Delphian Magazine #123

Headmaster's Letter

Headmaster's Letter

Headmaster Trevor with fellow alumni at the pond.

Headmaster Trevor Ott with fellow alumni at the pond.

How was the first fish caught in Delphian’s new pond? It was caught by alumnus Luke Watson, class of ‘92, on a fly tied by alumnus Mikai Karl, class of ‘14, released into the pond by future alumna Avery Ott, class of ‘26, captured on film by alumnus Cristofer Jeschke, class of ‘12, and witnessed by alumnus Trevor Ott, class of ‘96. 

 Multiple generations of alumni connecting up and supporting each other in life by working together and simply being friends was a big part of the founding staff’s hope for the future. That this happened was an important part of their original hope relative to helping create a civilization based in reason. It remains our hope today, and it is a beautiful thing to observe in actuality.

 The relationships between Delphian alumni know no age, cultural, ethnic nor geographic bounds. The catching of this now famous fish is only a small and unimportant example of what all of you are doing with each other every day. 

 Whether the fish you catch together are small or large is only relevant in the telling of the tale. That you share the common reality acquired through your experience at Delphian and that you are fishing together at all is what is important to me and is what this issue is intended to highlight and acknowledge.

 Keep helping each other cast those lines, and we will continue to grow together as a group and as individuals.

 While Luke was the first alumnus to catch an actual fish in our pond, I hope he will not be the last. For those of you that might fancy being the second, third, fourth or fiftieth, here is how he pulled it off. 

 “I caught the fish on what is called a ‘dropper rig,’ two flies, about 8 inches apart. One fly attracted the fish, and the other fly the fish actually bit. With the murky water, I knew I had to get to the bottom of the pond. I picked a fly that Mikai tied for me that would definitely attract some attention. Three casts later, a fish bit, and I had him hooked, but he shook free before I could reel him to shore. I knew it was the right rig, so I repeated my same technique. A couple casts later I got him, and this time he didn’t get away (until after I took my photo with him and we set him free).” 


Mu Best, 
Trevor Ott

Students Olive Karl (L) and Avery Ott (R) introducing the first from the hatchery to the pond.


Alumnus Luke Watson holding the famous fish he caught.

Alumni Weekend Recap 2020


Alumni Weekend Recap 2020

By Tkeisha Wydro 
Class of 1999
Director of Alumni & Public Relations

I’ve worked at Delphian for ten years now, which means this past Alumni Weekend (our annual gathering of alumni) was my tenth year managing this event. I was looking at photos from the weekend and reflecting on what Alumni Weekend means to me as an alumna and what it continues to mean to generations of alumni. “It’s like coming home,” “inspiring,” and “my favorite weekend of the year,” are common responses. For me, it has always meant family. 

Delphian is unique in that we invite all alumni—not just from one year, not just graduates, but all former students. We have forty-four years of alumni, and we always have some from just about every decade attending. It makes for a pretty dynamic group. 

This past Alumni Weekend we had around two hundred alumni and guests attend. Alumni gave seminars on a variety of real-world topics, sang boisterously with the choir, and debated with Mark, the Assistant Headmaster, and other fellow alums on the topic of climate change (where no blood was shed). Actually the debate ended with joy and understanding, not a common thing after a debate, but of course this school and this alumni group are anything but common.

The weekend included inspiring talks about campus upgrades and future plans, student highlights, and news from Heron Books, the creator of Delphian’s curriculum. And, of course, the hilarious and good-natured roasts of the Class of 2009. The Roast Committee deserves a standing ovation for all the volunteer hours that went into pulling off the fifteen roasts delivered this year—the most we’ve ever had in one year!

