Welcome to the Headmaster's Blog where you'll find updates, thoughts, and events regarding Saint David's School, the education of boys, and other items of interest. This is by no means meant to be a complete account of all that happens at Saint David's. Please refer to the school's website for more complete details -- it's more a Headmaster's musings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Fourth Graders Support The Seeing Eye

Pennies for Puppies is our fourth graders' signature service project in which the boys support The Seeing Eye, a non profit organization that breeds and raises puppies to become Seeing Eye dogs, trains guide dogs, and instructs blind people on the proper use and care of the dogs.

Not only does this project entail their planning, marketing and executing a bake sale fundraiser; our boys also learn in depth about the organization, the roles of guide dogs, and meet with people who are visually impaired to learn about their experience.

Last week they visited The Seeing Eye's facility in Morristown, New Jersey, for a tour and discussion and to present The Seeing Eye with a check for the more than $2,300 their bake sale raised.

Spirituality manifested through action for the good is a cornerstone of a Saint David's education. Through Pennies for Puppies, the boys also have an opportunity to appreciate and learn from difference.

Learning From Each Other - A Prep for Prep Panel Discussion

On Friday, Dan Tobon '97, who participated in Prep for Prep, and Javier Piggee '97, who entered Saint David's in the first grade, visited the school to share their experiences with our current sixth graders, who will welcome two new classmates from Prep for Prep in September. They were joined by John C. Dearie '95, Assistant Director of Development, who spoke from the perspective of a student who welcomed Prep for Prep classmates when he was in seventh grade.  Saint David's has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with Prep for Prep, which prepares New York City's most promising students of color to excel academically and socially at leading independent schools.

Dan and Javier reminisced about the strong bonds they formed at Saint David's and the impact of their teachers, and noted our school's welcoming, warm community. The panel discussed the potential challenges faced by these students, such as long commutes, and offered advice to our sixth graders on how to welcome their new classmates and make them feel at home at the school.

It was great to see Dan and Javier, and so good of them and John to share their experiences.  Our sixth graders came away from the discussion with a greater sensitivity to the challenges the incoming students may face during their transition to a new school environment - as well as an appreciation for how much they can learn from each other.

Friday, May 18, 2018

"A Man for Others"

Leo J. O'Donovan, S.J., was the featured speaker at Saint David's Networking Event on Wednesday evening at a midtown venue.

Father O'Donovan, former President of Georgetown University, spoke passionately about the growing refugee crisis and his current work as Director of Mission for the Jesuit Refugee Service, which advocates for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons worldwide, working to meet their educational, health, and social needs. He encouraged all to remain informed about the issues in the world and to take deeper roles within our personal communities of family and friends.

He also took several questions from the alumni, alumni parents, current parents, and faculty in attendance. One involved Catholicism's relations with other world religions. Father O'Donovan stressed how important and valuable it is to sit down to a meal with people from differing religious background, which enables you to learn so much, both through the conversation and the types of food consumed during the meal. In response to another, he encouraged those interested in pursuing MBAs to seek to do good and to give back through their business endeavors.

With its focus on caring for other people, the Jesuit motto (Men and Women for Others) is closely aligned with that of Saint David's (That They Be Good Men). The evening event was a perfect blend of both.

A special "thank you" to the Alumni Council and its Chair, Greg Landegger '85  P'17 '26, for organizing this year's event, which was its tenth installment. The Networking Event is an occasion for alumni, current parents and parents of alumni to network together. Whether it is for professional, academic or social purposes, this is an opportunity for us to help and support those within our extended community.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

LAX Champs Again!

Red Lacrosse won the 2018 MPMSL title yesterday evening in a 10-4 victory over St. Bernard's on Randall's Island. The team was undefeated this season, and this marks back-to-back MPMSL titles for Red.

Throughout the season, our boys have demonstrated great skills, mastery, confidence, and the good sportsmanship that honors the game.

Congratulations to all the players and coaches Evangelista and Russo!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

On Mars

In a new robotics unit, our sixth graders are employing their knowledge of astronomy from their recent Digital Universe Field Study.

