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A student poses for a photo with her parents during Family Weekend 2022.

As Blair opened its doors yesterday to families from near and for the School’s annual Grandparents’ Day event, students seized the chance to make memories with their grandparents, offering them a peek into their daily lives. From attending classes and sharing lunchtime conversations to enjoying concert performances and cheering on athletes, Grandparents' Day provided a joyful opportunity for everyone to reconnect.

"Grandparents’ Day is a very special day and one of our favorite events on campus," shared Advancement Associate Diane Kowalick. "Grandparents have an opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Blair community and meet their grandchild's teachers, friends and mentors. It is heartwarming to see the cheerfulness of the students and grandparents throughout this beautiful day."

Below, please enjoy a collage with just a few of the highlights of the day.

 

 

 

Grandparents Day
 
 
Grandparents Day
 

For more photos of happenings across campus and beyond, please check out Blair Academy on Photoshelter, where we regularly post images.

society of skeptics logo

For events as profoundly impactful as the Holocaust, it’s important that the world remembers. Beyond acknowledging the causes and striving to prevent their recurrence, it is critical to honor the heroism and courage shown by its survivors and their helpers. On Thursday, April 18, Blair Academy is most excited to welcome the Holocaust Council’s Keeping the Stories Alive program to help the Blair community remember the stories of the survivors and their allies. 

A program created by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Keeping the Stories Alive project has made a tremendous impact on thousands of individuals. The program consists of either a Holocaust survivor, or second or third generation survivor (children or grandchildren of survivors), along with a moderator, and together, they tell their stories in an interactive performance. 

All are welcome to join the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Betty Schwartz, in a conversation moderated by Lisa Friedman in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration this Thursday at 7 p.m.

This event, graciously sponsored by the Alex “ARob” Roberts Forum on Holocaust Education, is part of an ongoing commitment to bringing impactful speakers to Blair on the subject of the Holocaust and is inspired by the legacy of Alexander Roberts ’18


History of Skeptics
 
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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.


 

 

Blair’s Musicians Grace Manhattan

Later this month, amid the towering skyscrapers and bustling streets of Manhattan, a group of Blair high school students will find themselves gracing the stage of one of the city's most prestigious concert halls. 

Opening its doors on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1978, the Kaufman Music Center has for nearly half a century made its mission providing access to music at the highest level. On April 30, the musicians in Blair’s Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Combo will take center stage of the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Hall to perform a variety of classical and contemporary works, including compositions by Black and female artists alongside pieces from Blair’s standard repertoire.  

Director of Instrumental Music and performing arts chair Jennifer Pagotto was delighted when the opportunity to perform at this renowned venue–with exceptional acoustics–fell into her lap. Serendipitously, Blair alum Jonathan Slawson ’05 reached out and invited her to a concert at Merkin this past fall. That connection led to the present invitation, which, Mrs. Pagotto says, will offer our musicians the joy of bringing their music off campus and sharing it with a larger audience. 

Big City Benefits
One of the advantages of studying music at a school located so close to New York City is the wealth of opportunities it offers Blair’s musicians beyond the classroom. From access to iconic concert halls and professional performances to networking and cultural immersion, Blair’s students benefit from exploring one of the world’s most dynamic music hubs and vibrant cultural centers. The performance at the Kaufman Center promises to be one such occasion, with students sampling the city’s international cuisine before settling in with the hall’s professional recording and lighting crews, who will offer their expertise during sound checks, rehearsals that afternoon and the concert that evening. “Some of the best a cappella groups in the world perform at Merkin Hall regularly,” Mrs. Pagotto emphasizes. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to perform on that stage.”

A Bittersweet Performance

Ethan Anthony

As the performance—and the next chapter of their lives—draws near, emotions run deep for many of Blair’s senior musicians, infusing the upcoming evening with a blend of nostalgia and anticipation. The evening promises to be a meaningful experience for many, offering students the deep joy of making music with some of their closest friends and classmates. For senior and alto saxophone player Ethan Anthony ’24, this performance marks the culmination of years of practicing with his friend and fellow saxophonist, Andrew Antunes ’24. In their earliest days together in the Jazz Band, the pair toted their instruments outside, practicing under the open skies of the Bowl during the pandemic. “We both have certainly come a long way as musicians since then,” Ethan reflects. Today, they have logged countless hours practicing in the DuBois Theatre, studying under the careful tutelage of Mrs. Pagotto, learning to sync their notes and cadences until they move with one voice, creating magical musical performances. Ethan looks forward to taking his seat next to his stand partner once more, uniting to create this repertoire one last time. “I can’t wait to perform what I know will be the best concerts of my time at Blair. It feels like everything has led to these final performances, and it’s going to be special to perform for the last time as a Buc,“ he says. “I’m certainly going to miss the unity that comes with these ensembles. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the people sitting next to me.”

Ethan hopes that those in the audience enjoying Blair’s performance in New York will join him and savor one poignant moment he loves. “I’m going to miss the moment between finishing a piece and the audience’s applause, when we all look up to see Mrs. Pagotto’s smile beaming down at us. It’s unforgettable.”

                                                                                                  ___

Blair parents, family, friends and alumni are invited to join Blair’s talented musicians, and their dedicated maestra Mrs. Pagotto, for a reception at Kaufman Music Center prior to the concert. Tickets for the performance are available at no cost. Kindly register for this event by April 22 at www.blair.edu/nyc-reception-concert

Addrain Conyers

What does one do when they’re passionate about multiple fields? Well, if they’re anything like Dr. Addrain Conyers ’96, they find a way to do it all. Joining the hilltop for his first Skeptics appearance on Tuesday, April 16 is none other than current Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Marist College in New York, Dr. Conyers.

