From the Editor: Class Acts
No matter how carefully we plan our teens shoot, we are faced with unforeseen surprises—parents are late, kids can’t find the studio, exams are rescheduled, the flu hits. You’d think we’d know better by now to expect the unexpected.
This year the planning progressed smoothly. Families were told exactly what to bring, what time to arrive, what to expect, what to wear, and what not to wear. Everyone followed instructions. As we worked with each of the kids during the shoot, parents warmed our hearts with their genuine thanks, beaming pride and occasional tears of joy. Though our seniors were in the throes of studying for end-of- year exams and next-day SAT Subject Tests—two of them had celebrated their prom the night before!—none complained. We even finished on schedule.
What we hadn’t counted on was the weather. After an unseasonably cool spring, we thought we’d be safe to take the shoot outside and still have the kids wear something from their fall wardrobe. But that morning we woke up to 90 degrees and humidity. Though summer had decided to arrive on the day of our outdoor fall cover shoot, it was too late to change the feature’s art direction.
So we soldiered on through a day that only got warmer and stickier, constantly reminding everyone to stay hydrated and head inside to cool off. Still, in spite of everyone’s discomfort, the kids were all smiles, enjoying the experience—regardless of the makeup—and each other’s company.
As in years past, we felt privileged to meet kids with giving hearts who excel in so much, and whose potential deserves celebration. This year’s group showed us that they are also class acts; although the conditions were hardly ideal, they remembered their manners, highlighting how understanding, grateful and considerate each one is.
Someone who can easily be described with the same terms is Jim Ziolkowski, the founder and CEO of buildOn, the Stamford-based global nonprofit now celebrating its twenty years of helping kids and building schools. With a memoir—Walk In Their Shoes—about to be released, and the demands of a high-pressure job, Ziolkowski still found time to sit with us and share the tale of how it all began right here in town. The project also gave us the chance to meet his family at their Stamford home, so here’s your chance to read about your neighbors, the Ziolkowskis. Besides, chances are your high-school kid has already joined a buildOn chapter.