The boys are building, programming, and operating their own model Mars rovers, using LEGO Mindstorms. They work in small, collaborative teams to solve a series of challenges, such as dropping off supplies or moving objects on the planet. 

This project requires the boys to think critically as they test and revise mechanical systems and digital sensors, and build and debug code. They are free to take risks, since it is easy to take apart designs that aren't working  and to try something different--allowing them to work according to the engineering design process.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Connecting With Others Through the Gbowee Backpack Initiative

In preparation for Confirmation each year, sixth graders engage in a service project. This year, as in 2017, the boys participated in the Gbowee Peace Foundation's Backpack Initiative, which provides backpacks, supplies and money for uniforms for high achieving young scholars in impoverished areas of Liberia. Earlier in the year the boys met with Nobel Laureate and founder of the Gbowee Peace Foundation, Leymah Gbowee, to talk about the program and its impact on the children in her country.

The boys decided to plan, market and run a bake sale to raise money for the initiative. They calculated how much they would need to raise to purchase and fill a backpack, and based on the money raised in the sale, how many backpacks they would be able to donate. Their bake sale raised more than $1,200, enabling the purchase of 48 backpacks.

This week in religion class, the boys wrote letters to the children who will receive the backpacks, which will soon be delivered to Liberia. Our boys are excited about receiving replies to their letters, and about the connections they are making with students who may live far away, but share many of their same aspirations.

What's Your Ideal Classroom?

Our expansion project has provided a unique opportunity for our first grade boys to participate in an engaging hands-on measurement math investigation.

First the boys were read the following letter from Lower School Head Ms. Davidson:
Saint David's needs our help!
Ms. Davidson has asked the first grade class to design
the "ideal classroom" for next year!

As a class, we are going to learn how workers measure new space,
brainstorm ideas on what we would love to see in our classroom, and
create a blueprint to propose to Ms. Davidson!

Boys then brainstormed a list of items that they would need in their classroom (desks, etc), as well as those they would want (pet corner, massage chairs).

The next day, our expansion project Construction Supervisor Pete Provenza spoke to the boys about the construction project, and showed measuring tools and actual blueprints. In groups, the first graders then created their very own blueprint of their “ideal classroom,” representing each foot of space into one inch squares on graph paper.

The investigation concluded with a gallery walk, where boys observed all blueprints.

Great ideas from our young architects. It doesn't get more hands-on, real-world than this!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

An Evening Tour at St. Patrick's

This year's Alumni Parents Council Cultural Event treated the Saint David's alumni parent community to a private tour of St. Patrick's Cathedral, granting us an inside look at the history and restoration of the great Cathedral.

Mr. Loual Puliafito, the Director of Development at St. Pat's, organized the evening and welcomed us all. He noted that the generation that built the Cathedral was trying to make their families' lives better, that St. Patrick's resulted from their hard work and sacrifice, and its creation stood as a gift from one generation to the next.

We learned how in the mid-nineteenth century, John Hughes, seminarian, founder of Fordham University, and the first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, convinced 100 of of the wealthiest people in the city to give him $1000 each to build a new beautiful Gothic Cathedral during a time of explosive growth in Catholicism in New York. The cornerstone was laid 1858 (although its exact location remains unknown!) and the new St. Patrick's Cathedral opened in 1879.

We toured the beautiful Gothic interior, viewing the amazing 7849-pipe organ and the various Chapels, including the Lady Chapel, to which the recent restoration added glass doors in order to be more welcoming of visitors. We also visited the crypt containing the final resting places not only several of New York's Archbishops and Cardinals, but also that of former slave and philanthropist Pierre Touissant.

It was a night filled with fascinating history, beautiful art and architecture, and deep spirituality; all so resonant with our community. Our gratitude to Mr. Puliafito and John Odin of St. Patrick's, to Saint David's Alumni Parents Council Co-Chairs Annie Haddad and Winnie Feng, and to Assistant Director of Development John C. Dearie '95 for bringing the alumni parent community together for such a memorable event.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Good Global Citizens

Yesterday, Dr. Derrick Gay (www.derrickgay.com), internationally recognized consultant on issues of global citizenship, diversity, and inclusion, returned to Saint David's to lead our seventh and eighth graders in an hour-long workshop on global citizenship.

