Explore
2018 move-in day

Registration for the 2019-2020 school year is fast approaching, and we look forward to welcoming students and parents to campus! You can access information for each individual registration day here.

For quick reference, students should arrive at Blair on the following dates:

  • Pre-season football (invited by coaches)–Monday, August 26
  • Prefects–Sunday, September 1
  • Pre-season athletes (invited by coaches)–Tuesday, September 3
  • International students–Friday, September 6
  • All remaining students (boarding students to arrive at 9 a.m., day students to arrive at 11 a.m.)–Sunday, September 8

If you have any questions before you arrive on campus, please contact the student life office at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5600, and we will gladly direct your call. We look forward to seeing you soon! 
 

Tara Parker
Tara Parker

Director of Health Services Tara Parker, APN, NP-C, has been involved in many aspects of nursing during her 20-plus years in healthcare, ranging from emergency room clinician in New Jersey hospitals to medical information consultant in the pharmaceutical industry. This summer, she became more deeply involved in advocacy for the nursing profession and the advancement of quality healthcare in the Garden State when she was appointed to the executive board of the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA).

Mrs. Parker is one of six executive board members of the NJSNA, a statewide organization whose mission is to promote the profession of nursing, advance the practice of nursing and advocate for nurses. In her leadership role as Warren County coordinator, Mrs. Parker provides support, encouragement and education for her fellow nurses, as well as professional representation on policies that impact nurses and their practice in New Jersey. In addition, she chairs NJSNA’s annual dinner meeting and encourages Warren County NJSNA members to attend regional meetings and activities.

Describing her new role as a source of inspiration and learning, Mrs. Parker said she is looking forward to greater opportunities to mentor new nurses, as well as network with nurses who are clinical leaders in the profession. “I’ll have a voice in setting standards and directing policy regarding nursing practice in New Jersey,” she added, a responsibility that she regards as especially important. “As more nurses become involved in policy and advocacy, we provide a collective stance on issues that impact our profession and, ultimately, our patients.”

textbooks

Beginning Tuesday, August 13, textbooks may be purchased online for the 2019-2020 school year. Students' course lists will be sent to parents prior to the start of the sale, and books can be ordered through Follett Virtual Bookstores.

Students and parents are able to view course enrollments for the 2019-2020 school year in the OnCampus/OnRecord portal.

Textbooks are no longer physically sold on Blair's campus and online orders should be placed as soon as possible to guarantee delivery in time for the first day of classes on September 10. To place your order, click the link above or visit the School Store website, where there is also a link to Follett's offerings. 

In addition to new books, Follett also offers select titles at a discount for those interested in renting books or purchasing used books. For four days (August 13 to August 16), Follett will offer a 10 percent discount on USED and RENTAL books for customers who use the promotional code "TEXT10" at checkout.

Also, from August 13 to August 26, Blair students can receive free ground shipping (select “ground shipping” at checkout to apply the discount). Once an order is placed, Follett will send the shipment from its warehouse the same or next business day via FedEx. Expedited shipping options are available, but it is best to order early when the used-book selection is most robust.

For students who live more than 500 miles away from campus or those who would rather travel to Blairstown without textbooks, orders may be shipped directly to the School. Such shipments should be addressed to the student who ordered them at Blair Academy, 2 Park St., Blairstown, NJ 07825.

Parents are encouraged to sign up for the Virtual Bookstore email list at www.blair.bkstr.com; by doing so, you will receive direct notifications from Follett about upcoming promotions, buyback events, book availability and other reminders.

For assistance in ordering books online, please call Follett's customer service department at (888) 382-3383. Follett accepts returns on books up to 30 days after an order has been placed or 30 days after the start of classes, whichever is later.

Questions regarding textbook purchases should be directed to School Store manager Reanne Mauriello at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5635, or maurir@blair.edu.

Front entrance

With a new phone system now in place, several phone numbers at Blair have changed. Please visit our online directory for the direct-dial number and/or four-digit extension of all Blair faculty and staff members.

