Meet our Upper School students: Maysoon and Abby

December 14, 2018
By Bill Spedding

Name: Maysoon

Grade: Senior

Been at Keystone since: 6th grade

What is your favorite Keystone memory?  The senior year West Texas trip.  We all sang songs on the bus, we looked at the stars at McDonald Observatory and we learned to play Spikeball.  We enjoyed making food for each other at the campsite and it really brought the class together.

Hidden Talent:  I am really good at organizing and I love to color code my school life.  I am also good at heaving a football.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?  Through National Honor Society activities, I hope that people feel that service comes from one’s heart and it is important to make a positive impact on our greater community.  I am also proud of the work I have contributed to athletics, especially through the girl’s basketball team.  

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Maysoon: Maysoon has a genuine kindness and concern for others.  She works hard at everything in her life and doesn’t let challenges overcome her.  She leads by example in NHS and has been a great mentor to our younger athletes on the athletic courts.

Name:  Abby

Grade:  Junior

Been at Keystone since:  Kindergarten

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
Running the 4th grade baked potato sale.  We got to advertise for it, organize it and decide which charity to donate to.  We decided upon the Humane Society after doing a bunch of group research on their organization for a couple of weeks as a class project.  

Hidden Talent: I can match the complexion of a tomato.  Also, I have tripped down every staircase at Keystone at least once.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
 I have tried to encourage more of my peers to participate in Science Bowl and Science Fair. Keystone has a great reputation as a STEM school, but I hope I have been one of the students whose passion for research inspires more students to try out those STEM opportunities.  

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Abby:  Abby is so multi-talented.  She is an award-winning scientist, a fun ukulele musician, a three-sport athlete and a great sounding board to her friends.  Her work ethic is unimpeachable, and we all enjoy watching her excel in her multiple activities.

Meet our Upper School students: Jada and Celeste

December 05, 2018
By Bill Spedding

Name: Jada

Grade: Junior

Been at Keystone since: 1st grade

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
During my visit to Keystone kinder to see if I’d like the school, I came on “100 Day.” It was so cool and I wondered if school was always like this since it was my first really positive experience with schooling. I also made a 100-piece macaroni portrait of my mom.

Hidden Talent: I can perfectly imitate the sound of a pigeon.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
I hope that I will be remembered as someone who showed you can have a balanced life. I feel I can be active socially, have activities outside of school and keep good grades. I don’t feel I ever had to give up what I wanted and could still excel at a great high school experience.

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Jada: Jada is fearless, a great advocate for herself and has a wonderful joy for life/sense of humor. She is comfortable thinking outside of the box, which only adds to her friend’s appreciation of her. I can also attest that her pigeon imitation is spot-on. 😀  


Name: Celeste

Grade: Senior

Been at Keystone since: 11th grade

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
Last year’s Spaghetti Lunch. It was a different type of activity from what happens at other schools. I was thankful to be part of a community with such special celebrations.

Hidden Talent: I am an amateur harmonica player, but I am very good at cat imitations. (pictured here with campus cat, Gary)

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
I hope to be remembered as a nice person by my classmates and teachers. I also hope to share my love of literature through developing a way for Lit Mag to recognize examples of Middle School creative writing. 

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Celeste: It is hard to believe that Celeste has only been here for a year and a half. She immediately brought a brightness of spirit to campus and dove right into wonderful friendships. Her able service as a leader of our Literary Magazine spreads kindness by example and makes our Stone Soul program something everyone looks forward to.

Meet our Upper School students: Beryl, Ben, Evan and Derek

November 28, 2018
By Bill Spedding

Our Upper School students are amazing!  It has been some time since I made a blog entry, but I hope a series of weekly bio sketches highlighting their accomplishments and thoughts on their individual legacies will be of interest to our community. Keep coming back weekly for more. 


Name: Beril 

Grade: Junior

Been at Keystone since: Kindergarten

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
During the Yellowstone trip in eighth grade, my grade had a "kumbaya" circle at night outside. Everyone naturally came together and sat down, and we shared stories, exchanged advice, and talked and laughed. My grade already defines a big part of my Keystone memories. We're already like a big, loving, somewhat dysfunctional family, and we can be very silly and goofy, but we're also a huge support group for each other.

Hidden Talent: My friends say I am very good at puns.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
I hope to show that it's possible to pursue all the passions you have and grow in character through a combination of pursuits including athletics, the arts, and research. It's possible to do what you love, what makes you happy, and what matters to you.

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Beril: Beril works hard, does it with a kind energy and is supportive of her friends. She is too humble to mention her strong leadership within her class and community, but I can see it every day.


Name:  Ben 

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
The feeling of being done with midterms and rolling into the holiday break. Going from that level of stress to that level of relief is awesome.

Hidden Talent: My friends say I have a super wiggly, flexible finger on my right hand.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
As Treasurer of Student Council I have been a stickler focusing on financial literacy and its running within a budget. This hopefully will only increase its ability to make a positive impact.