Addrain Conyers

Dr. Conyers, holding a doctorate degree in sociology from Southern Illinois University, balances his roles as an educator and researcher. He splits his time between teaching and researching interests centered around criminology, deviant behavior, corrections, and race relations and leading his academic peers as assistant provost. Additionally, he finds time to write and publish a variety of pieces in his fields of expertise while also attending Boston College to obtain his Executive Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree. 

At Skeptics, Dr. Conyers plans to share anecdotes of his life as a previous student and present on the social problem of mass incarceration and how the phenomenon has a negative impact on human rights, health, families and quality of life.

“It is a tremendous opportunity to speak to our future leaders,” said Dr. Conyers in a pre-event interview. “I remember vividly this period of my life. I was excited and hopeful but still undecided about my future goals. Blair taught me to enjoy the journey. The outcome was still important (i.e., education and career), but the joy is in the process. Higher learning is a goal and process that I strive for because of my Blair experience.”

“I did not know I would pursue a career in higher education, not to mention an administrator. But here I am, a college professor and an assistant provost. Blair challenged me to engage in learning, not to just complete the assignment, but to embrace the challenge.”

Passionate about his work, he wishes to leave his alma mater with one important note: “Policies have unintended consequences. History offers valuable lessons that aid us in analyzing our present problems. As young citizens, it is imperative to develop strategic foresight to anticipate challenges that are on the horizon.”

All are welcome to hear Dr. Conyers speak in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center next Tuesday at 7 p.m. 


History of Skeptics
 

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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

dominican republic international fair

This past weekend, Blair opened a window into the lives and cultures of our community members with International Weekend. Organized by the Inclusivity Committee and the Blair International Awareness Club (BIAC), the long-running tradition celebrated the diversity of campus while creating a space for sharing and learning.

“International Weekend is a beautiful example of community collaboration,” Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Evan Thomas said. “It takes all of us—student leaders, dining, grounds, housekeeping, parents and faculty—but it is an immersive experience we all benefit from. It’s so exciting to see our students, parents and faculty engage in this experience and I think it gets better year after year!”

anwita quote international weekend

The weekend kicked off with preparations on Saturday: grocery store runs and a quick trip to a local Asian food market to gather the necessary ingredients for Sunday’s festivities. Members of the faculty hosted small group experiences at their homes in the afternoon, including a French immersion into the world of cheese tasting and macaron creation at the Issenchmidts and a spring roll tutorial at the Devaney residence.

The evening was capped off with a few beloved traditions that have become staples in the International Weekend programming—a World Cup soccer tournament on the turf and International Karaoke in the Can. A delicious taco food truck was on hand to satisfy hungry spectators, soccer players and performers alike!

The preparations continued into Sunday morning, when the full community pulled together to host the global food bazaar in the the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Dining hall staff worked alongside faculty, students and parents to bring the cuisine and customs of more than 15 different countries to the hilltop in celebration of the diverse backgrounds that make Blair special.

“I love hosting International Weekend on campus because it allows me to share the rich tapestry of my Nigerian culture with others while also engaging in discussions that will deepen my connection to Blair’s diverse global community,” Atlas Akinyemiju ’25 explained.

The forum was an exciting opportunity for two Blair clubs to bring awareness to the charities they support throughout the year. Club Umoja hosted a T-shirt fundraiser to support food security in Africa, and Club Esperanza Harbor sold bubble tea to support educational opportunities for children in rural China. Combined with other fundraisers this year, Club Esperanza Harbor has raised more than $700 for their mission.

 “I take pleasure in introducing beverages from my cultural heritage to a diverse audience while simultaneously raising funds to enrich educational opportunities for children in rural China,” said Selina Liu ’26, who hosted a fundraiser with Club Esperanza Harbor during the bazaar. “This approach serves to foster greater cross-cultural exchange among students from the United States and China.”

The weekend’s events concluded with a Staying Together and Creating Culture (STaCC) session on interfaith gatherings hosted by the Belonging and Equity Committee. The event was an intercultural learning opportunity for the community to share in different faith traditions and take part in customs they may not have been exposed to previously.  

After such a successful weekend, Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 commended everyone’s efforts on stage at Monday’s School meeting. Photos from the weekend full of smiles, laughter and delicious food were projected for everyone’s enjoyment and the theatre was filled with purposeful joy after recounting the festivities. Collaborative events such as these that foster a spirit of inclusivity, understanding and appreciation are pivotal to building the lasting connections that make Blair unique.
 

magnolia in bloom

Blair will welcome prospective seventh- and eighth-graders and their families to campus on Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. for its annual Spring Preview, an admission office event designed to give those considering boarding school a firsthand look at the value of a Blair education.
 
“Our goal is to introduce families to our dynamic curricular and cocurricular activities that challenge our students daily, as well as our vibrant and warm community that supports them through this transformative time in their lives,” said Dean of Enrollment Teddy Wenner ’96. “There is no better way to get to know Blair than by visiting in person and meeting our students and teachers. This program does that and more through panel discussions, tours of campus and an overview of the admission process.” 

Following registration in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration, visitors will be led on a walking tour of the hilltop to see our historic campus, state-of-the-art facilities and picturesque grounds. Head of School Peter G. Curran P’27 ’27 will welcome prospective families and share the foundation of the Blair experience: knowing our students well, building meaningful relationships and fostering a deep sense of community. Over the course of the day, students, faculty and parents will talk about their experiences with and impressions of Blair, engaging with attendees in enlightening question-and-answer sessions that will further their understanding of the School. Mr. Wenner will conclude the program by walking participants through the Blair admission process, focusing on timeline, requirements, and deadlines for applications and decisions.

“Blair is a special place. We are a mid-size boarding school that combines the program offerings of a larger school with the community and culture of a smaller school,” Mr. Wenner said. “Above all else, we are looking for kind, high-character applicants—students who want to engage within our community, are intellectually curious and  motivated to take advantage of the numerous opportunities on our hilltop.”