For faculty and staff members with new direct-dial numbers, note that the last four digits of the direct-dial number also serve as his or her extension if you call the School’s main number. For example, Director of Technology Sam Adams can be reached by dialing direct (908) 362-2000 or by dialing (908) 362-6121, ext. 2000.

The School’s main number remains the same at (908) 362-6121. If you need assistance, please dial the main number, and, as always, we will be happy to direct your call.
 

2019 Cuba Trip

In early June, two Blair faculty members led a group of eight Blair students on a tour of Cuba, marking the second time teachers and students have visited the island nation since the United States government first lifted restrictions banning direct travel between the two countries in 2011.

All of the students who signed up for the trip saw the experience as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit what they saw as a “forbidden” country with which they were largely unfamiliar beyond the way it is portrayed by the media in the United States. Given their curiosity about the country’s history and culture, as well as the uncertainty that travel restrictions wouldn’t be reimposed—which proved a valid concern given that the U.S. government issued new restrictions the day after the Blair group arrived in Cuba—students jumped at the chance to learn from its people and to experience the Cuban art scene firsthand.

An Art-Focused Itinerary 

As Blair fine arts teacher Tyson Trish and language teacher Timothy Devaney planned the itinerary over the course of the spring 2019 semester, they had one goal in mind: to give students a better understanding of the world and how to interact with its different cultures, while also showing them just how much art has the power to bring people together.

“It was fun watching our group develop an appreciation for a different culture and for their own ability to communicate in Spanish, even when they were nervous about using it outside of the classroom,” said Mr. Devaney, who has taught the language at Blair since 2010. “They also got to see firsthand how the Cuban government differs from its people.” 

The chaperones also appreciated that students witnessed Cuba’s many positive cultural aspects, which are not always portrayed broadly by the media. “In many ways, Cuba is a place stopped in time, and it is fascinating and comforting to be able to walk through a bustling urban environment and to feel so safe,” Mr. Devaney added. “You see the ingenuity of the Cuban people in small things, such as how they keep their cars running, despite the U.S. embargo.”

Similarities Trumped Differences

The fact that Cuba is right off the shores of the U.S. makes the contrasts between the two countries even more poignant, added Mr. Trish. But, perhaps not surprisingly, Blair students were most startled by the many similarities between themselves and their Cuban peers. “My favorite part of the trip was getting to know kids our age and the many opportunities to create art in this rich country,” said Linda Thomas-Galloway ’21. “I got along really well with the kids and even connected with them about our similar interest in music and entertainment. It made me realize that, although we are from different countries, we are very similar. Getting to see the world from a different perspective was very humbling and I am even more appreciative of all the things I have in my own life.”

Michael Richardson ’21 also embraced the chance to make new friends with local teens. “Just being able to create a relationship within a short period of time is amazing and they were terrific people,” he said. “I also connected with our teachers and fellow Blair students, and we felt like family by the time we came home.”

Likewise, Ava Nothshine ’21 was struck by the cordialness of Cuban locals and embraced the opportunity to delve into conversation with her peers about light and serious topics, ranging from the subjects of day-to-day chatter with best friends to thoughts on Cuba as a Communist country and gender roles on the island nation. “Everywhere you go, strangers will say ‘good morning’ and ‘how are you today?’” she explained. “I built new and meaningful relationships with people I never could have imagined meeting. I am confident that I made friendships in Cuba that I will carry into the rest of my high school career.”

Music Education & Artistic Collaboration

Among the group’s favorite experiences was enjoying the music of Vocal Clave de Sol and Orquesta de Guitarras, Havana-based teen musicians who visited Blair with chaperones in 2017 to perform for students and faculty after being introduced to one another during the Blair group’s first trip to Cuba earlier that spring. “We were once again in awe of their musical talents and Blair students enjoyed learning a few guitar chords during our visit,” said Mr. Trish, who also co-chaperoned the 2017 trip. “Several of their students also joined us for our final dinner, where they played music and danced with us!”