We had amazing weather for the weekend which allowed for great viewing of the varsity soccer game and beautiful campus hikes and buggy tours. Some also took part in the Dragon Games: a race/obstacle course/scavenger hunt done while wearing inflatable dragon costumes. Lukas Ott had the top time followed by Kristel Ehrlich and her fiance, Joe. This event was so much fun to watch. I thank all the participants for letting the cheering section laugh at/with you. The Saturday night party at the Headmaster’s house (colloquially called the White House) was, as usual, a wonderful evening of running charades, mafia, board games, poker, snacks, and lots of visiting time. I’m always surprised at how many alumni we can fit into that house, and no one seems to mind being  packed in like sardines. 

The White House party reminds me of what an interior designer mentioned about the reception/art gallery at the school. She said most people prefer sitting in chairs vs. couches in public spaces, as couches are more for families, and non-family members usually don’t like being that close to one another. 

At Alumni Weekend we had couches and chairs in reception, and at any given moment they all were filled with alumni, usually smushed up against each other even in the chairs. It’s our alumni culture. We are a family and we are so lucky to have each other. That’s why Alumni Weekend is the highlight of the year for so many alums—it’s like coming home to your great, big, loud, wonderful family.

I try not to get emotional when I muse on what being an alumna means to me, but I usually fail. And I’m okay with that. 

Alumni on a hike from L-R Charlie Papst, Eva Nyegaard, Ryan Kugler, Megan (Miller)Lionni, Elizabeth (McKevitt) Perez, Ian Wells, Michelle (Durham) Kugler, Iris (Sandmann)Baumgardner and Chris Uno

Summer At Delphi

Summer At Delphi


"The camps were amazing this year! My son was especially inspired by makers camp. I was so impressed with all the new abilities he came home with!"

-A.K. Summer At Delphi parent

Last year saw exciting changes to our Summer At Delphi program. One of the most popular changes was that we restructured afternoon classes into intensive camps so each student could spend more time diving deeply into one subject. Students thrived in the new format, heading home with a newfound love for learning and a broadened perspective of what they were capable of. 

Every day when it was time for afternoon camps, the campus filled with activity. Students launched hand-built boats on the pond while hiking groups set off into the forest to practice survival skills. Actors intensively rehearsed and performed plays in the Little Theater, while students on horseback prepared a demonstration of riding skills. 

Demand was so high for several of the camps that we had to repeatedly renew them so more students could participate.

This restructuring made us more efficient and allowed us to make another exciting change: we are significantly decreasing our summer boarding and tuition fees this year so even more students can experience Summer at Delphi! 

With spots already filling for summer 2020, we are anticipating full rosters this year. Contact us today to secure your space!


The camps were fantastic! My son had a wonderful time and I could tell his capability to confront projects and the world increased!

-T.W. Summer At Delphi parent

My daughter had such a valuable and diverse experience, and we truly appreciate your wonderful support and effort. She really loves it there and hopes to participate next summer as well. Thank you so much!

-S.H. Summer At Delphi parent

Taking Flight

Taking Flight

The team of staff and students working at the Oregon International Air Show.

The Oregon International Air Show has been the State of Oregon’s largest aviation event since 1988. This past fall it moved from the Hillsboro Airport to the McMinnville Airport and Delphian was invited to help plan, organize and run an educational attraction at the show.  

This project was taken on by several students who built two scale models of The Spirit of St. Louis, the airplane Charles Lindbergh famously flew across the Atlantic in 1927. Each model was completed with a working flight simulator inside. Then, an even larger group of students came together to run the booth at the show with educational activities for all ages. Guests at the air show enjoyed activities like flying drones, piloting flight simulators and exploring the International Space Station in virtual reality. 

In order to help build the simulators, Form 7 student Raina Schofield learned how to weld, saw and construct a complex structure. She described the experience by saying, “It was unlike anything I had ever done before. Getting to contribute to making something that big and complex with my own hands was really incredible. It was hard work but the finished product was so worth it. I am so happy I got to be a part of it. We actually built airplanes.”

