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Showing posts from 2014

Christmas at Saint David's

Yesterday was a special one at Saint David's as we all prepare for Christmas. In the morning, our first graders sang their hearts out at our Christmas pageant. Under the direction of Music Chair Jeff Moore, they were all wonderful: prepared, confident, happy.  Below, is a brief clip of them singing Pastores y Reyes in Spanish and We Three Kings.


Later in the day, the Omega boys visited me for a read-aloud of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." The boys are so excited for the holidays and they enjoyed listening to this holiday classic.

Evening brought the Recorder Consort directed by Susan Iadone,  and Advent Service of Lessons and Carols, a wonderful Saint David's tradition of scripture reading and carol singing that for decades has been held in the beautiful St. Thomas More.  Our Fifth and Sixth Grade Chamber singers, taught and directed so passionately by Phyllis Clark, and all of our readers brought home for all the true meaning of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Gathering - A Shared Tradition

Our annual Alumni and Family Christmas Gathering on Monday evening was a beautiful celebration of the bonds of this special community of Saint David's alumni and their parents.

The warm ambiance of the Hume Library is such a fitting place for such gatherings. As a community we define ourselves primarily by what we choose to do together, and bringing alums and alum families back at Christmas is a wonderful shared tradition.

The evening also is when we announce our Alumnus of the Year. This year's recipient is Charles Worrell '77. Charles has been an active alum, traveling far from his home in Baltimore to attend our events and remain connected to the school.

Professionally, he certainly exemplifies this year's theme "ideas and ideals" as he leads teams that develop automated tools to detect and explain financial crimes. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, an MS from the Naval Postgraduate School, and a PhD from George Mason University.  Charles…

Nightingale-Bamford Lectures at Saint David's

This past Friday was the Eighth Grade's final Nightingale-Bamford Lectures on Art. In this culminating humanities class project, taught by Nancy Iannicelli, our eighth grade finalists present an analysis of a work of art by a master to eighth grade visitors from Nightingale-Bamford School, and before a panel of judges that include heads of other schools, and Saint David's administrators and trustees. The seventh graders also attend in order to obtain a sense of the project they will be responsible for next year.

The boys are required to prepare a lecture and PowerPoint presentation that addresses several components including, historical setting, gesture, shape, color, iconography, and balance, among others. The boys are judged on the quality and depth of their research and analysis, and also on their oral presentation skills and the design of their slides. This year's winner, James H., delivered his lecture on Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People.

Each year I am i…

Second Graders Design Comet Probes

Our second graders have been on a mission, "invited by NASA" to design a prototype lander "Philae II" which could successfully land on, and explore, a comet.  In math and science classes, the boys had  learned about the European Space Agency's success with the Rosetta spacecraft and its 220-pound lander, Philae, which harpooned itself to the surface of a comet last month, allowing for the first extended close examination of a comet.

Designed to operate through 2015, Rosetta and Philae will make observations as the comet makes its nearest approach to the sun a little more than a year from now, at 115 million miles, still outside of the orbit of Earth.




Our boys were tasked with building a second generation lander, which would explore a different comet.

Working together in teams, the boys had free rein to come up with ideas about how to build successful probes using the following items: paper towel rolls, masking tape, measuring tape, and cardstock paper.





Today…

Grade Four Visit to Synagogue

Last week our fourth graders visited the Stephen A. Wise Free Synagogue on the Upper West Side in conjunction with their religion studies. 

This trimester, the boys have been investigating the "family tree" of religions, and noticing the many similarities between Judeo-Christian faiths.

The boys asked questions about the design of the synagogue and various customs, and they were even able to glimpse one of the congregation's torahs. They learned how torahs are made by modern day scribes and, much like scribes from ancient Egypt, how they could spend many years working on important documents. 

The fourth grade religion course introduces our boys to several of the world's major religions.

The Met as Classroom

Boys in Grades Four and Eight visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art last week, one of many visits that our boys in several grades make throughout the year.

As the fourth graders explored what it means to be a civilization, they visited the Egyptian Wing of the museum. There, the mummies, pyramids, Cleopatra's Needle, and all of the artifacts they encountered and discussed, deepened their understanding of that ancient civilization and helped make classroom concepts spring to life.

