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.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The State of New York

I had the great pleasure of welcoming Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and alums and friends of Saint David's to a private club in midtown for our Alumni Council's 4th Annual Networking Event.  Loud applause filled the room when I informed the gathered alumni that I had just arrived from Randall's Island where Saint David's Red Baseball team managed to achieve a clear and convincing win against Allen-Stevenson, securing their claim to the league championship title.  To top it off, they did so with back-to-back undefeated seasons, making this the school's third title in as many years.  More applause followed.

This was a great place to start the evening because the remarks that followed told a very different story.  Lieutenant Governor Ravitch spoke directly to the failing economy of the state and the nation and the difficult nature of the road ahead. In sum, Mr. Ravitch expressed most concern about New York and other states' "disinvestment in higher education and state infrastructure," especially transportation, which he considers to be the very means for pulling ourselves out of the mess.  Many current practices and habits, he said, will have to change dramatically, and painfully, before we see things truly improve.  Even more concerning to the Lieutenant Governor is the country's negative and growing scorn of politics.  At the heart of democracy, he said, lies politics.  We can't have a democracy without it.  The rhetoric of our culture, he passionately expressed, will have to change for a much needed new generation of leaders to enter the political process.  Mr. Ravitch graciously took a series of thought provoking questions from the audience.

Under the leadership of David DeLuca '77, and with the support of Alumni Director John Dearie, the Alumni Council provided members of our extended community with a unique and intimate experience with one of our state's most important leaders.

Theo Home

After a hit to center by Max C. Theo H. brings in Saint David's 2nd run at the top of 2. Then Max, after a hit, infield single to 3rd by Austin R., brings it home to close out the inning 3-0.

Red Baseball.

Vinnie Boombats on the mound at the bottom of the first inning ... championship game against Allen-Stevenson. Score 1-0 Saint David's. Nick C brings in the first run.

We Are the World

At Spring Concert this morning, 8th grade members of the Chamber Singers, James P., Dylan M., John V., Tommy R., Austen R., Max C., Vincent M., James L., and Andrew Turner, with special guest appearance by Jon R.! chose to sing "We are the World."

Beautifully sung, the song captured the Class of 2010's special spirit. They truly have reached out and connected themselves to the world.  Always a generous class, having started the now traditional Pennies for Puppies program while 4th graders, through their incredible efforts this year with the most successful Thanksgiving Food Drive in the school's history and their Haiti campaign, the Class of 2010 has led the school in "making the world a better place"--the good at work.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Live Free or Die II

After Exeter, it was a quick drive north west to St. Paul's in Concord. After a visit to the head and admissions director, it was off to spend some time with Browning P., second year. A highly effective tour guide, Browning has developed a singular reputation for impressing parents, their sons and daughters, with his knowledge and love of all things related to St. Paul's. Browning was the consummate host, giving us a grand tour of St. Paul's campus and campus life.

In keeping with New Hampshire's state motto, I'm working my way through "How the Scots Invented the Modern World" by Herman--quite a thesis statement, but a nice companion for the flight up and back none-the-less.

Pictured are Browning with Mr. Imbelli and me in front of St. Paul's Library, by the beautiful pond.

Live Free or Die

Flew out of LaGuardia early this morning with Mr. Imbelli for visits to Exeter and St. Paul's in Southern New Hampshire. Beautiful day for traveling to see alumni on my ongoing mission to visit all high school alums before they graduate high school. First stop, Exeter, to visit with Giacomo M., third year. I met with Giacomo's headmaster while Mr. Imbelli met with the Admissions Director. Giacomo continues to pursue his interests in math, science and music--his great passion. Giacomo performs in a jazz ensemble and is currently composing for the piano and orchestra. He is enjoying his experience thoroughly, even though this is his hardest term to date.

Pictured are Giacomo with Mr. Imbelli and me, in front of Jeremiah Smith Hall. We are so appreciative that Giacomo gave up a significant part of his "Headmaster's Holiday" to spend time with us. Right after this photo we left for St. Paul's.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

25 Years Later

Friday evening, May 7, 37 of 40 alums from the Class of 1984 returned to Saint David's School for their class reunion.   This was an unprecedented gathering.  Traveling from Italy, London, California and Virginia, plus many places in between, these alums joined their former teachers for Chapel and a reception.  It was an exciting evening of sharing stories and reconnecting with friends, and a testament to the strength of Saint David’s and her connection to her alums.

