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Blair Triumphs at Ironman

Blair wrestling wins Iroman

Blair wrestling won the Walsh Ironman Tournament on December 10, marking the Bucs' 14th Ironman championship in the contest's 24 years. With an overall team score of 249.05, Blair placed 11 wrestlers and crowned two champions, Trevor Mastrogiovanni '20 at 113 pounds and Michael Colaiocco '19 at 120 pounds. Michael also earned the Mendoza Award, which is given to the individual wrestler who earns the most team points.

Andrew Merola '18 (160 lbs.) and Ryan Miller '20 (106 lbs.) placed second in their respective weight classes, and Julian Ramirez '19 (170 lbs.), Leo Tarantino '18 (182 lbs.) and Owen Trephan '19 (220 lbs.) each placed third.

"The team wrestled well and fought hard in their bouts through a demanding two-day tournament," said Brian Antonelli '93, head wrestling coach. "Michael and Trevor put several tough matches together and competed extremely hard in all positions. I'm proud of the guys for putting points on the board in all 14 weight classes. It was a complete team effort."

The team travels to Newark, Delaware, for the Beast of the East tournament this weekend.

For more about the Bucs' victory, click here.

Christmas Vespers Services Herald the Holiday

The Blair community gathered at Blairstown Presbyterian Church for Christmas Vespers on December 8, a longstanding and beloved School tradition that heralds the coming of Christmas. During afternoon and evening services, students, faculty, staff members, parents and local alumni enjoyed moments of quiet contemplation amid a candlelit setting, as they listened to scripture readings and traditional carols played and sung by the Chamber Orchestra, Brass Ensemble and Singers.

"For me, Christmas Vespers is not only a tie to Blair's Christian history, but also to the way that ritually honoring the past is part of every religious tradition," said the Rev. Lisa Durkee, Blair's chaplain and chair of the religion and philosophy department. "It is a celebration of light in the world; of goodness made manifest on earth. For many of us, Jesus Christ is the way that we know and celebrate that light, and this service certainly celebrates his birth."

Having joined Blair's faculty this summer, Ms. Durkee noted that she is chaplain to the entire community, which is comprised of many faiths; she works to meet those diverse expectations in weekly Sunday Vespers throughout the year. She credited the members of Blair's Christian Fellowship and Blair Trustee the Rev. David Harvey for providing invaluable assistance in coordinating this year's Christmas Vespers, her first experience of the Blair tradition. "I hope that for each member of our community, Christmas Vespers stands as a reminder that in the midst of darkness, there is always hope," she added. "That we celebrate this together in community feels markedly Blair, a place I have come to love as one that is continually working to nurture that goodness."

To watch a video of the Vespers service, click "play" below.

New Digital Music Course Blends Art & Technology

Five Blair students have honed their ability to write, record and produce original, professional-quality songs during the fall semester, whether or not they'd ever picked up a musical instrument before. They are enrolled in "Digital Music and Songwriting," a new, half-year course that director of vocal music Ryan Manni describes as the nexus of music and technology.

The class meets several times each week in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration (CIC)'s audio recording studio, where students use Midi keyboards and professional mixing-and-production software (LogicProX) to engineer original, multi-track recordings in a variety of popular styles. Throughout the fall, as they've completed a series of projects—or "commissions," as Mr. Manni calls them—class members have grown in their technological proficiency as well as their musicality.

"I designed the course so that from day one, students with any level of musical experience could actually make music," Mr. Manni said. "But, throughout the semester, we've actively listened to the pieces they've constructed, talked a great deal about music, and figured out how to enhance or improve their compositions. While we're not necessarily delving into music theory, students are learning what goes into good music-making and incorporating that into their projects."

