region of Spain with its own unique culture and language. Junior Alexis Morad said, “I’m so excited to have new experiences. Being without my parents in a foreign country is something I’m so excited and nervous for!” Students will return to the States on March 28.

Preview: Spring Break China Trip


By Angie Li.

Over Spring Break, a group of Seven Hills students and Seven Hills Upper School Chinese Teacher Yu-Chun Lin will be going on a trip to China. Specifically, they will be traveling to the cities of Shanghai, Liuzhou, and Beijing. They will be accompanied by Ryan Meyer, who works for the University of Cincinnati. Unlike past trips to China, this year’s China Trip is not limited to upperclassmen, but allows sophomores to attend too. Other significant changes from previous years include the trip taking place in the spring rather than the summer, and only being offered every other year.

A large number of students going on the trip are sophomores (Juliana Yip-Ono, Zoe Zelkind, Mehul Patel, Benjamin Perez, and Jeff Welch) while the rest are juniors (Ben King, Alex Li, Daniel Sauers, and Andrew Wilson). As expected, this will be the first China Trip that these students attend. However, it is also Lin’s first time on the trip. The trip had previously been chaperoned by past Seven Hills Chinese Teacher Peggy Lovro. Lin is greatly looking forward to the trip as a learning experience for both her and her students. “I’m glad my students can go on this trip,” she said. “They can go see what we learned in class and use the language in real-life situations.” She also commented that she hopes the trip will help everyone, not only the students taking her Chinese class “experience Chinese culture and understand China better.”

In Shanghai, students will visit tourist attractions and famous landmarks. They will get a taste of “modern China”, as Lin put it. Then, students will visit Cincinnati’s sister city in China, Liuzhou, and stay with host families to experience the lifestyle of Liuzhou students. Finally, students will travel to Beijing to see the Great Wall, and according to Lin, “experience ancient Chinese culture and tradition.”

With the bright and eager students going on the trip this year, the China Trip is sure to continue to be a great learning experience for Seven Hills students, and serve to enrich the Seven Hills community as a whole by raising awareness about other cultures.

Seven Hills Enjoys Annual International Dinner

International Dinner

By Louis Goldsmith.

On Friday, March 7, The Seven Hills School hosted its annual International Dinner in Founders Hall. Families and students of each division of the School participated in the numerous activities led by Upper School students and ate the best food of what the community had to offer from each respective ethnic background. The French III class led by French teacher, Wynne Curry, hosted the very popular crepe making booth. Other booths included a henna station, origami, and numerous other activities.

The fun did not stop there as Upper school English teacher, Nate Gleiner, served as the emcee for the acts on the stage. The packed cafeteria was treated to live performances all evening. These performances ranged from an aerobic dance by Middle School children, to a violin performance, and later a performance by the Upper School Chamber Ensemble as they sang a traditional Lebanese piece entitled “Lamma Bada Yatathanna.” The evening proved to be yet another success as all of the hard work by parent liaison, Rica Ligeralde, and Nate Gleiner truly paid off.

Science Olympiad Competes in Regional Tournament


By Nicole Malofsky.

On Saturday, March 1, the Seven Hills Upper School’s Science Olympians competed in the Cincinnati Regional Science Olympiad Tournament at the University of Cincinnati’s Blue Ash College and Blue Ash Elementary. The Seven Hills Science Olympiad Team participated in Division C, ultimately winning medals in 10 of the 23 events offered. The 23 events at the Cincinnati Regional Science Olympiad Tournament concern five general topics, including Life and Social Science, Earth and Space Science, Physical Science and Chemistry, Technology and Engineering, and Inquiry and Nature of Science. Club Head Phoebe Um (12) said, “Science Olympiad exposed me to different areas of the sciences that I could not have explored before. Through Science Olympiad, I also gained experience working with others in a group setting, tackling new problems, and finding strategies for problem solving, especially in build events such as Maglev or Boomilever.”

Students began preparing for their events in early September, setting the scene for a victorious Regional Tournament in March. Ultimately, twenty Seven Hills Science Olympians walked away from the tournament with medals, creating great excitement for Club Heads Angie Li (12) and Um. Awardees included Ellen Lu (11) and Angie Li in sixth place for Boomilever, Joanne Li (11) and Ellie Pasquale (11) in fifth place for Chemistry Lab, Pearce Kieser (11) and Roshni Bagli (12) in fifth place for Technical Problem Solving, Judy Sun (11) and Arjun Dheenan (11) in fifth place for Water Quality, Ellen Lu (11) in fourth place for Compound Machines, Zach Abraham (12) in fourth place for Bungee Drop, Nicole Barresi (11) and Zachary Abraham (12) in forth place for Experimental Design, Nicole Malofsky (11) and Kayla Kavanaugh (12) in fourth place for Disease Detectives, Ben Sorscher (12) and Andrew Ligeralde (12) in second place for Write it – Do it, and Sarah Shim (12) and Dheenan in first place for Designer Genes. Abraham noted, “As such a small school, it was remarkable to see that Seven Hills won as many medals as we did, considering that we are in the same bracket as enormous schools such as Mason.” The Seven Hills Science Olympians made great strides this year despite their loss to over six members who graduated last year. According to Club Head Angie Li, “I am extremely proud of how far the team has come this year.  We definitely have high expectations for the Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors next year and I wish them the best of luck!”

Club Profile: Life Skills

Life Skills

By Brandi Bryson.

Have you ever wondered how you might survive life after high school without your parents to help you with everything? The newest Life Skills club at Seven Hills is aimed to help.

The new Club debuted on Wednesday, February 16. Life Skills is headed by Upper School History teacher Jen Faber, Upper School Art Teacher Jason Knarr, and Senior Lauren Weems, and it meets every Wednesday during lunch. This Club is essential for seniors who still need to learn how to do laundry, change a tire, or even pay taxes before they go off to college. The Club is also ideal for anyone curious to learn important tips, tricks, and skills that will make daily life just a little easier.

Weems said, “It’s sad how many teens don’t even know how to do laundry.” Weems also commented that the Club is useful, especially since Seven Hills has no Home Economics courses. The Life Skills Club is a template to test how well it would perform as an actual class.

Life Skills, despite just beginning, has generated some interest around School. The Club is expecting more participants this week when Knarr and Faber will be teaching students how to do laundry and iron.

If any student has questions about how to accomplish a task or chore, Life Skills club is a great place to look for answers.

Greece and Italy Trip Announced

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

By Emma Uible.

For 2015, Upper School Latin and History Teacher Katie Swinford is planning a trip for students to Athens, Greece and Italy.  This unique opportunity provides the ability for any Upper School Latin student to go on an educational trip that has been provided for Spanish and French students for years.  The trip will be available for twenty-five current Latin students over Spring Break next year.

Although this will not be an exchange trip like the French or Spanish programs, students will tour through Athens and Italy sightseeing and visiting museums, chaperoned by Swinford and fellow Latin teacher Brian Sebastian.

Swinford and Sebastian are planning for students to visit, most notably, the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus and the Athenian Agora while in Athens, and Pompeii, Vatican City, and Naples while in Italy.

An interest meeting for the trip will occur in the next few weeks. Swinford hopes that this trip will allow Latin students to enhance their study of Latin culture and language.


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