Humans of Northwood: Christie-Ann Nelson ‘23

“I am from the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia.

“I came to Northwood because of the chance to receive a world-class education and the opportunity to do activities unique to the school, such as LEAP. I enjoy using the many opportunities presented to me, like taking on a STEM research project and presenting it at a symposium, flying to Vietnam, or even sharing my home with my peers for LEAP and doing dance and musical performances.

“This year, I will start college as a freshman at Northwestern University. I am a prospective biology student and would like to go into medicine or research.

“Here at Northwood, I was fortunate to be a part of the crew team, row in a double scull with my sister, and be part of the Dance Sanctuary, which gave me an empowering environment and allowed me to pursue a longtime interest of mine.

“I enjoy doing karaoke and having dance parties with my friends on weekends. In the winter, we do a lot of ice skating on the oval, skiing, and sledding.”

As told to Ahmed Elganainy ’24. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge.

Humans of Northwood: Joey Winthrop ‘23 

“I am from Lake Placid, NY. I moved from Los Angeles roughly four years ago. The atmosphere in Los Angeles is a lot different there than it is here in Lake Placid.

“I enjoy playing hockey, woodworking, fishing, and spending time outdoors.

“Not many people know that I rebuild outboard engines and reupholster boats to make a bit of cash.” 

As told to Cedric Lemaire ‘24. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge.  

Nordic Athletes Add Depth and Endurance to Crew

Clockwise from top left: Abigail Van Dorn ’25, Bella Wissler ’23, Sophia Kelting ’23, and Daven Linck ’25. Photos by Mr. Michael Aldridge.

Since Crew is not one of the major sports at Northwood, about half of the athletes partaking in it each season are new to the sport and have had very little experience in a shell. This spring season, the Crew team took on five new athletes, four of whom make up the Northwood Nordic Ski Team. Those athletes are Bella Wissler ‘23, who will ski for Middlebury, Sophia Kelting ‘23, who will ski for UNH, as well as underclassmen Daven Linck ’25 and Abby Van Dorn ‘25.

While Nordic skiing and rowing share a major similarity in that both hinge on endurance, there is still a pretty big learning curve when it comes to balancing the boat and rowing it effectively.

Linck has already fallen out of the boat once, but he’s enjoying crew. “It’s good. Took a little adjustment period but it was made out to be harder than it is. It gets more fun as I get more comfortable in the boat,” Linck said.

“My first time in the boat was a little weird,” Wissler said. “I couldn’t get off the down without Mr. Runyon, and it took a while for me to get used to being on the water. I’d used the machines, but being on the water felt very new. The second time, it felt a lot better, and the third time on the water, I was able to use my full body to propel the boat, which is the stage I’m at right now,” she added.

While the Nordic athletes are too new to rowing to race at State Championships, Linck and Van Dorn have the potential to become very skilled rowers due to the endurance nature of their other disciplines. The future is bright for the Northwood crew.

Students Enjoy the Rope Swing at Paul Smith College

Photo: Mr. Bobby O’Connor.

This past weekend, Mrs. Fagan and Bobby took a group of students on an afternoon trip over to Paul Smiths College. This was originally supposed to be a trip to the Wilmington Flume, but plans had to change due to dangerously high water levels. Instead, some of the guys asked if the group would be able to go to the rope swing at PSC. I happened to be on the trip so I can speak firsthand of the experience. Although there were some scary moments and close calls, it was a lot of fun.

Photo: Mr. Bobby O’Connor.

