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, December 2, 2016

Fascinating Art Talk by Michelle Marder Kamhi at Grandparents Event

Yesterday evening, independent scholar and critic Michelle Marder Kamhi (www.mmkamhi.com), co-editor with husband Louis Torres of Aristos, an online review of arts; author of Who Says That's Art? A Commonsense View of the Visual Arts; and grandmother of two Saint David's boys, gave a thought provoking talk on art for our grandparent community.

An advocate of objective standards in arts scholarship and criticism, Ms. Kamhi focused her talk on the ways in which art critics such as Clement Greenberg promoted the shift from representational art to abstraction. Kamhi argues that the abstract and post-modern art prevalent today, which often requires explanation by docents in order to be understood, goes against art's purpose. Taking issue with Greenberg's contention that representation is an expendable convention of painting, she quoted the late art critic John Canaday: "Art is the tangible expression of the intangible values that men live by."

"Good art," Ms. Kamhi said, "deals with the fundamental human experience, it is transcendent." She also noted recent findings in neuroscience that indicate the connection between art and emotion.

Ms. Kamhi's discussion offered a fascinating perspective that challenges the status quo in the contemporary art world; her talk provided an opportunity for all present to think about their views on art.

The event was a perfect example of the intellectual curiosity we cherish at Saint David's, where different perspectives are considered and pondered in a marketplace of ideas.

Our appreciation to Ms. Kamhi for providing such an intellectually stimulating evening. Thanks also to parents Fabiana Ramirez and Bernadine Gilfond for organizing this special Grandparents event, and to the Kamhi family.

Partnership with New-York Historical Society Expands to Grade Three


We have expanded our educational partnership with the New-York Historical Society to include our third graders' study of westward migration and the Oregon Trail.


Yesterday an art historian from the N-YHS joined homeroom teachers for sessions in each Third Grade classroom, introducing the boys to the ways in which the Hudson River School painters were commissioned to paint idealized paintings of the west in order to encourage westward migration.


Boys analyzed the paintings for both their historical context and artistic techniques. They were quick to point out that these beautiful works omitted some real life problematic issues of western settlement, such as cholera and flipped over wagons. They also discussed and practiced techniques to draw their own landscapes, including use of perspective, lines and shapes.


The boys are charged with creating a realistic water color landscape to show New York City dwellers what the west was truly like.

This partnership joins the ones in Grades One and Two, each related to a different aspect of American history. The sessions make history come alive both through access to N-YHS resources and the boys' making of art related to their learning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Partnership With Daniel's Music Foundation


In a new partnership between Saint David's School and Daniel's Music Foundation (www.danielsmusic.org), sixth grade members of Saint David's Headmaster's Community Club now join members of DMF for a series of shared music classes at the DMF facility on Lexington Ave. DMF, founded in 2005 by Daniel Trush (shown in photo above) and his family, runs recreational music programs in a group setting for individuals with different abilities, using the power of music to create community.


Yesterday, the boys and I went to DMF after school for our second session. The boys were split into three small groups, each in a different studio engaging in a musical activity with the boys and girls of DMF.


Some learned a new song, others played the drums, or participated in a fun dance activity. Smiles were aplenty, and we had a wonderful afternoon.


This new partnership between our school and DMF promotes awareness of difference through the common bond of music, an essential facet of Saint David's program. It is an example of the many ways that Saint David's reaches out, beyond the walls of our school to other cultural institutions, exposing our boys to difference and others.

Young children come to appreciate that despite the variety of challenges other children may face, inside everyone is very much the same.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner - A Thanksgiving Tradition


Yesterday evening, William Fitzgerald '08 returned to school to give the Young Alumni Chapel talk, a pre-Thanksgiving tradition, for which we had a record turnout!  William focused on the unique values that Saint David's instills in its students, its commitment to balance and producing "men of integrity," and he noted how rare it will be to find a similarly structured environment so supportive going forward.


He urged the boys present -- our current eighth graders (younger brother Laird '17 among them) and alumni in high school -- to be ambassadors for Saint David's as they journey through their lives, offering the following five traits as those that will enable them to carry on the tradition of Saint David's: having a strong work ethic, being versatile and open-minded, exhibiting leadership, being humble, and demonstrating kindness.

"Be that good man that Saint David's strives for you to be," he said,
"Remember where you came from, and preserve the legacy of your school." William closed saying that the young alumni present, those soon-to-be, and all of the alumni that preceded them form a "proud family of brothers" that look out for each other.  How perfect a sentiment during a time of year that celebrates family!


