This year our Benefit Gala, BLOOM, will serve not only as a fundraiser for our school, but also an opportunity to celebrate our school’s history and acknowledge some of those alumni who are out in the world doing wonderful things.
In Waldorf education we often speak of the realms of thinking, feeling and willing – the “head, heart, and hands” of the human being. There are many graduates who excel in each of these realms, this year we would like to recognize just a few.
Here is a special sneak peek at the alumni we will be recognizing this year:
This year we recognize Aaron Parecki (2003) in the “head” realm (science, business, academics) area, Rachel Manning (2004) in the “heart” relm (social service, activism, etc.), and Peter Durant (2008) in the “hands” realm (art, music, performance, etc.).
Aaron Parecki (2003)
Aaron Parecki was part of the first graduating class of Portland Waldorf High School in 2003. He applied to the University of Oregon as a Music Composition major, but quickly found an interest in both the Computer Science and Digital Arts departments and switched to a double major after his first year. While in college, he continued to find ways to combine music, computers and digital arts while completing his degree.
After college, Aaron moved back to Portland where he quickly became part of the local tech community and co-founded a software startup, Geoloqi. Geoloqi was part of the early Portland tech scene, and raised a round of angel funding from local investors and the Portland Seed Fund. Geoloqi was acquired after only a few years by Esri, the largest and most powerful mapping and spatial analytics company. After integrating Geoloqi’s technology and building up the Portland office of Esri, Aaron left to focus on what was quickly becoming his area of expertise, online identity and security.
In 2016, Aaron published a book, OAuth 2.0 Simplified, and began consulting and hosting trainings on the topic. He has also authored and contributed to several specifications in the W3C and IETF web standards organizations. He now works at Okta, a company that provides internet identity and authentication services, where he travels the world speaking at conferences and training developers at Fortune 500 companies about web security.
Aaron still dabbles in music composition, and wrote 100 short songs in 100 days which he now uses as background music for podcasts and videos.
Rachel Manning (2004)
Rachel works with a public defender based in Austin, TX, where she is a Mitigation Specialist (a Post-Conviction Investigator) with the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, a state agency that handles litigation for people who are on death row in Texas. She investigates potential legal claims that have been missed or ignored by previous legal counsel, which might have changed the outcome of their case. It involves a lot of time with her clients’ families and in their communities to develop and document compelling narratives in order to shift how they are understood by the court.
In addition, she is an organizer and trainer with Undoing White Supremacy Austin, a grassroots collective that mobilizes white communities to confront structural racism, particularly by supporting people of color-led organizing, community education and local policy advocacy.
Rachel sees roots in her current work from her years at PHWS where she was given many opportunities to explore her own interests, through special projects, volunteering and her senior project, where she focused on the use of migrant labor in the Portland area.
After PWHS, she attended Bard College in New York, where she studied Human Rights and Latin American Studies. She interned with an immigration law office with a shoestring budget in the basement of a church, which is where she first became interested in law. In her senior year, she wrote her thesis on border security and immigration detention. After graduating, she worked in student affairs for a higher education program in New York City. She’d also like to note that she also spent many years working in restaurants and cafes, many more years in organizing gigs and internships.
In 2014, Rachel graduated with her Masters in Social Work at the Silberman School of Social Work, where she focused on anti-oppressive community organizing and policy advocacy.
Rachel also bakes bread, hikes with her dog and takes advantage of the Texas springtime to grow lots of tomatoes.
Peter Durrant (2008)
Peter attended the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, graduating in 2014 with dual honor degrees in architecture and fine arts. While attending RISD he received several honor scholarships and represented RISD Architecture on the School’s Student Alliance. He also was a member of the RISD Cycling Team, the school’s first varsity sports team in 135 years.
After graduation, Peter worked on library and other academic design projects for Sasaki Associates in Boston. In 2015 he moved to Seattle and joined Suyama Peterson Deguchi, a small but highly reputable architecture firm that focuses on contemporary houses. He was drawn to the firm because of its emphasis on creating modern homes that express warmth, calm and simplicity. The character of a site and the inherent qualities of the materials the firm uses (e.g. wood, concrete and steel) inform the design of each project, from initial diagrammatic ideas down to the fine details (such as custom door handles or furniture), creating calm and refined atmospheres that are strongly linked to the northwest landscape.
Peter’s current project is a new waterfront house on Bainbridge Island, including restoration of a native beach from its current degraded condition. In his role as Project Architect, he is responsible for coordinating sub-consultants, obtaining permits, producing construction drawings and, eventually, administering construction. He finds it fun and challenging and has learned a great deal working on this project – from the ‘sketches and arm waiving’ phase to developing the intricate details and documentation of every aspect of the house.
Outside of work, Peter is a member of the Seattle chapter of an international cycling club, which has challenged him to take on iconic northwest rides, including climbing Mount Baker and Washington Pass. He’s also traveled regularly in the last couple of years, including hiking and cycling Hadrian’s Wall in northern England, cycling to the arctic circle in Finland, and most recently, a couple of weeks exploring western Denmark.