Mr. Manni spent a week at Blair's Faculty Summer Institute last August devising and sequencing this semester's projects, as well as refining the real-world, music-industry approach he takes to each assignment: He commissions class members to produce a specific work, providing a contract with all the parameters they are expected to meet, along with a deadline. Students work individually or collaboratively during class time and on their own, with Mr. Manni acting mostly as a listener, facilitator and solver of musical problems. On the due date, the composer presents the work to his or her colleagues (classmates) and the producer (Mr. Manni) for a round of feedback, which he or she has the option of incorporating before turning in the final piece.

Matt Bottone '19 counts "Digital Music and Songwriting" as one of the best courses he's ever taken. "I've had so much fun making music that other people actually enjoy listening to, and learning tips and tricks about the music-making industry," he said. "Even though I was already proficient with similar music-making software, I've really enjoyed using the top-notch hardware and software in the CIC. I've learned so much from my classmates and Mr. Manni—the live feedback has been especially invaluable."

In addition to the individual works students produced this fall, including a full-length, multi-track, pop-style song for their signature assessment, they also tackled a group commission from an "outside" client: Head of School Chris Fortunato charged the class with creating background music for the CIC's Collaboration Forum. The resulting tracks can be heard in the forum any time, except when a large gathering is taking place.

Another group project on the near horizon is the production of a professional-quality album showcasing all the music created by the class this semester. "I'm excited for the Blair community to experience the original songs students have composed and recorded over the past several months on this album," Mr. Manni said. In addition to the souvenir album, he hopes students will take away from the class a deeper appreciation for the work that goes into song-making. "Whether or not music or technology is their 'thing,' I like to think students will become more musical people in general as a result of this course."

Blair Connects with Prospective Students, Alumni & Families in Asia

Over the course of two weeks in November, Head of School Chris Fortunato and Assistant Head of School for Enrollment & Communications Peter G. Curran visited Vietnam, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea, Singapore and China to introduce prospective families to the School and reconnect with Blair parents and alumni.

"Having a richly diverse and globally engaged Blair community has always been an important priority for our School," said Mr. Fortunato. "It is deeply, personally gratifying and exciting for me to not only help bring the world to Blair's campus through our students, families, speakers and guests, but also to share Blair's culture, philosophy and opportunities with others across the world."

While technology like Skype has opened many paths of communication for prospective students worldwide, there is no replacement for face-to-face conversations, Mr. Curran added, noting the many interesting and insightful interviews conducted and the meaningful conversations held during his and Mr. Fortunato's travels abroad. Mr. Curran also attended school fairs to meet with prospective families and educate them about the Blair experience.

"I love sharing the Blair story on the road and bringing our culture and community to all corners of the globe," said Mr. Curran, who frequently travels on behalf of Blair's admission office. "It's so great to meet prospective students and families in their own countries and learn more about their passions and interests, as well as their cultures and traditions."

Mr. Curran and Mr. Fortunato especially enjoyed sharing the latest happenings on campus with current Blair families and alumni. Perhaps one of the most meaningful parts of the trip was when prospective families had opportunities to learn about Blair directly from the parents and alumni who have experienced it firsthand, Mr. Curran noted.

"Even though my travels often take me thousands of miles from Blair," he said, "it's wonderful to have such a strong Blair presence so far from the hilltop and to be greeted with such warmth."

As the admission travel season draws to a close, Mr. Curran is looking forward to a few more opportunities to meet prospective students and parents in their hometowns.

"It's always rewarding and fun to introduce Blair to different communities and share our pedagogy, philosophy, curriculum and traditions," he said.

Club Encourages Girls to Pursue Work in STEM

For many eager Blair students, opportunities abound in Blair's technology-rich Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration. In recent years, the School has bolstered its technology electives by expanding its computer science offerings with classes such as programming, artificial intelligence, robotics and software design. While those courses are open to all Blair students, a new club on campus is targeting girls and encouraging them to enter fields in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), where they are a minority in the workforce.

Girls Who Code was founded at Blair in spring 2016 with a mission to introduce coding to female students. This year, its members will look to not only add to their programming and coding skill set, but also to pass that knowledge on to children, particularly young girls, to foster within them an interest in coding and STEM.

