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, February 27, 2019
Great news from the rink: Saint David's second grade hockey players won their league championship this past Saturday evening! After a thrilling semi-final game vs. a team from Summit, New Jersey, our boys were victorious in the finals against the Essex Hunt Club. This marks Saint David's first championship in more than 20 years of participating in this league's second grade age division.
As exciting as it is to take home the trophy, Coach Chris Murphy rightly notes that, "More importantly, the boys exhibited great teamwork and sportsmanship throughout the season and during these playoffs."
Congratulations to our second grade hockey players. Your school is so proud of your win and the way you always honor the game!
Each year since our 60th anniversary in 2011, Saint David's eighth graders and teacher Tom Ryan have led school-wide fundraisers in support of the Kalina School, a primary school which we built through our partnership with Save the Children, in Tigray, Ethiopia. When Saint David's Kalina School opened in 2013, it welcomed boys and girls in Grades One through Four. By 2018, it had expanded to include Grades Pre-K through Eight, making it a full scale, fully funded elementary school.
Saint David's boys remain committed to education in Ethiopia. Recently, Aaron Fossi of Save the Children visited with our seventh and eighth graders during Chapel to kick off this year's project: the construction of a two-room block addition to a new school in Ala'sa. When completed, it will serve 188 boys and girls in Grades Five and Six. The Class of 2019 is organizing and planning a host of school-wide spring activities, from walk-a-thons, to shows, to ice cream sales and pay-to-play matches to fund the project.
Friday, February 22, 2019
The gift of family was the theme of this morning's special Chapel for our fifth graders and their mothers. Alumnus Henry McMillan '09, who graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall and Connecticut College, and now works as a financial analyst at J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., focused his talk on the ways in which he has bonded throughout his life with his mother and extended family during large family gatherings on Long Island.
Thank you, Henry, for returning to your alma mater to share your insights with our fifth graders and their moms. What a meaningful way to begin the day!
Saturday, February 16, 2019
Yesterday's Faculty vs. the 7/8 Red Basketball team couldn't have been more exciting! Truly a nail biter until the very end, it could have gone either way but tipped in the Faculty's favor, 37-35.
The crowd loved it! Thanks to our new Price Family Gymnasium, so many of our younger boys and faculty/staff were able attend. The bleachers were packed with the boys cheering and watching their teachers as they've never seen them!
Friday, February 15, 2019
This past week, both Seventh Grade sections presented dramatic performances, in conjunction with their study of Ancient Greece's contributions to the formation of Western democracy and culture.
In last week's The Trial of Socrates, 7 Pi provided a historical reenactment of the Greek philosopher's trial, based on the writings of Plato, who was present at the trial.
Today, 7 Theta performed Sophocles' Antigone, the third and final part of the Oedipus series.
These productions explore the values and moral questions posed by Greek philosophers, who examined humans' relationships with the gods and with each other in society.
Congratulations to the boys and their directors, teachers Jim Barbieri and Joe Kilkeary. The tradition of the Greek Plays in Seventh Grade was brought to the school by Mr. Kilkeary in 1986 with the production of Sophocles' Ajax. This year, for the first time in Saint David's history, the boys performed in a state-of-the-art professionally equipped theater, our new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre, with the entire Upper School and parents able to attend.
What an enhancement to our already strong drama program, which enables our boys to step out of their comfort zones, cultivate empathy, and explore emotions--all essential for their well-being.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Monday, February 11, 2019
The Saint David's parent community never ceases to amaze. On Friday evening, they blasted us into the far reaches of the universe with a Benefit that celebrated our boys and their infinite possibilities beneath a canopy of stars and song at The Pierre.
Within our Saint David's constellation, the exceptionally creative Benefit Chair Rita Kitt and her team have exhibited vision, tenacity, and a deep love for this school; devoting countless hours over several months to ensure an evening that was spectacular and true to the spirit of Saint David's.
From the opening song, "Reach for the Stars," written specifically for our Benefit by the ever-generous Tom Kitt; to the moving video of how our boys are learning in our new spaces, and an auction that beat all records; this was a night not only of infinite possibilities, but of limitless wonder and gratitude.
The strength and dedication of the entire Saint David's community is truly a remarkable constellation of stars that shows a pattern of care, commitment, and concern. Everything our community does is in service to the education and well-being of our boys, and to their development into men of good character.
Evenings like Friday are a reminder of how important that is, and how blessed we are to be a part of this school.
Friday, February 8, 2019
Our third grade history program focuses on 19th and early 20th century American history, with an emphasis on the ways Americans have demonstrated perseverance and ingenuity to improve their lives.
The boys are now studying immigration at the turn of the 20th century. On Monday, they spent the day exploring Ellis Island and in a couple of weeks they will participate in an activity in which they assume the identity of an immigrant undergoing processing there.
Through field trips, research, and related activities, this unit immerses the boys in the immigrant experience so that they can more deeply understand it and its complexity.
All of these activities will aid them in critical analysis of the ideas and issues around immigration, perhaps none moreso than when they step into the shoes of a would-be immigrant. Experiencing another person's complicated situation enables our boys to cultivate cultural competency, deepens empathy, and goes a long way toward developing a character that is other-oriented. All of this is consistent with our mission's ultimate aspiration ut viri boni sint.
Second graders' study of chemistry promotes an understanding of matter and the molecules that it comprises. The hands-on unit includes several labs that address the properties of atoms and molecules, matter's three main states (solid, liquid, gas), and the difference between physical and chemical changes.
Building on their understanding of phase change, the boys recently had an exciting day of hands-on interaction with dry ice (solid Carbon Dioxide) in which they observed the process of sublimation (a solid going directly from a solid to gas state, bypassing the liquid phase.)
After their teacher dropped a chunk of dry ice in a beaker of warm water, the boys observed CO2 gas bubble up from the liquid like a thick white mist. They then added dish washing soap to their beakers and were thrilled to scoop up the "misty" bubbles caused by the ongoing sublimation.
In upcoming labs, the boys will engage in active investigations to learn about chemical changes.
These labs speak to the innate intellectual curiosity of our boys. Demonstrations, hands-on activities and experiments underpin the unit, which the boys count among their favorites!
"The Anastasia Romanov case. It was a great example of how to solve mysteries."
The boys explored how DNA sequencing could solve the mystery of Princess Anastasia Romanov and determine whether she survived the Romanov family massacre.
"When we looked at the pollen and found out where he ate his meals. I enjoyed this lab because it proves how incredible and advanced science is."
After viewing in person the 3D replica of Otzi the Iceman (Europe's oldest known natural human mummy), the boys conducted a lab that looked at the types of pollen found in Otzi's digestive system to figure out where he was hiking and eating during his last 36 hours of life.
"The fruit flies because I saw cool genetic mutations."
The boys also conducted labs in which they used special dissecting microscopes to observe genetic mutations on flies, such as having legs for antenna.
In addition, a scientist from the CSH Laboratory discussed the use of genetics to combat diseases such as cancer.
What a day of intriguing, revelatory experiences for our boys, who are currently engaged in a DNA unit that we conduct through Saint David's partnership with the DNALC. The partnership provides our boys with access to real-world scientists at the DNALC and their educators, who collaborate with our science teachers for sessions conducted in Saint David's STEAM labs.