Another popular attraction was the ballet performed by Pro Danza and a full day workshop with local artist José Antonio Díaz Peláez at the Experimental Center for Visual Arts, where students learned painting and printmaking techniques and collaborated on paintings with Cuban high school students. For Beverley Da Costa ’21, the trip’s focus on the arts was what stood out most. “The way different countries create their art is fascinating to me,” she said. “I’m always looking to improve my creativity and seeing others’ thought processes encourages me to think outside the box.” In addition to enjoying the Clave de Sol group and the community project Patio de Pelegrin, Beverley loved visiting the revolution art museum and a Havana art school. “This really helped me to understand the culture more,” she explained. “It showed me how hard the Cuban people work with what they have and it was very inspirational.”

Returning as a Tight-Knit Group

Specific excursions aside, the trip to Cuba brought together a group of Blair students and teachers who, at the outset, did not know each other well and had them returning to the U.S. as good friends. Having forged such meaningful relationships during their Cuban adventure made saying goodbye difficult.

“I am typically a reserved person and was surprised by how well we all connected,” Linda said. “We were like a family, looking out for each other, sharing a lot about ourselves and having a ton of fun. I came home with strong friendships that will continue far beyond our trip.”

Beverley agreed. “I became closer with people with whom I was already friends and also the teachers and students I didn’t know as well before we left,” she said. “We all saw and experienced the same things, which made it easier to relate to each other and have deep conversations.”

Teachers and students look forward to sharing their photos of the trip with the Blair community at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

textbooks

Reading is an essential component of a well-rounded education, and Blair faculty members encourage reading throughout the school year. The summer is no exception, which is why all Blair students are expected to read a minimum of five fiction or nonfiction books over the summer. This assignment includes titles of their choosing in addition to those required by their teachers, and depending upon their courses, they may also have associated assignments and/or assessments to complete.

Titles for 2019 summer reading assignments are listed below. New and returning students enrolled in certain language courses for the 2019-2020 academic year must also complete summer work. Details about the summer work for language courses is linked in the list below.

All School Read for 9, 10, 11 and 12’s

Uncensored by Zachary Wood

Requirements for Selected Courses (listed by department) for 2019-2020

English

English 1: The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

English 2: Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)

English 3: Into the Wild (Krakauer)

English 3 AP or 4 AP Literature: Let the Great World Spin (McCann)

English 4 AP Language: Between the World and Me (Coates)

History

Global Issues; Western Civilization; U.S. History: In lieu of summer reading, these courses are allowed to assign a book over either the winter or spring break.

AP U.S. History: Students should read Charles Mann's article on "1491" from the March 2002 issue of The Atlantic magazine. Instructions and a link to the article are located here.

AP European History: Darkness at Noon (Koestler); please review instructions here from Dr. Miller for this reading.

Science

Chemistry Honors: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-made World (Miodownik). Dr. Sayers and Dr. Markolovic ask that you review this document as part of the assignment.

AP Chemistry: The Disappearing Spoon (Kean). Dr. Sayers asks that you complete this assignment here.

AP BiologyRiddled With Life  (Zuk); Campbell 10th Ed AP Biology text chapters 1-3. Mrs. Hadden will email a related assignment in August.

Physics AP C (Mechanics): 50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know (Joanne Baker)

Physics AP C (Electricity & Magnetism): Relativity Simply Explained (Martin Gardner)

Language

Summer work in language courses differs by grade level and language studied. Please review the below requirements closely and click on the appropriate link.

Spanish 4/4H: Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.

AP Spanish Language: Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.

All Classics students: Click here for the assignments from Mr. Sheppard.

French 4/4H: Click here for the assignment from Mme. Lavalle.

AP French Language: Click here for the assignment from Mme Lavalle.

All Chinese students: Click here for the assignment from Mr. Facciani and Mrs. Wang.

Music & Performing Arts

Music Theory AP: The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios and Cadences…  (Palmer, Manus, Lethco)

LEADS Teaches Students to Put What They Care About Into Action

As part of Blair LEADS, the School’s signature leadership education initiative, more than 100 Blair sophomores tackled group and individual project work designed to help them better understand what they are passionate about and how they can translate that passion into a call to action that benefits others in their communities. 