Having gained experience in the Scratch and Javascript software languages before coming to Blair, Linda Tong '19, who leads the group with Erica Choi '19, joined the club last year ready to delve deeper. "I wanted to learn more in a guided, supportive environment," she said. That's when she found Girls Who Code.

The club's advisor, computer science teacher Michael Garrant, brings nearly 30 years' experience in software engineering to his role. Guided by his expertise, the girls have explored several coding languages—like Java and Python—and tackled a number of coding problem sets.

For Linda and her peers, coding is not only about solving the problem set forth in that moment. In addition to learning how to create a "product" from the code—like building webpages using HTML—students in Girls Who Code are also becoming skilled computational thinkers, an essential skill for success in today's digital world.

"Having the ability to break down a problem into its parts, recognize patterns or trends and what creates them, and create step-by-step solutions for problems will help these girls be successful beyond Blair," said Mr. Garrant.

At their first meeting of the year, club members decided their goal for 2017-2018 would be to teach younger kids how to code, therefore introducing them STEM at a younger age. Since then, Linda, Erica and their fellow coders have begun devising ways in which they can pass down their coding knowledge to a younger generation. The girls have organized their first four lesson plans following curriculum created by CoderGals, an organization with the same mission as Blair's Girls Who Code: to educate girls about coding and STEM. Their first lesson will include an opportunity for the kids to create something on MadewithCode.com, which will introduce them to code, as well as concepts of objects and variables.

As a former data analyst who used the Python language to import, analyze and interpret massive amounts of data, math teacher Sarah Newbury, who also advises the girls, feels strongly about the club's mission to encourage kids, and girls in particular, to enter STEM fields.

"I think the most important thing that girls gain from participating in this club is the courage and inspiration to break into the field of computer science," explained Ms. Newbury, who holds a master's degree in applied mathematics from Columbia University. "The very existence of Girls Who Code combats the stigma that coding is something that only men do. It also shows girls that they are not the only females in the fields of computer science and technology, and thus gives them the courage to enter these fields."

Linda echoed Ms. Newbury's sentiment: "I hope girls will understand that STEM is creative and there is a place for them in the field!"

What's more, Mr. Garrant said, Girls Who Code heartens the girls to collaborate with and support each other, much like he hopes they will do should they enter a career in STEM, where women are "vastly underrepresented."

"My experiences proved that coding was a very social endeavor that required clear and consistent team communication and organization so that high-quality code was efficiently created," he said.

As they look ahead to winter and spring, Girls Who Code hopes to recruit more members who are not only curious about coding, but also want to promote STEM learning among younger children.

Not sure if Girls Who Code is for you? Here's Linda's advice to would-be coders:

"Don't be afraid to dive in! I struggled a lot in the beginning, but I eventually came to enjoy the problem-solving process and found that coding can be incredibly rewarding."

Holiday Happenings

As the temperature drops and the winter decorations go up, everyone on Blair's campus is beginning to feel the holiday spirit. Whether sporting spirited gear or playing holiday music around the dorms, everyone is buzzing with excitement and getting into the winter groove. To accommodate the fast-approaching holiday season, there are many entertaining events and traditions to be had.

Already, the campus has been slowly decorated with wreaths, red ribbons, garlands, menorahs and Christmas trees. Head of School Chris Fortunato has also partaken in the holiday decorations by adorning his office with sparkling lights. In addition, the traditional Christmas tree in front of Hardwick Hall, held in a box that is painted to represent all the winter holidays, is ready for the annual tree-lighting celebration.

Run by the Insley Hall prefects, the tree-lighting ceremony is a wonderful opportunity for students to gather after formal dinner and listen to holiday scripture, stories and carols sung by our School's a capella group. At the conclusion of the service, the lights on the Christmas tree are turned on, which signifies the official start to the holiday season on Blair's campus.