Our eighth graders make four trips to the Met during the year, all related to their learning in the capstone humanities course. The first, in October, focused on Greece and Rome. Last week's,  introduced the boys to the Renaissance, which they will explore and research in-depth this year, with a focus on how the Renaissance thinker is relevant to our conception and definition of a good man today.

This study will culminate in the Eighth Grade Spring Study Tour of Rome, Florence and Assisi, where th…

Grandparents Day at Saint David's

It doesn't get much better than listening to boys in our pre-primary grades sing Christmas Carols.

This past Friday, for our annual Grandparents and Special Friends Day, boys in Pre-K, K and Omega entertained an audience filled with their grandparents.

The boys had been practicing for their big performance in music classes led by our Music Chair Jeffrey Moore, and they were ready and excited to perform.

A surprise visit by Santa and his Elves delighted as well.

Afterward, grandparents visited the boys' classrooms to participate in an activity with their grandchild.

It is always wonderful to welcome the grandparents of our boys to school.




Intersection of Science and Math in Grade Two

Part of a second grade science unit on plants integrates work the boys do in science with graphing work in math class. Our boys were challenged to test the effect of different variables on the "flight" of paper and paper clip "helicopter seeds" that the boys made last week.

On the first day of this project, boys dropped the paper clip "seeds" near a fan, and watched how they floated down to the floor, making measuring marks on a floor mat.


The boys measured how many cm the seeds traveled from their "drop point," collected data in tables, and then used this data in their math classes to create graphs (shown at right). 

Based on these experiments with flying seeds, the boys next designed, built and tested a variety of different types and styles of flying seeds to see whether they could improve on mother nature’s designs.

The unit will conclude with the boys making generalizations about shapes that make efficient flying seeds, and comparing them …

Andrew Roberts Speaks at School Father-Son Event

Yesterday evening, our seventh grade boys and their fathers gathered together for a special dinner and a talk by award-winning British historian Andrew Roberts, on Napoleon A Life, his new biography of the great soldier-statesman.

Dr. Roberts, author or editor of a dozen books including Masters and Commanders and New York Times Best-seller The Storm of War, drew upon Napoleon’s recently published 33,000 letters in writing the book. He spoke to our boys and their dads about Napoleon as father of a nation.

After speaking, he took questions from the captivated audience, and all present left with signed copies of his book.


The father-son relationship is a unique and special one, and the boys and their fathers thoroughly enjoyed this time together, the dinner, talk, and ensuing discussion.

This is the second year that Saint David’s has hosted this intimate event for fathers and sons that explores what it means to be a good man, and other of our mission-inspired themes around manhood, fat…

Young Alums Back for Chapel and Thanksgiving

Yesterday evening was one of my favorite school events, our annual Young Alumni Chapel and Dinner. For this pre-Thanksgiving event, our high school age alumni join our current eighth graders for a Chapel talk, given by a young alum, and then gather for dinner in Hyman Hall. This year the Chapel was packed with boys and faculty, more than 200 present.

Ben Singleton '05, a graduate of Regis and Yale, gave the Chapel talk. He addressed the boys about how he decided upon a career in law enforcement, which began shortly after college in the District Attorney's Office and has led him to the NYPD, where he soon will enter the Police Academy.

Ben described how he came about finding his passion not through a sudden bolt of inspiration, but rather through much reflection, and by exploring what he was curious about in school.

 "The police department was not where I would have expected to be," he said, "but I realize it was inevitable." His message to our boys: "G…

Turkey Run

Thanksgiving must be close... Today was Saint David's annual Turkey Run, which takes our second graders to Riverside Park for a 450-meter run. They have been training for this run every day throughout the fall in their athletics classes, and they sure were ready.

Parents and siblings came out to cheer on our young runners.

This was the 17th running of the Turkey Run at Riverside Park and the 42nd Turkey Run since its inauguration.  Originally, it was run by the 8th grade who circumnavigated the Central Park Reservoir at great speed.  The winner received a frozen turkey that he then ceremoniously donated to the Annual Thanksgiving food drive.  It was in the 1970s that the responsibility of the tradition shifted to the 2nd Grade, where it continues to reside to this day.

A great time was time had by all! (And every boy enjoyed the chocolate turkey treat that followed at day's end.)