Form 6 student Cole Wagner took on a different aspect of the simulator by working on the computer program that ran inside the model plane. He said, “I thought it was going to be easier when I took on this project because we had done a ‘Lindbergh Challenge’ using this simulator program before. However, I quickly found tons of problems with the program. Almost all of the problems were because the program we were using was released in 2006 and so things were glitchy and outdated, but the next flight simulator wasn’t coming out until 2020 so we had to fix this one up to work.”  

Form 6 student Ananya Tare helped staff the simulator at the airshow, where she interacted with all the air show attendees and helped get them set up to fly the simulator. The Oregon International Air Show has been known to reach 65,000 people in attendance so this was no small task. One of her more notable flight students was the mayor of McMinnville. After the air show Ananya said, “I had a lot of fun doing this project. I had to interact with lots of people, which gave me good practice communicating.” 

Following the air show, the two simulators found new homes in the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and the Tillamook Air Museum, where museum visitors will now be able to take flight in planes built by Delphians.

 The students responsible for building The Spirt of St. Louis replicas.

Assistant Headmaster, Mark Siegel, Ananya Tare, McMinnville Mayor Scott Hill and Diego Martinez in front of the finished replicas.

The Author

The Author

An interview with Alumna  
Melissa McPhail

“Being able to sit down and quickly learn a new subject or skill is vital and has been critical to my success as an author.”

Delphian graduate Melissa McPhail is the author of the epic fantasy series A Pattern of Shadow & Light. Her series has won a collective eight awards and (even more importantly to her) a fiercely devoted following and is an Audible #1 Fantasy bestseller. 

Delphian Magazine: What would you say is the most important tool or skill you gained from the Delphi Program™ that has helped you in your writing career? 

Melissa McPhail: Probably the course which helped me the most in my writing career is the Form 7 grammar and writing course, Elements of Style, but the most important skill I gained at Delphian would have to be the ability to teach myself and thus to learn most anything. You might think that writing fantasy means you make everything up, but in truth, I’ve had to gain a fairly in-depth understanding of quantum physics, electromagnetics and magnetic fields, political science and governance, and about four thousand years of world history—not to mention learning everything I need to know to flourish as an independent author and publisher in a constantly changing industry. Being able to sit down and quickly learn a new subject or skill is vital and has been critical to my success as an author.    

 DM: Do you feel like storytelling is a skill you have to be born with or something you can develop?

MM: I think storytelling is a skill anyone can develop if they have an interest and a willingness to work hard and long at honing their craft. What I’m not sure you can develop is the passion it often requires to spend untold hours toiling over a single chapter--or even a single paragraph--and keep writing beyond that despite a hundred reasons not to. I think any career in the arts is challenging because the field is crowded, and there are always going to be players who are more skilled, more talented, and more dedicated. It’s a career stacked with criticism and rejection. You have to keep your chin up and have a fairly tough shell to endure long enough and toil hard enough to forge a stand-out path of your own making. That takes real passion for what you’re doing.

DM: How do you know when you’re done editing a book?

MM: I’m sure every author’s process is different. There is a conventional wisdom among the writing community that you should just pump out a first draft without editing any of it and then go back and edit and rewrite. That’s never worked for me. I don’t finish working on a chapter until it’s basically perfect, so editing for me is more about making sure the various story plot points all connect, rather than rewriting and wordsmithing. I use a datum from Mr. Hubbard when determining if a chapter is ready; likewise, the entire book, once it’s all put together into sequence. Delphian students learn on the course Professional Basics for an Artist to ask the question, how good does a work of art have to be? And the answer is: a work of art must have technical expertise adequate to produce an emotional impact.  When each chapter creates an emotional impact, and the book as a whole does also, then I know I’m done editing the book. 

DM: What kind of work ethic do you need to be a writer?

MM: Like most professions, I think you have to be as dedicated to learning and improving your craft as you are to the creative aspect of it. I know some writers who make a point to write a minimum number of words per day. I’ve never had to target my writing. I’ve written over 1.5 million words in print in my current series, and I rarely want to be doing anything else except writing. Somewhere between those two extremes, I’m sure, lies a happy medium.

