Syrian Refugee & Violinist Mariela Shaker Headlines October 24 Skeptics

Accomplished violinist and Syrian refugee Mariela Shaker brings her message of peace and love through music to the Society of Skeptics on October 24. Her presentation, "Life in Aleppo and as a Refugee," begins at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum.

Ms. Shaker began her musical journey in 1999, when she joined the Arabic Institute of Music in Aleppo, Syria, at the age of 10. She graduated with distinction four years later, then earned postgraduate music and teaching certificates. A violin teacher at the Institute from 2008 to 2012, she risked death from bomb and mortar attacks every day as she commuted from her home—which had no electricity or running water—to the school.

In 2013, having completed her bachelor's degree in business administration at the University of Aleppo and performed to accolades throughout Syria, Ms. Shaker earned a scholarship to continue her music studies at Monmouth College in Illinois. Once she was in the U.S., she fully realized the danger of returning to her homeland, and she applied for and was granted permanent resident status. Ms. Shaker completed her bachelor's degree in music performance in 2015 and her master's degree in violin performance in 2017, having earned a full-tuition scholarship to DePaul University School of Music in Chicago.

Described as a "violin virtuoso" in a 2015 BuzzFeed article, Ms. Shaker has used her musical gifts to promote peace and share the plight of the Syrian people with audiences nationwide over the past several years. She has presented at some of the country's most distinguished venues, including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Lincoln Center in New York City, and has performed and spoken at the United Nations, Beyond Borders International Festival, Aspen Ideas Festival and Harvard University, among many other places. Honored by President Obama in 2015 as a Champion of Change, she serves as Goodwill Peace Ambassador of the World Council of Aramean and Service Ambassador of Points of Light Organization.

To learn more about Ms. Shaker, click here.

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.

Parents' Weekend Is Coming!

Having settled into the routine of another year at Blair Academy, students will have the opportunity to share the highlights of their experience so far with friends and relatives during the upcoming Parents' Weekend. From October 26 to 28, Blair is once again happy to welcome families from all around the globe to be a part of the community and experience life on the hilltop.

For three days, the Blair campus will host a series of activities meant to encourage familial interactions with the School. The event kicks off on Thursday evening with a parents-only reception at nearby Buck Hill Brewery, where parents will be able to meet and get to know one another. The activities continue into Friday, when parents are offered the opportunity to experience athletics at Blair by participating in a 5K run or a Golf Scramble, or delve into academics by attending a "master class" or Leadership Stories Project workshop or by touring the new Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

Parents will have the opportunity to join their children during Friday-afternoon athletic practices or club meetings, and everyone is invited to formal dinner in the Romano Dining Hall, beginning at 5:45 p.m. After dinner, Blair's academic departments will hold receptions in various locations around campus, during which parents can meet their children's teachers and ask questions about their classes. The night will close with "Blair on Stage," featuring performances by the Orchestra, Singers and the cast of the Blair Academy Players' production of The Inspector General.

On Saturday, parents will have the chance to attend an abridged class day with their children. Each block will only run for 20 minutes, which is enough time for parents to understand Blair's engaging learning environment. Classes will end midday, at which point parents can either enjoy time with their children off campus or stay at Blair to watch some of the athletic competitions happening that afternoon and further explore campus. Throughout the three-day event, Parents' Weekend will introduce families to life in the "Blair bubble" and showcase the progress students have made in their first few weeks of a new school year.

Parents can view the full schedule of events and register for Parents' Weekend online.

Senior Seth Kim will cover a number of campus events this year in his role as intern to Blair's communications department.

Relive your Peddie Day Memories at Alumni Gatherings Across U.S.

Peddie Week is traditionally an opportunity for members of Blair's extended family to show their school pride and celebrate one of New Jersey's longest-standing football rivalries and traditions. This year, in addition to inviting alumni, parents and friends of the School to Blairstown for the November 3 bonfire and pep rally and to Peddie School for the away November 4 athletic competitions, Blair is hosting November 1 gatherings in New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley at which attendees can socialize and reminisce about their favorite Peddie Week memories.