Short reflection on what I appreciate about Ben: Ben brings a positivity and light-heartedness to Keystone that is always appreciated. He is a master of Star Wars and WWII trivia and I have been told that one should think twice about challenging him in Airsoft.


Name: Evan

Grade: Senior

Been at Keystone since: 3rd grade

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
During 9th grade, playing soccer on the Keystone team. The comradery of that group of guys was amazing and I'll always remember Alfonso, Yugena and Dave as senior leaders. We had some tough losses that year, but those guys made it a great experience.

Hidden Talent: I am a good motivational speaker or “hype-man” for my friends.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
I hope that I will be remembered as someone who helped create an embracing community from pre-K through 12th graders. Everyone benefits from genuine, deep connections with one another and I hope people have found me as open, relatable and easy to laugh with.

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Evan: Evan cares deeply, works hard and will conquer any obstacle in his way. He has persistently worked for 2 years to revive an Upper School student newspaper and his classmates have appreciated his leadership on it. Hopefully the Keynote will be something Cobras are reading way into the future.


Name: Derek 

Grade: Sophomore

Been at Keystone since: 10th grade

What is your favorite Keystone memory?
I have two that helped me get to know my classmates better. The Yosemite trip where we all worked together to encourage everyone to finish a near 10-mile hike and the Halloween class skit which we pulled together amiss lots of chaos.

Hidden Talent: I’ve written a modest collection of poetry that few know about.

What do you hope your legacy will be at Keystone?
I’d like to be remembered as a person who was not afraid to step out of his comfort zone.

Short reflections on what I appreciate about Derek: Derek jumped into a new school and social experience with both feet and never looked back. He is personable, jovial and has a kind soul. His talents in math, writing and friendship building will take him far.

Musings on Keystone’s legacy at 70

August 20, 2018
By Bill Spedding

"Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see."
- Lin-Manuel Miranda

As is the case with most fathers of young teenage daughters, I am more than a little familiar with Miranda’s paean to America in Hamilton: youthful ambition and hard work. I have worked fifteen years now with Keystone’s “young, scrappy and hungry” 9th -12th graders, and they are budding leaders. They strive for their goals and approach their daily lives with careful intention.

What do the efforts of our students and Miranda’s homage to American history mean in the context of Keystone’s 70 Years? I asked this of the upper school study body on the first day of this school year. I believe it is legacy. It would be bold of me to try to claim I know what legacy means to each member of our Keystone community, past and current, but I think I have a few starting points.

It is clear to me that Keystone’s founding mission of offering an advanced, challenging education to motivated students is still the core of all we do. It is a legacy we all proudly protect and maintain. It has been at the heart of Keystone since 1948. I saw it again this summer in teachers’ enthusiasm, planning and professional development. One should ask Mrs. Preston about her constant work teaching other AP Calc teachers the ropes or Mr. Hirt about his travels to France to keep fresh with its culture. Commitment to our legacy of teaching excellence will be clearly seen as everyone gets to know our wonderful new history teacher, Dr. Anna Armentrout.

Keystone’s primary identity 70 years ago was as a place that honored students and the primacy of their learning. That legacy lives on. It prompts each of us to put in the extra work, whether students, faculty or staff. I had the distinct privilege this summer to work with new Head of School, Billy Handmaker, new CFO, Mike Flynn and new Communications Director, Edmund Tijerina. Each understands Keystone’s mission, and they ‘get’ our students. In faculty and administrative meetings, teachers and staff examined our daily actions and set future plans with a commitment to the best interest of our students and keeping the Keystone legacy safely advancing into our next 70 years. Our founders would be proud of the community they created to nurture and grow our students’ robust intellectual lives.

And about those students. I am constantly amazed at how they take advantage of the opportunities Keystone provides to grow and make their world a better place. They work hard, they achieve at a high level and they do these things while stewarding a supportive student climate. This student culture lifts each other up through the challenges our accelerated program can provide. Each act of kindness improves a classmates’ day, contributes to a legacy for future Keystone students and attracts the next set of students to take on the mantle of Cobra. Fourteen Upper School students are new to our Keystone community this year. The fact that we can draw so many kind, high-quality new students speaks to what our returning students have created alongside our staff’s care and our founders’ vision.

On the first day of school last week, I asked students to consider what their personal contribution to Keystone’s legacy would be. What positive impacts did they want to leave? How did they want to be remembered by their classmates and teachers? What clubs or traditions would our students want to lead and create? How would they contribute to the high expectations they hold for themselves and each other? How would their work in our labs, classrooms, stages and playing fields daily enrich the lives around them? Over this academic year, my blog will showcase the contributions of Keystone students, faculty and staff. I will be one among many, to borrow from Hamilton again, “who tells your story.” I hope you’ll enjoy reading them throughout the year and see how they contribute to our proud Keystone legacy.

All Posts

12/14/18 - By Bill Spedding
12/5/18 - By Bill Spedding
11/28/18 - By Bill Spedding
8/20/18 - By Bill Spedding