Following the talk, the Class of 2016 posed for a photo with a plaque of their Class Legacy Gift, which supports the Eighth Grade tour of the Sistine Chapel.  We then all enjoyed a wonderful dinner, during which last year's Student Council President James K '16 presented his class's check for the more than $11,000 raised in support of Saint David's Kalina School in Tigray, Ethiopia.

The Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner event is always one of my favorite; it is gratifying to see so many young alumni return to school -- taller, stronger, older, but eminently recognizable as Saint David's boys. 




Happy Thanksgiving



Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Partnership


One of our school's longstanding partnerships is with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

During their week-long interdisciplinary study on Cape Cod last month, our seventh graders investigated marine conservation and sustainability issues through sessions led by WHOI scientists.


Dr. Heather Benway, research specialist in marine chemistry and geochemistry, guided the boys in hands-on, site-specific investigations into the physical properties of the ocean. The boys explored the various mechanisms by which water separates into different layered habitats, the impact that ocean acidification has on marine life, and troubles animals face from non-degradable plastics.


What a fantastic opportunity for our boys to learn about the ocean by exploring its properties first-hand under the guidance of experts in the field!

Buddies!

We look to enhance community and fortify the bonds among our boys in many ways at Saint David's.

One that stands out is the pairing of seventh graders with a second grader buddy. As both classes prepare to be leaders in their respective schools, they meet several times to participate in a school activity, and exchange thoughts and ideas.

At their initial meeting last week, the boys shared snacks and played Thanksgiving-related word games, getting to know one another and establishing rapport.

This Wednesday, the second graders will be accompanied by their "big brothers" to Saint Thomas More for our annual Thanksgiving Mass. It will be the younger boys' first mass at Saint David's. The second graders look up to the older boys, and the older boys relish the opportunity to guide and encourage the younger.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Third Grade Designers and Engineers

Our Third Grade engineers are putting their recent learning about circuits to the test, creating electronic games and devices.
Working in small groups, the boys have decided upon the "product" to make, and developed a design. Now, through trial and error, they are testing their creations.

The boys are having so much fun getting their race cars, DJ boxes, robots and security systems to work, and are thrilled when parts move and lights flash as intended.

This project is a perfect example of the way STEAM projects thoroughly engage our boys in the engineering and design process, as they come to appreciate the iterative nature of the discipline. 

(Video shows a security alarm that will go off if someone tries to remove a pencil from a desk).



One Day, Two Great Traditions


Yesterday saw two great Saint David's "competition" traditions: The Math Bowl and Turkey Run.


The Math Bowl challenges four teams of our boys in Grades Five through Eight to solve a series of problems with a wide range in difficulty. The Archimedeans, Newtonians, and Euclideans all did well--they know their math! However, the Pythagoreans emerged as the winners.


At around the same time, in Riverside Park, our second graders were running in the 450-meter race that marks the arrival of the season at Saint David's, our annual Turkey Run. Cheered on by their families, coaches, and teachers, the boys flew through the park, all smiles and speed. They had prepared hard in sports classes for this race and were ready.

It was a fun and challenging morning for the boys!



Friday, November 11, 2016

"Drawing Bootcamp" at the Guggenheim

Our eighth graders are honing their observational drawing skills in 12 sessions of "Advanced Drawing Bootcamp" through our new partnership with the Guggenheim.  On a recent visit, the boys delved into their preliminary investigations of the Guggenheim's interior, executing a series of pencil drawings on site.

The boys learned about the museum's history: how architect Frank Lloyd Wright employed organic architecture (his philosophy that a building should develop out of its natural surroundings) and drew inspiration from the museum's proximity to Central Park. 

Boys toured the museum rotunda, looking carefully for potential drawing subjects, and then made drawings on the theme of organic architecture in the museum. 

Throughout this unit, they are being inspired by the architecture of the museum itself, discovering how to create interesting compositions in their own artwork by choosing exciting views of the museum to draw.

Our school's proximity to the Guggenheim provides our boys and their teachers with a unique opportunity to extend their art studio learning on-site at this architectural wonder.





LittleBit Fun

Our third graders are building circuits that combine input and output pieces. They use littleBits electronics modules and, through trial and error, determine what works (and what doesn't) and the importance of sequencing.

These lessons so engage our boys, it is evident they are having a great time while learning.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Soccer Champs!

Congratulations to our 7/8 Red Soccer team! Today, our boys won the Manhattan Private Middle School Championship game against Buckley 3-0, giving them an undefeated season.

Another great day in sports at Saint David's. 

Fantastic!