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.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer '17 Construction On Schedule

Summer construction remains on schedule and the school is abuzz with activity.

Much of the work this summer is focused on the Basement level of Buildings 12, 14 and 16 (the original Schoolhouse).  Work includes the complete renovation of the kitchen along with the expansion of the Small Dining Room and the addition of new Life Safety Systems, HVAC equipment (the entire new and old school will be air conditioned), structural support, and data and telecommunications drops.

New Kitchen Framing
New Kitchen Storage Room Framing
Installation of FRP Panels on the Exterior Wall
New Life Safety System Installation
New Sprinkler Systems Throughout the Original Schoolhouse
(Buildings 12-16)
Sprinkler Install Outside PreK


Following the completion of shear wall construction, exterior brick installation is now underway along the west wall and will continue along the south, then east walls of Graham House.  Glazing will follow in the fall with the aim of complete enclosing and sealing of the entire superstructure before the winter.

New Shear Wall and Exterior Wall at First Floor (New Omega Classroom)
Newly Poured Slab and Waiting Steel at 3rd Floor
West Wall Exterior Brick Installation

Facade work and brick cutouts at the fire escapes of Graham House, along with pointing, continue on the north and east walls.

Facade Work North Wall


Within Graham House the stair and elevator core of Building 18 is being demolished and new steel added at each floor.  This is the most complex part of this summer's work, requiring incredible coordination of trades, materials and personnel. Demo began at the top and is working its way down through new and old construction.  All the steel for this section was successfully delivered to the site several weeks ago and placed out on each floor.

Facade water proofing continues on the southern and western walls.  Fireproofing also continues on floor undersides.

5th Floor Stair D (Building 18) Demo

New Steel 5th Floor Building 18.
This will be repeated for each floor all the way down Bldg 18.

After the steel goes in, steel decking follows.  Here's a shot of the 6th floor completed with decking before the concrete floor is poured.

6th Floor Building 18 Decking

6th Floor Decking Going Down
New Upper Gym Looking SE

New Upper Gym Looking SW

Finally, this is a shot of roof abatement and bulkhead removal.

Roof Bulkhead and Abatement

Monday, July 17, 2017

Year Six of Horizons Program


The 100 boys participating in Horizons at Saint David's are well into the six-week program, enjoying the hot days of summer immersing themselves in reading, music, art, writing, math, STEM projects, swimming lessons, field trips to local museums, and sports. 


Our program, now in its sixth year, includes students from four elementary schools in Harlem, who will enter Grades One through Six come September, and aims to prevent the common problem of academic summer learning loss among children in lower-income families. Social-emotional learning is also infused throughout each day.


New this year is the addition of full time athletic director Keith Williams and our partnership with Ramapo for Children, an organization that provides training programs to educators working with children who may face obstacles to learning. Ramapo works with our teachers and volunteers, providing practical strategies on how to best address the students' needs.


Horizons at Saint David's began in 2012, when Saint David's became an affiliate of Horizons National through an initiative to contribute to the greater good beyond our immediate community. 


On average, Horizons' students move ahead two - three months in reading and math skills after participating in the program.  Horizons at Saint David's has an impressive retention rate of 91% and an attendance rate of 95%. It's a robust program, led by Director Meg Sheridan and Co-Program Directors Meghan Patterson and Courtney Sanchez, supported by Saint David's faculty members who teach the boys, and a dozen of our Saint David's alumni volunteers who are in high school.

This year, as in last, The Nightingale Bamford School has allowed us to hold the program on their campus because of the ongoing construction here at Saint David's. We very much appreciate the generosity and support from our friends at NBS.

For more information on Horizons at Saint David's, please visit http://www.saintdavids.org/horizons

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer of 2017 Construction Update

Our construction project is moving along well. Here's an update of recent and current work:

Concrete pour on the rear of Graham House has been completed with the exception of the second mezzanine level. Concrete pours on the second mezzanine level in both buildings are scheduled for late next week. Once all welding is complete, the temporary columns supporting the truss will be systematically removed, allowing for the balance of the concrete to be completed.

The elevator pit slab has been poured and wall work is now underway. Steel work is also underway with large steel deliveries containing the balance of the steel needed for buildings 18 and 20.

CMU shear wall block-work has extended up to the fifth floor level. Now that the sixth floor is also poured, block-work can continue working up to the top of the building. The sixth floor block-work is scheduled to begin this week.

The phased demolition and steel infill work has commenced on the third floor. The first half of the floor will be completed next week, allowing demolition to begin on the balance of the floor.

Steel installation continues with phased selective demo on the fourth floor of building 22, and the second mezzanine of building 20. Steel laydown areas have been created on multiple floors in preparation for hoisting. Elevator walls have rebar installed, and the concrete forms are being installed today.

Demo in the basement has begun. Photo above shows the Lower School Dining Room area.  

