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, January 30, 2018

Author Emily Jenkins with Pre-Primary Boys


Last week, Emily Jenkins, the author of 46 books that include the children's book series "Toys Go Out,” and the books “That New Animal,” “A Greyhound, A Groundhog,” and the “Fun Book of Scary Stuff," visited with our pre-primary boys.


Ms. Jenkins read excerpts from a couple of her books and discussed her writing process. She encouraged the boys to become “noticers,” to notice things around them, and then to be be creative with what they see; whether that be by writing a story about it, building a LEGO structure, or painting a watercolor.


The boys were captivated by Ms. Jenkins' animated discussion, giving her their utmost attention. At the end of the session, each boy received a copy of Ms. Jenkins' book "Toys Meet Snow."

By inviting authors to speak to classes, Saint David's PA Author Series provides our boys the opportunity to engage with published writers about the writing process. These interactions inspire and inform our young writers as they learn how to craft their own narratives.


Middlesex, Northfield Mount Herman

I had the pleasure last week of visiting alums at Northfield (Max '14 and Jack '16) and Middlesex (Harry '14, Henry '15, Colin '16 and Thomas '17).

We enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation about Saint David's, high school and colleges.

All the boys are thoroughly enjoying their experiences.  There must be something in the Massachusetts water.  They just keep shooting up!

Middlesex

Northfield Mount Herman

Friday, January 26, 2018

Music to Start the Day

The beautiful performances of our Percussion Ensemble, Philharmonic Ensemble and Chamber Singers during yesterday morning's Upper School Winter Concert, provided warm respite from the January cold.


Up first, the Percussion Ensemble, directed by John Francis, performed Hunting Song and The Wild Horseman (Schumann) and Joe Cu Bata and Maruntel from Rumanian Folk Dances (Bartok).



The Philharmonic Ensemble, directed by Philip Hough followed, with Bransle de la Torche (Praetorius), Contredanse en Rondeau from Divertimento, K. 213 (Mozart) and Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (Bach).

Phyllis Clark then led the Chamber Singers in Deo Gracias (Britten), I wonder as I wander (Niles/J. Rutter) which featured soloist Owen L., Try Everything (Furler, Hermansen, Eriksen), and Shepherds Chorus and Gifts for the Kings (Menotti).

We are in the midst of the school's Winter Festival of Art and Music, which celebrates the Saint David's aesthetics pillar and our commitment to the classical ideal of balance.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fifth Year of Partnership with Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center


Fifth graders have begun their DNA unit of study, conducted through our partnership with the Cold Spring Harbor DNA Learning Center, the world's first science center devoted entirely to genetics education.


Last week, DNALC educator Mrs. McBrien and Saint David's science teachers, Mrs. Einhorn and Mrs. Liebowitz, led the boys in a session on the process of DNA extraction. The boys experimented removing DNA from wheat germ cells, using liquid soap to break apart the cell membrane and release the genetic material.



In this unit, the boys use sophisticated laboratory equipment to perform the same protocols geneticists use to extract and analyze DNA. In total, they will participate in six in-school learning experiences co-taught by our teachers and scientists from DNALC. Next week, they will will spend Monday at the CSH labs where they will meet with geneticists who are working on cancer research, and they will conduct labs in which they observe mutant organisms under the microscope.


The school's partnership with the CSH DNA Learning Center is now in its fifth year and includes units in the fifth and eighth grades. This collaboration provides our boys with the invaluable opportunity to work with scientists on the cutting-edge of DNA research; evoking a passion for learning about DNA and leveraging a renowned scientific institution as an extension of our campus.





Thursday, January 18, 2018

Saint David's Musicians - All That They Can Be

The First Orchestra and Philharmonic Ensemble kicked off Saint David's Winter Festival of Art and Music on Tuesday with an early morning concert for our Lower School Boys. The First Orchestra are our youngest musicians (Grades 1-3). The boys, under the direction of Mrs. Francis, have been rehearsing every week, and learning the skills of playing in a group.

The Philharmonic Ensemble, conducted by Phil Hough features our older boys. On Tuesday, they played pieces by Mozart and Bach. This time next year, the orchestras will be playing in our brand new Performing Arts Center with concert hall acoustics and seating for 300!

The Winter Festival is a special tradition at Saint David's, which celebrates our boys' creativity and the school's focus on the aesthetic as part of a balanced pedagogy. During the next two weeks there will be many events showcasing our boys' work in the arts.

 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Honoring Dr. King and the Power of Words to Do Good


Yesterday and today, boys in Grades Three through Eight participated in special Chapels in honor of the great civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.

In each session, after discussing how words are powerful instruments that can be rightly used to effect positive change, the boys listened to Dr. King's monumental "I Have a Dream" speech in its entirety, read by one of their classmates.

In the 7th and 8th Grade Chapel I took my thoughts a little further, sharing excerpts from Adam Grant's Book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World regarding the process King undertook in preparing for the speech and how, even though he winged the entire second half, he had been preparing for it, like the young biblical David, our patron, his entire life. When history begged for a moral leader to be chosen, King was prepared to step up and step forward.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination; a loss of life that he recognized as a probability, but which did not deter him from using his powerful words and voice to advocate for peaceful change that would bring "liberty and justice for all."

Each Chapel closed with William Best leading us in "Take My Hand Precious Lord, Lead Me Home," Dr. King's favorite hymn, which was sung at his funeral.

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, with Grades 6 and 7


This week, Liberian peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee returned to Saint David's to present to our sixth and seventh graders about our boys' participation in the Gbowee Peace Foundation's backpack initiative. The initiative provides book bags and supplies to Liberian children in grades One through Six who excel academically.

Last year, Saint David's Class of 2019 supported the initiative as their Confirmation service project, hosting a bake sale that raised enough funds for 48 book bags, which they filled with school supplies, and $1,000 for school uniforms. The Class of 2020 will also support the backpack initiative this year for their Confirmation project.


On Wednesday, Ms. Gbowee read letters that were written by some of the children who received the book bags last year. (As part of last year's project, our boys also wrote letters to the recipients that were sent with the book bags). The children all have worked hard to reach academic excellence against tremendous odds, including extreme poverty and having been orphaned during the Ebola outbreak. The backpacks and uniforms are a source of pride for these children and help build self-esteem.


Our boys were inspired to hear Ms. Gbowee speak about how important it is to her to do what she can to improve the lives of others. She urged the boys to use their talents and gifts as well--their lights within--to "light the world" and make it a better place, and to consider what they will do to leave their mark on history.


We encourage our boys to do good in the world in ways that connect them with the people they are helping.  Interacting with Ms. Gbowee and communicating through letters with the children who received the book bags strengthen our boys' commitment to service and to their development into concerned and caring citizens of the world.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Study of Civilization

Before the break, our fourth graders completed their study of ancient Egypt with research-based group and individual presentations to classmates on various aspects of the civilization including, belief systems, architecture, art, entertainment, cities, government and writing systems. 

For their individual presentations, the boys were encouraged to display not only their knowledge but also their creativity. Some dressed as pharaohs or sphinx; others made models of pyramids, the Nile, and other topics of interest. The boys were assessed not only on mastery of content, but also on their oral presentation skills.

Our fourth grade history program delves deeply into what makes a civilization, with the boys studying ancient Egypt, China, and Greece. They hone their research skills as they use a common framework to analyze and discuss the concept of civilization across these different cultures, drawing comparisons and contrasts among them and making connections to their own country.


This close study of civilization serves our boys well. It is a valuable entry point for their roles as citizens of an increasingly connected and interdependent world.