Having enlisted some of Blair's most spirited and engaged alumni to host and coordinate these get-togethers, Blair's Alumni Relations Director Shaunna Murphy eagerly anticipates what she hopes will become a beloved Blair tradition. "We want to give our alumni and parents an opportunity to reconnect with each other and Blair and relive the excitement of past Peddie Days," she said. "Athletics aside, there is so much history and tradition associated with Peddie Week events. We have encouraged our community to join the friendly competition through fundraising initiatives such as the Peddie Challenge and have hosted regional get-togethers in the past, but this is the first time we are planning a Blair-Peddie New York City gathering celebrating our school spirit as Peddie Day approaches."

Expecting the New York City event to be the largest of the six gatherings, a number of Blair staffers, including Mrs. Murphy, will be on hand at the Sunset Terrace at Chelsea Piers. Blair's Head of School Chris Fortunato and Peddie's Headmaster Peter Quinn will attend the New York event, and they invite alumni and parents to join them to kick off the weekend in style. The evening will also mark the start of the three-day-long Peddie Challenge, which will run from November 1 to 3 and, will include class years from 1998 to 2017.

"We hope these gatherings remind our alumni of how much fun the Blair-Peddie rivalry is, and offer parents a chance to reminisce about their children's time at Blair," Mrs. Murphy said. "To be able to put aside the competition and mix and mingle with Falcon fans at the New York event shows just how special our schools truly are. Of course, we want this to be our year to take back the Kelley-Potter Cup, but in the lead-up to game day, we will wear our Blair colors, trade stories, and celebrate the Blair spirit with both our friends and rivals."

Details on individual gatherings, which will include complimentary light hors d'oeuvres, beer and wine, are listed below. Attendees are encouraged to show their school pride by dressing in Blair gear and colors. Registration for all of the events is now open; to RSVP for the New York gathering, click here and to RSVP for the Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley or Los Angeles parties, click here.

New York

Sunset Terrace at Chelsea Piers

2nd Floor, 61 Chelsea Piers

New York, NY 10011

6:30-8:30 p.m.


Highball Lounge

90 Tremont Street

Boston, MA 02108

6-8 p.m.

Washington D.C.


2003 18th Street NW

Washington, DC 20009

7-9 p.m.

Lehigh Valley

The Bayou Easton

64 Centre Square

Easton, PA 18042

7-9 p.m.

Los Angeles

The Cannibal Beer & Butcher

8850 Washington Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232

7-9 p.m.


Fado Irish Pub

1500 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA 19102

7:00-9:00 p.m.

Players Stage Satirical Look at Provincial Corruption in The Government Inspector

The Blair Academy Players will open their 2017-2018 season with The Government Inspector, a play adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher from the original 19th-century satire by Nikolai Gogol. Performances of the production, intended for mature audiences, will take place in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts' Wean Studio Theatre on October 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and reservations may be made by emailing Kaye Evans at evansk@blair.edu.

"Our performers are very excited to present this timely and timeless rollicking comedy," said Mr. Evans, a longtime English and performing arts teacher who has directed more than 60 productions at Blair. "It's exciting to do a show that so recently won rave reviews in New York City after an extended run. [Blair Academy Players' technical director] Wayne Rasmussen and I saw the production, which only made us more excited to actually do it this fall. The cast portrays a great deal of comedy and funny moments."

"This play—and every part in it—is outrageously funny," added Ernesto Lippert '18, who plays one of the lead roles as a mysterious stranger. "There's no typical 'good guy;' every single character is as corrupt and hilariously ignorant as the next, and it all comes together as a one-of-a-kind comedic experience packed into two acts. Between the slapstick comedy and the witty dialogue, the show is an amazing way to spend your evening. Escape, very briefly, into this world of crime, corruption and absurdity; you'll be on the floor laughing by the time the curtain closes."

The play is so funny, in fact, that Matthew Bottone '19 has had to stop reading his lines in rehearsal because everyone is laughing. "I feel that audiences will really enjoy this one as the humor isn't complicated; it's just witty and fun," said Matthew, who plays a lead role as mayor of a small Russian hamlet that has learned that an undercover government inspector is coming to examine provincial corruption.

