The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Examining VWS legacy: Who were the pioneers?

Stephanie Ma
Above are framed graduation photos of the first five VWS classes, located in Jackson Library.

43 years ago, 34 female students stepped onto Webb campus for the first time, eager but nervous to begin their Webb experience at a previously all-boys school. These students are known today as the pioneer class of Webb. The commitment and perseverance of these students allowed Vivian Webb School to blossom into the school we know today. 

As the 2023-2024 academic year approaches its end, so does the coordinate model of two separate schools on one campus at Webb.  

What will happen to chapel? How will advisory work?  

While many of these questions remain unanswered, we do know that as Webb embarks on a new journey next year, it is essential to recognize the rich history of Vivian Webb: the legacy of those who came before us and positively impacted our educational experience today. 

The Vivian Webb School was established in 1981. All students in this class were day students, and the majority came from Foothill Country Day School, a nearby K-8 private school in Claremont. Today, Vivian Webb graduates maintain a closely-knit alumni network, staying in touch and actively engaging in the organization and participation of regular reunions.  

The pioneer class’s entrance was not easy. It was not uncommon for members of WSC or even former teachers to be disrespectful to or give female students a hard time, and VWS students had to adjust to this. VWS students prioritized fitting in with the WSC students to ensure smooth integration on campus; however, they also took advantage of new opportunities.  

“It became normal to have guys there. To an extent we stuck together and had certain guys we’d hang out with; most of them were borders,” said Evangeline Grossman, a member of the Pioneer class of 1984, “I have to say, there were probably 50 guys at the most that we all hung out with.” 

Due to the small number of students, the pioneer class frequently participated in everything Webb had to offer. Students played almost all varsity sports, starred in many roles in theater productions, took on many leadership positions, and worked together to build the school up. They took an active role in establishing a new school, starting traditions such as the candlelight ceremony, drawing an original crest, founding the honor council, and initiating their own student government. 

Despite the influence of the first VWS class, students today know little about these students and where they are now. We took this opportunity to reach out to three students from this pioneer class, Christina Mercer McGinley (‘84), Evangeline “Van” Fisher Grossman (’85), and Stephanie Riggio (‘85) to gain insight on what the VWS legacy means to them.  

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About the Contributors
Stephanie Ma
Stephanie Ma, Co-Editor of Opinion
Meet Stephanie “Steph” Ma ('25), a harmonious force within the Webb Canyon Chronicle and Webb Community. This past summer Steph leisurely sojourned in Korea, where she indulged in delicious street foods such as fish cakes and tteokbokki. She continued her summer melodiously with visits to Boston College and NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, where she immersed herself in the world of music, recorded her own songs, and had her soul serenaded by Masie Peters while visiting her brother in Canada. Looking through her Spotify, you are sure to find the ballads of Taylor Swift and Joshua Bassett. A talented instrumentalist, she plays a multitude of instruments such as the violin, guitar, and ukulele, yet her compositions extend beyond melodies. At Webb, the humanities strike a chord in her heart, especially classes conducted by Ms. MacPhee. As a maestro of leadership, Steph serves on the VWS Honor Cabinet When writing for the WCC Steph meticulously pieces together articles, most notably her compelling piece on the UC strikes. Finishing with a crescendo we can all look forward to seeing Steph thrive during her third year at Webb, while we take delight in her enlightened and empathetic articles during her second year at the Chronicle.  Favorite Song: "Cool About It" by Boygenius
Yuki Layman
Yuki Layman, Co-Editor of News
Having lived all around the globe from Shanghai, China, to Boston, Massachusetts, and most recently Washington D.C., Yuki Layman ('25) knows that home is where she makes it.! Yuki is an engaged student in all her classes, but it is her strong knowledge in Humanities that impresses her teachers. Especially, during her Advanced Studies Culture and Politics at the Border class, taught by one of her favorite teachers at Webb, Mr. Huerta. Yuki spends her free time in a variety of ways, either going to the village with friends or simply watching Top Boy, her personal favorite TV show that her brother highly recommended. Although she enjoys going out, she stays connected with her life back home by making sure to call her family every night. As well as staying up-to-date with current events, jumping into hot-topic debates with her lawyer dad and brother who is studying International Relations. Coming back to the Webb Canyon Chronicle this year as Editor of News, Yuki is ready to keep the Webb community informed accurately as a Jameson resident again, making Webb her home for the rest of year.   Favorite Song: "1539 N. Calvert" by JPEGMAFIA

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