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.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Faculty vs. Boys Basketball in New Gym

Yesterday's Faculty vs. the 7/8 Red Basketball team couldn't have been more exciting! Truly a nail biter until the very end, it could have gone either way but tipped in the Faculty's favor, 37-35.

The crowd loved it! Thanks to our new Price Family Gymnasium, so many of our younger boys and faculty/staff were able attend. The bleachers were packed with the boys cheering and watching their teachers as they've never seen them!

Thanks to all who organized and participated. What a fun way to enjoy our Saint David's community and kick off the long winter weekend!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Greek Drama in New Theatre

This past week, both Seventh Grade sections presented dramatic performances, in conjunction with their study of Ancient Greece's contributions to the formation of Western democracy and culture.

In last week's The Trial of Socrates, 7 Pi provided a historical reenactment of the Greek philosopher's trial, based on the writings of Plato, who was present at the trial.

Today, 7 Theta performed Sophocles' Antigone, the third and final part of the Oedipus series.

These productions explore the values and moral questions posed by Greek philosophers, who examined humans' relationships with the gods and with each other in society.

Congratulations to the boys and their directors, teachers Jim Barbieri and Joe Kilkeary. The tradition of the Greek Plays in Seventh Grade was brought to the school by Mr. Kilkeary in 1986 with the production of Sophocles' Ajax. This year, for the first time in Saint David's history, the boys performed in a state-of-the-art professionally equipped theater, our new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre, with the entire Upper School and parents able to attend.

What an enhancement to our already strong drama program, which enables our boys to step out of their comfort zones, cultivate empathy, and explore emotions--all essential for their well-being.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Saint David's Boys Thriving in New Spaces

This video, produced for the PA benefit by Mary Busby and Jeanine Salvatore, says so much about what our school stands for and how the boys experience it and our wonderful new spaces day to day. 


Monday, February 11, 2019

An Evening Celebrating the Infinite Possibilities of Our Boys

The Saint David's parent community never ceases to amaze. On Friday evening, they blasted us into the far reaches of the universe with a Benefit that celebrated our boys and their infinite possibilities beneath a canopy of stars and song at The Pierre.

Within our Saint David's constellation, the exceptionally creative Benefit Chair Rita Kitt and her team have exhibited vision, tenacity, and a deep love for this school; devoting countless hours over several months to ensure an evening that was spectacular and true to the spirit of Saint David's.

From the opening song, "Reach for the Stars," written specifically for our Benefit by the ever-generous Tom Kitt; to the moving video of how our boys are learning in our new spaces, and an auction that beat all records; this was a night not only of infinite possibilities, but of limitless wonder and gratitude.

The strength and dedication of the entire Saint David's community is truly a remarkable constellation of stars that shows a pattern of care, commitment, and concern. Everything our community does is in service to the education and well-being of our boys, and to their development into men of good character.

Evenings like Friday are a reminder of how important that is, and how blessed we are to be a part of this school.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Immigration Study Builds Understanding of Others

Our third grade history program focuses on 19th and early 20th century American history, with an emphasis on the ways Americans have demonstrated perseverance and ingenuity to improve their lives.

The boys are now studying immigration at the turn of the 20th century. On Monday, they spent the day exploring Ellis Island and in a couple of weeks they will participate in an activity in which they assume the identity of an immigrant undergoing processing there.

Through field trips, research, and related activities, this unit immerses the boys in the immigrant experience so that they can more deeply understand it and its complexity.

All of these activities will aid them in critical analysis of the ideas and issues around immigration, perhaps none moreso than when they step into the shoes of a would-be immigrant. Experiencing another person's complicated situation enables our boys to cultivate cultural competency, deepens empathy, and goes a long way toward developing a character that is other-oriented.  All of this is consistent with our mission's ultimate aspiration ut viri boni sint.

Using Dry Ice to Learn About Matter and Molecules

Second graders' study of chemistry promotes an understanding of matter and the molecules that it comprises. The hands-on unit includes several labs that address the properties of atoms and molecules, matter's three main states (solid, liquid, gas), and the difference between physical and chemical changes.

Building on their understanding of phase change, the boys recently had an exciting day of hands-on interaction with dry ice (solid Carbon Dioxide) in which they observed the process of sublimation (a solid going directly from a solid to gas state, bypassing the liquid phase.)

After their teacher dropped a chunk of dry ice in a beaker of warm water, the boys observed CO2 gas bubble up from the liquid like a thick white mist.  They then added dish washing soap to their beakers and were thrilled to scoop up the "misty" bubbles caused by the ongoing sublimation.

Finally, they were delighted when Mrs. Sundar, using a special canister with hose attachment, created a sublimation reaction by dipping the hose in bubble solution and directing the CO2 gas out of the hose.

In upcoming labs, the boys will engage in active investigations to learn about chemical changes.

These labs speak to the innate intellectual curiosity of our boys. Demonstrations, hands-on activities and experiments underpin the unit, which the boys count among their favorites!