Once the drive to PSC was completed, we had to trek through the woods a bit to get to the spot. After the short walk, we came across a rope hanging from a tree and a platform where the real fun began. At first, I can admit this swing was intimidating, and I know for one that I made a fool out of myself for standing on the platform for about five minutes before I worked up the courage to finally swing off. Others weren’t so nervous. Many of the hockey boys and the ski girls just went right along and swung off like it was nothing. Some kids even went back to try flips and gainers. One of the boys, Ben Plucinski, figured he had to prove himself since he was from Alaska, so he attempted multiple times until he finally got half a gainer. Some of the others, though, weren’t so fortunate. Like anything that boosts adrenaline, there is a risk that is packaged with it. One student swung a little low and hit his foot on a root. Luckily Bobby was prepared with a med kit and could wrap his foot up so it would be safe until we got back to school. A girl let go too early and was surprised by how fast the water came to meet her, and that knocked the air out of her. Although both these students were involved in accidents, they handled it very well and didn’t let it affect the overall fun that was experienced.

All in all, it was a great experience despite a few scares. I want to thank Mrs. Fagan and Bobby for helping us get out in the Adirondacks and experience these great activities that we couldn’t do in the winter. I believe the whole group had a great time, and we made the best of a situation that, in the beginning, was almost canceled. To the rest of the students, make sure you go out and enjoy these activities because the end of the year is coming quickly. Don’t regret that you didn’t get in on one of these great experiences!

Leddel Competes for the Philippines in Southeast Asia Games

Noah Leddel ’23 represented the Philippines at the 2023 South Asia Games in Cambodia. Photo provided.

Noah Leddel ’23, a talented soccer player on the U19 team at Northwood, has been given the incredible opportunity to represent the Philippines Under-23 National Team in international competitions. Born to a Filipino mother, Leddel’s selection is a proud moment for him and the Filipino soccer community, as well as the highest level of soccer he has achieved in his career.

Leddel summarized his experience to me, saying, “Yeah, so just to summarize, the experience of playing international football and at this level has been incredible. The treatment of us players and the professionalism of the camp from top to bottom was just amazing. We had two training sessions a day, stats, nutrition, everything taken care of, massages, physio, strict bedtime, and obviously, that’s something that can be bad, but when you’re preparing for a big tournament like this, that’s what you want really, and I’d say more than anything it was a grind eating the same hotel food  being in the same routine, but at the same time it’s such an amazing experience being together, and you’re fighting for your country.”

The Philippines National Team, also known as the Azkals, has been striving to make its mark on the global soccer stage. Leddel’s inclusion in the team adds talent and diversity to the squad. Though the team did not get quite the results they wanted, Noah says, “We had the youngest team in the tournament, and we can only go up from here… I didn’t know any of the boys really coming into this and just coming out of it with now having 20 brothers that I have a shared experience.” Leddel’s journey to this achievement has been marked by dedication and hard work. As a player, he is always striving for more and pushing himself and the players around him.

Leddel expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play for his mother’s homeland. Leddel shared what this experience meant for him, “It means a lot that I can connect with my Filipino side and the people of the Philippines and share this experience with my Filipino Brothers. Obviously, living in Hong Kong and the USA has kind of made me feel the disconnect… being here and singing the national anthem side by side with my boys and my brothers really means a lot to me, and it makes you more passionate even for the country just to come back and keep fighting and bring the Philippines on top of Asia and competing with the likes of Japan and Korea…It’s only given me more to keep going.”

Leddel’s inclusion in the Filipino national team represents a step forward in the growth and recognition of soccer in the Philippines. The biggest driving force for this development is from the supporters, and Noah puts it best when he says, “Seeing the support for the Philippines and seeing the support for the Philippines and just the support, in general, was pretty incredible. Southeast Asia (SEA Games) is an event that happens once every two years and changes host country each year. This year, Cambodia did a really good job promoting the event and getting the general public and the people of Cambodia very hyped up for the tournament. Every game that Cambodia played would have about 30,000 fans, and we were fortunate enough to be in a group with them and play them.

Leddel also acknowledged the support and guidance he received from Northwood, teammates, and coaches. “Thank you to everyone at Northwood for supporting me and helping me get to here, and making this possible for me. Obviously, it hasn’t been easy accommodating mewhile I have been away, and I really appreciate it.”

