Welcome

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.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Fifth Grade at El Museo Del Barrio

Yesterday, fifth grade boys went with their Spanish teachers to El Museo Del Barrio on 5th Ave.

The boys, who have been taking Spanish through our Spanish immersion program since they were in Pre-K, continue to study not only the Spanish language, but also the cultures of Spanish speaking people.

At the museum, they learned about the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday observed in Mexico and other regions with Hispanic populations, on October 31, November 1, and November 2.


Museum guides led the boys in observations of three typical, private ornate altars that families build to honor the deceased. The altars feature marigolds, butterflies, sugar skulls, day of dead breads (pan des muerto) and items that would be significant to the loved one.

The boys also saw Catrina, the skeleton female who is an icon of the holiday. Boys answered questions about the exhibits in Spanish, sketched features of the altars, and discussed the meaning behind many of the items they saw.













Yale's Whim ‘n Rhythm at Saint David's


This past Wednesday, the all-women a cappella group, Whim ‘n Rhythm, gave a class and performance for the Saint David's School Chamber Singers.

Eleven members of the group, all seniors at Yale University, performed; brightening up what was otherwise quite a dreary, dark morning.

Our boys were all thrilled to join the Whim for a vocal warm up that got everyone singing together.

After limbering up their voices, our Chamber Singers performed Riu Riu Chiu for the ladies, with one of our boys taking the baritone solo. The Whim then performed four songs for the boys, who were riveted by their stage presence and vocal quality.

The class ended with a Q and A session.  The Whim then went upstairs to open 7th & 8th Grade Chapel with their featured song.  Again, the boys were rapt.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Bunch of Alums


I had the great pleasure of spending time with Jevon '11 at Brooklyn Friends yesterday.  He's finishing his senior year.  Neuroscience is a field of particular interest.  We also got to see James '11 at Packer Collegiate.  Thriving, James is interested in a multitude of colleges.

It was parents weekend at a number of boarding schools last weekend, after which several schools gave their students a day or two off.  Many of our alums chose to visit their Alma mater including Peter '13 from Hotchkiss, Harry '14 from Middlesex, and Will '14 from Millbrook, who, by the way, recently launched his new band.  Unfortunately, my photograph of Will didn't turn out.  Sorry Will.



Solving Problems Through the Challenges of Ramapo

Last week, our sixth graders spent two days at Camp Ramapo in Rhinebeck, NY, where they embraced the "Challenge with Choice" philosophy of the Camp.

During their stay, the boys engaged in a series of physically oriented challenges and trust- and team-building activities including zip-lines, and high- and low-rope courses.  In one challenge, they were asked to work in groups to figure out how to swing from one platform to another without touching the ground.

Throughout the trip, boys relied upon each other for safety and guidance as they addressed all the outdoor challenges presented to them.

The experience at Ramapo is an example of concrete ways that thinking can be made visible, as the boys' ideas are put to the test in tangible ways.  It also reinforces the value of working cooperatively and sharing ideas to solve real problems.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fifth Grade at the National Museum of the American Indian

Fifth grade boys went on a newly introduced field trip yesterday to the National Museum of the American Indian in downtown Manhattan.

The trip coincides with the boys’ study of the cultures and contributions of specific Native American tribes. At the Museum, they listened to cultural interpreters describe different aspects of the Inuit, Iroquois, and Sioux societies.

While investigating drawings, animal skins, and a variety of indigenous tools, the boys learned about how each tribe maximized natural resources throughout its physical surroundings.  





 
To conclude their trip, the boys sketched different artifacts on display in the museum’s “Infinity of Nations” exhibit.

Sketches will be displayed during the fifth grade’s upcoming Native American Research Presentations.









Seventh Graders on Cape Cod

Our seventh graders and their teachers are at Cape Cod for this week, where they are engaging in interdisciplinary learning focused around the science of the ocean.  The boys are exploring the seashore, studying marine life and adaptation, writing daily in their journals, and continuing to hone their observational drawing skills.

The boys will also attend program events with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and work in teams on the Critters STEAM project.


This experiential exploration of the ocean ecosystem enables ideas to flourish as the boys observe, discuss, analyze, and create. 

The experience also provides them with a special opportunity to bond further with their fellow classmates, as they settle into their penultimate year at Saint David's.







 



Friday, October 17, 2014

Density Detectives

Our seventh graders were problem-solving detectives in a recent science Mystery Lab.  Their challenge: to re-create a picture of a beaker with four different liquids resting in separate layers.