To register for the Spring Preview, click here. If you have any questions about the event, or would like to speak with a member of the admission team, click here. The School community looks forward to welcoming families with children who are considering Blair for high school for the 2025-2026 school year.
 

Paige Cordero

The annual Young Alumni Skeptics stands out as one of the most anticipated Skeptics of the year, where current students get to ask recent Blair graduates any number of curious questions. Not only do current students enjoy the event, however, the newly-turned Blair alumni look forward to returning to their old stomping grounds, reconnecting with faculty and staff, and reminiscing about their days on the hilltop.

On Tuesday, April 9, Blair is excited to welcome back three young alumni, including senior manager of GTM operations at Dell Technologies Maggie Hoffman ’11, co-managing partner and head of acquisitions at Arden Group International Jeremy Conway ’13, and registered nurse at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Paige Cordero ’14


Paige Cordero ’14
During her four years at Blair, Paige Cordero was a leading force on the girls’ field hockey, cross country and rowing teams. She was a beloved senior prefect in Locke Hall and was heavily involved in the admission office’s tour guide program. Inside the classroom, the accomplished classmate was known for her benevolent heart and keen observations. One of her many fond Blair memories includes attending impactful Skeptics events.

“Skeptics speakers who resonated with me were those who spoke about philanthropy, activism, volunteer and missionary efforts, and social justice,” she mentioned in a pre-event interview. “I enjoyed speakers like Jack Bogle, Ishmael Beah (author of A Long Way Gone), Hudson Taylor, who is the founder of Athlete Ally, a national geographic photographer, a slam poet who is now a Poet Laureate, Anis Mojgani, and more.”

As she prepares to return and speak at Skeptics herself, the young alum expresses her profound gratitude. “I’m thankful to be invited back. It’s meaningful to me because I can relate to the students who are here to learn about possible careers.”
She hopes today’s students glean this takeaway from the Skeptics event: “As students at Blair, you already have a deep understanding of yourself, your interests and what you’re good at. While there’s always more to learn, don’t ignore what you know. It will lead you in the right direction and will lead you to your career.”

After graduating from Blair, Ms. Cordero went on to pursue nursing at Boston College, successfully completing her studies  in 2018. “I’ve known since I was at Blair that I was going to work in health care. But, I knew that the options were endless and real discernment would happen from shadowing other professionals and seeing other areas of work. Blair helped me develop a work ethic that allowed me to pursue continuing education in my field and renewed the importance of continuing to learn—no matter what field you’re in.”

Jeremy Conway ’13
A graduate of New York University, Jeremy Conway left the hilltop to major in real estate development and has recently joined Arden Group International LLC (“Arden”), a multinational real estate development company headquartered in the bustling heart of New York City, as their head of acquisition. At Skeptics, Mr. Conway plans to speak about his time as a student in addition to the ways in which he found his passion in real estate development.

Maggie Hoffman ’11
A graduate of Union College, Maggie Hoffman majored in anthropology and minored in economics before starting her career as an onboarding case manager at Dell Technologies. Quickly gaining confidence within the program management space, Ms. Hoffman received four advancement opportunities throughout her time at Dell and currently sits as senior manager of GTM operations. At Skeptics, Ms. Hoffman plans to speak about her time as a student in addition to the lessons she learned while navigating her career path in program and project management, a highly sought field in the current job market.

All are invited to hear the alumni speak in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center next Tuesday at 7 p.m.


History of Skeptics
 
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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

Graphic that reads "Blair's Day of Giving, April 4, 2024"

Like a perfect cup of coffee, the Blair Academy campus was steeped in Buccaneer pride yesterday for our ninth annual Day of Giving in honor of Founders’ Day. For 24 hours, faithful supporters of the School contributed to the annual Blair Fund, making a collective 751 gifts. The total number of contributions was well above this year’s goal of 645 gifts, one for every member of the Blair community.

In total, the group effort effectively raised more than $500,000 for one of the School’s most important fundraising initiatives, providing day-to-day support for the perfect Blair blend: academics; athletics; arts; campus life; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB); and scholarships. The Blair Fund strengthens and ensures a robust Blair experience for today’s students and faculty. To continue the tradition of academic and extracurricular excellence, the School relies upon consistent financial support.

“Yesterday’s efforts represented the strength of the Blair community,” Director of Annual Giving Emma Barnes O’Neill said. “It was a perfect opportunity to honor a teacher, coach, friend, dining hall staffer or other behind-the-scenes person who makes the Blair experience special.”

Throughout the day, members of the advancement team pampered the Blair community on campus with treats and coffee on hand, in keeping with this year’s theme—a “community blend made richer, warmer and more vibrant.”

“Day of Giving is a wonderful tradition that brings our community together to celebrate our common ties and share our Blair stories,” Chief Advancement Officer Craig Hall said. “Whether internally on campus or through the extended Blair family around the world, every contribution is crucial to our success.”

For 176 years, Blair has been home to students of all walks of life. All share one thing: the pivotal difference Blair made in their lives. For many, the Blair experience was, and continues to be, possible thanks to the gifts of others. All of us at Blair appreciate the community’s efforts in helping us brew success.

Click play below to watch this year’s Day of Giving video.

Andrew Solender

 

UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, tonight's Skeptics speaker has had to cancel. There will be no Skeptics on April 2, 2024.

 

As a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, Andrew Solender pursued his bachelor of arts degree in political science and history, while simultaneously laying the groundwork for his career in political journalism. He began with an internship at MSNBC followed by a stint as a political correspondent at Luminary Media. On Tuesday, April 2, Mr. Solender will join Skeptics for the first time to talk more about his passion and job as one of the nation’s truth seekers.
 