Furthermore, as we get closer to winter vacation, additional small, spirited activities happen. For example, one evening at formal dinner, students are allowed to wear their funniest or ugliest holiday sweater in hopes of winning the ugly holiday sweater competition. Also, hot chocolate stations are placed around campus so students can grab a drink to warm up on their way to class. Dorms also have individual holiday celebrations filled with food and fun games.

This year, the annual Christmas Vespers will be held on December 8 at the Blairstown Presbyterian Church in Blairstown. All the students gather to listen to scripture readings from the Old and New Testaments and performances by Blair's Orchestra and Singers. For the students who celebrate Hanukkah, there is an alternate Vespers they can attend to celebrate the holiday instead.

Students are also able to experience the holiday season with the opportunity to go into New York City for a weekend trip, where they will spend the day by Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park. Students can walk around and admire the decorations and go holiday shopping during their time in the city.

Overall, there are many holiday happenings to get students into the holiday mood before our winter vacation that begins on December 13 and continues until January 3.

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

Documentary Filmmaker Offers Advice about Navigating Working World at Skeptics

At the Society of Skeptics on December 5, filmmaker Rob Montz shared what motivated him to create The Quarterlife User Manual, a documentary on how the American education system has kids emerging from college with no idea what to do and therefore experiencing a "quarter-life crises." Mr. Montz, who is director of the online political comedy and news channel We the Internet TV, delivered his remarks in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

"When I left college, I had no clue how to actually navigate the working world, and the only advice people could give me was 'go to law school,'" said Mr. Montz, whose documentaries have been featured in The New York Times, the Economist, USA Today, the Adam Carolla Podcast and the Washington Post. "The aim of my latest documentary is to transmute that pain and loneliness and aimlessness of my twenties into realistic, actionable pieces of advice. I'm not going to lie to people about how tough it is to secure meaningful work. But I do think there are some straightforward rules that, if you stick with them, can lead you there."

He was inspired to make the film after noticing many other people suffering through the same aimlessness and wanting to condense what he'd learn into a single, actionable package. Having screened his work at other schools, Mr. Montz looked forward to sharing his message with Blair students, who he noted are "precisely the target audience for this documentary."

He hoped they left his talk with a deeper understanding of just how different the working world is from school. "As much as possible, start cultivating an entrepreneurial approach to life now, while you're still in school, so you'll have some good momentum once you're launched out into the job market," he said.

Mr. Montz attended a private high school in Los Angeles very much like Blair called the Brentwood School before earning his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2005 and relocating to Washington, D.C., to work in public policy and communications. He started making his own films five years ago, work that has steadily grown to become full time.

When asked what advice he would give his high school self, Mr. Montz didn't hesitate before saying: "Take some time off before heading to college. There is no race; you aren't going to 'fall behind.' Go out and get some real-world experience and learn what it's like to try to make a self-sufficient, satisfying life for yourself—and then go to college. You'll get a lot more from the experience."

To watch The Quarterlife User Manual, click "play" below. To learn more about Mr. Montz and his work, visit www.robmontz.com.


Watch Boys' Basketball Live December 2!

The varsity boys' basketball team takes on Canada Top Flight Academy on Saturday, December 2, at Blair's annual Coaches vs. Cancer event. Watch all the action live, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Romano Gallery Exhibit Features 2D & 3D Abstract Art

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, artist Will Rothfuss headlines at Blair's Romano Gallery from November 28 to January 6 with an exhibition of two-dimensional collage and three-dimensional assemblage works. In Repurposing Art, Mr. Rothfuss uses recycled materials—including men's shirts, magazine clippings and glass wire—to create works that appropriate the imagery and vocabulary of modern art while exploring the relevance of image-making in a postmodern era. The pieces on display in The Romano Gallery build narrative meaning and aesthetic form through the juxtaposition of dissimilar elements.

