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.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Cherished Christmas Tradition

Last week, we held our annual Advent Service of Lessons and Carols in the Church of St. Thomas More. The church overflowed with families and faculty. 

The evening began with the Recorder Consort, in which several Saint David's alumni participated.

During the service, as is custom, our boys, faculty, administrators and trustees read several passages from scripture, while our Fifth and Sixth Grade Chamber Singers filled the church with the carols of the season.

The messages in the lessons that were read, the beauty of the carols sung, and the presence of so many in our school community, never fail to move.  The evening holds within it what we believe to be most dear and true about Christmas.

Our gratitude to Music Chair Jeff Moore, Choral Director Phyllis Clark, Religion Chair Jim Barbieri, and Recorder Teacher Susan Iadone for their efforts in bringing us this meaningful event. 







Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Homecoming

Christmastime is homecoming time.  Each year it is wonderful to welcome Saint David's alumni and their parents back to their Saint David's home for some holiday cheer.

As the Hume Library sparkles with Christmas spirit, alumni, parents of alumni, and faculty and staff mingle, catch up, and wish each other well for the holidays and new year ahead.

The evening is also a special one because we announce the recipient of the Alumnus of the Year Award. 

This year's award recipient was Marc Robert '74, who epitomizes the mission of this school...Ut Viri Boni Sint. 

Mr. Robert has worn several Saint David's hats--student, alumnus, father of alumni Oscar '08 and Nicholas '09, Alumni Council Chair and, for the last six years, first alumnus to be President of the Board of Trustees. 

Following in the footsteps of his father, who served as trustee for many years in the 70s, Marc shepherded Saint David's through the public phase of the Continuing Our Best Traditions Campaign. He has been instrumental in our ongoing consolidation and expansion project.  Marc has been visionary and dedicated, and his inter-generational relationship with Saint David's has provided an incredibly valuable and insightful perspective.

Before he presented the award to Marc, Alumni Council Chair Sam Samuels '84 read a quote from an article that Marc penned for our Magazine a few years back, in which he summarized his many roles at Saint David's: 

“The lenses through which I experience the school aren’t discrete; they blend together. As an alum, I look at the past and want to ensure a certain continuity with it. As a parent, I look at the qualities the school is bringing out in my sons. Serving as a trustee is like having a rare or old car; you don’t really own it, you are taking care of it for the next generation – for the future.”

In accepting his award, Marc spoke about the "intangible quality" at Saint David's which bonds us, and commented on how unique it was that his sons had some of the same teachers that he had had as a Saint David's boy.

I also have been impressed by how many times people approach me at gatherings such as this to make note of the same thing: that our little school is so much more; there is a deep sense of connection to and love for the school; it embodies the warmth and care of home.  You could feel it in the Hume Library Monday night. 

What better way to celebrate the Christmastide?


Monday, December 14, 2015

Digital Universe Unit With AMNH-Hayden Planetarium Kicks Off

The second year of our unique partnership with the American Museum of Natural History-Hayden Planetarium kicked off on Friday when the sixth grade had their first session of the Digital Universe unit. The session included a private viewing at the planetarium in which boys were able to explore the entire universe. They and their teachers were invited to view the show from the vantage point of the floor in the center of the round theater, staring up into the apex of the dome. What an amazing perspective!

Museum educator and astro-visualization expert Nathan Belomy took the boys on a tour of the observable universe, allowing them to get a feel for the scale of distance and size in the universe.

In a fun activity related to scale, the boys set down  a volleyball (representing the sun) at 79th Street, and walked for blocks down Columbus avenue with the planets in our solar system represented by a variety of smaller objects – a cupcake sprinkle, a marble – predicting and then measuring and accurately placing the “planets” at their correct distances.

The boys also had a quick tour of AMNH's proprietary UniView software, which they will use to navigate through space using real-time astronomical data. By the end of this unit, our boys will have researched astronomy-related questions, written, and created their own space shows that explore their topics, and presented them in the Hayden Planetarium for their parents.

One of the many ways that an education at Saint David's moves beyond 89th Street, our collaboration with the AMNH-Hayden Planetarium is a one-of-a-kind partnership between the museum and a school. It is a deeply integrated ongoing collaboration of our teachers with the museum's educators and astro-visualization team, which provides our boys with private access to the planetarium and the Digital Universe software.  An amazing STEAM experience!