 In his most recent article for Axios, one of the nation’s foremost news outlets, Mr. Solender delves into the significance of Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) recent indictment on federal bribery charges. In each of his pieces, the Vassar grad makes sure to highlight the news’ importance to make dense political journalism digestible for the everyday audience—a skill developed by a reporter who didn’t always want to be a journalist. 

“I initially wanted to be an architect when I was much younger, and then decided to go into politics in some capacity. I settled on journalism in college after I realized from a few internships that being a political staffer isn’t for me, and after I started writing columns for my school newspaper, which I really enjoyed,” shared Mr. Solender in a pre-event interview. 

Having gone down the road of exploring two different paths, Mr. Solender looks forward to sharing his experiences with students who may soon face the divergent roads.
 
“I was pretty lost when I graduated college and my idea of what journalism looks like was quite divergent from what it actually is,” said an eager Mr. Solender, who enjoys his exciting and often-demanding job. 

“My advice, based on my own experience, is to never let yourself be complacent. A consistent work ethic is what matters when everything else is stripped away.”

“It’s underrated how beneficial it can be to know what you want to do going into college, even if that changes later on. So I can’t wait to inform students about what journalism is like and, in general, how choosing a path can set them up well to get an early start on their careers.”

All are welcome to hear Mr. Solender speak in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center next Tuesday at 7 p.m.


 History of Skeptics
 
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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.
 
 


 

2024 Arts Guild thumbnail

At Blair, art is not just a creative outlet, but also an ingrained part of the curriculum and the academic day. Creativity is intentionally woven into our programs, across disciplines and throughout our community to invite one’s inner artist to thrive. Blair takes pride in nurturing the talents of so many inspiring creators, and it is with great joy that we announce the Arts Guild Class of 2024: John Ahearn ’69, Adam Sampieri ’99, Michael Breslin ’09, Eileen Xie ’09 as well as Judith Kahan Kampmann and Steven Kampmann.

In order to be considered for the Arts Guild, nominees will be evaluated on their involvement and achievements in the fine arts while at Blair, as well as accomplishments in the visual or performing arts that occurred after graduation. Nominees must have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Finally, alumni nominees become Arts Guild eligible in the fifth year following their graduation, while former faculty become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

This year’s class will be honored at a special ceremony on June 8 during Alumni Weekend. For more information and a schedule of events, click here.

John Ahearn ’69

Renowned New York sculptor John Ahearn came to the hilltop from his hometown of Binghamton, New York. He went on to Cornell University, where he earned his BFA, before kick-starting his illustrious career in New York City as a sculptor. Internationally acclaimed for his technique of “repetitive life casting,” John returned to campus in 2011 to share his work with the School alongside his brother Charlie Ahearn ’69 and fellow alums John Houskeeper ’69 and Tim Fite ’95 in a group exhibition of art from their formative years to the present.

As a founding member of Collaborative Projects, Inc. and co-organizer of the “Times Square Show,” in 1980, John is a longtime collaborator with Rigoberto Torres. Their work was the subject of a survey exhibition, “South Bronx Hall of Fame,” organized by the Contemporary Arts Center of Houston in 1991, which traveled to museums in Europe and North America. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the duo adorned the streets of the Bronx with outdoor murals and collaborated on public projects and exhibitions in Europe and North America. In 1996, they collaborated on the East 100th Street Sculpture Project and a Gay-Straight Alliance commission in Baltimore. The early 2000s saw John’s artistic vision extend to Pan-ch’iao, Taiwan, where he completed a public project. Subsequently, he and Rigoberto collaborated on two large-scale wall murals at the Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea in Brazil. Just prior to their time in Brazil, they created an outdoor mural depicting 16 athletes as a public project in Caguas, Puerto Rico. In the fall of 2010, their work was the subject of a compelling solo exhibition at the Aljira, a center for contemporary art in Newark, New Jersey, and in May 2012, John participated in the special projects section of the Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island, where he presented a reconstruction of his legendary 1979 exhibition at Fashion Moda.

Adam Sampieri ’99

Adam Sampieri has been a professional theatre artist for 20-plus years, with more than 100 credits as an actor, director, designer, composer and playwright. Some of his most memorable performances include originating the role of Fyodor Dostoyevsky in In the Dog House: The Execution of Dostoyevsky for Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern as well as turns in Picasso at the Lapin Agile, Arcadia and The Man Who, which he also scored. As a songwriter, Adam’s work has been featured on stage, screen and radio. He received his BA in English from Duke University and earned his master’s at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Adam now serves as an instructor of drama and humanities at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.

On the Blair stage, one of Adam’s most notable performances may have been as the title role of Macbeth, which remains a standout performance to veteran theatre director Craig Evans to this day. As a student, Adam was honored with the Dumont English Prize, the Phillips-James-Rosen Trophy, the Blair Academy Trophy, the Paul R. White History Prize, the Charles H. Breed Memorial Prize in American History, the Robert F. Harris Drama Award, the John Kinch Leach Merit Award, the Harding Memorial Prize and the Henry B. Cowan Prize. He was a member of the Cum Laude Society and Blue and White Key. Adam has returned to the hilltop as an alum to inspire the next generation of artists at Blair, speaking at Society of Skeptics lectures and sharing his storied career in J-term classes.

Michael Breslin ’09

Michael Breslin is an Obie-winning, New York-based writer, director and performer, originally from New Jersey. As a student at Blair, Michael Breslin immersed himself in all the arts had to offer. During his four years, he was actively involved in the Blair Academy Players, dance team and Blair Academy Singers. His senior year, Michael was honored with the Robert F. Harris Dramatics Award, Cum Laude Society distinction, and the Edythe Jeffrey Shakespeare Prize while serving as prefect. He matriculated at Hamilton College, where he studied theatre and comparative literature, and was awarded their prestigious Bristol Fellowship. In May 2023, he received his DFA from Yale’s School of Drama in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism.