Mr. Rothfuss has been creating abstract works of art, ranging from small collages to large paintings, for more than 40 years. A 1975 graduate of Cornell University, he studied realism at the Art Student's League of New York City under Robert Beverly Hale and Frank Mason. Mr. Rothfuss worked as a custom cabinetmaker and scenic designer in theatre and television for a number of years to support his growing family, but recently returned to full-time art-making.

Having exhibited in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, Mr. Rothfuss has received several awards for his artworks, some of which are now part of corporate and private collections. His large body of work includes geometric abstraction with fabric, collage and mixed-media; assemblage and installations; and hyper-realism painting in watercolor or oil.

Mr. Rothfuss joined the Blair community for an artist's reception on November 30, where he shared insights about his methods and his work.


Alumnus Returns to Talk 'Blair in Kenya' at Skeptics

Kelvin Serem '13 joined "Blair in Kenya" founder Quinten Clarke '87 at the Society of Skeptics on November 28 to discuss the nonprofit organization that has provided vital educational, medical and economic opportunities to hundreds of Kenyans over the last 12 years. The presentation was held in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum.

Since 2005, Mr. Clarke and "Blair in Kenya" supporters have delivered over 25,000 pounds of clothing, shoes, computers and medical supplies to Kenyan villages, raised more than $300,000 toward educational programs, and operated a micro-finance lender with over $20,000. The nonprofit oversees the operation of two schools, one of which Serem helped establish in his hometown, Iten, as well as scholarships to fund the education of more than 150 children and medical clinics.

Last spring, Mr. Clarke and members of Blair's girls' varsity basketball team traveled to Kenya to introduce local kids to the sport and host a basketball clinic. Over the summer, Mr. Clarke returned to Kenya with Blair faculty, students and alumni, and five medical professionals to host the nonprofit's annual medical clinic. The group also enjoyed homestays and more time on the basketball court during their June visit.

Serem, a Kenyan native, arrived at Blair in 2012 on a scholarship thanks in part to a chance connection to veteran history teacher Martin Miller, PhD. In December, he will graduate from Lafayette College with bachelor's degrees in international affairs and government and law. At Blair, he was a top runner for the boys' cross country and track and field teams, and he continued on to run for Lafayette's Division I program as well. Serem was instrumental in the establishment of the Blair-Serem School in Iten, which opens its doors to more than 200 students each year. (To read more about Serem's journey to Blair and beyond, click here to read an article featured in The New York Times.)

At Skeptics, Mr. Clarke and Serem updated the School community on "Blair in Kenya's" latest endeavors and highlighted what the organization hopes to accomplish next.

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.


Shop Blair's School Store for Holiday Gifts!

Blair's School Store has stocked its shelves for the holiday season! Visit the store on campus or online (www.shop.blair.edu) for a number of great gift items for family and friends.

Remember to shop early and allow time for delivery, as Monday, December 18, is the last day to place an online order for delivery in time for the holidays.

Among the unique, custom gifts Blair offers are socks, leather tab belts, pillows, blankets, mugs, class banners, pennants, coasters, picture frames, diploma frames, ornaments, and Vineyard Vines totes and ties.

For more information, please contact Reanne Mauriello, School Store manager, at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5635, or maurir@blair.edu.

Meet Director of Counseling Lisa Acker

Lisa Acker joined the Blair community this fall as director of counseling, coming to Blairstown from Hong Kong International School, where she served as a counselor for seven years. A nationally certified school psychologist, she holds an EdS in school psychology and LPCC counseling from the University of Dayton (1999), as well as a graduate certificate from the London School of Public Relations (1991) and a bachelor's degree from Purdue University (1988).

Mrs. Acker began her professional life working in media relations in the television broadcast industry, a career that took her to New York City, Atlanta, and London and Devon, England. In the late '90s, she made the career change to school psychologist and has never looked back.

