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Showing posts from March, 2019

Cosmos Study through Original Space Shows

With the Hayden Planetarium shrouded in darkness, an anticipatory hush befell the crowd. Then blackness was punctuated by a pop of stars and the brilliance of planets and galaxies. The shows had begun.

Our Sixth Grade boys were at the Planetarium's controls and narrating their original scripts, taking the audience of parents and faculty on several exhilarating space flights through the universe in their final astronomy unit research presentations.

Since December, the boys had been exploring questions about the cosmos through a unique signature learning experience made possible through our partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, Hayden Planetarium: The Digital Universe Field Study.

The partnership not only gave the boys access to the Planetarium's equipment and the proprietary UniView software used by astronomers and physicists, but throughout the unit they were also able to interact with and learn from the museum's educators and scientists, in addition …

Race Time!

The cheers shook Hyman Hall at each countdown during today's Nerdy Derby Race -- the culmination of two weeks of design, engineering and creative construction by our third graders.

Working in teams, the boys had been charged with creating a mini-car that would win one of three races down a 50-foot track: Slowest, Fastest or King of the Hill (the car that stops closest to the top of the hill at mid track).

The project entailed use of the engineering design cycle and engaged the boys in educational, interactive and fun design experiences through problem solving and collaborative challenges.

Congratulations to the winning teams, teachers, and to all of the boys for their effort, creativity, sportsmanship, teamwork, and enthusiasm. What a fun way to begin Spring Break!

The Making of America

Move over, Hamilton! Saint David's second graders have a sure-fire hit with Huzzah! Huzzah!, an original play about the Second Continental Congress. Written by former faculty members, the show combines famous American tunes with a re-enactment of the deliberations of July 4, 1776.

Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock, Patrick Henry were all present. The boys were terrific; they sang with confidence and delivered their lines expertly, including an impressive recitation of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. What a joy for the boys to be able to perform this show for the first time in our beautiful new Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre.

Congratulations to our second graders, and to producers Ms. Buhr, Ms. Falvey, Mrs. Patterson and Mr. Moore!

In Celebration of Pi

In celebration of National Pi Day, Shailen S., Kiran K., Charlie W., and Roan S. recited as many digits as they could of the irrational number.

The boys' ability to memorize so many numbers and present them in front of an audience was remarkable. Congratulations to Roan, who recited the most--1,041 digits in a little over 8 minutes-- to an astounded audience!

When asked by his teacher, Bridget Gallagher, how he was able to memorize so many digits, Roan replied that in addition to being able to visualize the numbers in his mind, he committed himself to lots of practice!

Well done, boys!

At the Top of Giotto's Tower

One of the highlights of the Italian Study Tour was the steep climb up 414 steps to the Campanile atop Giotto's Tower. Before the climb, the boys engaged in a math lab, using a few instruments to determine the height of the tower.

The reward for the math and the long climb was a spectacular panoramic view of Firenze.

With just one day left to go, it's been a fantastic Study Tour of Rome, Assisi, and Florence. The boys have learned about, sketched and reflected upon myriad Classical and Renaissance works, drawing connections between what they've learned in class and seen in person. The presence of Fourth Headmaster Maiocco (R.I.P.), who originated the Italian Study Tour, was most definitely close to us throughout these past few days.

The trip is one of our graduating class's most memorable signature learning experiences, and we've had a great time.


Passing of Donald T. Maiocco, Headmaster Emeritus of Saint David's

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Donald T. Maiocco, a teacher, administrator, mentor and kind friend to all at Saint David’s. His influence on the spirit and culture of this great school was profound. A man deeply committed to its mission—especially its faith tradition, the aesthetic, comportment, and the very highest of academic standards—Dr. Maiocco served the school for twelve years as its fourth headmaster. His love for the arts, respect for the classical ideals of balance and beauty and his love for the boys not only defined his tenure but also his professional life as an educator. A man of letters, Don’s intellectual passion was equaled only by his insistence on good manners and personal integrity, the dimple in the tie and the buttoned blazer. I’m convinced it was no accident that Dr. Maiocco passed while we are in Rome with the boys on their Italian Study Tour—and at the Vatican no less—touring the art and architecture of the Classical…

Bluegrass Session With Math Coordinator Nick Reeb

On Wednesday, Upper School Math Coordinator Nick Reeb and his bluegrass group delighted our second and sixth graders with a special session in the Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre.