During the 2018-2019 school year, teachers worked with students to identify 10 class service projects that emphasized the program’s key emphasis on Leadership communications, global Engagement, self-Awareness, ethical Decision-making and Service. By the end of the year, sophomores had collectively addressed issues ranging from supporting families of the terminally ill and thanking veterans for their service to cleaning up local parks and spending time with senior citizens at local nursing homes.

“Blair LEADS mixes health, wellness, strength, leadership and service,” said Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, Dean of Campus Life and director of Blair leadership programs, who also oversees the LEADS program. “In 10th grade, students focus on discovering what they care about and figuring out how to put what they care about into action.” 

Not only did LEADS group and individual service work teach students a great deal about project management and execution, but the weekly class offered the chance to destress in a relaxed environment and brought each LEADS section together as they embraced the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. What follows is a recap of the group projects tackled by each of the 10 LEADS sections.

Senior “Senior Prom”

Mrs. Conforti-Browse’s class planned a 1950s-themed senior prom for 40-plus senior citizens living at United Methodist Communities at Bristol Glen in Newton, New Jersey, and Teddy Zinn ’21 played a central role in the event as MC and DJ, engaging with the residents by asking questions and encouraging them to dance and share their memories. 

“The senior prom was meaningful to me because it gave me and my class an opportunity to spread joy to the residents and it was amazing to see them recount their youth and fully smile as we played their favorite old songs,” he said. In planning the prom, Mrs. Conforti’s students saw firsthand the power of the extended Blair family, when they sought and secured the support of Blair’s Board of Trustees Vice Chair Dominick J. Romano '74, P'04 '07 '10, who ensured that his family-owned local ShopRite provided all catering at no charge. 

Recognizing Local Veterans

Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 and his students chose to honor local veterans and Blair faculty and staff who served in the armed forces at School Meeting on Veterans Day. A panel of faculty veterans sat on stage and engaged in a Q&A with the audience, with the focus being on their pathways to serving the country and what led them to that decision. “It was an illuminating experience for our community as they came to better understand the various motivations for service and how veterans came to serve, through programs such as ROTC,” said Mr. Pagotto. After sharing each panelist’s background, students talked more generally about the history of Veterans Day and how it is celebrated in the United States and the other countries represented in their LEADS class. Sofia Kasparik ’21 ended the presentation by singing the National Anthem as the American flag was raised outside of Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts.

Park Clean Up & Mural Painting

Fine arts teachers Tyson Trish and Evan Thomas’s LEADS class decided they wanted to impact the local community, and noticed that the playground at nearby Footbridge Park was missing equipment. So their class raised money to replace a ladder and a chain rope climbing wall, add trees and mulch to the landscape, and paint a mural of a butterfly designed by Mr. Thomas.

In total, students raised $2,500, planted five dogwood trees and donated funds to the town to secure new playground equipment, thanks to support from Blair Academy, the Blairstown Enhancement Committee and the Kennedy family. “When all of the work was done and my LEADS class could step back and look at all the small things we did that turned into a big accomplishment, it was a great feeling,” said Corrine Wilm ’21, who helped spread mulch and paint the butterfly. “I really enjoyed being able to share this experience with my class because it made it all the better to have a goal and an outcome with them.” In addition to embracing the idea of service, the class learned how to work as a group to tackle a goal and take the steps to make its vision a reality. “LEADS is a great way to learn how to get something worthwhile done,” Corrine said.

Melanie’s Miles

Head of School Chris Fortunato and English teacher John Redos ’09 organized the Melanie’s Miles 5K for the third year in a row. The event, which is held in honor of Melanie Humphrey, mother of Tanner ’19 and Logan ’20 who passed away from lung cancer, involved an enormous amount of logistics for the students to tackle: fundraising, advertising, organizing entries, and assembling all race bags for participants. On race day, students helped with registration tables and organizing Blair student and faculty volunteers. 

“The whole project was very demanding and took up a significant chunk of the students’ time, but watching their faces when everything came together on the day was amazing,” said Mr. Redos, who also thanks the advancement and head of school office staff for their support. “Students saw that this project was bigger than the scope of Blair and had real impact on people in need. It was a truly powerful experience for all involved.”