Today, Michael is the creative director of the New York-based theatre and digital media production company Fake Friends, which develops and produces original works for the stage, screen and Internet alongside co-founder Patrick Foley. The two received critical acclaim for their 2020 Internet play Circle Jerk, which was a 2021 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the Drama League Award. 

Michael’s recent endeavors include directing Invasive Species by Maia Novi, writing a new musical and working on Bikini, an innovative adaptation of Madame Bovary set in the world of competitive bikini bodybuilding. He executive produced and co-wrote Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, which raised $1.9 million for the Actors Fund. Other original works include: A Doll’s House, Part 3 (with Patrick Foley), Avital (with Ariel Sibert) and Arden (with Em Weinstein). These works have been presented at NYTW Next Door, Ars Nova’s Makers Lab and ANT Fest, the Exponential Festival, Wesleyan University, Queer International Arts Festival, Yale Cabaret and Yale School of Drama. 

Eileen Xie ’09

Eileen Xie came to the hilltop as an international student from Beijing, China, in the ninth grade. By her senior year, she had become an academic standout, excelling in both art and math, and was noted as one of the most successful students in the class of 2009. While Eileen participated competitively in lacrosse, field hockey and squash and was a valuable member of the tech crew, multicultural student union and Blair’s international student organization, it was in the art studio where Eileen’s true gift was most on display. She won numerous school and regional awards for her art—including the Dale Rosen Drama Award and the Blair Art Prize—and attended Cornell’s summer school in architecture, where she found her passion, before leaving the hilltop.
 
Eileen matriculated at Cornell University, where she earned her BA in architecture in 2014. She furthered her education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, obtaining a master’s of architecture in urban design in 2019. Eileen has gained invaluable experience honing her craft at renowned architecture firms like Gerkan, Marg and Partners in Hamburg, Germany, and Gensler in Washington, D.C. Outside of architecture, Eileen has pursued additional artistic avenues with her polymer clay and 3D printed fan art. Eileen shares her intricately detailed mini figures, which are meticulously hand painted, on social media. 

Judith Kahan Kampmann & Steven Kampmann

When former faculty members Steven Kampmann and Judith Kahan Kampmann came to Blair in 1998 following successful Hollywood careers in writing, acting and directing, the establishment of a video studies program at the Academy was not part of the original script. However, one plot twist led to another, and by the time the pair retired in 2010, Blair’s academic and after-school video offerings were thriving, thanks in large part to Steven’s and Judith’s creativity and dedication to the craft. In 2015, they chose to make a generous gift to the School to name the Kampmann Video Prize, awarded to the student each year whose exceptional talent, enthusiasm, dedication and accomplishment in visual expression and storytelling not only meet the highest standards of excellence, but also uniquely set them apart from all others. 

Before coming to Blair, Judith enjoyed a vibrant career, first as a stage actress in The Proposition, an improvisational musical revue in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and off-Broadway in New York, then acting in more shows off and on Broadway, including in the original cast of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. After that, in Los Angeles, she acted and/or scripted TV shows with Lily Tomlin, Norman Lear, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and many more. Steven also forged a singular path in the entertainment industry, first as a member of the legendary Second City in Chicago and Toronto, starring alongside Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy, and then in Los Angeles as an actor and writer, most well-known for his role as Kirk Devane on the first two seasons of Newhart, as well as co-producing and writing WKRP in Cincinnati. Steven has written 30 screenplays. In 1988, he co-wrote and co-directed Stealing Home, starring Mark Harmon and Jodie Foster. Both Judith and Steven have also acted in numerous films. In a funny coincidence, Judith appeared in Analyze This and Steven appeared in the sequel, Analyze That.

While on the hilltop, Judith was recognized with The Lillian and Samuel Tedlow Faculty Enrichment Prize and both teachers were honored with The Riether Residential Life Award. Their familial connections to Blair have proudly continued with their three sons—Woody ’01, Billy ’02 and Mikey ’04—who all attended Blair.


Members of the school community are invited to suggest nominees for the class of 2025 and can do so here until December 31, 2024.

Dr Virginia Brennan Skeptics
edited horizontal of dr. brennan

While Dr. Virginia M. Brennan obtained her bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy at Yale University, she shifted her attention and pursued developmental psychology and linguistics for her master’s and doctorate degrees at Columbia University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively. On Tuesday, March 26, the experienced associate professor and dedicated advocate for underserved communities shared more on how she eventually found her path and her current work with Skeptics.

With more than 22 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations and institutions, Dr. Brennan has accumulated accreditation both for her work in higher education institutions and the greater health community. She currently studies and serves as an associate professor at the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and prior to her current work, she taught at Vanderbilt University and Swarthmore College. 

Used to a different, slightly older audience, Dr. Brennan noted in a pre-event interview that “It is gratifying to talk to very young people—their minds are often still open to new ideas. One key message I hope students will take away from the talk is that most health outcomes spring from social determinants as opposed to medical intervention. Health justice entails addressing upstream differences in housing, education, environmental exposures, involvement with the criminal justice system and other domains.”

On Tuesday, in addition to sharing her life story, the scholar intends to shed light on the disparities among racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the United States in morbidity, which encompasses illness, injury and disease, as well as  mortality.
“I look forward to bringing some of what I have learned editing the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved at Meharry Medical College to interested students and look forward to having an open discussion of the issues—especially concerning society and social justice—brought up by looking carefully at health in the United States”


History of Skeptics
 
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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

Ian Petrie in the studio

Visual artist and ceramicist Ian M. Petrie’s delightfully inviting pieces belie a depth of meaning revealed only through how each viewer chooses to approach his work. Members of the Blair community are invited to take part in their own interpretation of his pieces included in the Romano Gallery exhibit “Spoiler Alert,” on display from March 26 to April 27 in the Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts. Mr. Petrie will be on campus March 28 to speak with students about his work and his career.