DM: What advice do you have for Delphian alumni or students who are aspiring writers? 

MM: Write, write, write! Read--a lot. Especially in the genre in which you’re writing. Then write-write-write some more. If you get blocked, edit or read more books with the intention of observing how the author structured his/her story and what you like about their style. Writing should be a revolving process of learning and creation.

DM: What’s next? 

MM: I’m writing the last book in my current series now and am researching for a new series as well. I always want to have the next game lined up before the existing one is finished.  

Look for Melissa on Twitter @melissagmcphail
Facebook at 
or via her website and blog at


Our Endowment

Our Endowment 

An endowment fund is an  investment fund for a non-profit which builds over time, using the resulting investment income for a specific purpose. The most basic definition of “endow” is to provide with a quality, ability or asset, and an endowment fund does all of those things.

While gifts to the Delphian Annual Fund are vital to yearly operations and smaller projects, endowment donations represent a longer-term investment, the school’s equivalent of an interest-bearing savings account.

 The Dayton Family Endowment Fund has provided over $575,000 in scholarships since 2004

Delphian is forever grateful to Arwen and Sky Dayton for establishing the school’s first endowment fund in 2004, now valued at over two million dollars.  The Dayton Fund is a restricted fund specifically dedicated to scholarships. It has benefited scores of appreciative students over the years, students who could not otherwise have had their lives changed in all the ways Delphian does.

Largest annual donation to the Founders Endowment Fund by one family: $250,000

You as donors are helping create the Founders Endowment Fund (FEF). How? Three years ago Delphian’s board of trustees elected to put a high priority on the endowment by committing to it twenty percent of all donations. The principal of the fund is to be preserved, while the first aim of its earnings is to provide financial aid for qualifying students. 

We especially thank the Gentile Family for their generosity in the FEF’s first two years. Thanks to your continuing donations, that fund is now over a million dollars.

January 1, 2018: the date that   20% of donations started going to the Founders Endowment Fund

As a comparison, though, the average boarding school endowment nationwide is 20 million. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to grow our own fund. It represents financial stability over the long run and a promising future for Delphian and its students. 

Worldwide Distribution

Worldwide Distribution

In the early 1970s, Delphian School Founding Headmaster, Dr. Alan Larson and several of his colleagues began dedicating themselves to the goal of reversing the downward trend of standards in education. They had a dream to build a new kind of learning environment. 

It was soon realized that this dream could not be achieved using the existing curriculum on the market. So, Alan and his team began developing their own proprietary curriculum to be used at their new school. 

The curriculum developed ensured every aspect of each level of the program would integrate with the level that follows. The team carefully researched, developed and tested each element—whether it be a course, a series of courses, a list of reading books, a seminar outline, a project guide, a text, an examination or a teacher training manual—before publication. 

first edition

second edition


third edition


Over the last 40 years of development by the team now known as Heron Books, the texts and materials collectively known as the Delphi Program™ have become known for creating bright-eyed, empowered, independent-thinking Delphian graduates and their deep understanding and competence in each subject studied. 

Alumni likely remember with great fondness (and maybe a chuckle or two) the greenback cardboard “packs” with typewritten content, or the upgraded blue plastic covered “packs” with black and white content. Those days have passed. Heron no longer creates packs.  Heron creates books; and what beautiful books they are.

Delphian Alumni working at Heron Books

Delphian Alumni Working at Heron Books

Delphian is, excitingly so, nearly operating at capacity. And even with future plans to expand dormitories and open additional classrooms, there will always be too many students in this big wide world who won’t be able to study at Delphian. To reach those bright and hungry learners, and to empower them with effective educational materials has become the driving force behind the curriculum development and publishing team at  Heron Books.

This force has resulted in a huge expansion of curriculum resources for Heron. They now have a fully operational print shop where the printing presses are working round the clock to deliver the latest editions of courses to students both on the hill and around the globe. 