To do this, each team was shown a photograph and then given the following materials: four large beakers of mystery liquids, beakers, test-tubes, a dropper, a clear plastic cup, a piece of pasta, paperclip, pop sickle stick, and a marker top.  The boys then embarked upon a lab investigation to find the relative density of the four mystery liquids, and the solids.  Once they solved these problems, they then re-created the picture.  

Mystery solved!




STEAM and the "Critters" Project

Our Seventh Grade is heading to Cape Cod, so I thought it a good time to share the following excerpt from an article by Woodworking Teacher Gary Kessler, which appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Saint David's Magazine: 

For communities of students, I believe STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and, at Saint David’s, the “A “signifies Aesthetics) has the potential to facilitate an approach to, and a meaningful engagement with, big ideas that are interesting and relevant. It is not a method, as such, so teachers looking toward STEAM need to help develop and understand guiding principles. The goal is to create curriculum-related experiences that are not just informative but intellectually and emotionally nourishing, involving the whole child...

The “Critters” Activities



In the evolution of the “Critters” project, I started out with no particular central question in mind. I did not even know very much about STEAM. I was doing work directed toward my personal interests as a woodturner. I have some background in geometry and wanted to see if I could develop a satisfactory method for constructing hollow wooden spheres (i.e., balls) from turned plate sections. I would cut carefully mitered pieces on the band saw, round them inside and out individually on the lathe, and later glue or otherwise fasten these “shells” together to complete a hollow sphere. I had in mind, however, that my students might use a much simpler method, with regular classroom materials and tools, to express essentially the same geometry. For me, this type of thing is both fun and a worthwhile challenge. However, I also had to consider how such a project would be appropriate for the boys, and whether they would find it enjoyable.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Horizons and Our Alums


Just left an inspirational meeting with some twenty or so young professional Saint David's alums who have returned to their Alma Mater to form a Junior Board for Horizons. Their energy and enthusiasm is contagious.

They are planning fund raising and other promotional events and direct engagement activities for the Saint David's Horizons program. 

We are fortunate indeed. What a strong, impressive community we enjoy. 

From Farm to Pyramid with Baseball in Between



Examples of active learning abound at Saint David's.  This week our youngest boys assumed the role of farmers for the day. In our backyard courtyard, the boys drove toy tractors to the pumpkin patch, tended to their cow, and played a game of "pass the egg" without cracking it.  Shortly, the boys will study and witness the hatching of baby chicks in their class.  



At the same time our Omega boys spent a Spanish immersion class exploring all things baseball, including singing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” in Spanish, mimicking the actions of a pitcher, hitter and catcher; and dressing a puppet as a NY Yankee player; all while communicating exclusively in Spanish. And our fourth graders, who have been studying the ancient civilization of Egypt, gave presentations on a related topic, such as The Great Pyramid of Giza, Pharaohs, or Mummies, while assuming the roles of art historian, cartographer, or biographer.   



All of these activities engage our boys actively, getting them up, out of their seats, moving, working cooperatively, and speaking publicly. 





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Volunteers


I'm with the 6th grade volunteers at Cardinal Cooke. The boys are working with residents on Halloween themed decorations. 


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly engaging the boys become with total strangers--they're communicating in Spanish, sign language and exaggerated facial expressions. This is their first visit. I'm so proud. 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Cup is Down

Both Saint David's teams played hard against St. B's in their biggest game of the season in Central Park yesterday.  The Osgood Cup, unfortunately, will be placed upside down until this time next year.  It's been up for the past three.  I suppose a rest was warranted.  The boys played hard.  It was a shot on goal in the last 50 seconds that clinched the game for St. B's resulting in a 3-2 loss for Saint David's Red.

Saint David's White, shown left, however was a different story, defeating St. Bernard's in a strong 2-1 battle to the finish.

Mr. Charles Osgood had communicated with members of the faculty earlier in the day regarding the anticipated arrival of his flight from Washington.  He'd also penned a letter to be shared with the boys expressing his excitement about the afternoon's game.  Charles has been an ardent supporter of the school and the boys for decades.  Some here believe his association has existed since the very earliest days of the school founding.  A man of some mystery, we aren't completely sure if he actually made it to the game, although one of the boys commented on seeing someone "observing enthusiastically from some distance."

Next year, Mr. Osgood, next year.