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.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Singing Their Hearts Out for Grandparents and Special Friends

What better way to welcome the holidays than with a concert featuring our youngest boys singing the Christmas Season's classics for their Grandparents and Special Friends!

This past Friday morning, our Pre-K, Kindergarten, and Omega boys performed for the first time in the school's new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre. The program featured all-time-favorites like Jingle Bells, I Saw Three Ships, and Frosty the Snowman, and the Spanish Christmas Carol Mi Burrito Sabanero, as well as several audience sing-a-longs. Their hard practice with Music Chair Jeffrey Moore these past few weeks paid off in their confident, enthusiastic performance; and they sounded terrific in the new theatre.

After the performance, grandparents visited our new Lower School Library and the boys' classrooms to participate in special activities.

Grandparents are treasured members of our community who play an important role in the boys' lives; and our boys clearly delight in the warmth of their company.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

"Lord of the Flies" Survival Game

Seventh graders are immersed in an "island survival" adventure related to their study of William Golding's 1954 classic Lord of the Flies. The novel tells the story of a group of school-age boys marooned on an uninhabited island, where they struggle to survive without a government or rules.

In this creative, unique activity that spans 10 class sessions, our boys are assigned to belong to one of two "tribes." Using knowledge gained from history classes in the fall, they first determine what type of government system to adopt.

During the simulations, they strategize methods to overcome obstacles and acquire resources such as wood, food, shelter, and water. The simulation requires the boys to negotiate, debate, and reflect critically on their decisions as they face challenges to their survival.

In journals, they regularly write about their thinking, their decisions and consequences. Writing skills are further developed and honed. In addition to analyzing the themes, conflicts, and characters in the novel, they analyze their own actions, bringing a component of personal reflection and introspection to the activity. In a recent class, the boys' writing assignment was to identify which character in the novel they felt they were most like and why, based upon their own behavior in their tribe.

This new learning experience is an example of the in-depth, active learning that crosses disciplines at Saint David's, allowing our boys to dig deep and grapple with important life issues.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Thomas Harvey '13 and The Dartmouth Sings at Saint David's

This morning we were treated to to a special assembly featuring members of The Dartmouth Sings, Dartmouth College's premier pop and alternative a cappella group. Thomas Harvey '13, a sophomore at Dartmouth, is a member, and he was thrilled to invite the group to sing for his alma mater.

Always active in music and theater, Tom raved about the school's expanded space, in particular the Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre. It was so good to have Tom back at Saint David's and The Dartmouth Sings were terrific!  A great start to the day!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Building "Fun City"

Our Pre-K boys and their teachers are putting our new STEAM suite to good use. The boys recently completed an integrated art and science project to design and build a city from a variety of materials.

The boys selected features that "Fun City" would include, such as ramps, bridges, parks, trees, and vehicles, and got to work planning, designing, and creating all of the features and painting/decorating them.

On the floor or at the art table, the boys were 100 percent engaged in the tasks at hand, loving every minute and expressing delight when a feature worked as planned ("Did you see that car go across the bridge?") and going back to the design phase when something didn't quite work as well.

Our STEAM Suite is enabling exciting new opportunities for integration across the art, science, and math disciplines in all grades. No limits!

Continuing Our Commitment to Students in Ethiopia

Saint David's Kalina School
Since our 60th Anniversary year in 2011, Saint David's Eighth Grade boys have led several school-wide fundraising projects to build the Saint David's Kalina School in Ethiopia. Each year, the boys worked hard organizing, running, and participating in several activities--walk-a-thons, ice cream sales, pay to play soccer games, and quiz shows.

Classroom in Kalina School
Last year, the Class of 2018 closed out work on Saint David's Kalina School--it is now a completely operational pre-primary through Grade Eight school, and funds we raised are now supporting work on a new school under construction in Ala'sa, through our partnership with Save the Children.

Addition to school in Ala'sa, Ethiopia, under construction
The Class of 2019 will focus their fundraising efforts on the new Saint David's addition to the Ala'sa School. Our project involves construction of a two-room block addition to the current school there, which, when completed, will serve 188 boys and girls in Grades Five and Six. Without the addition, the children would need to travel five miles by foot to get to the next nearest school.

We are excited to continue our commitment to primary school education in Ethiopia. As a school that has just significantly expanded our facilities to meet the needs of our boys, we are committed to helping others meet their educational needs. It is intrinsic to our mission and values; to be "good" by doing "good."

Friday, November 30, 2018

Andover, Brooks, Horace Mann and Loyola

Yesterday and last week, in my continuing quest to visit every Saint David's alum in his high school before he graduates, I had the great pleasure of visiting Daniel '17 at Andover; Liam '15, Finn '16, and Sean '16 at Brooks in Massachusetts; Ryan '15, Rohan '16, Ben '16, and Spencer '17 at Horace Mann; and Marco '15, Brij '16, Tristan '16, Nicholas '16, Clark '18, and Nicholas '18 at Loyola, here in the city.

The boys were thriving in their schools and I returned with an incredible cache of intelligence regarding improvements we can make to our program, along with things they'd never want to see change.