Employing two seemingly unrelated media in his artwork—comic strips and ceramics—Mr. Petrie places the two in conversation with each other to create single-scene panels printed on everyday dinnerware. By intentionally receiving only part of the story, the viewer is invited to determine what the rest of the narrative might be. In living with these objects that can be used daily, the meaning of the scene may change or grow with years of use, which ultimately places empathy, interpretation and connection at the heart of these multifaceted objects.

“By applying my narratives to functional pottery, I hope to encourage the user to examine a single moment from all angles,” Mr. Petrie remarked. “As time goes on and the piece sees habitual use, what may have seemed obvious slowly becomes uncertain and fuzzy. Suddenly, you come to understand and sympathize with the character you had always thought of as the ‘bad guy.’” 

Mr. Petrie incorporates many of the traditional comic and manga materials and processes in his work. His illustrations are drawn with a crow-quill pen, shaded with an application of half-tones and ultimately screen printed by hand. Mr. Petrie’s pots are all slabbed, coiled, pinched and intentionally left loose, utilizing slip colors that reference paper and aged newsprint. On some pieces, Mr. Petrie creates an air of mystery by masking part of the drawing in a shroud of gold or silver luster. Through natural wear or purposeful abrasion, the luster fades and eventually the entire image is revealed. 

“If one would like to preserve the beauty of the luster, they must content themselves with never knowing what it hides beneath,” Mr. Petrie explains.

Originally from Minnesota’s St. Croix Valley, Mr. Petrie grew up surrounded by what he describes as utilitarian pottery. During his studies at the University of Minnesota—where he earned his BFA in 2013—he became enamored with decorating his handcrafted pottery with illustrations inspired by comics and manga. Throughout the course of two emerging artist residency programs at Northern Clay Center in 2013 and Worcester Center for Crafts from 2016 to 2018, Mr. Petrie learned to incorporate the process of screen printing to achieve more control and clarity in his graphic pottery. He has exhibited his work across the country, including the American Museum for Ceramic Art in Pomona, California, in 2017. Today, he lives in Philadelphia and enjoys making accessible pottery to be displayed or used in everyday life.

All are welcome to attend Mr. Petrie’s artist talk on Thursday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in Blair’s Romano Gallery.
 

Blair Buc

The Blair Academy athletics program is about far more than winning. Blair athletics cultivates skills that help student-athletes become community-minded leaders who embody integrity, humility, a strong work ethic and good sportsmanship. When many athletes leave the hilltop, they carry on those traditions in their sport to become leaders at the collegiate level and beyond. The Athletic Hall of Fame committee is proud to honor their legacy and announce the inductees for the Class of 2024: Joe Stanowicz ’41, the 1974 wrestling team, Lisa Garner ’77, Marissa Mezzanotte ’89, Jordan Bowers ’01 and Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81.

“Each member of this class has left an indelible impact on their respective teams and has become a source of inspiration for future generations at Blair Academy,” Athletic Director Paul Clavel ’88 said. “These exceptional leaders have instilled values of teamwork, discipline and perseverance.”

To recognize and celebrate the outstanding athletic achievements of its alumni and coaches, Blair established an Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. In order to be considered for Hall of Fame membership, nominees must have exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment during their time at Blair and have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Selection is based primarily on athletic accomplishments while a Blair student or coach, although subsequent achievement in athletics or other areas may be considered. Finally, alumni nominees become Hall-of-Fame eligible in the 10th year following their graduation, while coaches become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

Joe Stanowicz ’41

It took only one year on the hilltop for Joe Stanowicz to cement his legacy as an elite Blair athlete. The Hackettstown native quickly rose to prominence on the football field and wrestling mat. With Joe on the team, Blair held Peddie to a score of 13-0 during their rival football game, and Joe was the 1941 national prep heavyweight champion in wrestling. Affectionately known as a gentle giant by those closest to him, Joe achieved a milestone in Blair athletic history, becoming the first recipient of the title of “New Jersey’s Most Outstanding Athlete in Scholastic Ranks” in 1941. 

Joe continued his education, and athletic success, at the United States Military Academy. An offensive guard, Joe’s performance is credited with helping the Army Black Knights football team win the 1944 national championship. The team was undefeated that year and ranked first in the nation, outscoring their opponents by a total of 504 to 35. He was selected by the Football Writers Association of America, the International News Service and the United Press as a first-team player on the 1944 College Football All-America Team. His accomplishments continued on the mat for West Point as well. In 1944 and 1945, Joe earned the title of First Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association champion, the first cadet at West Point to do so. Following graduation from the Academy, Joe served in the Army, including playing professional army football in Korea in 1946. His military career spanned two decades, culminating with his retirement as a Lt. Colonel in 1966. He passed away in 1999 and is buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

1974 Wrestling Team

The 1974 Blair wrestling team stands out as a pillar in the storied tradition of Buccaneers who have excelled on the mat. Winning the first of the 41 National Prep Championship titles for the School, the 1974 wrestling team ended its season with a 14-1 record, only losing to Lehigh University’s JV wrestling team. The team consisted of formidable talent with three individual National Prep Champions that year from the classes of 1976 and 1974—Randy Miller, class of 1976, and Bob Kehler and captain Mark Lieberman, class of 1974—and fell short of a fourth when Mike Sickles, class of 1974, lost in the finals. Mark was elected Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for the second straight season, and his accomplished wrestling career led to his induction in the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. In the NJ State Prep Tournament, Blair took home its third-consecutive title with the highest number of points ever scored and most individual champions at that time from the classes of 1976 and 1974, respectively: Randy Miller, Joseph Skutches, Bob Kehler, Mike Sickles, Pete Engelhardt, Mark Lieberman and Steve Caldwell. Expertly guiding the 1974 team was math and science teacher Tom Hutchinson, an inductee into the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame in 2021. Coach Hutch’s leadership was key to the team’s success, earning him national coach of the year accolades from Wrestling USA Magazine and the United States Wrestling Federation (now USA Wrestling). 

