Around Town: Lab School Tales

by Editorial
Former Sen. Alan Simpson and his wife, Anne, on the dance floor. Photo by Daniel Rosenbaum.

Former Sen. Alan Simpson and his wife, Anne, on the dance floor. Photo by Daniel Rosenbaum.

The Lab School’s life-changing methods of overcoming learning disabilities have earned
the passionate loyalty of its students who share their moving stories at the annual gala. This year, with families and supporters celebrating the school’s 25th anniversary, it was – even more than usual – a family affair.

Sitting at a table near the stage was ABC’S “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos, who emceed the event along with his wife, the dimpled and witty comedienne Ali Wentworth. Sitting nearby was her father, Eric Wentworth and sister, gala cochairwoman Sissy Wentworth Yates, and Sissy’s husband and co-chairman Angus Yates. (Sissy and Angus have a child at the Lab School, as do co-chairmen Nancy and Alan Bubes).

Angus is also the godfather of former student Quinn Bradlee, as I learned when his mother, Sally Quinn, stopped by the table. She and husband Ben Bradlee have supplemented the school’s training with years of focused effort to help Quinn live a full life.

Quinn’s recent book, A Different Life, chronicles his struggles quite candidly. (Perhaps a little too candidly for his mother, who did not see the manuscript until he had written what he wanted to say.) Still in the book is the tale of how, during an evening away from his parents during a Caribbean trip, a pal surprised him with a brothel visit because he knew Quinn was anxious to lose his virginity.

Quinn’s candor upon sharing this milestone with his parents soon had Sally (whom he terms a “lioness” when it comes to his welfare) accompanying him, his pal, and the  tracked-down girls for a medical check-up. They all turned out fine. His account is moving, innocently funny, and has a great sweetness that typifies Quinn. In his book, he worries that girls might not care for him, but earlier this year, his engagement was announced to yoga instructor Pary Williamson. The ring is a family heirloom from Ben’s great great-grandmother, Suzette Crowninshield, of the illustrious Boston Brahmin family.

Vice President Joe Biden’s keynote speech included the less spicy revelation that he had stuttered throughout high school. Biden commended the school’s innovative educational system and told the students in his gung-ho message that “being different is not a reason for shame or distress.”

French Ambassador Pierre Vimont hosted a lavish reception at his residence for the AFTA (Arts For The Aging) Gala chairwomen Susanne Eisinger, Shahin Mafi, and Anna Maria Via drew a happy crowd that included the Moroccan, Portuguese, and Dominican ambassadors. Singer and comedienne Carmel Quinn, who for 25 years has sold out Carnegie Hall for her annual concert, was awarded the Lolo Sarnoff Outstanding Creativity Award, named for AFTA’s artist-philanthropist founder. Through Lolo’s guidance, a program of hands-on art throughout the city enriches the lives of older citizens.

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