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, November 21, 2012

The Pilgrims Arrived ...

... in my office today, reciting with gusto Children's Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky's Thanksgiving poem.  What fun!

Sharing the Egg

Tully McLoughlin '03 opened his Alumni Homecoming Chapel Talk for current 8th grade boys and all high school alums by stating how honored he was to be delivering a Chapel ... "Special to be here…These talks were some of the most important moments for me at Saint David's"

Tully observed that those gathered in Chapel were boys who would soon be departing (eighth graders) and those who are returning (boys in high school). He spoke of his chapel as being an attempt to capture the nexus of this leaving and returning. 

Tully himself has recently returned from Ghana on a fellowship where for a year he taught radio journalism to students at a local radio station. He noted how much he had grown personally in the year he was so far from home. While in Ghana, he came to be familiar with an Adinkra (a visual symbol) created by the Akan people–the Sankofa, which became the focus of his talk.

Tully explained that the Sankofa is the symbol of a bird turning its neck to look back, often at an egg. The symbol's basic message: "It's never wrong to go back for what you've forgotten" suggests the important ways in which the past informs our futures. As Tully thought more about the symbol though, it took on a greater meaning for him. "I want to suggest to you all at the nexus of your leaving and returning to Saint David's, that you can always come back. But the egg you have on your back is not simply the things you leave behind, it is also the things that you take with you from Saint David's."

"From Saint David's I took passion, the desire to do public service, to give back to others, a level of confidence and knowledge of the world from my humanities class." The egg then is meant not only to remind us of the past, or reassure us that the past builds our futures, but, Tully suggested the "egg is meant to be given and shared, not just looked at." We are to give a part of ourselves and our experiences to do good.

Tully connected his insight to the school's motto "That they be good men," something he considers "less as a state of being, and more as a process of becoming"-- one that lasts a lifetime. He closed his talk encouraging the more than one hundred alum boys present to "devote some part of your life to finding a way to give back to others."

The boys' giving of themselves was celebrated later in the evening at the dinner, when Annemarie Fox from Save the Children, accepted a $57,000 check from this and last year's Saint David's Student Council Presidents for the ongoing Dollars for Ethiopia Scholars project to build a school in Ethiopia, which was begun during the school's 60thanniversary year. The effort has involved the boys in a series of fundraising activities, and is now entering its third year.  Ms. Fox noted she was "wowed" by Saint David's community's commitment to this project and success thus far, as it has raised  a total of $85,000 toward its $100,000 goal. "Think about the wonderful thing you are doing for kids you have never met across the world," she said. "Next year, at this time, I think they'll have a school."

Pictured in the center is the Class of 2012 being recognized in Chapel after Tully's talk for their Class Gift--a $100,000 gift--establishing The Class of 2012 Scholarship Fund in the school's endowment.

After graduating from Saint David's, Tully went on to graduate from Regis and Yale.

Saint David's is a true community--Tully, Scholarships, Save the Children, and 130 high school alums in Chapel and at table sharing a meal at Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Brothers R

Tommy, '10 and Freddie, '12 dropped by the office for a quick visit today.  Both currently at Taft, Tommy is enjoying theatre, having just performed the role of Jean Valjean to rave reviews. He's looking forward to his next production: Noises Off, a 1982 play by English playwright Michael Frayn. Freddie is enjoying the close knit feel of the Taft community, especially Community Gathering.  Both are excited to be home.

Today I had the great pleasure of lunching with Frankie R, '14 and he mentioned in conversation that "the boys were home"-- that they are!

Although I don't have a photo, Timmy Lasusa, '08 also dropped by to say hello.  Timmy's up at St. Lawrence University.  He's playing squash, just left a tournament at Vassar, and thrilled to be at college.  He's home for Thanksgiving.

What an Inspiration ...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Popular Science at Saint David's

Editor-in-Chief of Popular Science magazine, Jacob Ward, visited 3rd and 4th grade boys today.  A part of the school's "Author Series" sponsored by our PA.

Sitting in Hume, the boys participated in a riveting conversation with Mr. Ward about Science Magazine's October issue on "The Brilliant Ten" which focused on ten young scientist under 40 whose innovations and research "will change the world."

The boys were particularly intrigued with the work of Andrea Thomaz out of Georgia Tech who is teaching robots to learn from humans.  Their questions of Ward when he spoke of Andrea's work took on an even higher creative tone and level of excitement.

