Skip to main content

A Decade of Hope

Pictured here is author Dennis Smith, today in the Hume Library, addressing the 8th Grade boys on his newest book: Decade of Hope: Stories of Grief and Endurance from 9/11 Families. Mr. Smith shared his experiences that day as a NYC Firefighter responding to the WTC site and the days and weeks of work that followed for the first responders.  He also shared with us personal anecdotes from his interviews with the wide range of people featured in Decade of Hope, his fourteenth book. A highly engaging and poignant speaker, Mr. Smith drew the boys into his narrative through graphic detail and the exploration of powerful human emotions--anger, fear, and most importantly love and hope.

A New York Times Best Selling author, Dennis also recalled his youth growing up in a very different New York, and his love and passion for writing that came to him later in life.  Mr. Smith served in the Air Force, then the FDNY, and more recently as entrepreneur, philanthropist and active supporter of First Responders.

Dennis shared his writing process with the boys and the value of finding/creating a life well-lived. He challenged them to find their place in the world by pursuing their passion and finding a way to capture it in "their story." "We all have a story to tell," he told the boys.

I was moved, as were the boys, by Dennis' unique mix of the pragmatism of daily life and the intellectual and spiritual dimensions of "a full life," and his underlying message of the importance of rigorous pursuit of knowledge and deeper understanding--to analyze and reflect--and not to blindly accept what appears to be.

Mr. Smith is one of several authors visiting the school this spring to meet with the boys at various grade levels--a Visiting Author program sponsored and supported by our Parents Association.


Popular posts from this blog

An Evening With Lidia Bastianich

On Tuesday evening, Lidia Bastianich, award-winning chef, restaurateur, television host and author, visited Saint David's to speak to the Saint David's Alumni Parent community and current Eighth Grade.

Interviewed by Alumni Parent Dr. Joseph Haddad for our Alumni Parent Council Lecture, Lidia recounted her youth in Istria when the once Italian peninsula shifted to communist reign after World War II, her two years spent as a refugee in Trieste, and her experiences after her family immigrated to America when she was eleven years old.

The boys were fascinated with her discussion about her family's escape from Istria and her life as a refugee and immigrant. She expressed her everlasting gratitude to the people who provided assistance to her family in Trieste and when they first arrived in New York. "I can't talk enough about the goodness of the people who helped us," she said. "I am where I am because of them."

As a highly successful person with…

Navy SEAL Bill Berrien '82 Gives Chapel on Service to Saint David's Boys

Former Navy SEAL and Saint David's Alumnus Bill Berrien '82 fascinated all during his Chapel Talk Tuesday morning to our seventh and eighth graders.

A SEAL for nine years, Bill was a member of two platoons in South America as well as part of a Joint Special Operations unit. He shared his SEAL Trident with the boys, talked about the intensity of training, and noted he remains close to many with whom he served.

Connecting his service to the values that Saint David's espouses, he encouraged the boys to always be students--curious throughout their lives, to find the best in everyone, appreciate setbacks, and to learn from failures. In the video above, he addresses the first.

He closed by planting these "seeds" for our boys to consider: that life is a journey to be embraced broadly with openness to a variety of opportunities; being a service leader is of utmost importance; the unknown should be embraced; and, finally, that the boys be their own best friend, compassi…

Saint David's Father and Son Dinner Featuring Mark Whitaker

Our annual Seventh Grade father and son dinner provides the opportunity for seventh graders and their fathers to share an evening exploring what it means to be a good man, the relationship between parent and son, and other mission-related themes.

The speaker at this year's event was author, journalist and media executive Mark Whitaker, who spoke about his memoir My Long Trip Home, in which he delves into the story of his family, in particular, his father. The son of a bi-racial couple who wed in 1956 (a time when interracial marriages were still illegal in some states), Mark spent many years estranged from his father, a brilliant African Studies scholar who struggled throughout his life with alcoholism.

Later, they would reconcile, but it was only after his father had passed away that Mark realized he wanted to write a book about this man who had had a groundbreaking career despite all his problems, and try to understand him better. Ultimately, the process deepened Mark'…