Alumni Spotlight

Erika Kawaguchi, '10

Erika KawaguchiErika Kawaguchi’10 attended ACDS from Kindergarten to 8th grade, then attended Archbishop Mitty High School. She graduated with a BA in Human Rights from Columbia and a BA in Political Sciences from Science Po Paris in 2018.

While living in New York, Erika says that she saw a few too many Broadway shows, and in that time, dreamed up a costume that transforms from the old beggar woman into the brilliant explosion of sparkles that is Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother from the 2015 film.  She drafted the patterns herself, based on extant eighteenth-century garments, and constructed historically accurate foundation garments to give the costume the proper shape. She showcased her gown, which is made from over thirty yards of fabric, for the official Disney costume competition at the D23 Expo in Anaheim this past August. At the Expo, Erika met with Disney archivists who worked with the actual Cinderella costume to compile the Disney Art of Costuming book, who told her that she looked as if she had just stepped out of the book!

Erika’s favorite tradition was DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) Days. She enjoyed getting to lay on blankets, read all day, and read whatever she wanted! She remembers powering through several Magic Tree House books one year, and bringing her collected works of Jane Austen, another year.

Erika KawaguchiErika says that Ms. Egli has been a big influence on her. In seventh grade, she spent a lot of time in the library reading with Ms. Egli, eventually creating the first Author Celebration together, where they turned the whole library into the Hogwarts Great Hall, with house banners and chocolate frogs and glow sticks hanging from the ceiling on fishing line.  Erika dressed up as a Hogwarts student to play games with the younger classes.  The next year it was Percy Jackson and The Magic School Bus, then Narnia and the Magic Treehouse, among so many others.  Now she travels across the country for costuming events and cosplay competitions.  Erika says that Ms. Egli gave her permission to indulge her inner nerd, and that’s gotten her through a lot.

One of her fondest memories of ACDS actually happened after she graduated. She game back to school with a group of friends from her graduating class to help Ms. Egli run the Author Celebrations in the library. They reenacted the Hogwarts experience complete with a rousing musical number and a duel “fought” across the library tables. She was completely exhausted by the end of the week, but had so much fun!

Erika’s advice to current ACDS students is to “Find something that makes you happy.” She adds that “ACDS is such a creative environment; I read mountains of fiction, I wrote my own stories, and I played dress-up in the library to convince kids that reading is fun. The world outside will push you to be something or another, but at the end of the day, whatever you do is only worth doing if it brings you joy.”

Her advice to prospective families is,” ACDS wasn’t just a school for me; it was a formative experience.  The teachers and staff really care about their students.  They care as much about education as they do about personal development, and the kind of person their students will become.  Many of my teachers were so influential that we keep in touch today, at least a decade since I’ve been in their classes. ACDS is a community.”

ACDS is proud of our alumni and their accomplishments. Below are a few more alumni spotlights that show just a small sample of the exciting paths they forged after graduating from ACDS.  Please contact us to share your ACDS alumni story.

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Margherita Bassi '12

Margherita Bassi '12, aka Titti Bassi, who also pens under MV Marguerite, has been busy since graduating ACDS in 2012. She is currently a freshman at Boston College, studying English Literature while also juggling being Varsity volleyball team captain and being a young adult fantasy/sci-fi author.

Maya Kaul '09

Maya Kaul '09 attended ACDS from the 4-year-olds program to 8th grade. She graduated from Pomona College in 2017 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and went on to study Finnish teacher education and development at the University of Helsinki as a Fulbright Scholar. Maya is currently an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Predoctoral Fellow, William B. and Roberta V. Castetter Fellow, and Ph.D. student in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education with an anticipated graduation in May 2023.

Jake Heindel

Jake Heindel, Class of 2008, was first bitten by the film bug during his iMovie elective in middle school at ACDS and has been making films since then. Jake's latest short documentary is entitled, aptly, Perspective, and it is no wonder that this film went on to win the one of the prestigious 2015 Leigh Weimers Emerging Artists Awards.

Kristin Schroeder

Kristin Schroeder, MD, MPH, graduated from ACDS in 1993. Today, Dr. Schroeder is a Board Certified neuro-oncologist currently pioneering work with The Global Pathway, in partnership with Duke University, at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanze, Tanzania to improve access to chemotherapy and life-saving medications for pediatric cancer patients in Tanzania.

Bernie Zimmerman

Bernie Zimmerman '83 joined ACS as an inaugural ‘Country School of Almaden’ 4th grade student when the doors first opened in September 1982. Now the Clinical and Academic Director at Cherry Gulch, an award winning ranch-style therapeutic boarding school for boys, in Emmett, Idaho, Bernie credits his foundation at ACDS as a cornerstone of his academic journey and an influence on the standards set at Cherry Gulch. 

Early Childhood COVID-19 Safety Protocols

Jackson Bordelon '11 has always loved building things, and throughout his life he’s found ways to direct that love towards helping solve real world problems. As a freshman in high school, he participated in house-building trips to Tijuana, Mexico with his church, Presbyterian Church of Los Gatos. He’s currently preparing for his thirteenth trip to Mexico this summer. Jackson has sought out church leadership roles, first as a Caring Ministries Deacon and now as an Elder overseeing mission trips.