Anastasia, Otzi, DNALC

Our fifth graders dug deep into the power of forensics and DNA while at the Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center last week. They were asked to name highlights of their visit:

"The Anastasia Romanov case. It was a great example of how to solve mysteries."

The boys explored how DNA sequencing could solve the mystery of Princess Anastasia Romanov and determine whether she survived the Romanov family massacre.

"When we looked at the pollen and found out where he ate his meals.  I enjoyed this lab because it proves how incredible and advanced science is." 

After viewing in person the 3D replica of Otzi the Iceman (Europe's oldest known natural human mummy), the boys conducted a lab that looked at the types of pollen found in Otzi's digestive system to figure out where he was hiking and eating during his last 36 hours of life.

"The fruit flies because I saw cool genetic mutations." 

The boys also conducted labs in which they used special dissecting microscopes to observe genetic mutations on flies, such as having legs for antenna. 

In addition, a scientist from the CSH Laboratory discussed the use of genetics to combat diseases such as cancer. 

What a day of intriguing, revelatory experiences for our boys, who are currently engaged in a DNA unit that we conduct through Saint David's partnership with the DNALC. The partnership provides our boys with access to real-world scientists at the DNALC and their educators, who collaborate with our science teachers for sessions conducted in Saint David's STEAM labs.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.

Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.

The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with strength, humility and gratitude, Lidia expressed her conviction that "it is essential to have a spiritual connection" and to give back to others. She does this in particular through her work with non-profit organizations of women leaders in the food and hospitality industries and in her support of refugee education.

When it came the boys' turn to ask Lidia questions, they discovered that she considers it of paramount importance to learn from people you admire and then, later in life, become a mentor yourself; that  she counts among her life's greatest awards not the accolades that have been bestowed upon her, but the joy of doing what she loves and spreading her life philosophy; and that the historical person she would most want to prepare a meal for is Leonardo da Vinci.

The boys and audience left inspired to be their best selves, as she closed by encouraging our boys to be true to themselves in pursuing their passions and willing to do the work necessary to achieve their dreams.  Each boy received a copy of her new memoir, My American Dream - A Life of Love, Family, and Food.

The Alumni Parent Council Lecture Series is an annual event that brings renowned guests to the school to speak with our graduating class and alumni community, or provides our boys and guests with a unique experience at a cultural institution. This was the first time the event was held in our new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre. Much appreciation to Ms. Bastianich, our Alumni Council Co-Chairs Annie Haddad and Winne Feng, Joe Haddad and Assistant Director of Development John Dearie '95 for bringing our community such a delightfully delicious evening!

Lower School Art Show

Our new STEAM Commons has been transformed into a colorful art gallery, showcasing the boys' creations this fall and winter.


Their work is beautiful and varied, featuring paintings, drawings, three-dimensional sculptures, pottery, and woodwork.  Saint David's art program is an integrated study of theory, skill development, and critical analysis of the works of masters, such as Klee, Kandinsky and Matisse.

As one of the four pillars of a Saint David's education, the arts play a prominent role in our boys' education. Boys graduate with confidence in their observational drawing skills, the ability to critically analyze artwork, and an appreciation for the aesthetic.

Thanks to Art Chair Jenna Boccella and teachers Melanie Fidler, Gary Kessler, Rachel da Silva, Bernard Adnet, and Emily Melander for bringing out the artist in each of our boys. The show will be up until March. Be sure to visit!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Commitment to the Arts

For two weeks each year, during January's deep freeze, Saint David's Winter Festival of Art and Music arrives to warm us with a celebration of the arts--an essential pillar of our school's balanced program.

Yesterday was the first Winter Concert in our Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre. What a joy to see our musicians play on a beautiful, spacious stage and to hear them benefit from the professional acoustics the new theatre affords!

This concert showcased the Percussion Ensemble, Philharmonic Ensemble, and Chamber Singers delivering a richly diverse program of the classical and contemporary, with pieces ranging from Bach and Haydn to Freddy Mercury and Crowded House. Preparation for the performances entailed hours and hours of practice (and more practice) by the boys along with serious commitment. The devotion of Saint David's boys and music faculty to their art is outstanding. We are so fortunate.

Kudos to our young musicians and their directors: John Francis, Percussion Ensemble, Philip Hough, Philharmonic Ensemble (with Aaron Van Heyningen, Assistant Conductor, and Joseph Martin, Pianist); and Phyllis Clark, Chamber Singers (with Elizabeth Rodgers, Pianist).

Below is a clip from the concert:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Drawing Inspiration

During a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, second graders viewed and sketched masks from a variety of world cultures.

Their experience will provide inspiration for an upcoming art unit, in which they will use recycled materials to create their own tribal masks.

The second graders' art learning is underpinned by first-hand interaction with artworks at the Guggenheim, The Met, and MoMA. Throughout the year, our exceptional Saint David's art teachers join with museum educators in order to maximize our boys' fluency in and critical appreciation of aesthetics.

At Saint David's, we leverage our access to world-class collections throughout our program, fortunate as we are to be located so close to several iconic cultural institutions.