Mistaken identity is a central theme of the play. In an attempt to avoid the public discovering the province's corruption, the mayor gathers the rest of the seedy town officials, including the judge (Kendrick Ng-Yow '19), the school principal (Ryan Gomez '20), the hospital director (Kelsey Jackman '20), the doctor (Aavya Dev '20), the police chief (John Zoetjes '19) and the postmaster (Connor O'Neill '18). While this group decides that bribery is the wisest course of action to avoid detection, the mayor's wife (Gardner Coates '20) and daughter (Audrey Sacks '20) have other designs on a mysterious stranger, as do oft-confused and oft-confused-for-each-other merchants Dobchinsky (Olivia McLaine '20) and Bobchinsky (Victoria Crow '20).

The mysterious stranger turns out to be ne'er-do-well Hlestakov (Ernesto), who, with his servant Osip (Jonathan Lee '20), stands to take advantage of the gullible and guilty townspeople.

"What I love most about this production is the amount of fun we've had blocking the scenes," said student director Siena Tipton '18, who counts this as her ninth Blair show, either as an actress or director. "No two rehearsals are the same, and it's hilarious to see the actions that people come up with! Not only is The Government Inspector one of the funniest shows I've ever seen, but our cast members are so committed to their roles that their personalities are never even seen in the show!"

Perhaps The New York Times summed the show up best in a review of a recent off-Broadway production: "The pleasures afforded by this breakneck show...are as old as the days when cave dwellers discovered that human stupidity was really kind of funny, as well as potentially tragic."

Artist & Social Media Star Visits Blair to Talk Design, Form & Technique

October 11 will go down in Blair history as the day that fine art students had the opportunity to workshop with one of the most famous ceramicists on social media: @Tortus (also known as Copenhagen-based artist Eric Landon) visited campus to work with fine arts department chair Kate Sykes' classes throughout the day, throwing forms, talking process and discussing the new world of marketing made possible through social media.

"This visit is really neat because my students follow @Tortus and bring a lot of his techniques and ideas into class, asking me how or why he does things a certain way," said Mrs. Sykes, who was introduced to Mr. Landon by a Blair parent. "He is a conversation-starter in my classes and anyone from ceramics 2 and up knows who he is and learns from him digitally. We are so thankful that he made time to come to Blair and share his expertise at a time when his career is skyrocketing."

Where Design & Fabrication Meet

Having watched a few interviews with the socially conscious artist, who has more than 700,000 Instagram followers, Mrs. Sykes was excited to welcome to campus a sculptor and studio owner who values the art of making and has a passion for the interplay between design and fabrication. "Mr. Landon emphasizes a lot of values and a level of consciousness in his workshops that I think are important for our students to be exposed to, such as the importance of knowing who creates the objects in your life," she explained.

Those unfamiliar with Mr. Landon's work just have to follow him on Instagram to see that he often posts multiple times a day—mostly photos and video of his art, but also images of his dogs, colleagues and hometown that give followers a glimpse into his everyday life.

"This is the nicest facility I've seen for high school ceramics," said Mr. Landon. "When I am traveling, I try to visit schools where I am, and it is a pleasure to come to Blair and work with students who are curious, talented and enthusiastic."

When asked what he hopes will be Blair students' biggest takeaway, Mr. Landon says he hopes to give kids an understanding of how to do something creative for a living and exposure to new and emerging avenues for getting their work seen. "The rules are changing these days," he said. "You have other possibilities with social media and a greater awareness about your work."

He also hopes to give Blair students some tips about how they can manipulate the clay a little bit easier and throw more effectively. "I've been doing this a long time and have had lots of success," Mr. Landon concluded. "It is nice to meet young people who are the future of ceramics. If I can give advice that makes them better potters, I'd love to do that."

Skyrocketing to Success Through Social Media

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Mr. Landon grew up in the United States, completing his undergraduate work at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, before moving to Denmark and graduating from the Danish School of Design in Copenhagen. In addition to maintaining an active social media presence showcasing his art, he hosts workshops all over the world. In fact, it was a workshop in Brooklyn that brought him close enough to Blairstown for a daylong visit that was the highlight of 2017-2018 for many fine art students.

The Highlight of the Year

"Mr. Landon is a world-class sculptor," said Luke Corrado '18. "Being that he's based out of Denmark, it's really incredible that he would take time out of his schedule to come and visit us in Blairstown. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and talk to someone as gifted and hardworking as he is."