Steel prep work on the second floor mezzanine is nearing completion. Concrete pours for the seating in the new Performing Arts Center continue in sequence as scripted.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Language and Culture in Salamanca


Members of the Class of 2018 are in Salamanca, Spain, for a two-week Summer Study program--our 7th year. They are having a fantastic time!


The boys spend their mornings in immersion Spanish classes at Colegio Unamuno, tailored to their level of proficiency with the language. In the afternoons, they and their teachers tour various cultural and historical sites. The boys also have several opportunities to interact with Spanish peers in both formal academic and informal situations.


The Spain Summer Study piques boys' intellectual curiosity as they engage in the culture, history, and language of Spain. This enriching experience builds on the immersion Spanish program at Saint David's, where our boys learn the language and about the cultures of Spanish speaking nations throughout their years at our school.


The Class of 2017


Friday afternoon, Board Chair Dan Connolly '77 and I had the honor of conferring diplomas upon the 41 members of the Class of 2017. 

What an incredible class! These boys displayed enthusiastic intellectual curiosity throughout their time at Saint David's.

They were also highly accomplished in music and on the sports field, truly representative of the classical ideal of balance at the core of our school.

Over the years I have watched them grow academically, aesthetically, athletically and spiritually. I am certain that they will continue their life's journey curious without bias, and guided by moral virtues.

Class of 2017, you will be missed. Return often to your Alma mater!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Pirates of Saint David's


Pirates invaded Saint David's yesterday. From Penzance.


Our fifth graders performed Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta with gusto and flair to an audience of delighted parents, myself included.  Congratulations on a job well done to cast members Michael K. (Major-General), Adison L. (Pirate King), Ryan S. (Frederic), Laurencio G. (Ruth), Teddy G. (Mabel), Milo C., (Samuel) and Davis C. (Police Sergeant); and to all of the maidens, pirates, police officers, and stage crew members.


Each year Saint David's School closes the school year with this wonderful tradition, The Fifth Grade Musical, where the boys indulge their inner thespian, and get to sing their hearts out.


Music and drama are integral to our embrace of balance and the aesthetic at Saint David's. It was on full display yesterday, thanks in large part to Director Phyllis Clark, Musical Director Jeffrey Moore, producers Mary Beth Coudal, Jamie MacNeille, and Shane Meals, and parent volunteers Isobel Case, Kathy Egan, Amy Rohrbaugh, and Christine Tomas. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Using Coding to Explore Geomtery

Our third graders have been using coding to explore geometry. Over the past two weeks, the boys have worked in pairs building scripts that make Pro Bot cars draw a variety of shapes.

The boys used the design process to build and test code that includes commands to have cars drive a certain length, turn a certain number of degrees, and repeat those steps a certain number of times. They used sheets of paper and markers to make artifacts of their code, and rulers and protractors to measure sides and angles during their debugging process. What a challenging, fun project!

Spring Gathering Celebration


On Thursday, we enjoyed the annual Spring Gathering, an event that brings together our alumni and alumni parent community for a Chapel talk and backyard celebration. This year, three very special women in the life of this school played a big role in the evening.


Julie Sykes--alumni parent, former admissions director, and current trustee--delivered a Chapel talk that touched all of us, addressing what makes Saint David's School so special. As someone who has worn so many "Saint David's hats" she certainly knows this school!

Julie relayed that Saint David's had been the school of choice when it came time for her three sons to begin elementary school because it offered, "a strong moral and ethical foundation, a great education, and a happy elementary experience." She also spoke of the strong community spirit among families, faculty and staff, who help each other during rough times, and of how the mission's aspiration "that they be good men" is embraced and valued by all. As the first Director of Horizons at Saint David's, she noted the remarkable support for that initiative among our alumni/alumni parent community.


After the Chapel, I had the great honor of recognizing two alumni parents, Linda Foran and Dorothy Faux, who served as co-chairs of the Alumni Parents Council with grace and distinction for ten years. Dorothy and Linda led the charge in attracting incredible speakers for our Alumni Parent Lecture Series, and in organizing outstanding cultural outings for our alumni/alumni parent community.

Julie, Dorothy, Linda, their fellow alumni parents and all of the alumni, including members of reunion classes 1977, 1997, and 2007 who joined us in celebration Thursday night, are reminders of the strong, committed, cohesive community that Saint David's is.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

First Grade "Rotten Ralph" Authors

Rotten Ralph is a feisty, mischievous cat, whose antics in Jack Gantos' books delight young and old readers alike. Last week our first graders retold the Rotten Ralph story onstage in front of their parents and then each boy presented his parents with an original picture book he had written and illustrated, based on the Rotten Ralph series.

"Rotten Ralph Goes to Science Class," "Rotten Ralph Visits the Apple Store," "Rotten Ralph Goes Snowboarding," and "Rotten Ralph Goes to the Movies" were some of our boys' titles. You can imagine what trouble Ralph was going to cause in each of these venues, and you can also imagine how proud our first grade author/illustrators were as they took their places with their parents and read them their stories.

Throughout this year, through modeling and guided practice, the first graders have become increasingly independent writers, able to write in a variety of genres.