Bake Sale & Dance Marathon

English teacher Kaye Evans and Blair chaplain Rev. Lisa Durkee’s class organized a bake sale in support of a dance marathon benefiting Children’s Specialized Hospital of New Jersey in Newark, where the sibling of one LEADS student was receiving care. The class baked cookies, brownies, rice krispie treats and banana bread in their teachers’ apartments during a class block and then sold their goods during lunch in the Romano Dining Hall, raising more than $300. “Raising money toward a good cause is always work that satisfies,” said Hagen Shook ’21. “It was meaningful to the students because it gave us an opportunity to practice our leadership. LEADS gives each individual a platform to achieve something that they are passionate about and there have been so many useful experiences throughout the year that I will carry throughout my life.” 

Children’s Playdate & Movie

When Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw’s class began brainstorming a class project, one student brought up the Blair Academy Learning Center (the on-campus daycare for members of the community). The class quickly began reminiscing about favorite childhood movies and it soon became clear that screening a movie for faculty and staff children would be their choice. As plans developed around the holidays in November, students advertised their afternoon movie as an opportunity for Blair faculty and staff moms and dads to run errands, shop, do chores or just have time to themselves for two hours on a Sunday. 

The class voted on a movie (Shrek won!), and finalized the details, such as getting a list of all children on campus, asking that they bring a snack and a blanket, and selecting games to be played before and after the movie. Students advertised by emailing a flyer to faculty and staff members, and divided and conquered on the big day as they entertained the children and enjoyed the movie together. Students were pleased with the impact their work had on some of the community’s smallest members; they received at least one handwritten thank you note from a grateful 5-year-old, who called participating in the festivities “the best day” of his life.

Refurbishing a WWI Memorial

Brian Antonelli ’93’s LEADS class refreshed and rededicated a marble monument to the 21 Blair students and teachers who fought and died in World War I as part of a class project honoring veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. The original memorial, which had previously been refurbished in the 1960s, sits on the hill near the water tower, where the class of 1921 developed a plan to plant a grove of 21 maple trees, one for each fallen soldier, as its senior gift. 

The LEADS class’s efforts—along with help from the grounds crew and Blair’s advancement office—no doubt gives the monument more prominence than it has had in the last half-century and students felt strongly about honoring those who gave their lives for our country and creating a tangible reminder of those sacrifices for the Blair community. “Our hope is that the refreshed monument will give our community the opportunity to pause and reflect on the bravery of all Blair alumni who serve in the armed forces,” concluded Mr. Antonelli, who is a veteran himself, having served in the Marine Corps after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1997. 

Engaging with Seniors Over Lunch

ACTA advisor Erika Clavel and science teacher Chris Thatcher’s class visited the nearby Knowlton Community Senior Center on Route 94 a handful of times over the course of the 2018-2019 school year. Students served lunch, talked with seniors, built gingerbread houses, played games and made crafts. “Through all of these activities, students and seniors had the chance to engage in conversation and learn different perspectives from another generation,” said Mrs. Clavel.

Trail Maintenance & Fundraising

Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni and language teacher Sharon Merrifield’s class worked with the Ridge and Valley Conservancy on trail maintenance on various properties owned by the group, which they note “has done a tremendous amount to pursue its mission of conserving land and creating opportunities for people to appreciate and enjoy Blairstown’s rural area.” 

Not only did the class project expose students to the work going on right in their own backyards, but it also taught them about the challenges that small, local organizations face. “Working on the trail was a different experience for many people in our class,” said Oliver Tipton ‘21. “It was cold outside so the finish was rewarding physically, but it also just felt great to see how much nicer the trail was when walking back through. Despite the temperature, focusing on cleaning and working with great people helped us get through the day.” Later in the year, the class also collectively supported a One Love fundraiser at a girls’ varsity basketball game. 

Supporting a Local Food Pantry

Math department chair John Padden and English teacher Tom Parauda’s students focused on food insufficiency in the region, farm gleaning and serving a food pantry as their class project. A handful of students also organized an “International Day” at the local elementary school, during which Blair students from diverse backgrounds talked about their life experiences to more than 60 fifth and sixth graders. 