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Analysis and Rhetoric at NBS Lectures on Art

Six eighth graders captivated us with their final presentations for the annual Nightingale-Bamford Lectures on Art, held this past Friday in Hyman Hall. This year, three of the finalists analyzed art by Picasso; with Raphael, Giotto, and Botticelli also represented.  All boys did a fine job, speaking well with knowledge and insight about the works they had researched in their humanities class under the guidance of teacher Nancy Iannicelli.

The presentations were based on each boy's independent research on a particular work of art, and included analysis of such components as color, impact of the artist, gesture, iconography, purpose, and geometric simplification, among others. For the finals, the boys presented before their peers at Saint David's and Nightingale-Bamford School, and a panel of judges comprised of faculty members, administrators, trustees and art experts.

Congratulations to winner Teddy W., who spoke on Picasso's Three Musicians and to his fellow finalists: Jamie A., Ben D., Nick N, Sean O., and Charlie U. All should be proud of their accomplishments.

The finalists were selected after all eighth graders participated in the preliminary lectures, held last week.

The NBS Lectures competition is the first of four summary projects that our eighth graders complete as part of their interdisciplinary humanities course. The course is a signature one at Saint David's in which boys refine the art of clear, concise, cogent writing and speaking, in a program that blends art, analysis, rhetoric, history, and writing.

Third Graders Perform "Visit of the Three Kings" in Spanish

In the spirit of the season, each of our third grade Spanish classes presented the "Visit of the Three Kings" to second graders last week.

Written by their teachers, the performance featured dialogue in Spanish, and songs such as Los Ángeles del Cielo; Dum, Dum; and Noche de paz.

The boys, excited and confident before show-time, had been rehearsing since November. It was no small feat to master the all-Spanish dialogue, staging, and singing. They did a fantastic job in a performance that incorporated theater, religion, and music into their learning of the Spanish language, making teachers Cristina Cotumaccio, Maria Valdes, and Elizabeth Whitman proud.


Alums Visit Alma Mater

Several alums have visited over the past week or so. It was fun catching up. These have included Jack '15 Regis, and Max '15, Deerfield, Finn '15 Regis, Danny '15 Loyola, George '15 Regis, Skakel '13 Regis, Nathaniel '15 Regis, and Sam '15 Fordham.

Mike Imbelli and I also visited alums at Columbia Prep. Graduating this year are Loomis '12 , Andrew '12, Cameron '12, and Henry '12.















Friday, December 4, 2015

Grandparents Inaugural Event Explores 'New York at its Core'


Yesterday evening, with logs burning in the fire place and the light of the Christmas Tree illuminating Hume South, our Parents Association hosted Saint David's inaugural grandparents evening event, welcoming grandparents of our current boys to the Hume Library for an intellectually stimulating talk by Dr. Sarah M. Henry, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of the Museum of the City of New York.

Dr. Henry introduced all of us to the museum's exciting new plans to transform the first floor of the museum on 5th Avenue into the signature exhibition New York at its Core, which will tell the story of New York in three periods: past, present and future.

The new exhibit will be framed by four of New York City's defining themes: money, diversity, density, and creativity.  As Dr. Henry said, "Our mission is to connect the past, present, and future.  History is made by people making decisions. We are now making decisions for the future of our city." 

It was fascinating to learn about the museum's strategic approach to this project and wonderful to spend time with the grandparents of our boys, who are cherished members of the Saint David's family.

Special thanks to parents Bernadine Gilfond and Fabiana Ramirez, and to our PA President Tracey Pontarelli for making this memorable evening happen.

Fifth Graders Design, Build, and Test Wind Turbines

Do wind turbines with cardboard or ones with paper blades generate energy more efficiently? Does the number of blades have an impact on the amount of energy produced?

Our fifth graders are answering these and other questions, as they wear the hats of both scientist and engineer on a wind turbine project. 

Applying what they have learned in science about energy transformation, mechanical advantage, and simple and compound machines, the boys are using the scientific method to conduct their own controlled experiment, testing how changing one variable in their blade design (such as the number, material used, or shape) affects the amount of electricity generated.

They will also work as engineers, analyzing their data to then inform design and construction of the most efficient wind turbine.

The wind turbine unit is exciting for the boys, who love to build something that they can see actually works. They also collaborate to solve a problem they find relevant, and benefit from having to make several tests before meeting with success.