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 13, 2017

A Christmas Gathering

Christmas is made most special when members of a tight knit community come together to celebrate their history, shared values and friendship, and to wish one another well. Yesterday evening our alumni and alumni parent community and many of our faculty and staff gathered to celebrate the Christmas Season with each other.

The evening included presentation of the Alumnus of the Year Award to Miguel Sanchez, Class of 1997. Miguel has been a dedicated member of the alumni community and an integral participant in the school's annual Prep for Prep Alumni Panel, having served as a panelist more than any other alumnus. The panel meets with sixth graders in the spring, in advance of their welcoming a Prep for Prep classmate in the fall of seventh grade. Miguel is an alumnus of Prep for Prep, a Gates Millennium Scholar, and a Robert Toigo Fellow. He earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and an A.B. in Government from Harvard College.

In accepting the award, Miguel spoke of his fondness for Saint David's and his desire to give back to the school in appreciation of his teachers. He also thanked his parents for directing him to Saint David's School in the first place, noting, "My mother knew what I needed in order to grow into the good man my parents hoped I would become."

It was so good to see Miguel and his family and to have the opportunity to thank him for him for his continued commitment to this school. In all of our conversations, it is always clear that he cares deeply about Saint David's and our mission.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cocoa Concert - Our Youngest Musicians Perform for Parents

Yesterday morning, our First Orchestra musicians treated their parents to a before school cocoa concert, an open rehearsal led by director Carla Francis.

Saint David's First Orchestra program, now in its fifth year, provides an opportunity for violin and cello students in Grades One through Three to experience playing together in an orchestra setting. They perform twice during the year in concerts for their fellow classmates.

First Orchestra is a prime example of the school's commitment to the arts and aesthetics, one of the four pillars of a Saint David's education, and it also builds the confidence of our younger boys as they gain comfort performing and speaking in front of an audience of parents and peers.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Blast Off! Year 4 of Digital Universe Field Study

Our school's remarkable, unique partnership with the American Museum of Natural History - Hayden Planetarium kicked off its fourth year last Friday, when our sixth graders spent the morning at the museum for the first session of the Digital Universe Field Study unit. The interdisciplinary study blends English, science and technology curricula, and is conducted both at the museum and in the boys' science and English classes at school.

Boys explore distance and size of planets in our solar system, using clay.

Over the next three months, the class will regularly visit the AMNH, working with the museum's astro-visualization team to master proprietary Digital Universe software that will enable them to  simulate "flying through" the universe, using real-time astronomical data. Working in pairs, they will take this knowledge, as well as their learning about space in science class, and narratives in English, to explore an astronomy-related research question of interest and create a space show presentation that they will present to parents in the dome of the Hayden Planetarium.

This is truly a one-of-a-kind partnership with the AMNH; unique in its ongoing collaboration with the museum's experts and in our boys' private, continuing access to the planetarium and the Digital Universe software.

Boys learn best when they can benefit from the expertise of industry experts as well as their Saint David's teachers, and when their learning in and out of the classroom enables them to pose questions that require critical thinking and analysis. Our DUFS partnership does this, all while allowing our boys to take flight through our solar system and beyond.  Who could ask for more?

Monday, December 4, 2017

"Grandparents Day" for the Holidays

Christmas Carols sung by our Pre-K, Kindergarten and Omega boys filled St. Thomas More on Friday, where we held this year's Grandparents and Special Friends Day program.

Our youngest boys have been practicing hard for weeks with Music Chair Jeffrey Moore to nail the melody and rhythms of classics that included I Saw Three Ships and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Their repertoire also featured a traditional Spanish Carol, and the opportunity for all of us to sing along to some favorites.

Experiencing the holidays through the eyes and voices of our youngest boys was a joy for us all. It was so good to see so many of our boys' grandparents present. Our school's mission celebrates family; and the impact of grandparents on our lives is extremely special, a loving bridge to our past and our future. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

New Robotics Unit for Fifth Grade

Our fifth graders have begun a new interdisciplinary unit: "Exploring Robotics through Mechanics and Coding."

Using the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics system, the boys are applying what they have recently learned about machines to create robots that will solve various challenges. Guided by their teachers Ms. Einhorn and Ms. Liebowitz, they work in pairs, using the engineering design process and building code sequences that will allow their robots to move in specified ways, collect data and respond to their environment.

As they determine what makes a machine a machine, and a robot a robot, our boys are inspired to think critically, take risks and enjoy creative problem solving--all skills vital for success going forward.

They also have a terrific time as they try to figure out how they can make their robots perform according to their code.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Odds Win!

Alumni representing several decades of classes were back at school last Wednesday for the annual Odds vs Evens Soccer challenge.

The lively competitive playing resulted in a close match, with the Odds besting Evens, 4-3.

It is always good to welcome our alumni back to Saint David's and it is clear that as much as they enjoy the pre-Thanksgiving competition, the real draw is the opportunity to reconnect with their fellow Saint David's alumni and coaches.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Education of the Heart

Erik Alfieri '09 returned to school yesterday evening to deliver the Chapel talk for the Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner, one of my favorite Saint David's Thanksgiving traditions.

The Chapel overflowed with nearly 200 of our eighth graders, high school age alumni and teachers. Erik, a recent graduate of Georgetown University, began his talk with this quote from the Dalai Lama: "When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts." Erik detailed how education of the heart has always been foundational at Saint David's, and how it is rare to find in other schools.

He noted that our boys' foundations are built through education of the heart when Saint David's teachers guide them to make informed, moral decisions; when our boys are taught to play sports "with grace and to compete with a sense of generosity and spirit;" and in the practice of Chapel, which provides daily opportunity for reflection.

