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, September 18, 2018

Puer viri pater est

The following excerpts are from my Opening Letter to the Saint David's Community:

It’s been a dream for 45 years and an active goal for 12, and here we are—a newly reimagined, redesigned, and expanded campus on 89th Street.  A cast of thousands got us here.  It was an awe-inspiring collection of remarkable talent and unbridled commitment that enabled the school to complete this major construction project on budget, and to open on time.  Our new spaces will allow the program, its teachers, and our boys to fulfill their endless potential...

...Despite all this newness, we will never lose sight of what truly defines Saint David’s: our mission.  In keeping with our Classical tradition, Saint David’s will continue to balance the education of our boys across her four pillars: the academic, athletic, artistic, and spiritual.  Our academic, athletic, and artistic programs are strong.  Of this there is no doubt.  Our boys successfully matriculate to schools that demand much of them academically, athletically, and artistically.  To be honest, one can find this at many great schools.  What distinguishes Saint David’s is that we are equally committed to the spiritual—to the development of the character of our boys—one that is informed by faith, shaped by practice, and celebrated by community.

The education of a boy’s character is the whole work of the school.  It is everything that happens here.  It is the reason, I would argue, we do school.  Character is not achieved through divine providence, but through the quality and consistency of what our boys choose to do—their actions. 

For a boy to thrive in his twenty-first century world, he must learn to be a man who believes that his highest obligation is not to himself, but to others—to move from viewing the world as all about ‘me,’ through one that’s all about ‘you,’ to a world that’s all about ‘us.’  

Today, unfortunately, he is too often surrounded by a popular culture that celebrates the antithesis of these values.  A Saint David’s education must be an antidote to popular trends.  A Saint David’s boy must learn to think critically, debate intelligently, and act respectfully. 

School must be a place where boys can make mistakes and learn from them.  Our founders did not articulate …that they be perfect men, but rather… that they be good men. 

My letter opened with the Latin idiom “Puer viri pater est”—the boy is father to the man.  You’ll find the phrase etched in the bench located on the Second Floor Mezzanine...

...The experiences of childhood, both positive and negative, create impressions that become deeply etched in our minds.  It has been said often that past is experience, present is experiment, and future is expectation.  A boy, by gathering his experiences into his experiments, can achieve his expectations and, by extension, become the father of his own manhood. 

The Opening Letter in its entirety can be found on the website at this link.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Celebrating Boys!

Yesterday was the first day in a school that, after two-and-a-half years of tight-belt compression, stretched into beautifully expanded space. Exhale. We were ready. So were the boys!

Often wide-eyed, they oohed and aahed, and then got to business greeting their classmates and teachers, who helped them navigate their way to their classrooms; some familiar, others brand new. Teaching and learning began.

Each morning, I will continue to greet our boys at the same townhouse door, the black door of Building 16, as has been custom for decades. Saint David's is the same school at its core, with the same values and mission that have guided us for nearly 70 years, now housed in a beautiful new program-driven facility that will enable our community to be all that we can be.

This year's school-wide theme is simple--boys. They are who we teach, what we do. And boyhood is what we treasure.

Welcome to Year 68. 

Friday, August 31, 2018

Near the Finish Line

Our monumental expansion/consolidation project is on track and we are all set to be ready for opening day! Many thanks to the construction team under supervisor Pete Provenza, and our Facilities staff, who have been working around the clock to ensure a timely completion.

Here is a look at a few of the spaces. They are spectacular, and will serve our boys and their teachers well!

  Lower Gym

Middle Gym

 Upper Gym

Cardio Fitness Center Space

"Il Duomo" -- The Eighth Grade Commons

STEAM Commons


Fifth Grade Commons

Performing Arts Center

New Lunchroom

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Getting Closer!

Final work progresses in our consolidation/expansion project's sprint to completion. Here's an updated look at some spaces:

Wood doors in new school lobby entrance.

 Scaffolding down from Omega entrance to backyard.

 Acoustic ceiling in one of the music classrooms.

 Floors down, fixtures installed in the Fifth Grade Commons, which features a study room.

All incredibly exciting!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

And the scaffolds come down...