The 1974 wrestling team, as listed in the 1974 ACTA: Class of 1974: Steve Caldwell, Bob DeMartin, Pete Engelhardt, Bob Kehler, Mark Lieberman, Richard Metz, Mike Sickles and Joseph Skutches. Class of 1975: Jim Brown, Jules Fernandes and Park “Chip” Wollam. Class of 1976: Randy Miller. Class of 1977: Rene Chamorro, Billy Jonckheer and James “Kach” Kachidurian. Team coaches: Tom Hutchinson, Peter Amerman and Ralph Gish.

These tough Buccaneers secured an impressive collection of college victories after leaving the hilltop. Beyond Mark Lieberman’s achievements, Randy Miller was a D1 NCAA All-American at Clarion University. Steve Caldwell and Mike Sickles were D3 All-Americans at Montclair State University. Richard Metz at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Pete Engelhardt and Bob DeMartin at Syracuse University and James “Kach” Kachidurian at Wilkes University all wrestled successfully in college. That is eight college wrestlers from one team, leading to the inevitable conclusion that this Blair team was the start of something special.

Lisa Garner ’77

Winner of the William Zester Award for best female athlete at Blair, Lisa Garner amassed an impressive 11 varsity letters in field hockey, basketball and softball during her time on the hilltop. Her senior year, she captained the varsity field hockey and basketball teams and was named to the First Team All-Area. In prior years, she received Second Team All-Area and/or honorable mentions throughout and was also named Top Five All-Area in scoring. 

After Blair, Lisa continued her field hockey dominance at Ithaca College. Since Blair had yet to establish a female lacrosse team during her tenure, she played softball for the Academy but went on to play varsity lacrosse at Ithaca. After the collegiate season ended, Lisa joined the North Jersey Lacrosse Club and was selected to the Second Team All-New Jersey Lacrosse Association and Third Team Mid-Atlantic/Central District to play in the United States Women’s National Lacrosse Association’s national championship.

After college, Lisa ventured into competitive swimming. As a member of the Coral Springs Masters Swim Club and Florida Gold Coast Masters Swim Team, she secured tenth place at the United States Masters Swimming National Championships in the women’s 200-meter freestyle relay and top 20 in the 1650- and 200-meter freestyle and the women’s 200 medley relay. She also contributed to the first-place finish of the mixed relay in the Swim Around Key West. A dedicated mentor for the last two decades, Lisa has utilized her swim talent to coach the next generation of swimmers at the Pine Crest School, Coral Springs Swim Club and the Sunrise Seahawks Swim Team.

Marissa Mezzanotte ’89

In her two years at Blair, Marissa Mezzanotte made her mark as a trailblazer for Blair girls’ basketball, becoming the first 1,000 point scorer in the history of the program. She ended her career on the hilltop with a total of 1,285 points, making her the 11th highest scorer in Warren County Girls’ Basketball history. With an all-time high of 37 points in one game—a single point shy of the single game scoring record—Marissa averaged an impressive 22 points and 15 rebounds per game her senior year.

Marissa continued to pursue basketball at Boston College from 1989 to 1993, culminating with her appointment as team captain her senior year. She earned the distinction of Big East Academic All-Star for her collegiate work on and off the court. In 2002, Marissa began working with the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Sport and Social Justice, traveling to more than 100 colleges and universities around the country to provide leadership training for student-athletes, student leaders, coaches and administrators on the issue of gender violence prevention and education. She has also worked with athletes, coaches and front office staff in the NBA and MLB. Marissa served as academic coordinator for men’s basketball at Providence College in Rhode Island and currently oversees the day-to-day operations of the athletic advising staff at the University of Rhode Island, ensuring advisees cement their own legacy of success.

Jordan Bowers ’01

As a three-sport athlete at Blair, Jordan Bowers was a force to be reckoned with, earning an impressive nine varsity letters in football, basketball and track. On the field, he starred as starting quarterback for three years, going undefeated against Peddie and leading his team to an overall record of 22-5, the most wins of any quarterback at Blair, and three straight Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and New Jersey prep “A” state championship titles. Jordan was named a two time All-MAPL and All-State quarterback, a two time New Jersey Prep Offensive Player of the Year and the two time recipient of the Brook Football Prize. As a senior, he was selected to play in the Governor’s Bowl for New Jersey as one of the top 50 high school football players in the state. 

Jordan’s accomplishments didn’t end on the football field. On the court, he served as a two-year starting point guard for the varsity basketball team, and he was named captain and Pender Track Award recipient his senior year for his efforts in track and field, reaching the finals for the 100- and 200-meter dash in the prep “A” state championship. For all Jordan’s athletic accomplishments, he earned the Robert Dalling Prize for the student who best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition at graduation. Jordan matriculated at the University of Rhode Island where he guided the team as quarterback for four years.

Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81

When the class of 1998 dedicated their yearbook to Coach Marty Miller, Hon. ’81, they described a man revered by his students and colleagues alike, who is the exemplary model of a Blair faculty member: fun, enthusiastic, venerable and phenomenally talented. Joining Blair’s history department in 1980, Marty lived on campus with his wife, Micheline, and his sons, David ’88 and Colin ’01 and coached 40 continuous years of cross country and more than thirty years of outdoor track distance runners. Under his leadership, the 1984 girls’ cross country team became the first at Blair to take home the state championship for their sport, and Marty was still there to cheer them on when they were inducted into the Blair Athletic Hall of Fame last year. Under his guidance, the boys’ cross country team went on a run of six-straight MAPL titles at the beginning of the millennium—and a seventh in 2010—and five New Jersey prep “A” state championships from 2000 to 2010. The boys’ cross country team recorded only two losing seasons in 40 years and garnered multiple team titles at Canterbury Invitationals, Newark Invitationals, The Shore Invitationals and NYC Prep School Invitationals (Meet of Eagles) over the years. 