Humans of Northwood: Hudson DiNapoli ’23

“I am from Syracuse, NY. I am a first-year senior here at Northwood. I heard about Northwood through a current member of the Prep Hockey team and hockey recruitment. After hearing more about it and connecting with the coaches, I thought it was a good fit for me and decided to start this new journey.

“After graduation, I plan to play Junior Hockey and then hopefully play Division 1 hockey. I hope to become a professional hockey player in the future, but if that does not happen, I would like to pursue a business career.

“In my free time here at Northwood, I normally just spend time with my friends, work in the gym, and play the guitar. When I’m at home, I pretty much do the same and spend time with friends and family. I also like to sing, which not many people know about, but I don’t like singing in public.

“I’ve had a great year here at Northwood and couldn’t be happier with my decision to come here, and I’m excited for what the future holds for me.”

As told to Aly El Mofty ’23. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge.

Students Share Summer Plans

With the school year coming to a close, Northwood students are getting excited about summer. Northwood students have a variety of plans for summer this year.

Aidan Laskey ‘23 plans to work for his dad’s roofing company this summer. He is also going to see Luke Combs in July.

Trey Zeren ’25 is going on a cruise this summer to Bermuda and the Bahamas. After that, he plans to play hockey and work.


Caroline Purcell ‘24 is spending her summer working at the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery. She is also going to Seattle in July to visit family.

Wolfgang Lux ’25 plans on going to gym, doing luge, and hanging out with friends this summer. He will also work with his dad.

Nora Fitzsimmons ‘24 is going to spend her summer working at the Cottage in Lake Placid and touring colleges.

Cecilia Keller ’25 is going to Norway this summer, as well as lifeguarding. She also plans to see Pitbull in New Jersey.

Brian Brady ’24 is working at Origin Coffee this summer and interning with an environmental non-profit. He is also going to Rhode Island and hopes to travel more.

Jack Kroll ’25 is going to mow lawns before going to Norway to ski jump in August.

Pedro Gonzalo ’23 is going back home to Spain to hang with friends. He also plans to go to Italy to visit a Northwood alum and friend, Dado.

Sebastian La Roche ’23 is going to do an internship at a dentist’s office as well as skateboard and hang out with friends.


Independent Study on Animation Impress at School Meeting

Last Monday, during the school meeting, George Nguyen ’23 presented his topic on animation for the Independent Study Program. The Independent Study Program, a signature program at Northwood that the Peak Pathways Program will replace in the next school year, is a year-long, honors-level course offered to rising juniors and above. As the name suggests, the Independent Study Program is a student-led learning experience where students design their course, do their study, and present their findings during the final school meetings or at a symposium.

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The process of applying for an Independent Study begins the year before, in which students brainstorm for their topic of interest, then present an outline of what they want to accomplish to the Independent Study Committee. Post-approval, students will use the summer to prepare the plan for the upcoming school year.

Once the school year begins, students are connected to a mentor in their field of research. George and his brother, Tam, were linked with Dave Palmer through Mr. Spear. Palmer, a producer with 25 years of experience in TV animation, is known for his role as creator of Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Clues and The Backyardigans. Palmer and the brothers held a weekly meeting on Fridays.

Outside of weekly meetings, the twins’ work schedule is flexible during the week. However, they aim for nightly 2-3 hours of animation during the weekdays. During this period, they work on creating backgrounds, characters, and storyboards, as well as studying the animation process. The most considerable portion of work was actually spent revising and iterating after the initial design burst, according to George.

One of the difficult challenges with pursuing a student-led course is time management. “Sometimes, I had to do 100 to 200 frames a night,” said Tam. “Sometimes, I get bored or tired, and I miss a day, which piled up the schedule rather quickly.” He also mentioned what it meant to him. “I learned when to draw the line and know my limit better,” Tam added.