... and the sinks go in, and the fireplace mantles get placed... but we’re not done yet. Closer, but still much to do! The reimagined, redesigned and expanded Saint David’s is almost ready...

Notice the new ornamental friezes and the repaired cornice

Friday, July 20, 2018

Taking Shape

As the temperatures heated up so has work on our expansion and consolidation project. Crews are working nonstop, with rooms and hallways becoming more finished by the day.

Walls are being sheet-rocked and painted, wood flooring laid, lighting and doors installed, cabinets and bookshelves added.  Townhouse renovations are also underway, including the breakdown of walls between Buildings 12, 14, and 16, and Graham House.

Cut through from townhouses to Graham House, Third Floor
Here's a look at some of the spaces. Exciting days for Saint David's!

Security Station in Lobby

Seats in the Performing Arts Center

Bookshelves in Upper School Library
Locker Room
Upper Gym with Bleachers

Horizons Adds Grade 7

Horizons at Saint David's six-week summer program for elementary school boys in neighboring lower income, diverse communities is underway.

The multi-dimensional program provides academics, arts, sports, and several field trips. It focuses on preventing summer academic slide, building confidence, and fostering the boys' social/emotional development.

This year, 110 boys are enrolled, and the program has expanded to include Grade 7. Saint David's Seventh Grade teacher Jim Barbieri is leading the new class, adapting his history course on Ancient Rome.

I hear that the seventh graders are very excited about their upcoming field trip to New York Police Headquarters' Facial Recognition Unit Joint Operations Center, where they will meet with the Chief of Detectives. The trip was arranged by Saint David's alum Ben Singleton '05, Director of Analytics, Detective Bureau, who is Co-Chair of the Horizons Junior Advisory Board.

Appreciation to Buckley for enabling us to run the program this summer from their school, as we complete our construction project. Next year, Horizons will return to Saint David's expanded 89th Street Campus and will realize its full capacity, welcoming boys in Grades 1 through 8.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Setting Sail on the H.M.S. Pinafore

At the end of the school year I always look forward to one of the most enjoyable Saint David's traditions, the Fifth Grade Musical. This year, the boys performed Gilbert and Sullivan's delightful operetta H.M.S. Pinafore. Produced by teachers Jamie MacNeille and Emma McFarland, directed by Phyllis Clark and conducted by Jeff Moore, the show entertained in spades!

The boys sang and delivered their lines with humor, confidence, and talent. Congratulations to all in the cast and crew; this show was a huge team effort--and it was a smash hit!
Music and drama are integral to our embrace of balance and the aesthetic at Saint David's.  We anticipate even greater programmatic opportunities for our boys to explore the performing arts, both onstage and in the tech/lighting/production areas when our new performing arts center opens in the fall.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer Learning

It's officially summer vacation, but learning continues at Saint David's, with our summer programs in full swing.

Last week, 12 boys from the classes of 2018, 2019, and 2020 participated in Saint David's Summer Art Camp, taught by Ms. Jenna Boccella with assistance from Ms. Nancy Iannicelli.

The boys learned and practiced fundamental watercolor skills as well as concepts of plein air landscape sketching and painting at St. Thomas More each day before heading outdoors to the Cooper Hewitt Garden or Central Park Sailboat Pond to enjoy a leisurely lunch, socializing and watercolor sketching on site.

On the final day of the week-long camp, they added finishing touches to their works and chose two favorite pieces to share with their families.

They identified a challenge they faced, a key skill or concept they learned, and a work or detail that they were proud of from the week's endeavors.

This week, through our partnership with the DNA Learning Center of Cold Spring Harbor, rising sixth and seventh graders are participating in The World of Enzymes. The camp builds on basic concepts of biochemistry and molecular biology and enables students to use advanced techniques to manipulate DNA.

The boys are building molecular models, using enzymes to cut and splice DNA, analyzing DNA fragments and making a personal DNA fingerprint. On Friday, they will explain their week's activities to visiting parents and family members.

And, next week, our partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute will enable boys to discover the Secrets of the Civil War, as they study a topic about the war through research and exploration of primary sources in the Gilder Lehrman Collection.

These are unique enrichment opportunities for our boys to stretch intellectually, analytically, and aesthetically, as they take advantage of Saint David's partnerships and the school's location in the city.