Because the artist's style has had a huge impact on his own, Luke looked forward to learning more about his inspiration. "Nearly all of the pieces I have made in ceramics have a Tortus element to them," he explained. "I can't stress enough how amazing this opportunity is."

For Elizabeth Negvesky '20, the most exciting aspect of a sculptor like Mr. Landon coming to campus was the prospect of seeing him in action in front of peers who admire his work as much as she does. "His sense of dedication and determination for ceramics is very inspiring to the ceramics community," Elizabeth said. "I most enjoyed asking him how and when he decided to turn his artistic passion into his livelihood and then how he made it happen."

Team-Taught Class on America & World Wars Connects History to Culture

Blair students who are passionate about history and literature have a unique opportunity this fall to learn about World War I and World War II from a wide range of perspectives in a semester-long elective that examines how these conflicts shaped the nation and its role in the world.

That the "America at War" course is team-taught by veteran English teacher Bob Brandwood and history teacher Joanne Brandwood is no accident: the husband-and-wife duo are history buffs, and Bob is well-known across campus for his expertise in World War I literature and poetry. After traveling to France and Belgium in 2015 to visit battlefields and memorials as part of Blair's professional development program, the Brandwoods decided to propose a course that explored the World Wars from various source materials—including contemporary literature, poetry, speeches, art and music, as well as modern literary and cinematic treatments—to give students a broad sense of how they impacted combatants and supporters at home.

"We look at the wars through historical and literary lenses, and this interdisciplinary approach will hopefully lead our students to develop a rich appreciation for the lasting legacy these conflicts had on the United States and the world," said Mr. Brandwood. "Joanne and I spent the summer months choosing texts, reading together and discussing particular sources, much like any teachers would—except much more frequently and often on the fly because we live together. In fact, we realized early on that one of the benefits of our collaboration is that our students truly get two interpretations of every source."

Much More Than Just a Textbook

That is certainly true of the class's current assigned reading, A Farewell to Arms, an emotional book that Mrs. Brandwood hopes will illuminate a different side of the war than traditional history textbooks. "The great thing about World War I and World War II literature is that it is much more accessible than that of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars," said Mrs. Brandwood, who taught a similar elective on those early American conflicts with veteran English teacher Craig Evans last year. "Because I am a relatively new teacher, it has been wonderful for me to get to work with Craig and Bob. Sometimes, I feel like an extra student in the class. But we all have different areas of expertise, and it is good for kids to see their teachers debate the issues."

Although the Brandwoods admit that they can disagree about how to interpret a book's protagonist or a story's underlying themes, they are united in their hope that "America at War" students will leave the class with a better understanding of our nation's past and with their interest piqued to learn more. "World War I, in particular, is the forgotten war in the U.S., in part because America's active engagement was so short. But it had a profound impact," Mr. Brandwood said. "Introducing the era to students through books, music and film makes it much more relevant—it is not just dry old history or dry old literature."

The Benefits of Team Teaching

The Brandwoods have also enjoyed the opportunity to work together after 30-plus years at Blair. "It's fun for the kids to get a window into our marriage, and I think that makes us that much more human," continued Mr. Brandwood. "It helps that our eclectic sources engage students and help them more powerfully realize that the World Wars affected people in different ways and that those impacts are manifested in art, music and culture."

The fact that "America at War" features two teachers with different perspectives, while at the same time mixing English and history, appeals to students, who find the content challenging and intriguing. "I am interested in history and this course gives me the opportunity to explore my favorite subject while also strengthening my English skills," said Max Cavallaro '18. "Hearing two opinions helps to enrich my learning and allows me to look at what we are studying with more insight."

"Mr. and Mrs. Brandwood's interactions as our teachers create a lighthearted, yet focused environment where students feel very comfortable asking questions and adding to the discussions," said Cortney Klein '18. "Their differing perspectives on the events we are studying provide multiple angles for us to learn."

In addition to framing discussions from different angles, Mr. and Mrs. Brandwood each have a different style of teaching that complements the other and makes the class more interesting, added Sydney Brown '18. "I enjoy learning about these time periods in history, as they relate to the books we are reading in class. I would recommend this class to students that want a different style of teaching, through incorporating the history aspect to the literature we read."

