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 16, 2016

Christmas Gift


Yesterday evening, our Fifth and Sixth Grades gave us the gift of our Advent Service of Lessons and Carols. It was, as always, a beautiful evening at St. Thomas More, which warms hearts and prepares us for the Christmas holiday.


Gratitude to Music Chair Jeff Moore, Recorder Teacher Susan Iadone, Chorale Director Phyllis Clark and Religion Chair Jim Barbieri for bringing us this most special evening. A three-minute selection follows:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Partnership with The Guggenheim Culminates in 2nd Grade Exhibit at the Museum


Saint David's special partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and our second graders for a 10-week unit of art study and practice, culminated this week with the boys' exhibit at the museum.

In Look, Imagine, Create: Collages, Paintings, and Construction the boys took me, faculty, and their parents on their exciting adventures in art this fall.


First, in the museum's Thannhauser Collection gallery, the boys were our docents.  They took pride in sharing what they had learned about a particular piece of artwork, be it Picasso's Lobster & Cat, Mondrian's Dunes in Zeeland, or Chagall's Flying Carriage, to name a few.


How powerful for them to be in front of the actual work itself as they discussed abstraction, use of color, and shape, and their personal reactions to it! Not only did they answer our questions, but they asked some of us as well.


More powerful still was how, through the course of the unit, the boys drew inspiration from what they learned about the different artists' techniques and approaches to create their own original works. This they also shared with us in the Guggenheim's art studio, which was transformed into an exhibit hall of the boys' creations in painting, observational and ink drawings, construction, and collage. 


Their projects were all driven by motivating questions, related to the artwork that inspired them. When working on a project related to Flying Carriage they considered: "When was a time you had an adventure? How can you show it in a painting?"


The boys told us what inspired them, the techniques they used, what they found challenging and their favorite part about making the artwork.

Since September they have spent their 80-minute art sessions at the Guggenheim, studying the iconic architecture of the building as well as modern masterpieces from the Thannhauser Collection. In the museum's art studios they participated in hands-on activities under the guidance of Art Curriculum Chair Jenna Boccella, their art teachers Melanie Fidler and Hannah Frassinelli, and museum educator Hollie Ecker. 

For our young boys to begin to develop a strong vocabulary about art, and to have access to experts from a museum like the Guggenheim in addition to the expertise of their Saint David's teachers, provides them with a unique opportunity to dive into their curiosity about art and realize new depths of understanding and creativity.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Gathering for Christmas


Yesterday evening against the glowing lights of our Christmas tree in a newly appointed Room 22 (our former small gym), the alumni and alumni parent community gathered for a Christmas celebration, which honored Arthur (Sam) Samuels '84 as Alumnus of the Year for his dedicated service as Chair of the Alumni Council. Greg Landegger '85, our new Alumni Council Chair, presented Sam with the award.

In his acceptance, Sam mentioned his appreciation for former faculty member Dick Dryzga, and thanked the school for all that it has done for him and his family.
 

What I love about Saint David's is how we are a community about faith and family, all sharing what it means to be a part of something bigger than oneself. The magic and light of the Christmas Season make that even more apparent.



2016 NBS Lectures

He promised to provide the lowdown on The Lowdown, and he certainly did!

Eighth grader John C. was the winner of the twenty-fourth annual NBS Lectures on Art for his formal analysis of the painting by Elizabeth Murray.

Congratulations to John and to finalists William D. (Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater), William R. (Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton), Will M. (Emanuel Leutze's Washington Crossing the Delaware), and Dylan C. (Vasily Kandinsky's Panel for Edwin R. Campbell No. 4) for the insightful, in-depth analyses they provided of various notable works of art and architecture.

The boys spoke with confidence about their selections to an audience of fellow classmates, their peers from Nightingale-Bamford School, and a panel of expert judges from the art world. The finalists were selected after last week's preliminaries in which all eighth graders participated. 


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, taught by teacher and art historian Nancy Iannicelli, 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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Curious About the Universe


Sixth graders have begun their exciting interdisciplinary unit through Saint David's ongoing one-of-a-kind partnership with the American Museum of Natural History - Hayden Planetarium.


The Digital Universe takes our boys on a scientific exploration of the cosmos, with the museum's educators and astronomers leading several sessions at the AMNH, while Saint David's teachers create related rigorous engaging learning assignments and activities in science and English classes.


This partnership is unique in the depth of its integration and collaboration, with our boys granted private ongoing access to the Hayden Planetarium and it proprietary UniView software. The boys master the data-visualization software as they research, write, and prepare for a multimedia planetarium show that poses a space-related (astronomy) research question of their choice.


For example, some will explore the Big Bang Theory. Others, may investigate which planets might support life. The boys will present their final shows in the dome of the Planetarium for their parents and classmates in March.

Curiosity about the universe runs deep; this partnership harnesses that inquisitiveness to produce a singular, spectacular learning experience for our boys.




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A Grandparents and Special Friends Tradition


It is a most special Christmas tradition at Saint David's for our youngest boys and their grandparents: our Grandparents and Special Friends Day.


Last Friday morning Pre-K, K, and Omega boys sang their hearts out for their grandparents and special friends, having mastered a range of traditional Christmas Carols during their music classes with Music Chair Jeff Moore. 


The performances delighted the audience as well as the boys, who were thrilled when Santa and a group of his elves stopped in! Later, grandparents spent time in their grandsons' classrooms, reading and engaging in a variety of activities.

It's wonderful to have the grandparents of our boys at Saint David's, especially during this "Most Wonderful Time of the Year!"


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.