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, April 30, 2013

Engineering 101

Boys working with a 3D Printer
Engineering 101 is a new afterschool club at Saint David’s.

Each Wednesday, a remarkably passionate and imaginative group of fifth and sixth grade student-engineers are joined by one or more members of our technology department for an hour of project-based investigation, building, programming, testing, revising, and miscellaneous fun.

Since the club’s inception in January, student-engineers have built launchers and rockets. They have designed and programmed video games using SCRATCH, a LOGO-based programing environment that is a product of MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Lab. They have “met” and interacted with a visiting expert – a NAO robot, more customarily seen in graduate schools than in elementary schools.

Currently, the boys are building solar-powered propeller boats. In this week’s class these budding engineers printed  three-dimensional plastic parts to modify their boats’ designs, using virtual 3D design software and Saint David’s new 3D printers.

First Orchestra's First Performance

The First Orchestra held their debut concert his morning in a joint performance with the Philharmonic Ensemble for the Lower School in Hyman Hall. The First Orchestra, a string orchestra of our youngest musicians, consists of first through third grade boys who practice every Monday morning before school with Ms. Anderson. Assembled to hear them this morning was a collection of two hundred or so.

I visited earlier in the year when this inaugural group was just coming together, and it was a joy to see and hear them today, playing with the confidence that comes with diligence, hard work, and commitment over time.  There is something unique and special about a boy and his instrument.

The group demonstrated their prowess with scales and shared an exercise in which they listen to each other to successively play the same sequence of notes. They concluded with a performance of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, a piece that incorporates harmony. 

Next to perform was the seasoned Philharmonic Ensemble, under the direction of Philip Hough.  The Ensemble provided outstanding renditions of Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins, and Wagner's March of the Meistersingers.

The playing of classical music and the enhanced community it engenders thrives at Saint David's. It's so much fun.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chelsea Clinton at Saint David's

Over the course of this year we have explored our school-wide theme of True Community not only as it pertains to our school’s community, but its implications in the context of "a citizen of the world."

After graduation, Saint David's boys will step out into a world that will require them to build community on a global scale, and our responsibility is to prepare them for it.

In the spirit of this realization, our eighth graders and parents of alums were treated to a conversation yesterday evening featuring Chelsea Clinton. Addressing the theme “True Community, A Global Imperative,” to a packed audience in Hyman Hall, Ms. Clinton spoke passionately of her work with the Clinton Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative, and the causes that most resonate with her, in particular those improving the health of children around the world.

Chelsea encouraged our boys to discover their individual talents and passions and to use them to make a difference, advising that "being responsible means recognizing your unique gift and manifesting it in the world.”  She urged the boys to first recognize and then take positive action on the "disequilibrium" in the world that angers them most.

Following her remarks, Chelsea enthusiastically and adroitly engaged the boys in conversation, candidly answering the thoughtful questions they posed about the Clinton Health Access Initiative, global problems, and her assessment of her current work and future plans.

The evening was sponsored by the Alumni Parents Council, under the leadership of Linda Foran and Dorothy Faux.

The Annual Lecture Series each year provides our eighth grade boys a special opportunity to explore the school's mission and themes from a notable person/leader. 

Washington in the Spring

The Boys of the Class of 2015 at the US Capitol
In the wee hours of yesterday morning, Saint David's 6th Grade boys left for the nation's capital as a culminating experience in their integrated study of America, its republic, and the 20th Century.

Today the boys are visiting the Supreme Court. In addition to taking the Curators Tour and having a special session with Saint David's Alum David Denton '99, a law clerk with Justice Kennedy, the boys visited the Capitol and the Library of Congress.

Yesterday they visited the National Museum of American History and the National Air and Space Museum.  After dinner the boys enjoyed a trolley tour of monuments with a special focus on Lincoln, MLK, Vietnam, WWI and WWII--all directly related to their studies.

Below is a photo of the session the boys enjoyed with Congressman Adam Schiff of California. This afternoon the boys will be exploring the National Portrait Gallery.

The weather is beautiful--springtime in DC! They are having a blast!

Girls, Boys and Community

This morning first graders from NBS visited with half the Saint David's first graders; the other half trekked a little north to visit the girls on their turf. Excited, but poised for the adventure ahead, the boys introduced themselves, greeting the girls with a handshake as they entered the classroom.

The activity, a long-standing tradition, is the second in a series of exchanges--providing an opportunity for the boys to practice appropriate social graces, good manners, and build a sense of extended community with girls from a neighboring school.

The children then broke out into small groups to play games and share a snack. In the first photo, you see the boys and girls collaborating to build a replica of the Washington Monument; in the second, a Saint David's boy and NBS girl are playing a game of checkers at the window.

It was a special morning for the boys.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Regis Today

Late morning I high tailed it down to Regis for lunch with Saint David's alums.

Saint David's has ten alums currently attending Regis. Two will graduate this year as seniors and we have boys in every grade, with four more Saint David's boys joining Regis next year as incoming freshmen.

Accompanied by Mr. Imbelli, we enjoyed two lunch sittings with the boys to discuss their transitions to high school and to reflect on their time at Saint David's.

We had an enlightening and productive time sharing in the boys experiences at Saint David's and Regis, and the boys were quite candid in their advice and suggestions for further advancing Saint David's.

In the top photo you see the older boys with whom we ate second. The bottom photo shows the younger boys, whom we met first. They were all in great spirits!

True Community and the Creative Process

New York is an incredible city!  Where else could one find a museum that is solely focused on building a stellar collection that documents and celebrates humanity's exploration of the "creative process?" Maybe the answer is nowhere, except here in one of the greatest cities on the planet.

