Distinguished Alumni Recipients

Girls School

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Astrid (Odhner) Arnott graduated from the Academy of the New Church Girls School with the class of 1991. She then attended Bryn Athyn College, earning her Associates in Arts degree. In 1993 she opened her business “Astrid's Flowers” and simultaneously began working toward a degree in Horticulture from Temple University. Astrid ran her business and attended courses until she graduated Cum Laude with a BSc in Horticulture in 2001. She was also inducted into the National Honors Society for Horticulture, Pi Alpha Xi, in 2000. For her senior project at Temple, she created a curriculum for children's gardening classes for two  age groups, with an emphasis on the spiritual correspondences in gardens. She taught gardening classes at the Bryn Athyn Cathedral using the curriculum for a few summers after graduating.

During the years since high school at ANC, Astrid has designed, installed and/or maintained many perennial gardens for local private homeowners and small businesses. Having taken courses in floral design, she also created flowers for events including hundreds of weddings at Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Cairnwood and other local venues.

In 2006 Astrid married Steven Arnott and after becoming a mother to Raelyn and Kyle, she cut back on her business to focus on her kids. Currently she is taking on more clients with a new focus on “Garden Rehab”. She hopes to involve families and teach them gardening skills,  while assisting  them in the process of redesigning (or refreshing) and installing their garden beds.

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Christine Henderson Boericke, RN, CEN was born in Sydney, Australia and lived in Canada for four years before moving to Bryn Athyn at age 7. She attended the Bryn Athyn Church Elementary School and the Academy of the New Church, graduating from the Girls School in 1961. After finishing her first year at Bryn Athyn College, Christine attended Pennsylvania School of Nursing where she graduated in 1965 with the highest award given in Obstetrics. After completing the PA State Board Exams as a Licensed Registered Nurse, she worked at Holy Redeemer Hospital in Labor & Delivery. Christine suspended her working career temporarily to become a mother. For a time, she worked part-time at Fox Chase Cancer Center before focusing her full energies on raising her children. When her children were in upper elementary school, she returned to work in the emergency department at Warminster General Hospital for 10 years and earned a National Certification in Emergency Nursing.

Christine is a founding member of the Bryn Athyn Swim Team and served as a Lieutenant and EMT on the Bryn Athyn Fire Co. Ambulance Squad, one of the first four women to do so. Married to classmate Peter Boericke in 1965, she is mother to two sets of twins - two years apart - and is a proud grandmother to nineteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren to date. Currently, she spends time happily celebrating birthdays with her large family and is a lifelong sports enthusiast who enjoys watching her grandchildren and their classmates compete in a variety of sports.

Boys School

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Charlie Cole graduated from the Academy of the New Church Boys School in 1981. He currently lives with his wife, MaryLou, in Clarksville, MD, and has three children: Erin (25), James (23), and Emily (21). Following high school, Charlie attended Lehigh University, where he majored in Finance.  After college, he worked as an Economic and Financial Analyst for five years at CSX Transportation.

Charlie obtained his JD from American University in 1993, and has been practicing law for the past 28 years.  In his practice he represents clients engaged in financial transactions, including loans, restructuring, and secondary market trading of commercial loans and other debt assets.  In 2020 he founded the law firm of Cole, Mink and Fransella PLLC in Washington, DC, where he serves as managing member. 

Charlie has served as a member of the Academy of the New Church Corporation since 2010 and served on the Board of Trustees from 2011 through 2020, serving as Vice Chair of the Board for 4 years.  

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Edward A. Simons was born at home on South Avenue in Bryn Athyn on December 8, 1952. He graduated from the Academy of the New Church Boys School in 1971, attended Bryn Athyn College for two years, and graduated from Penn State in 1976 with a BS in Finance. He worked at the Equitable Trust Company from 1976 to 1979 as a loan officer, and went on to found Safeware, Inc. in 1979, an industrial safety distributor. Today Safeware is a national public safety distributor with 110 employees across the US in 7 locations, focused on state and local law enforcement and fire departments. Edward served as president from 1979 until his retirement earlier this year, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. 

Over the past 44 years, Edward has served at various times on the Washington New Church Board of Trustees, as Treasurer, and as Endowment Treasurer. He also served on the Board of Directors and as Treasurer for Acton Park, Inc. between 1976 and 2020, and has served on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for Spiritual Alliance Inc. (SWET) from 2020 to present. He was on the Board of Directors and served as Chairman for the Safety Marketing Group, and was a member of the product committee for Affiliated Distributors. Edward currently serves on the Corporation for the Academy of the New Church, and has been a member of the Board of Trustees on the Finance Committee. 

In 1991 he married his best friend, Wystan Gladish, and they have four children together: Brownyn (29), Owen (28), Frey (25), and Oskar (23). He also has two sons from a previous marriage, Daric (43) and Scott (42).