As the semester continues, the class will move from A Farewell to Arms to World War II poetry and Band of Brothers, at which point the curricular focus will be on rhetorical analysis. The Brandwoods will continue to showcase the varied approaches to and attitudes about the wars, a task made easier by the fact that their course is a senior elective—meaning that students can place what they learn into the context of the U.S. and European history courses they have already taken as freshmen, sophomores and juniors. "This gives us more time to look at things you wouldn't have time to do in a survey course," Mr. Brandwood said. "You get a different perspective reading a poem written by a combatant or a mother at home waiting for news of her son or a producer looking back at it all in 1950."

Keeping an Eye on the Big Picture

That's not to say that the class doesn't look at the big picture: In fact, one of the Brandwoods' main goals is to encourage an overarching appreciation and awareness of how historical events affected culture and how culture reflected people's reaction to cataclysmic events.

"The big takeaway is that these wars had a huge impact culturally," Mrs. Brandwood concluded. "We are living through a time in which some of the worldwide dangers really echo the run-ups to both World War I and World War II. I just hope to leave our students wanting more. I'd love for them to get to the end of the semester and say they want to read more, watch more and think more about what we learned."
Students Learn About the Power of Philanthropy at Scholarship Event

Blair Academy held its annual Scholarship Dessert Social on October 6, an event that celebrates the generous philanthropy of scholarship donors and gives students an opportunity to express their gratitude. Hosted at Sharpe House by Head of School Chris Fortunato and his wife, Erin, the social was attended by the student recipients of 86 named, endowed Blair scholarships, as well as several scholarship donors who live in the Blairstown area.

During the evening, students listened as ex-officio Trustee Alexander Sloane '70 spoke about his support of scholarship aid at Blair and why it is meaningful to him. Each student also received information about the named scholarship he or she holds this year, including the story behind its establishment and the name of the donor. In the coming weeks, scholarship recipients will write letters to the donors of their scholarships, sharing news about their Blair activities and experiences, and thanking them for their support.

"Endowed scholarships are an important source of financial aid for deserving Blair students," said Director of Stewardship E. Courtnay Stanford '95, who coordinated the Scholarship Dessert Social. This year, 104 students were chosen as named, endowed scholarship recipients; they are among the 40 percent of the entire student body to whom the School awarded $6.6 million in financial aid for 2017-2018. "The letters students write mean a great deal to scholarship donors—it's the perfect way to let them know about the positive impact their gifts have on students' lives."

Student Managers on Duty in the CIC

Since the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration (CIC) opened a few weeks ago, the building has been bustling with students attending fine art and technology classes in its state-of-the-art studios and classrooms. During the evening hours, the CIC again becomes a hub of activity as students use its flexible, technology-rich spaces for club meetings, studying and working on personal and academic projects. While there's always a faculty or staff member on evening duty, ready and willing to teach students how to use the 3D printers, laser cutter and other CIC technology, there's also a second resource available for hands-on help: the CIC student managers.

Twenty-four juniors and seniors are CIC student managers this year, each student having applied for the position when Head of School Chris Fortunato announced last spring that students would be needed to assist in the new academic facility. Four or five managers are on duty from 7 to 10 p.m., Sunday through Friday, and their responsibilities are varied: They sign students in and out; tour the building periodically to make sure conditions are conducive to study; and, at the end of the night, ascertain that all is in order before turning out the lights.

Their most important duty, however, is helping fellow students—and faculty—safely and effectively harness the power of the CIC's technology. In order to be able to do this, computer science teacher Michael Garrant and other faculty members are training the student managers to use the equipment in the maker space, the ceramics studio and the media production suite, as well as the audio-visual systems throughout the facility. Once they receive overall certification, the managers can pursue more-specialized training in areas in which they are particularly interested and use this knowledge to assist students and faculty, as well as create projects of their own.

"Student managers have taken on a significant role in the day-to-day operation of the CIC," said Dean of Students Carm Mazza, who is coordinating the student-manager program. "In addition to their training responsibilities, they've taken ownership of numerous general maintenance tasks, and they'll help plan and coordinate activities to make the most of the space. It's a great educational opportunity, and one they're excited and proud to be part of."