Boys Build Wind Turbines in STEAM Unit

Boys in fifth grade are building wind turbines in a series of STEAM classes. In a session earlier this week, they drew diagrams of wind turbines, identifying the key components needed in order to generate electricity.

This was followed by a discussion on kinetic energy, gears, and what is needed to move electrons at sufficient speed in a circuit.

For the remainder of the class period, they experimented in small groups, with various size gear combinations as a first step to building their own turbines.

Today, using a fan and a multimeter which measures voltage, they observed the amount of current generated by rotors (blades and hubs) that varied in five areas:  length, material, number of blades, tilt or pitch, and shape of the blades. (See photo, below, and video at bottom.) 

This involved some problem solving: For one of the rotors, the blades were too large and created friction, slowing down the spinning. To address this, one boy suggested moving the rod forward to increase spa…

Art and Community

Fifteen faculty and staff members gathered in our 6th floor art studios last Friday afternoon for a “Make Your Own Mug Pottery Party.” Pottery teachers Mark Sunderwirth and Melanie Fidler taught the mostly neophyte potters to hand build a mug or other vessel with coil and pinch pot techniques, encouraging participants to add creative and personal elements to their work.

One teacher made a pot in the shape of a blueberry muffin as a holiday gift for her husband, and another made a free-form coil pot which was inspired by undersea life.

“It was truly a fun, creative, and relaxing way to end the week and spend time with colleagues,” said one modern language teacher, “and clay is such a soothing medium to work with!” A follow up glazing session will be held the first week in December so that the artists can add color and complete their creations.

True community is an ideal of our school, and the pottery party is a great example of the many ways that our faculty and staff come together, d…

Author Thomas Nazario at Saint David's

This morning, Saint David’s was fortunate to welcome Thomas Nazario, founder and president of The Forgotten International, a nonprofit organization that works to alleviate poverty, to speak to our seventh and eighth graders about his new book Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor (Quantuck Lane Press, 2014)

After being introduced by two of our seventh grade student council members, Mr. Nazario began by telling the boys about a seminal moment during his youth in Spanish Harlem;  how at 4 1/2 years of age he saw a mother and child going through the garbage for dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and how that experience left an imprint on him.

He told the boys “If you love writing and have something to offer the world, you should do it.”  His new book addresses his work’s passion: in more than 200 photos and text, it tells stories of the world’s poor, the one-sixth of the world’s population that lives on a dollar a day or less.

In preparation for the talk, the b…

6th Grade 3D Math

Two 7th Grade boys, George and Aidan, helped present a special project at last week's ParentsAssociation meeting. 

Both boys are presently members of 7 Theta, but the project, which was developed and taught by Brendan Hannon, was part of their 6th grade math class last spring. It was the culminating project of a geometry unit on calculating the volume and surface area of solids and a great example of innovative, integrated curriculum at Saint David's.

Mr. Hannon, 6th Grade math teacher, challenged his students to design a city block that had a minimum volume of 150 square cm. The block must have a 10x10 cm “footprint” and have at least four buildings. 

Buildings could be designed using any of the solids the boys had learned about in class. Boys then had to explain which solids they used, and show the calculations for each of their buildings.


The procedure employed by Mr. Hannon had each of the boys create an account on tinkercad.com.  Once created, they processed through sev…

Third Grade Citizens of the World

Throughout the fall, our third graders have been studying late 19th and early 20th century immigration to this country and its impact on their city, state, and nation.

This is an active unit involving extensive learning beyond the classroom, close examination of primary sources, and cultivation of creativity.

It began in October when, after studying immigration history, trends and reasons in class, the boys visited Ellis Island where they explored primary sources and artifacts.

Then just last week, the boys engaged in a Mock Ellis Island activity in which they assumed the identities of immigrants going through all the steps of immigration processing, from being interviewed by health, education, and character inspectors, to experiencing the thrill of being "admitted," to the disappointment of being "quarantined" or "deported."


Next week, the boys will visit the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side and experience the way immigrants lived in New York aft…

Coffee Concert

I started my day early today in Hyman Hall listening to beautiful music.  In keeping with tradition, our Philharmonic Ensemble held an open rehearsal this morning in the form of a 'Coffee Concert'.