Mr. Ward also shared with the boys his journey to becoming a writer/editor and his passion for science. He then walked the boys through Popular Science's process for selecting The Brilliant Ten--fascinating!

Science at Saint David's is a major curricular focus, and is becoming even more so with our growing emphasis on the boys engaging more tangibly with science, research, scientific institutions, and scientists.

Science is the world.

"I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist," Lincoln once said, "but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."

Poly Post Sandy

Placement Counselor Mike Imbelli and I visited alums at Poly Prep Wednesday 11/14.  After a quick drive out to Brooklyn we enjoyed sitting with the boys for lunch.  Five Saint David's alums are graduating Poly this year.  We also have two juniors, three sophomores, and four freshmen currently enrolled.  Somehow, they were all able to make lunch that day and spend a significant amount of time with us.

The boys were all "dressed down" in honor of Poly's post Sandy relief efforts.  The boys expressed being extremely well prepared for high school, and shared some constructive criticism regarding ways to further improve Saint David's; as well as aspects of the school they would never want to see changed.  We had a wonderful time together. Spirits were all high and camaraderie effusive.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Saint David's Cares About Cavallaro Cares

This Friday, November 9, the Saint David's boys, led by their Student Council, assisted with Opportunity Cavallaro Cares. Coordinating with a Saint David's parent who is a teacher at I.S. 281 (Cavallaro) located on 24th Ave. in Brooklyn, the boys collected packages of supplies needed by the nearby Seagate community in Coney Island, hard hit by the hurricane.

Throughout the day Friday, boys collected and packaged warm blankets, canned food, packaged foods, and cleaning supplies, such as bleach, heavy duty garbage bags, and gloves.

Saint David's families dropped off additional packages and supplies on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning in front of Saint David's and eighth grade boys organized, packaged and prepared the donations for transport. A group of Saint David's parents then loaded up their cars and delivered the packages to I.S. 281 in Brooklyn on Saturday.  From there, the Cavallaro staff and volunteers delivered the packages to individual homes.

Communities helping communities: true community.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Relief Efforts Continue

After early dismissal for Election Day today, the Saint David's community came together to prepare personalized bags of first aid supplies and toiletries for The Church of St. Clare's school and parish on Staten Island.  We learned of the immediate need for these supplies in our open relief effort community meeting yesterday morning.

By yesterday afternoon, Saint David's was fully mobilized--putting out the call for materials and supplies, and this afternoon these supplies have all been sorted, prepared, boxed and just now delivered.  Above is a quick shot of volunteer parents, teachers and boys working together to accomplish the goal after dismissal.

Some 30 large boxes containing hundreds of individualized kits are now on their way to residents of Staten Island's Great Kills area through the efforts of Saint David's families and the dedicated work of the Church of St. Clare.

Visit Saint David's Relief Efforts Clearinghouse for more opportunities to help.

Dancing in Jaffa

As an institution with a clear and strong religious tradition, Saint David's has a special interest in the promotion and development of an appreciation for and understanding of religious differences.  This is especially true given our school-wide theme this year True Community.

Today, I enjoyed the distinct pleasure of meeting internationally renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine who has just completed a documentary film in Israel entitled "Dancing in Jaffa."

Following a long and distinguished career teaching ballroom dancing to children on the Upper East Side, Pierre wanted to expand his reach.  He began a program entitled "Dancing Classroom" that is now in some 250 NYC Public Schools.  Still not satisfied, Pierre has taken his mission and message international.  Dancing in Jaffa documents Pierre's return to his birthplace, and his attempts to bring two otherwise distinctly different cultural/religious groups' children together through dance--Israeli Jews and Palestinians.  Pierre has a powerful message in Dancing in Jaffa, and we had a wonderful exchange of ideas in discussing dancing, Jaffa, religion and Saint David's.

Dancing in Jaffa Trailer from kNow Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Raven

Oral recitation is an important aspect of our classically oriented tradition.  Boys have many opportunities throughout their time at Saint David's to develop and hone these skills.  Today, in my meanderings about the school, I caught 7th Grade boys, in a darkened room, reciting from memory Poe's 1845 narrative poem "The Raven." I snapped a quick piece below. Outstanding!

Neighbors Helping Neighbors