Dr. Czuchlewski returned to give a very apt Chapel Talk, where he reflected on the different roles faith can play at different times in our lives.  Many of the alums had not sat in chapel since graduating 8th grade 25 years earlier.  It was an emotional experience. Following Chapel, the more than fifty guests moved to the Hume Library for cocktails.  Several former and current teachers who taught the boys gathered for the occasion too, including William Cantwell, Paul Czuchlewski, George Davison, Michael Imbelli, Gary Kessler, Joe Kilkeary, Rovena Kilkeary, Robert McLaughlin, and Thea Osborne.

Superbly organized by Arthur Samuels III (Sam) '84 and Christopher Dorrian '84, and coordinated by Alumni Director John Dearie '95, the event could not have been more successful.

An Exhibition of Teaching and Learning

Friday afternoon, May 7, after the boys were dismissed to their weekends, the faculty of Saint David's School assembled in the upper gymnasium of our 94th Street Gym for TfU (Teaching for Understanding) Expo.  The culminating experience of a year's long work, the Expo was a celebration of teaching and learning by the faculty for the faculty. 

Arranged into 17 teams at the beginning of this school year, the entire faculty worked throughout the year to 'reversion' 17 units of study using a framework developed by Harvard University's Project Zero.  Friday, each team set up their "booth" and positioned their displays and presentations synthesizing a year's worth of work.  We then rotated, following a complex but effective system, though each of the booths to experience the work of our peers.  The atmosphere was electric and the camaraderie of the group unmatched.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's Not Every Day ...

... that one is visited by a contra-base recorder.  Recorder teacher Susan Iadone, in preparation for a recital with the boys this coming May 27th, visited my office today with her contra-base recorder.  Weighing some 35lbs and standing 10 feet high (the base part of the recorder is not pictured), the recorder, one of very few in the world, is made of Rosewood; it's also worth a pretty penny.  Being a lover of wind instruments this was facinating.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Grandparents and Boys -- A Quick Musing

The role of extended family in the education and raising of children is important. Last Friday was Grandparents and Special Friends Day for the PK, K and Omega grades. In welcoming grandparents and special friends to Saint David's that Friday morning, I touched on our mission, "that they be good men." To reinforce the reason we have Grandparents Day and to explore how it ties to our mission, I shared a brief story. It follows:

At First Communion last Friday for the Second Grade, I noticed a beautiful dress worn by the sister of one communicant. Midnight black with red trim, the dress was covered with Chinese characters, off-white, each approximately one half inch in height. Its unusual, unique style was quite stunning to look at.  I examined the dress from a distance trying to determine whether the characters printed on it repeated themselves suggesting a repeating phrase of some kind; or not, suggesting a story or extended message. Or were they just graphic images for decoration? I decided to approach the 10 year old and introduce myself. I asked about the dress: "Do you know what your dress says?" The answer was a kind but apologetic, "No, sorry." Not ready to give up so easily, and sensing that there was at least a glimmer of interest in my query, I asked if the dress were a gift. She answered that her grandmother had given it to her. Realizing that a grandmother may be present at an event such as this, I inquired as to whether her grandmother was present. She was. Through an interpreter, I discovered that the dress did in fact tell a story—a proverb, if you will. Loosely translated it said: "At nighttime, just before bed, as I stand at the foot of my bed and look up, I see the moon; and when I look down, I see myself, inside myself, my life."

In this simple message written on a dress, translated for me by a wise grandmother, is in fact the reason why grandparents and special friends are so important. Moms and dads are often extremely busy with the present—making ends meet, getting though each busy day—dealing with the pragmatics of raising children. Grandparents though, a little removed from the day-to-day, and a little wiser having seen so much of life, are often the ones who take the time to help our children look up to see the moon and the stars, to hold onto that awe, the wonder of childhood for as long as possible; and who, because of their objectivity, knowledge and experience, can help a child find, or in some cases remember, who they are.

"The good" can be found here, in interactions and connections between the generations. This is why we have Gandparents and Special Friends Day at Saint David's.

The photo attached: PK taking a bow after a rather moving performance.