Clare Grant '19 began her CIC manager duties by helping people use the printers and manning the sign-in desk, but she's especially looking forward to teaching her peers how to use CIC technology. "I'm excited about the new building," she said. "I know I'll enjoy being able to meet and help new people." Jason Pan '18, who is taking artificial intelligence in the CIC this semester, is also anticipating the satisfaction he'll get from his training role. "It will be great to be the one who steers people to the resources they need and show them how to use it," he reflected. "I'm looking forward to seeing everyone use the tools in the CIC."

Art student Alex Glickman '19 applied to be a CIC student manager because she loves how the facility integrates art and technology; she wanted to be a part of this experience and help facilitate the "amazing opportunities to come." And while robotics is a big draw for Liam Junkermann '19—he hopes to pursue a robotics project during his Friday-night duty sessions—he, too, is thrilled that art, technology and science come together in the CIC. "It's the perfect place to learn something new," he said.

Mr. Mazza is pleased that the student-manager program has gotten off to a successful start. "I'm proud of these kids and the work they're already doing in the CIC," he said. "It will be great to see the projects they take on and the ways in which they'll build on their interests and passions as CIC managers this year."

New York City Water Supply Is Topic of October 10 Skeptics

The New York City water supply system delivers one billion gallons of water to city residents daily, a fact of life that most people take for granted. On October 10, Ted Dowey, a design project manager for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), took an in-depth look at the metropolis' water system and some associated environmental and political issues when he discussed "Supplying Quality Water to New York City" at the Society of Skeptics. The presentation began at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum.

Mr. Dowey, father of Blair science teacher Aly Dowey, has nearly 30 years' experience in water tunnel construction management with the New York City DEP. During his career, he has supervised the construction of new water tunnels to replace or augment existing tunnels, including a $683-million water tunnel that runs deep below Manhattan. Four years ago, he became a DEP design project manager and, since then, has led a team of designers that formulated a solution to a leaking tunnel, designed a bypass tunnel and supervised the awarding of a $706-million construction contract.

During his Skeptics presentation, Mr. Dowey shared an overview of New York City's water supply system and describe how its unique tunnels are built, including the nine-mile tunnel that runs 400 to 600 feet below Manhattan. He also anticipated discussion of important topics surrounding the maintenance and delivery clean water, including the role of government in protecting clean water, the use of eminent domain to create reservoirs, the role of sustainability in mega water projects, fracking on reservoir lands and more. "I hope the audience will gain an appreciation for New York City's water supply system and look forward to conversation with faculty and students about environmental and political issues," he said. Mr. Dowey holds a bachelor's degree in geology and a master's degree in mining engineering, both from Columbia University.

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.

Princeton Artists Alliance Exhibits at Romano Gallery

The works of 21 Princeton-area artists will be on display in Blair Academy's Romano Gallery in an exhibition that considers local, national and global issues surrounding the most basic of human needs: water. Politics of Water by the Princeton Artists Alliance was curated by Kate Somers for Princeton University's Bernstein Gallery, and Blair will host the multimedia exhibition from October 3 to October 28.

Founded in 1989, the Princeton Artists Alliance is a working artists' group comprising painters, sculptors, printmakers, photographers and more. The group has exhibited throughout New Jersey and in neighboring states, and frequently channels its creative energy for commentary on social, political and cultural issues. Politics of Water features artists' visualization of a variety of water-related concerns, ranging from climate change and pollution to the economics of water and access to a limited supply.

The artists featured in Politics of Water include Joanne Augustine, Hetty Baiz, Joy Barth, Anita Benarde, Rajie Cook, Clem Fiori, Tom Francisco, Carol Hanson, Shellie Jacobson, Judy Langille, Eva Mantell, Pat Martin, Charles McVicker, Lucy Graves McVicker, Harry Naar, Jim Perry, Maria Pisano, Richard Sanders, Madelaine Shellaby, Marie Sturken and Judy Tobie.
Blair Welcomes Prospective Students & Families at Admission Open House

Blair Academy held its annual Fall Admission Open House on Monday, October 9, at the School's historic Blairstown campus. Prospective students in eighth grade and high school, as well as their parents and families, were invited to enjoy a morning-long program, campus tours and a buffet luncheon in the Romano Dining Hall. to register.

