Preview of Head of School Circle Celebration

Ella Waldman, Features Editor

This November, the annual Head of School Circle Celebration will both thank donors who have made significant contributions to the CESJDS community and honor successful alumni. 

Every year, three accomplished alumni are chosen to speak at the event about how JDS has impacted their lives and set them up for success. This year, Alex Flum (‘14), a sports reporter and anchor with WDVM-TV, Josh Lipsky (‘04), the founding director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center and Dr. Marcie Oser Wertlieb (‘92), an ophthalmologist, are the three alumni being honored at the event. 

The alumni are chosen based on their embodiment of the JDS Portrait of a Graduate, the school’s aspirations for the traits and morals students will exhibit as they move on into the real world. 

“We look at the portrait of a graduate to see that the honorees exhibit different traits that the portrait of a graduate exhibits, that they’re compassionate thinkers, that they’re leading their lives with purpose and in touch with their Jewish identity,” Director of Alumni Relations Wendi Kaplan said.

Kaplan works closely with the alumni advisory board, which consists of 10 to 12 alumni from differing graduating years, to select the honorees. The board makes recommendations, and Kaplan then narrows down the suggestions and reaches out to them. 

“What’s key with the honorees is showing the diversity of experiences JDS graduates have,” former board member and honoree Lipsky said. “That’s something people are really cognizant of in the selection process of, ‘Let’s make sure we showcase the different paths people take coming out of JDS.’”

Although these three honorees have completely different career paths, they all credit their start to the success they had at JDS. For Lipsky, this came in the form of the environment the school cultivated that allowed him to consider current events. 

“Some of the best and fiercest political debates I ever had, in my whole life, happened at JDS around the lunch table,” Lipsky said. For Flum, however, the basis of his career spurred from his experience as a staff member on the Lion’s Tale. 

“I became the sports editor [of the Lion’s Tale] and… I had the idea, why don’t we do a broadcast of the JDS against the Hebrew Academy basketball games,” Flum said. “I started doing a little bit of videos and all that stuff, I think we called it LT-TV… I had really started off wanting to write, and then I started realizing, oh, you know, because I talk so much I’d like talking on TV, and I like the idea of having video stories and things like that.”

With those foundations, all three honorees are thriving in their fields today. So, while JDS looks forward to recognizing these successful alumni, the event also provides an opportunity for the past students to acknowledge how significant their JDS experience was for them. 

“My JDS teachers taught me the studying, time management and writing skills that got me through college and medical school, and that I continue to apply to my life today. I was able to participate in multiple varsity sports, and this paved the way for me to spend two high school summers abroad on life-changing sports exchange programs,” Wertlieb said. “My JDS teachers and administrators respected us, and this instilled the confidence that when we graduated and left the JDS bubble, we would have the tools to meet life’s challenges.”