The Acker family, including Mrs. Acker's husband, Rob, and their sons Ian and Calvin (who are both in college) and Wils '19, has settled into life at Blair; they reside in Wayside Cottage. Below, Mrs. Acker answers a few questions about her work and life:

Q. What did you do during your career in media relations?

A. I worked for broadcast networks CBS and CNN, and my job was to build and maintain strong business relationships with affiliated television stations across the country. Essentially, I was a problem solver. I was involved network programming, marketing, research, post-production, promotion and more, and whenever an issue arose, I was the first point of contact for affiliate stations.

Q. Why did you decide to make the career change to school psychologist?

A. When my husband and I relocated to Cincinnati for his job, I worked in media buying, but I also took the time to discern where I was in my career and where I wanted to go. Working through the exercises in What Color Is Your Parachute helped me see my strengths and what I like to do: solving problems, helping people and working with kids. I began my graduate program in clinical psychology, but switched to school psychology so my work life would be in synch with our children's school calendar.

Q. What do you enjoy most about your job as a school psychologist?

A. I like the mysteries—I like to help students figure out underlying issues and then create a plan to help them be successful. I do a lot of listening throughout the day, and I love that part of my job. I enjoy collaborating with colleagues and working with parents, too—I can certainly relate to parents of teenagers. It's especially gratifying to see students make positive changes and to help them develop into their strongest versions of their unique selves.

Q. What do you like to do when you're not working?

A. I enjoy painting, reading and learning new things. And, having lived in Asia, Europe and the Caribbean, I absolutely love to travel and experience other countries. It was my desire to give our sons the experience of international living that brought us to Hong Kong—a country we'd never been to until the day we moved there for my job!

Q. What are your top tips for stress management?

A. It's all about awareness, balance and connection. When you're worried about something in the past or future, take time to do something calming to bring your awareness back to the present moment. It's also important to figure out some activities that help you keep your balance, bring you joy and connect you to a place or time that's meaningful. Once you know what those activities are, schedule them regularly on your calendar!
Musicians Showcase British-American Repertoire in Lead Up to England Tour


As Blair students prepared for Thanksgiving break, the community gathered in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts on the evening of November 17 for performances by the Jazz Ensemble, Singers, Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra. This year's Fall Concert, which has been a long-standing pre-Thanksgiving tradition at Blair, included an eclectic repertoire of music by American and British composers that performers have been practicing all semester long in preparation for the ensembles' upcoming spring 2018 tour of England.

To watch a video of the performances, click "play" below.

"Although we do not perform the Fall Concert specifically for the Thanksgiving holiday, it is worth noting that at a time of year when we are reminded of the many blessings we have and of the people we are grateful for, it is perhaps fitting that these ensembles shared music with the community," said performing arts department chair and director of instrumental music Jennifer Pagotto. "I hope this concert provided a moment of repose, an opportunity for all of us to take a collective breath after a very busy fall semester and to sit quietly for an evening of art. Moreover, I am reminded of how grateful I am for the many students who are so dedicated to their music study and who greatly contribute to the collective ensemble experience."

Attendees enjoyed a wide variety of music ranging from strictly classical British pieces such as Purcell's Rondo, Vaughan Williams' English Folk Song Suite and Thomas Tallis' If Ye Love Me to more contemporary American pieces including Lauridsen's Dirait-on, Paul Mealor's Wherever You Are, the film score to Aladdin, and Jazz Ensemble's renditions of It Had Better Be Tonight and The Pink Panther, both of which are written by Henry Mancini and featured in the film The Pink Panther. "There was something for everyone to latch on to and to, hopefully, enjoy," Mrs. Pagotto said, adding that, while she is always proud of Blair musicians, this year's groups are particularly special.

"The senior musicians always have a huge influence on the ensembles, and this year's senior class features a number of spectacular musicians," she explained. "There is also a lot of new talent in our younger classes this year, and I am especially proud of the way they have woven themselves so quickly into the fabric of the ensembles and are contributing strongly to the overall quality of the groups."