Parents were invited to a "behind the scenes" experience to capture a glimpse of their son's work and learning as a member of this most special of "teams."

I am always struck by the incredible difficulty of the pieces our boys perform--especially when I think about their ages, 9 to 14--and the relative ease and confidence with which they play them.

This morning's program included: Haydn's "St. Anthony Chorale,"  Mozart's Overture to "Lucio Silla," and the "Dance of the Tumblers" from Rimsky-Korsakoff's "Snow Maiden".

Following is a short clip from Handl's piece:
















At Loyola

Last week I had the great pleasure of spending time at Loyola with alums: Henry, '11, Nicholas '11, Tomaso '11, Luke '11, Henry '11, John '12, Peter '12, Jack '12, Jaime '12, Filipo '13, William '14, Michael '14, and Colin '14.  Joined by Mr. Imbelli, we sat for lunch in the conference room surrounded by impressive framed art pieces created by seniors.

Five Saint David's alums are graduating from Loyola this year. All the boys clearly enjoy their school and felt well prepared by Saint David's for high school. 
The boys also offered several suggestions for strengthening our program as well as several aspects of their experience at Saint David's they would never want to see change. It was an enjoyable, productive visit.

Seeing Saint David's boys thrive just never gets old.


At Taft

At Taft visiting Alexander '11, Freddy '12, Henry '12, Graham '13, Conrad '13, John '13, Zach '14, Ben '14, and Frank '14 in the Faculty Room.  Great opportunity to catch up. Boys are spirited and happy.


At Salisbury

At Salisbury with Billy '11 and Bennett '14. Beautiful Day. Boys thriving.


Math as Game

On Monday the Pythagoreans won the school's  Math Bowl, achieving a final score of 200, with the other teams making strong showings.

The Math Bowl is an annual math department contest in which four teams of our boys in Grades Five through Eight solve a series of math problems, created by their teachers.



The problems present real-life scenarios and require the multi-step application of abstract mathematical concepts to tangible situations.

It is impressive to witness how comfortable, quick, and accurate the boys are with the problems posed.

All the Upper School boys attended the contest, and the cheering in the room was indicative of the fun that can be had at school, even when solving math problems!

Father-Son Alums Give Chapel on Our Ethiopia School

Alums Skakel McCooey ’13 and his father John McCooey ’72 gave a joint Chapel talk to our seventh and eighth grades on the school our boys recently built in Ethiopia. Both Skakel and John were members of the Saint David’s contingent that traveled with me to the Saint David’s Kalina School this past June for its official opening ceremonies.

Skakel, who was one of the three Student Council Presidents who led the project, spoke about how the combined efforts of all of the boys of Saint David’s and their teachers, in particular Tom Ryan, over three years of fundraising, had resulted in the successful construction of the school.

“Through seemingly unrelated fundraisers, the bake sales, softball games, walk-a-thons, we built a school and we changed peoples’ lives,” he said. For Skakel, the moment that stood out most was when he was about to leave the school: “I saw on one side the old mud structure that used to serve as a school, and then on the other side, the cinder block building, t…

Third Graders Present Exciting STEAM Project

At this morning’s Parents Association Meeting, Saint David’s Director of Curriculum Integration, Nora Sundar, talked to our parents about the school’s exciting integrative STEAM program.

Third graders then took to the podium to discuss a new tech-integrated design unit that their class has recently completed. During the unit, the boys used littleBits, colorful electronic pieces with magnets that snap together to make circuits, powered by a battery. 

The boys described how they were encouraged to experiment with the different colored pieces to figure out their functions (the pink were input devices, such as sliders or buttons; the green, output devices, such as buzzers, lights or motors; the orange, connectors.)

The boys noted how they learned, through trial and error with the pieces, the importance of proper sequencing to obtain a desired result.


Once they had mastered how the pieces worked, the boys were then well positioned to put their new knowledge to use by building a burglar …

A Beautiful Day of Golf, Saint David's Style

Fifty-four members of our Saint David's community played a round of golf on Bethpage State Park's Blue Course this past Saturday.


It was a spectacular day for the Saint David's Golf Outing, an annual tradition that guarantees not only a round of golf, but a great day filled with camaraderie and good natured competition.


All walked away winners, either on the links or through raffle prizes.  A terrific time was had by all!