Marty coached outdoor track distance runners from 1980 to 2013. During that time, he mentored many state and MAPL champions, including Jennifer (Helton) Piniaha ’81, Brad Bono, Mike Karolchyk ’90, Emily Ferguson ’95, Xavier de Boissezon ’00, Mike Kerrigan ’03, Jon Phillips ’03, Anna Hay ’04, Kiley Austin-Young ’06, Scott Chamberlin ’11, Kelvin Serem ’13, Becca Cooley ’14 and Eliza Lawless ’14.


Learn more about the Athletic Hall of Fame selection process and view bios of Athletic Hall of Fame inductees here. Suggest nominees for the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2025 here by December 31, 2024.
 

oscar wan cropped

Director of School Photography Tyson Trish signs off every email he sends the same way, with a poignant quote by Marc Riboud: “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” It’s a mantra he hopes to impart to his photography students in the classroom as he instructs them in the understanding of what makes a good photograph and how it can be a form of self-expression. 

For Oscar Wan ’24, the profound opportunity to savor life intensely came during a trip to New York City to see his art on display in an exhibition. This winter, Oscar’s black-and-white piece was featured in “Lens to the World: A Scholastic Awards Exhibition” at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York. His captivating photograph, titled “Responsibility,” featured fellow classmate Josh Feng ’26 and not only showcased his talent but also earned him accolades among other distinguished silver and gold medalists of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Journalism, Photography, and Film & Animation categories from across the tri-state area and beyond. Last year, Oscar took home the gold medal for his photograph in the nation’s longest-running, most prestigious recognition program for creative teens. 

“I was driven into photography by the longtime passion my father and I share for movies and our curiosity to explore pictures through camera lenses,” Oscar shared. “I was privileged to inherit my father’s photography equipment and experimented taking photos of just about anything.”

After Mr. Trish recommended he enter the Scholastic competition, Oscar knew he wanted to try it out to challenge himself and earn recognition for his hard work and dedication. Mr. Trish,recognizing Oscar’s ability to push the boundaries of photography in the classroom, commends his determination and innovation

“I am inspired by the way he experiments with light and color in the Blair photo studio and the way he challenges the idea of time in a two-dimensional image with his digital collage work,” Mr. Trish noted. “However, it is Oscar’s ability to capture an authentic moment in his portraiture that made his work stand out to the Scholastic community.”  

Oscar and Mr. Trish had the opportunity to travel to the Bronx Documentary Center to witness “Responsibility” on display alongside a tapestry of other award-winning student work. 

“It felt unimaginable but awesome to see my personal artwork have the opportunity to be displayed in a public gallery with the letters ‘Responsibility, Gold Medal, Oscar Wan’ inscribed below,” Oscar explained. “At the end of the day, you are competing against yourself. This will never be a regret and I wish I could have entered it years earlier!”
 

Vikram mansharamani on stage with Bob Brandwood

Even at 16 years old, Vikram Mansharamani '92 stood out. The intrepid Blair junior possessed a wide-ranging curiosity that led him to pursue a variety of interests and activities, and in the spring of 1991, Vikram decided it was time to follow his passion for investing. So he wrote to founder of The Vanguard Group, fellow Blair alum Jack Bogle ’47, asking about available internships. Mr. Bogle graciously connected Vikram with Mitch Jennings Jr. ’63, a fellow Blair alum and executive at Bear Stearns, and from there, Vikram’s journey took flight.

Vikram showed up at 245 Park Avenue in Manhattan that summer and found that his talents and the connections he made would soon lead him from moving boxes in the stock room to the bustling equity trading floor of Wall Street. In a few years, the gifted student would find his way to Yale University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, and, later, to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned two master’s degrees and a PhD.

Today, Vikram has carved a niche for himself at the forefront of multiple industries, embracing his role as a “generalist.” An entrepreneur, economist and scholar, he was a lecturer at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and writes a weekly column (available at mansharamani.substack.com). The bestselling author of titles like Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst, Vikram’s insights have appeared in Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes and others. Notably, LinkedIn.com has twice named Dr. Mansharamani their #1 top voice on the topics of money, finance and global economics. Worth magazine listed him as one of the 100 Most Powerful People in Global Finance. And In 2022, he ventured into politics, becoming a candidate for one of New Hampshire’s seats in the United States Senate.

Last week, Vikram returned to Blair, sharing his journey from a working-class immigrant household to becoming a student at Blair, and ultimately, a leading voice in American business, government, academia and journalism.

During School Meeting on March 4, Vikram joined English teacher Bob Brandwood, who coached Vikram in swimming at Blair, to share his insights about the importance of curiosity, broad-minded thinking and the benefits of being a generalist. “You will all face pressure to specialize–to get narrow and to develop an expertise–because that will be seen as the basis to differentiate yourself.” The benefit of rethinking that framework, Vikram noted, is that “Specialists don’t see the full context of their decisions,” drawing an analogy to the limitations of having only one tool in a toolbox. “You see the world differently when you look through different lenses,” he advised, encouraging students to gather multiple tools. “We need to keep experts on tap, not on top. Integrating multiple insights–that will emerge to be your true competitive advantage.”

Throughout the day, Vikram engaged in more in-depth discussions with classes and left students with a piece of advice that resonated: “Blair is an amazing place to explore and get to know your peers and faculty…where one can do eclectic, fun things and not feel guilty about it. That’s a luxury. Use that curiosity to its full advantage here at Blair.” Vikram generously provided Blair students and faculty with copies of his book The Making of a Generalist: An Independent Thinker Finds Unconventional Success in an Uncertain World, in which he expands upon the message shared in the all-school assembly.