"I really looked forward to producing music with a diverse group of students from around the globe," said Paul Sereeyothin '18, lead alto player in the Jazz Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra's saxophone section. "It is amazing how people with different backgrounds can unite through music. There is a deeper implication to this oneness that makes me feel great after every performance. Of course, there is the aspect of pleasing the audience; however, I am more focused on playing together. I believe that if we play together, then everything else will fall into place."

With those pieces in place, Paul hoped his classmates and teachers who attended the Fall Concert got "lost" in the music. "I hope our audience members found something that is meaningful in their lives and really express and harness it through music," said Paul, who noted that he has grown both spiritually and mentally by playing saxophone in Blair's musical ensembles. "By doing this, there is more purpose in performing, and it feels awesome."

Alto section leader of the Singers Clara McGrath '18 looked forward to bringing the energy she and her fellow musicians have been building in rehearsals to the main stage in Armstrong-Hipkins. "We prepared a wide variety of music for everyone, and we were so excited to share it," she said. "We sang in English, French, and even Gibberish, so I hope it was be a show to remember."

Alvin Fan '18, who is the first violin in the Orchestra, was excited to share what he has learned this fall with his friends. "We all worked really hard all semester for the few pieces we play––so hearing my friends cheer and applaud afterwards always feels extremely gratifying," he said. "In the Orchestra, we learned to listen and complement each other as we play. Performing music at Blair has helped me get to know a lot of different people from different grades and different backgrounds I might not otherwise have met."

In a larger commentary on Blair's performing arts program, Clara went into the last Fall Concert of her Blair career with a high level of confidence about performing individually and as a group. "Thanks to the two choral directors I've learned from, Blair's music program has helped me grow significantly as a musician, and as a member of the choir in general," she said.

Paul agreed, noting that Blair's performing arts program has given him a sense of freedom during his high school years that he appreciates beyond words and that provides him with a sense of balance. "Playing the saxophone is more than just simply blowing air into the horn," he concluded. "It is an outlet for my deepest emotions where I can reconnect with myself as well as a way to clear and redirect my mind off of Blair's hectic schedule."

Blair Honors Veterans through Campus Activities

As Veteran's Day approached, the Blair community took several opportunities to express their thanks to those who served in our nation's military. One event, organized by Mrs. Erin Fortunato, wife of Head of School Chris Fortunato, and Blair's underclass councils, gave community members the opportunity to write thank-you cards to veteran and active-duty alumni, faculty and staff. Advancement office student ambassadors and members of the advancement staff manned a table in the dining hall, where everyone could write a personal note to express thanks to servicemen and women.

This tradition began with the Fortunato family, but, in recent years, it has become a school-wide tradition. "Writing thank-you cards helps students acknowledge and realize that they have something in common with these veterans—they share Blair," said Mrs. Fortunato. "This shared connection makes the debt of gratitude we, as a nation, owe to all our veterans a bit more personal and impactful for our students." While this small act of kindness may not be able to compensate for the totality of veterans' sacrifices, it does mean a lot in terms of gratitude, and the tradition will continue throughout the years to come.

A second Veteran's Day event took place on November 10, when Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto '97's LEADS class hosted Blair's Friday School Meeting in order to give accolades to all veterans at Blair Academy, as well as local veterans from the Blairstown American Legion Post 258 Givens-Belet who were in attendance. Blair's a cappella singers performed "America the Beautiful" to open the assembly. Following this, LEADS class members Victoria Crow '20, Marilyn Fang '20, Kate Gerdsen '20, Tim Launders '20, Will Lerouge '20, Elizabeth Negvesky '20, Emma Nolan '20, Jake O'Connor '20, Joop Olthof '20, Tom Santiago '20 and Jordan Ullman '20 honored the veterans by reading each former service member's name and speaking about his or her service to our country. Finally, School Meeting concluded with a flag-raising ceremony outside Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, during which Robbie Donnelly '20 sang the National Anthem. The local veterans also enjoyed a tour of the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration while they were on campus.

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

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