He likened the way the school educates the heart to the scaffolding, tools and equipment of our construction project. They will be gone one day, but what will remain will be the integral structure: "This is like the education at Saint David's. The foundation remains, and this is what is important."

“Education is foremost the ability to think critically and tackle the issues you will encounter in your next steps,” he concluded.

After Erik's talk, we enjoyed a delicious dinner during which our eighth graders talked to alumni at secondary schools they are interested in attending. The dinner concluded with presentation of a check to Cheryl Anderson of Save the Children, for the $25,000 our boys raised last year in support of the Saint David's Kalina School in Tigray, Ethiopia.

What a wonderful evening with these alumni whose comportment and generous natures never cease to impress me.  It is true that Saint David's takes seriously the education of the heart, and it shows.

Gratitude and Service

Throughout the year, the Saint David's community expresses its gratitude and finds ways to give back and do good.

At Thanksgiving, this commitment to service comes into even greater relief. Our Parents Association Committees are doing amazing dedicated work, running the various fundraising drives that mark the season, such as Operation Gratitude, shown below.

Over the past few weeks, our eighth graders, under the direction of Mr. Tom Ryan, have led the entire school in collecting canned goods and selling a record 700 plus pies to raise money for the purchase of frozen turkeys. This morning, the meals were loaded into vans by the boys and delivered to local churches. (Storage of all these goods this year was a bit of a challenge, but it's amazing how many pies you can fit into a small office when need be!)

In the Thanksgiving Chapels I gave yesterday, and at today's Mass, we came together to offer prayers in thanksgiving for all that we have, most importantly the loving people in our lives.

I am grateful to be a part of this kind, caring community.

Below, see the Thanksgiving poem our Omega Pilgrims recited to our Pre-K Wampanoag during yesterday's Thanksgiving Feast. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Omega Boys Present at Career Fair

On Friday, I joined our Omega boys for their Career Fair, the culmination of their study on jobs and careers. I met with future basketball players, race car drivers and soldiers, among others. It was great to also see Brooks L. '17 there, enjoying his younger brother's (a future cartoonist) presentation.

The boys loved sharing their career study books which incorporated learning in Spanish class, and were filled with original illustrations, and what they've learned about how their selected careers impact communities.

Their energy was contagious!


Skating Under the Stars

Last night we gathered under the stars for the Parents Association's annual Family Skating Party in Wollman Rink, an evening when we celebrate our community of families.

The party raises funds for the wonderful and varied initiatives that our PA committees embrace each year. Thank you to last night's Chairs: Greg Baer, Adriana Kothari, Amanda Moran, and Leticia Presutti for all the work they did to bring this special event to fruition.

Monday, November 20, 2017

West Point Sophomore Jack Kraus '12 Gives Morning Chapel

Alumnus Jack Kraus '12, sophomore at the United States Military Academy at West Point, gave the Chapel Talk this morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

Jack told the boys of an experience he had had at Grand Central Terminal at Christmastime, when he was a senior at Lawrenceville. While waiting for a train and having breakfast at the Terminal, he noticed a man who was homeless. The man sat down and opened a container of food. Before the man ate, he bowed his head and prayed.  That moment made Jack realize that there was so much in his own life that he took for granted. Here, before him, was someone who seemed not to have a lot, but who was grateful for what he did have.

"My challenge to all of you here today is to 'earn this,' " Jack said, drawing upon the last line in the movie Saving Private Ryan; noting how fortunate they all are to be at a school like Saint David's, and how vital it is to give back by contributing to the greater good.

He encouraged them to continue to do the good works that the boys engage in through all of the service projects at our school, closing with: "When you leave Saint David's, the work doesn't stop, you have to find a way to keep doing good in the world in order to be a good man."

It was wonderful to see Jack back at school this morning. The message of his talk is an important one for our boys to hear, and all the more powerful when delivered by someone who sat in the same Chapel just a few years ago and is now serving our country.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Turkey Run Time

A crisp fall day. Perfect for a race in Riverside Park.

Yesterday our second graders participated in the annual Turkey Run tradition.  It was blur of gray as the boys raced 500 meters past cheering family members and faculty. The boys had been training hard in sports class for the big event, and it showed!

This year marks the 45th anniversary of this great tradition, and the 20th anniversary of it taking place in Riverside Park.  It is such a fun morning that builds class spirit and is also a wonderful way to mark the beginning of the holiday season.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Topping Off Celebration!

In the New Upper Gym

On Friday, we celebrated the topping off of our expansion and consolidation project with a morning hardhat tour for our early supporters, trustees, and contractors. The group visited the sites of the new lobby, performing arts center, middle gym and eighth grade commons. Our tour culminated at the very top--in our new full-size middle school upper gymnasium.

In the New Auditorium

It is incredibly exciting to stand in the space, experience the progress to date, and the ways in which all these rooms are taking shape.

As Board President Dan Connolly '77  noted, we've come this far due to the tremendous support of so many in our community: donors, trustees, administrators. We are grateful in particular to Trustees John Menz and Craig Wood, Co-Chairs of the Expansion Logistics Committee, who were so instrumental from the very beginning. Without their expertise and vision none of this could be possible.

Inside the New Lobby

Soon we will move into the public phase of our Campaign, "All That We Can Be," and will be reaching out to our entire community to bring this project to completion

This time next year, our boys and their teachers will be engaged in the robust and innovative learning experiences that define a Saint David's education in state-of-the-art facilities that will enable them to maximize potential, and meet the demands of this century.