In contrast, one interesting discovery Tam made while designing the storyboard is how it should be approached. “At first, I would draw the frames from start to finish for a scene; then, I learned how he drew a storyboard from my friend. Now, I start by drawing the first, middle, and last frames, and then I would draw the frame in between them and keep repeating that,” Tam explained, “Doing it this way gave the characters more structure, and I made fewer mistakes, which meant less time spent redrawing.”

When asked about their favorite part of the process, George replied, “I enjoyed the drawing aspect of it, especially when I get in the flow of drawing the motion and seeing how everything works out.”

“I enjoyed assembling all the parts together, namely the background and the animation,” Tam remarked.

The end result of their studies will be a 3-to-5-minute-long animation, respectively. The framerates fluctuate from 12 frames to 24 frames per second, depending on the scene.

Humans of Northwood: Tam Nguyen ‘23

“I’m like 2 cm taller than George.

“There are benefits and disadvantages of having a twin. The thing I do is known to more people due to association if I do something and my brother does the same. If I do a good thing, many more people will know it; but if it’s a bad thing, then both he and I will be associated. Whenever I do bad things, he will also take the blame for them and vice versa. As far as benefits go, when I do something that I like, art, for instance, I always have someone to do it with me, and when I want to improve on said thing, I always have competition close to me to push myself to improve.

“My favorite piece of art that I have made might be this one (above). It’s a water drop from the sky. As you can see, I drew the background and a flipped reflection with a five-point perspective of the background on the drop. My inspiration behind it was reading a manga that had a concept about infinite megastructures (BLAME!!, by Tsutomu Nihei).

“My other contender for my favorite piece of art is this one (below). It took me around three days to complete. The work was me putting everything I knew on the canvas.

“I enjoy playing the flute, although mainly for fun. I’ve been playing for like six years, but the first two years, I didn’t play much. I was part of my middle school’s band program, which forced me to play an instrument, so I was just there doing the bare minimum. I got more serious coming into Year 10.

“I liked shrimp sushi, but I can’t eat it anymore. For some reason, I get a terrible stomach ache when I eat raw food. Now, my favorite food is probably pasta or a burger. I forgot about Vietnamese food, which is pretty good. I like all the classics: phở, bún, and bánh cuốn. I like bánh chưng rán as well.

“I have a birthmark on my right bicep—it looks like a bruise. It was bluish, but it has faded now. I can also play the flute better than George. I play Hanzo (from Overwatch). I want to be an animator in the future.”

As told to Hung Nguyen ’25. Photo by Mr. Michael Aldridge. Art by Tam Nguyen ’23.

Humans of Northwood: Hung (George) Nguyen ‘23

“I’m like 2 cm shorter than Tam.

“Imagine your hands. You’re the right hand and your twin is the left. Suddenly, your left hand starts moving away from your right and becomes better than it. That’s how I feel about being a twin. On a serious note, having a twin means there is always a sense of competition; but at the same time, I always have someone to do things with me. Having a twin also means I always have someone to share my experiences and hardships with.

“My favorite piece of art is one of the more recent ones I made. It’s a digital piece. I think it was the best one in terms of what I wanted to achieve and the style I wanted. It is a scenery background with a lot of buildings with a character, a fishman, in the center. This piece took me about a week.

(Art: George Nguyen)

“I like gaming: Genshin [Impact], Overwatch, Apex [Legends], Elden Ring. I also watch a bunch of anime. My favorite anime is probably Steins; Gate. My favorite manga is probably Fullmetal Alchemist. I heard the animation [of Fullmetal Alchemist] is good as well, but I haven’t watched it yet.

“Generally, I think Asian dishes are better than European dishes. I remember this one time my brother and I ate a rare fish that my aunt bought from the black market. It tasted like pork. It didn’t have the smell of pork, but the skin especially tasted like pork skin.

“In the future, I’d like to be an animator, but graphic designer is fine as well.”

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