This past Friday evening more than 100 alumni parents and alums gathered for a special Saint David's event at The Morgan Library and Museum, the great New York architectural treasure designed by McKim, Mead & White, a leader of the American Renaisssance style.

We had arranged for this special spring gathering of alum friends of the school to hear from the Morgan's Director, Mr. William Griswold. In his enthusiastic, animated and comprehensive remarks, Mr. Griswold provided a historical overview of the venue, its rich history, and its ties to New York, highlights of the library and museum collection, and his own take on this museum's unique place in the city, country and even the world.

Once the private library of Gilded Age financier Pierpont Morgan, the Library is now a public institution holding a great repository of literature, music and art, and the only institution in the world to count three Gutenberg bibles among its holdings. Its stunning interior spaces were recently restored to provide more room to accommodate the wide-ranging collections of the museum, which includes illuminated Coptic manuscripts, original manuscripts, photography, and art, especially that which captures the creative process--what happened before the masterpiece was produced.

Among the Director's favorites is a marked up Beethoven manuscript, which he said he loves because "it shows the artist's thinking on paper; it depicts the artistic struggle."

After his talk, museum docents led members of the Saint David's community on special tours of the Library, including the modern Renzo Piano-designed "piazza," the rotunda, library, and study.

It was a spectacular evening for all. I always love these events, which bring together friends, old and new, in the Saint David's community to share a unique New York experience.

Friday's event could not have occurred without the community spirit and leadership of Alumni Parents Council co-chairs Dorothy Faux and Linda Foran, and the instrumental efforts of Winnie and Michael Feng.


Friday, April 19, 2013

A Bi-Coastal Community

Earlier this week, Saint David's Alumni Director John Dearie '95 and former teacher (now Alumni Development Associate) Thomas McLellan met with alumni at a gathering graciously hosted by Stephanie and Edward Pellegrini '65 in their LA home.

Several alumni enjoyed reuniting with their Saint David's "brothers" and their former History teacher, and they were thrilled to discover that the school has about 60 alumni living in the greater Los Angeles area.

The top photo features Tom and John with alumnus Jaime Davila '99, with whom they met for dinner on Tuesday evening. Jaime is a producer at Bravo doing program development. He followed his friends from Harvard to LA on their recommendation that he would love it--and he does! In the bottom photo, Jim Osborne '86 is with John Dearie.

The trip out west was a great success, with John and Tom noting the strong sense of community that bonds our alumni, even those living on the other side of the continent.

Once a Saint David's boy, always a Saint David's boy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Classical Sunday--Saint David's Goes West Side

Yesterday morning, Sunday, April 14, a collection of boys and girls from the ensembles of Saint David's, Brearley, and Dalton came together at the DiMenna Center on Midtown's West Side for a Joint Rehearsal and Performance.

Beginning at around 9 a.m. the children gathered around breakfast to introduce themselves and to socialize, before beginning a joint rehearsal in the acoustically magnificent DiMenna Center, home to the Baryshnikov Arts Center, and the St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble. At 11:30 a.m.their parents and friends were invited to witness the product of their labors--and what a stunning product it was!

Playing before an excited and captivated audience, the Joint Orchestra played Moldau by Smetana first, followed by Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony, known as the "Little Russian."

It was quite incredible to hear their sound after only a few hours of rehearsal together--a classic New York moment if ever there was one--stunning space, beautiful, classical music, and children performing it together.

I caught a small snip-it with my camera.  Enjoy.

Above is our own maestro, Phil Hough, leading the joint ensemble in the second piece.  It is also the subject of the short recording below.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Construction Begins ... Serendipity ...

... on the very day the boys of Saint David's finish one of their major fundraising efforts in support of the construction of our school in Ethiopia, the Walk-a-Thon in Central Park, I receive the first pictures of construction from Africa.  As the photographs show, preparation for laying the foundations is now underway. A school begins on the day our fundraiser ends.

Several months ago, with the support of Save the Children, we finalized the agreements and successfully acquired the relevant and appropriate permits from the Ethiopian Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa and the local authorities in Tigray Province for establishing and building the school.

It is now a reality in the making ...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ethiopia and The Walk

Today the 7th/8th Grade boys participated in the first of two Walk-a-Thons for Ethiopia sponsored by the Student Council.  As you know, in celebration of our 60th anniversary three years ago, Saint David's decided, working with Save the Children and Mimi's Building Blocks, to build a school in Ethiopia for 400 children and a village in serious need of a school. 

In the video clip above you'll see some of today's excitement as the pre-primary boys cheered on the seventh and eighth graders as they left Saint David's. 

Tomorrow boys in Grades Four through Six will walk or run in Central Park to raise money for Dollars for Ethiopia Scholars

Give us a call if you'd like to help in any way! 

Saint David's boys, running and building--ensuring healthy futures on two fronts.

Cubism, Spanish, and Technology

The Second Grade is in the midst of an exciting interdisciplinary project that integrates technology with their studies in art and Spanish language class that examines and explores Picasso and Cubism. 

In language class, the boys study and select masterpieces and make observations about the works using Spanish. In art, they sketch out portraits in the style of Picasso and use a specialized computer program to study the way Picasso drew facial features. The boys then use their laptops to create their own versions.

Later in the project, the Second Grade boys will use their "Picasso Heads" to create a work of art in the Cubist style of Picasso. 

This new project is an outgrowth of the Curriculum Initiative, in which the art department (along with all academic departments) identified opportunities for increased interdisciplinary study and extended the study of art history school-wide. By combining two or more disciplines in an active project, interdisciplinary study helps our boys perceive relationships among different concepts and prompts creative thought.

There is exciting learning at Saint David's!