Montecito Alumni Write Letters from Life’s Front
By Stella Haffner   |   January 21, 2021

Dear Montecito, Exams are finished. School is out. What’s a girl to do? I could start a political campaign. How hard could that be? All in favor of banishing the word “unprecedented,” say aye.  I cleaned my room – that’s a good start. Did some work-related housekeeping too; you may notice I have a new […]

Dear Montecito: Dr. Mizuho Morrison
By Stella Haffner   |   December 31, 2020

I have this story I tell people to explain how I became interested in biology. It goes like this: When I was young, I watched Star Trek with my father. I liked to imagine myself zooming around, going to new planets, wearing my space-tech-fabric blue uniform (blue was, of course, my favorite color). There was […]

Dear Montecito: Shaye Grant
By Stella Haffner   |   December 24, 2020

We’ve heard from a variety of different perspectives in this column, giving us a sense of how each person’s relationship with their hometown changed after heading off into the bigger world. We’ve heard from Clay Rodgers, whose relationship with Montecito and his music career was complicated by natural disasters. We’ve heard from Julia Kupiec, who […]

Dear Montecito: Tobias Cole
By Stella Haffner   |   December 17, 2020

This week you are being treated to yet another saga from bonnie Scotland –only this time, the story is not from me. Meet Tobias Cole, Montecito native and second year student at the University of St Andrews.  I met Tobias for the first time in a coffee shop on North Street, St Andrews. And I […]

Dear Montecito: Heather Hawthorn
By Stella Haffner   |   December 10, 2020

If I had to think back, I would say the first time I learned about sustainable agriculture was during one of the Montecito Union School Earth Day events. There were always a number of stations for us students to visit. I remember the bicycle-powered blender, the birdhouse making station, and what I think was probably […]

Dear Montecito: Alec Sherwin
By Stella Haffner   |   December 3, 2020

It was not my intention to feature quite so many letters in this column that draw attention to my personal kryptonite (math), and yet, here we are. This week you are being treated to a letter from someone who is not only a talented visual artist but also an aspiring mathematician. Meet Alec Sherwin! Son […]

Dear Montecito: KiSea Katikka
By Stella Haffner   |   November 19, 2020

I’ve written and rewritten this introduction so many times. I keep revising because I want to get it right. Most importantly, I want to get it right without any of the self-congratulatory nonsense that often accompanies social justice grandstanding. I first met KiSea Katikka on my visit day to Crane Country Day School. A shared […]

Dear Montecito: Sierra Willard
By Stella Haffner   |   November 12, 2020

Much to my disgust, this week’s letter is from yet another wonderfully gifted visual artist. Meet Sierra Willard, current student at University of the Arts London and Laguna Blanca alum.  High ranking on the list of things I’m not good at is drawing. Any type of drawing. My freshman year of college, I was in […]

Ghost Stories of St Andrews’ Halls of Residence
By Stella Haffner   |   November 5, 2020

Dear Montecito, It is around this time every year that a very particular group of people begins to make themselves known to the world. A strange class of individuals who, in response to the first chills of mid-autumn, adopt an insultingly festive attitude, sprout twinkle lights from their ears, and pull out all their best […]

Dear Montecito: Walker Kemp
By Stella Haffner   |   October 29, 2020

Confession of the week: I didn’t know what a drag race was. I thought it was the highly demanding sport where large groups of men spend months work-shopping their bodies and paint jobs, preparing for their minute on the fashion runway. It was only recently I found out that not all drag racing is hosted […]

Dear Montecito: Mia Wilkinson
By Stella Haffner   |   October 21, 2020

I’m going to tell you something, and I’ll bet you haven’t heard it before. Back in school, my most stressful subject was art class. Every single year. Even when I liked it, art class was always a source of anxiety for me. I cannot isolate shapes or reproduce still images, and as someone who felt […]

Dear Montecito: Allison Lewis-Towbes
By Stella Haffner   |   October 13, 2020

I do a fair bit of writing when I can work up the courage to face my laptop keyboard. Do you know the feeling you get when you’ve stared at one word for too long and it no longer looks right? In psychology, we call this “semantic saturation.” It’s the idea that prolonged exposure or […]

Dear Montecito: Stella Vie Peters
By Stella Haffner   |   October 1, 2020

I don’t often meet other people with the name Stella. So not only was it surprising for me when I was put in touch with the author of today’s letter, but it was doubly interesting to learn that this Stella had also dipped her toe into the waters of journalism. Two Stellas, same industry? Stanley […]

Dear Montecito: Matthew Rollins
By Stella Haffner   |   September 24, 2020

As a biology student, I spend much of my time learning about the effect an environment has on its organisms. As a psychology student, I focus on the interaction between an individual and their surroundings. To appreciate growth and change, these are the principles you must understand. But these ideas are not exclusive to the […]