The Admission Open House began at 8:45 a.m. in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts. Admission officers, faculty and current students were on hand to chat with prospective students and their families as they registered and enjoy a light continental breakfast. Head of School Chris Fortunato opened the speaking program, and his remarks were followed by student, faculty and parent panel discussions throughout the morning. Assistant Head of School for Enrollment and Communications Peter G. Curran also took the stage to fully explain the Blair admission process and answer questions from the audience.

Highlights of the event included walking tours of campus and Blair's new Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration and an activities fair in Hardwick Hall's performance gym, where prospective students could meet academic department chairs, athletic coaches and the leaders of Blair's myriad clubs and activities. Mr. Curran noted that Open House gives families the chance to experience life in the Blair community firsthand—which, to him, is the best part of the day.

"The warmth and energy of the Blair family is a hallmark of our community, and there's no better way to experience that than to visit campus," he said. "I look forward to welcoming students and families who are interested in learning more about Blair and sharing all that is best about our School with them."

Admission & Advancement Educate Prospective Families about the Blair Difference

For the second-consecutive year, Blair's advancement and admission offices will join forces in early October to connect parents and alumni with prospective families at local secondary-school fairs in Colorado, North Carolina and Arizona.

Similar trips to these destinations were so successful in 2016 that Blair's alumni, parent and admission teams did not want to pass up the chance to build relationships and introduce those just considering boarding school to individuals who can speak to why they chose Blair and why the Blair experience is so extraordinary.

"Fair attendees really seem to appreciate the opportunity to speak to Blair parents and alums and hear firsthand accounts of the difference Blair has made in their lives," said Assistant Director of Advancement for Capital Giving Velma Lubliner, who will partner with Assistant Dean of Admission Tim Goggins at fairs in Denver, Boulder and Aspen.

Alex Graber '06, Elizabeth Niles McDowell '00, Tiffany Patterson Carlson '89 and Charley Case '87 are some of the alumni who will connect with families at Boulder Country Day School, St. Ann's Episcopal School and Aspen Country Day School from October 4 to 7. "We are deeply grateful to these gracious alumni for sharing the best of Blair with the world and educating families about life on the hilltop," said Mrs. Lubliner.

Noting that "Blair alumni and parents are some of our best and most effective ambassadors," Assistant Director of Advancement for Parent Relations Susan Long will travel to Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, North Carolina, with Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw and the two will introduce current and past parents to prospective families at Charlotte Preparatory School, Trinity Episcopal School, Canterbury School and St. Timothy's School. After four days in the Carolinas, Mrs. Long will meet Pam Kirby P '20 in Paradise Valley, Arizona, for a fair at All Saints Episcopal High School, followed by a smaller event for current parents and alumni residing in Arizona.

"There is no better resource for a prospective family about to make a decision than a parent who has been in their shoes," said Mrs. Long. "We are so grateful for the support of the parents and alumni who are making the time to be a part of these fairs. They clearly love Blair deeply and that feeling is palpable at events like these."

Next up for the advancement and admission offices: A November trip to Asia to connect with Blair families in Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing and Shanghai.

Science Teacher Delves into the Importance of Biodiversity Protection at Skeptics

Kittatinny Regional High School (KRHS) environmental science teacher Dan Chamberlin addressed Costa Rica's unique history and its success in protecting biodiversity at the October 3 Society of Skeptics presentation in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum. During his remarks, Mr. Chamberlin touched on the challenges associated with such preservation, including climatic, energy and economic uncertainties that are placing unprecedented stress on policies and people.

"I hope to get students thinking about tropical ecosystems and their biodiversity, the countries that house this biodiversity and their economic plight, and, finally—given that tropical forests may house fully half of the world's biodiversity—ask them to consider how we can protect the biodiversity and services that these forests provide going forward and how wealthy nations can participate," he explained.

In 1999, KRHS combined its environmental and anthropology departments and created an innovative tropical ecology program that introduces students to Costa Rica's ecological heritage and people through the study of and travel to three of the island's national parks. Mr. Chamberlin will discuss the program's benefits and his involvement in its growth in the years since its inception.

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.

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