After introducing himself and framing the workshop for the boys during morning Chapel, Dr. Gay examined ways in which our perceptions of the world and its citizens have been shaped. He spoke to the boys about identity--the many different ways we define that for ourselves.  In an interactive exercise, Dr. Gay asked the boys to develop a list of traits, roles, and interests that define who they are.

Working in pairs, boys selectively shared characteristics of their identity with each other in response to the repeated question, “Who are you?”  Dr. Gay then prompted them to reflect on why they opted not to mention some attributes, highlighting the sensitivity that we all share surrounding our differences and how we are perceived by others.

In another activity, Dr. Gay showed a short video that helped the boys recognize blind spots in the way we view our environment.  They were asked to consider how keen focus on our own experience/interests may prevent us from seeing what is happening in clear view. 

This is Year Two of our three-year partnership with Dr. Gay. Earlier this year, he conducted a workshop with faculty and staff, and met with our parent body. After this morning's workshop with the boys, Dr. Gay furthered his dialogue with faculty and staff through small group discussions, and met with our PA President and Committee on Community Co-Chairs.

In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, it is vital that our boys learn to appreciate difference, and to develop cultural competency. Dr. Gay’s work with the boys has started with the Seventh and Eighth Graders, who will soon move on to secondary school communities and ultimately college environments that promise to broadly represent difference.

Equipping the boys to understand themselves on an even deeper level and to develop an awareness of their own biases and blind spots will surely enhance their ability to be successful as they move on to make their mark on the world – and to fulfill the aspirations of our school’s Founders “that they be good men.” Next year, Dr. Gay’s work will continue with more of the boys.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tour of Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection at Christie's

The 13th Annual Alumni Parents Council Lecture Series took our eighth graders and alumni parent community to Christie's Auction House for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour and study The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller prior to this week's widely anticipated sale.

After we arrived at Christie's in Rockefeller Center, John Hays, P'10, Deputy Chairman of American Furniture and Decorative Arts, welcomed us and introduced our speaker, Jonathan Rendell, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Americas and overall curator of The Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller Collection.

Mr. Rendell screened a video about the Rockefeller family, which featured their important role in New York City history, extraordinary commitment to philanthropy, and passion for art. He then presented a slide show of highlights from the collection, which includes works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Manet, and other masters. Everything in the collection comes from David and Peggy Rockefeller's three homes, and all proceeds of the sale will go to charity.
Once the remarks concluded, we split into groups to tour the collection, beautifully laid out across three floors. 

The boys, who have been studying art history this year in their humanities class and are currently working on their Arco projects, simply loved it.

Our gratitude to Christie's and to Saint David's Alumni Parents Council Co-Chairs Winnie Feng, P'99 and Annie Haddad, P'09 and '12, for bringing us this remarkable event for our graduating class and alumni parent community.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Designing Geometry Cities

Third graders have begun designing their Geometry "Geo" Cities. Working in small groups, our young architects are using their knowledge of polygons, angles and lines to create their cities, which must have a theme as well as specific features such as a body of water, recreation, transportation, and restaurants. Among the variety of themes the boys have selected are "sports," "water," and "food."

Like all good architects, the boys began with preliminary blueprints for their cities, which they are now transferring to scale for their final creations.

The boys love this project and cite it among their favorites for the year; it harnesses their imaginations and creativity while challenging them to solve math problems through collaboration.


Author Eliot Schrefer at Saint David's

Eliot Schrefer, the author of several highly acclaimed novels including Rescued, Endangered and Threatened, the first three novels in the Ape Quartet, visited with Saint David's sixth and seventh graders last week. In preparation for Mr. Schrefer's visit, each boy received a copy of Rescued.

Mr. Schrefer shared with the boys his writing and research processes, in particular his experiences traveling to the Republic of Congo to study primates, people, and the settings in which they encounter each other.  The boys learned about Lola ya Bonobo, a sanctuary for the endangered Bonobo great ape species. They discovered that humans share 98.7 percent of their DNA with the apes, and that apes show affection by grooming each other (the balder the ape, the more popular!)

The boys enjoyed a fascinating discussion with this published author, courtesy of our Parents Association Author Series.