Dear Montecito: Clare Kelly
By Stella Haffner   |   September 17, 2020

In response to the novel coronavirus, schools around the world rushed to integrate their curriculum into online learning platforms. Concessions were made by students, teachers, and administrators alike to accommodate a novel learning experience that was, to many, the bane of a semester reaching its conclusion. I have heard many accounts of slow Wi-Fi and […]

Dear Montecito: Raleigh Clemens
By Stella Haffner   |   September 10, 2020

My generation needs to be taken down a peg. Those born after 1995 are known as “internet natives” and navigate the digital world with appropriate instinct. It is this same instinct that causes us to giggle when a professor has a hard time working their PowerPoint presentation or, more often these days, struggles to use […]

Dear Montecito: Jason Feinberg
By Stella Haffner   |   September 3, 2020

Jason Feinberg and I had known each other for almost three years before a chance conversation revealed that we were related. You see, Jason’s mother’s cousin is my half-sister-in-law’s father – and you wonder how we didn’t figure it out sooner! There’s no blood between us, which would be obvious to anyone comparing his towering […]

Dear Montecito: Stella Pierce
By Stella Haffner   |   August 27, 2020

Dear Montecito, Hello, it’s Stella, your friendly, neighborhood column manager. This week I am sharing snippets from my academic (and not-so-academic life) in St Andrews. I’ve never participated in New Year’s resolutions. Indeed, true to my inner nerd, my annual clock has always been set to the academic calendar. As such, my year begins in […]

Dear Montecito: Julia Kupiec
By Stella Haffner   |   August 20, 2020

Managing this column, I’ve been put back in contact with quite a few individuals I used to look up to back in my elementary school days. This week we’re hearing from Montecito Union alum and New York University grad, Julia Kupiec. Second grade Stella had myriad compelling reasons to hold Julia in high regard; she […]

Dear Montecito: Meredith Urschel
By Stella Haffner   |   August 13, 2020

It’s not every day you open your email to find that the young woman who used to sell your family Girl Scout Cookies is now a grown adult in charge of building the new Air Force One Hangar. Enter Meredith Urschel, daughter of Carissa Smith and Ted Urschel, a Cornell alum and concrete enthusiast. Before […]

Dear Montecito: Ally Hodosy
By Stella Haffner   |   August 6, 2020

As schools around the country start to reopen and older students begin the migration back to college life, I worry about the safety of teachers and pupils alike. But a smaller, less socially conscious voice in the back of my head quietly cheers for the small freedom of leaving home. Some of us may have […]

Dear Montecito: Clay Rodgers
By Stella Haffner   |   July 30, 2020

As I write the introduction for today’s letter, I’m doing something I usually don’t do while I write and edit: listen to music. I’m listening to a funky, young album called The Deep End produced by a composing duo who recorded the whole thing in only two weeks. Today we’re hearing from rising artist, Clay […]

Dear Montecito: Beatrice Tolan
By Stella Haffner   |   July 23, 2020

This week’s letter comes from a person who recently made their professional debut doing the 3D VFX work for the 2019 blockbuster Little Women. Animation student Beatrice Tolan is a rising senior at Northeastern University in Boston where she is pursuing her BA with a minor in theatre. This, of course, is no surprise to […]

Dear Montecito: Jakob Hammer
By Stella Haffner   |   July 16, 2020

I met Jakob Hammer, son of two of my favorite MUS teachers (Jackie and Kurt Hammer), in second grade. With our diametrically opposed love of Star Wars and Star Trek, Webkinz and Club Penguin, and contradictory opinions about Crocs as footwear, Jakob and I may not have seemed like a natural pairing, but we’ve now […]

Dear Montecito: Anna Martin
By Stella Haffner   |   July 9, 2020

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered why medical workers do what they do. Don’t be shy. No one can see you after all, you’re reading a newspaper. It’s a natural thing to watch news footage of hospitals, the beds packed, the staff tired and wonder how anyone could want to go into healthcare (even […]

Dear Montecito: Parker Matthews
By Stella Haffner   |   July 2, 2020

Two months deep into quarantine, it quickly became clear how seriously my social skills had atrophied when I picked up the phone to call the home of Brett Matthews and Ginger Salazar. I had the intention of asking whichever parent picked up the phone if their son, the MUS, Marymount, and Cate alum Parker Matthews, […]

Santa Barbara Expat Trades Mesas and Montecito for Meed and Moors. Oh, and Neuroscience.
By Stella Haffner   |   June 25, 2020

We grew up in and around Montecito. We were given so many opportunities to learn and explore and grow. This community invests so much in us, and we want to keep in touch to let you know how and what we’re doing. Mine is the first letter in a series of letters from Montecito Kids […]