The group discussed the basic elements and origin of bluegrass with the boys and performed a variety of bluegrass favorites including songs by Bill Monroe (bluegrass founder) and some standards. The boys were transfixed by the different instruments and vocal styles! Thanks to Nick for sharing his musical talent and for an enlightening lesson in the genre. Our generous, multi-talented faculty never cease to amaze!

Spanish Class Partnership with Animal Care Center

As part of their study in Spanish, our third graders attended a presentation in the Otto-Bernstein Performing Arts Theatre today given by Ms. Reeve of the Animal Care Center, a non-profit charged with caring for any animal in need for the City of New York.

With facilities located in Spanish Harlem and the Bronx, the ACC frequently interacts with the Latino community in the city and uses Spanish to further how they safeguard stray animals as well as help owners keep their pets.

Our boys will partner with the ACC to share books they have written in Spanish class about taking care of pets. Six lucky lottery winners will accompany Doctora Gilbert to the shelter this spring to learn how reading to the animals helps calm them. This partnership connects the boys' study of the Spanish language with the greater community.


To step into another person's shoes and see the world from a perspective that is unlike your own is essential to developing empathy and increased understanding around issues and ideas. Three signature learning experiences at Saint David's toward the end of last week illustrated the importance our program places on shifting one's perspective.

For the Mock Ellis Island, third graders assumed the roles of early 20th century immigrants whose acceptance or rejection was dependent on passing tough screening interviews. As they role played their character's passage, some of our boys experienced the joy of being sworn in to a new country, while others had to manage the disappointment of deportation.

To more fully understand ancient China, our fourth graders traveled the now expanded "Silk Road" of Saint David's halls as Roman traders, Buddhist monks, Chinese silk artisans, and bandits. They made stops at India, Arabia, Rome (my office), Persia, and Dama…

Sono arrivati in Italia!

Eighth graders and their teachers have arrived in Rome and are enjoying the first day of the 10-day Italian Study Tour.

Their first stop was St. Paul's Outside the Walls, where Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of the papal basilica, provided a tour. Later, the boys visited the Spanish Steps, and toured the Pantheon.

Over the next two weeks the boys will visit sites in Rome, Assisi, and Florence. They will see in person the paintings, sculpture, and architecture that they have studied in the interdisciplinary humanities class. Each day their understanding will be deepened as they write about the experience and sketch the various works in their journals.

This trip is an exceptional opportunity for our boys to augment their in-class learning, build experience as citizens of the world beyond New York City, and strengthen their bonds as a graduating class.

I can't wait to join the boys and their teachers later in the week!

A Refugee's Experience Shared in Chapel

This morning's special Seventh and Eighth Grade Chapel featured a visit by Jesuit Refugee Service Education Advocate Dr. Mireille Twayigira.

In 1994, then two-year-old Mireille and her family fled Rwanda after her father fell victim to the genocide that plagued the country. Mireille found her grit despite the dire situation she faced as a refugee. At the Dzaleka refugee camp in Malawi she participated in the JRS education program, excelling in her studies against all odds. With the help of JRS, Malawai and China, she went on to study medicine in China and become a doctor.

Positive and committed to making a difference, Mireille expressed that refugees should be treated with dignity and seen as positive resources, and her conviction that education should be the focus of efforts to solve the crisis.

Her message is a vital one; her personal experience, inspiring. We thank Mireille for sharing it with our boys this morning.

Learning to See through Art

A signature experience for our seventh graders is the observational drawing unit conducted through Saint David's partnership with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.  During this winter term, the boys studied modern masterpieces from the museum's Thannhauser Collection, where they developed their observational drawing techniques under the guidance of Saint David's art teachers Jenna Boccella and Bernard Adnet. They also studied the architecture of the iconic museum itself.

Yesterday, parents, faculty and staff were invited to the Guggenheim, where the boys presented on the life and work of Constantin Brancusi and Frank Lloyd Wright.

They also gave observational drawing lessons to their visitors before everyone convened in the museum's education center for an exhibit of the boys' own observational drawings and a discussion about the skills of contour, angles and proportion, value and texture, negative space, and gestalt. The presentations were so well done and the…