On the Massachusetts trip, I was delighted to have Mr. Imbelli along. Somehow, he talked the airline rep into giving us extra legroom--free! The boys were thrilled to see him too.

Horace Mann, NYC

Andover, MA

Brooks, MA

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Boys Visit Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center

Yesterday, members of the Headmaster's Community Club's Green Group and I visited with residents at Terence Cardinal Cooke Health Care Center, a few blocks north of Saint David's. The boys and the residents enjoyed participating in a holiday paper snowman and ornament making activity as they got to know each other better.

This is an entirely voluntary club, which takes place after school hours and entails several visits to Cooke so that the boys are able to build connections and become more comfortable with the elderly residents, several of whom face challenges.

So many boys volunteer for this club that we need to make visits in two groups. Prior to Thanksgiving, the Shrimped Fried Rice Group served a Thanksgiving dinner to the residents. (Yes, the boys select the names for their groups!)

These visits to Cardinal Cooke exemplify the school motto "that they be good men," as Saint David's emphasizes the importance of being of good character, and of doing good for others.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Odds vs. Evens

This year, the annual pre-Thanksgiving Odds vs. Evens competition featured both a soccer match in Central Park and a basketball game in our new Price Family Gymnasium.

Both teams played hard and well, but Odds proved victorious, with final scores of 6-1 in soccer and 96-73 in basketball.

Alums on both teams enjoyed seeing their fellow Saint David's graduates, coaches and former teachers at the games and earlier at the Alumni/Faculty Thanksgiving lunch. They were in awe of our new facilities, and several were thrilled to play in the gymnasium.

It's always great to welcome so many alumni back to Saint David's!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Young Alumni Thanksgiving Tradition

A night to remember! Yesterday, nearly 150 high school age alumni joined our current eighth graders and several faculty and staff for one of my favorite Saint David's Thanksgiving traditions, the Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner. It was incredible demonstration of camaraderie and brotherhood among our younger alumni.

Early in the evening, which was organized by Assistant Director of Development John Dearie '95, we held dedications for the Class of 2017 and 2018 legacy gifts, both related to our expansion. The Class of 2017's was the restoration of the Graham House Mosaic. The Class of 2018's, the new Eighth Grade Commons, which the boys named Il Duomo and was dedicated in memory of Rovena Kilkeary.

The boys packed the Chapel to hear the Chapel talk given by Fernando Guimaraes, who graduated in 2010. Fernando focused on the importance of self-discipline, hard work, and integrity; sharing that despite mistakes he may have made when younger, the lessons and values of Saint David's helped him get back on track.

"In order to go back to the good man Saint David's taught me to be, I needed to be disciplined, I needed to work hard, and Saint David's set me up for this," he said. He embraced that mindset, was admitted to Brown University, and graduated with a degree in philosophy and history.

Honest and forthright, Fernando told the boys they would be challenged, that their choices and decisions matter, and that it is far too easy to get distracted. He urged them to stay focused: "Ask yourself who it is you want to be and work hard to be that person, a man of integrity." Fernando gave all of the boys in the Chapel wise advice, all the more potent coming from a fellow Saint David's boy,  just a few years their senior.

Over the delicious dinner that followed Chapel, our eighth graders were able to talk to young alumni at high schools they are interested in attending.

To close the event, Student Council President, Paul-Alexander L. '18,  presented Save the Children with the check from the Class of 2018's fundraising efforts in support of Saint David's Kalina School in Ethiopia.

Thanksgiving is about taking the time to express gratitude and recognize one's blessings. I am grateful for the exceptional faculty and staff who dedicate themselves to our boys every day, to our committed and loving parents, and our inspiring student body. Last night, I was particularly grateful for the fine young men who returned to their newly expanded school to attend Chapel and break bread together. Ut viri boni sint. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Exploring Jobs and Careers

On Friday, I visited the Omega boys' Career Fair where I met with future doctors, soccer players, race car drivers, bus drivers--even a spy!

The boys shared their original career study books, which contained colorful illustrations and facts about the careers they selected. With great animation, they displayed their knowledge and were eager to answer questions posed by faculty and parent visitors. 

During the fall, the class studied various careers and their roles in the community. They welcomed parent visitors to their classroom to talk about their careers; and went on several field trips, including one to the Queens County Farm Museum where they learned about the farmer's role in our community.

The Exploring Jobs and Careers study engages our young students in the type of active, hands-on learning that boys love and which deepens understanding.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Turkey (Run) Time!

It's almost Thanksgiving, and minds are set on turkey. At Saint David's it also means time for a favorite tradition--the Second Grade Turkey Run.

The air was cool and crisp last Tuesday when our second graders raced through Riverside Park in our annual Turkey Run.

To prepare for the 450-meter dash, the boys trained with their coaches during their sports periods.  They were ready! All the boys eagerly anticipated the big day, and were energized further by parents and siblings who cheered them on.

Congratulations to the winners, and to all the boys who prepared so well for the event. Well done, boys!