Each course has been refined through years of testing in the Delphian classrooms to be approachable and useful and to invite “deep cuts” and application rather than a broad, shallow coverage of the subject. Each course is written to encourage, even demand, direct observation, personal engagement and creative thinking. 

Your favorite Delphian courses can now be bought on the new Heron Books website, complete with learning guides for independent study, drilling, and practical application. 

Delphian is excited about the help that the new Heron Books will be able to bring to educators, parents, and most importantly, students the world over.

Sam Silver, Business development 

Jordan Siegel, Assistant Editor

Jonathan Allard, Print Shop

Jeanie Sigel, Marketing


Form Completion

Form Completion

Listed in order of completion date.


Beginner 1

Sophie Renard

Beginner 2

Livi Williams

Pixie Sigal

Form 1 Entry

Ashley Aden

Form 1

Ocean Lee Cabebe-Hamilton

Form 2 Entry

Kataleah Espinosa-Gonzalez

Form 2

Adelaide Kathrein

Danny Swanberg

Dublin Baumgardner

Form 2 Entry

Briana Aden

Form 3

Annika Hamilton Hansen

Upper School International Entry Program

Montse Saiz Calderon

Noah Wang

Raixa Morente Suruguay

Chloe Feng

Elsa Fu

Rodrigo Carreon

Omar Wang

Bruce Liu

Sue Jung

Form 6 Entry

Alek Simonov

Tony Wang Danshi Li Joseph Gentile Crystal Li

Remy Kugler

Kinsey Lutton

Evie Xia

Daniel Cox

Bee Chansuk

Tiger Shang

Ray Chawla

Louis Luo

Brandon Garcia

Robin Stoner

Daniil Bunchuk

David Rotman

Richard Gentile

Zahar Rotman

Gypsy Rogers

Clementine Suplee

Odin Vargas

Jaymie May

Paige Bruning

Hailey Ackley

Evans Bi

Anthony Popa

Eliza Swan

Form 6

Andrés García

Elena Lee

Sanjana Garlapati

Ananya Tare

Lance Doven

Aya Jefford

Ava Almstead

Doris Luo

Owen Rappoport

Alex Han

Oakley Binford

Carson Wagner

Angel Chen

Form 7

Simon Yen

Devin McDaniel

Daniella Porras-Sholes

Finnley Giffin

Hadar Ezra

Jessica Sun

Emiliano Posselt Moran

Roni Akilov

Lindsey Carberry

Trishul Pal


Alumni News

Becka & Corey Orthmann

Congratulations to Becka Orthmann (Wiley, 2010) and Corey Orthmann (2002) on the birth of their second child, Calvin James Orthmann, on July 31, 2019.  The family currently resides in Sheridan, OR.

Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson (Delphi LA 1998) recently opened her second art gallery, The Erin Hanson Gallery, in Carmel, CA . Erin is at the forefront of a new impressionistic movement and is the creator of the painting style known as “Open Impressionism.” Her bold and vivacious oil paintings bring fresh color to the contemporary art world. 

Jeremy Moll

Congratulations to alumnus Jeremy Moll (2009) and Waliya Frank on their engagement. The couple currently resides in Portland, OR.

Vinny Pal

Vinny Pal (2017) recently completed an 8-show, 4-city comedy tour through India. After the tour, Vinny performed at the Kolkata Comedy Festival. He was the youngest comedian to ever to do both of these. Next he has an East Coast tour where he will be performing 4 shows in New York City (at the world-famous Dangerfield’s Club), and then performing at the Boston Comedy Festival. 

Do you have news? 

We love to hear from our Alumni! Let us know what you are up to. Email our editor at: or message us on social media to be published in the next issue.


Headmaster Trevor Ott 
Editor Rebecca Orthmann 
Graphic Design Ana Kathrein & Rebecca Orthmann
Photography Ana Kathrein & Brandon Lidgard 

Cover Delphian students watching a flight demonstration at the Oregon International Air Show.