Book

Blair’s English department launched its 2019-2020 all-school read program with the selection of Uncensored: My Life and Uncomfortable Conversations at the Intersection of Black and White America, a memoir by free speech activist Zachary R. Wood. Mr. Wood attracted national media attention as president of Uncomfortable Learning, a student-run group at Williams College that invited speakers with controversial perspectives to campus. In Uncensored, the 2018 Williams graduate details his troubled upbringing and the life experiences that inspired him to become a “crusader” for open dialogue, while also sharing his views on free speech, race and dissenting opinions.

A conversation with Williams alum Drew Litvin ’14 sparked English department chair James Moore’s initial interest in this year’s all-school read author. “Drew told me a few years ago about a Williams classmate who had written op-eds for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal,” Mr. Moore said. Mr. Moore ended up incorporating Uncensored into his narrative writing class in fall 2018, as well as introducing it, among several other works, to this year’s all-school read committee.

Mr. Moore and English teacher Molly Hoyer met frequently with the students comprising the committee. Lydia Richardson ’20, Ari Cobb ’20, Madeline McNamara ’20, Gabriel Ramirez ’22 and Ben Liu ’22 read almost a dozen books among them and discussed the pros and cons of the works.

Uncensored is a great all-school read because it will inspire thinking and discussion about uncomfortable learning and conversation,” said Lydia, a returning member of the all-school read committee. Noting that Mr. Wood visited campus earlier this year for a Chapel and breakout discussions, she added, “The author has already had successful small-group conversations at Blair about getting comfortable with discomfort.”

“Our committee focused on gathering feedback to establish a well-rounded summer reading book,” said Gabriel. “Everyone was very talkative and friendly, and I hope to keep working with this group throughout my four years at Blair.”

Mr. Moore is pleased that book selection for Blair’s annual all-school read has become increasingly student driven, and he is looking forward to Uncensored becoming part of the School’s literary conversation in the coming year. “Zach Wood is an engaging 23-year-old, a TED talk curator and a living, breathing writer,” he said. “We teach many authors—and rightfully so—whose lives are far removed from those of our students. With this work, the distance between author and student is greatly reduced, and we hope that will prove inspirational for some of our kids.”

Mr. Wood writes about his years at elite prep schools and Williams College in Uncensored, topics that are sure to resonate with Blair students. However, Mr. Moore pointed out, Blair students will also get a look at the unconventional path that led Mr. Wood to these institutions, one that was characterized by curiosity and exploration rather than high test scores and loads of activities.

Plans are in the works for 2019-2020 all-school read programming, which will likely include a writer’s residency, an interview of the author by members of the all-school read committee, and workshops on memoir writing and conducting civil conversations among people who disagree. “Blair students already write mini memoirs for the Leadership Stories Project and their sophomore and senior speeches,” Mr. Moore observed. “I hope that in reading Uncensored, they will realize that memoir is a valuable literary genre.”

Most of all, Mr. Moore hopes that students enjoy reading Uncensored this summer simply because it is a good story. “From the beginning, that has been my top criteria for our all-school reads,” he said. “Mr. Wood tells the grippingly honest truth about his upbringing. Even though the deck was stacked against him, he wound up at Williams College, where he became a popular yet divisive figure. I expect this book to engage students who are already readers and inspire those who are reluctant to want to read more.”  

Learn more about Zachary Wood here.

Olivia Miles ’21
Olivia Miles ’21

Rising junior Olivia Miles ’21 will compete for USA Basketball this summer as part of the U16 team, making her the latest in a long line of Blair girls’ basketball team members who have competed or are currently competing on the world stage. Olivia was one of 146 players nationwide invited to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to participate in tryouts for the U16 team, and she was named to the 12-member squad on May 30.

“Olivia is a strong student, an electrifying and unselfish basketball player, and, more importantly, a humble and compassionate person who adds a great deal to the Blair community,” said head girls’ varsity coach Quinten Clarke ’87. “She would rather pass than score, and this makes her very popular with her teammates. She's a great representative of both Blair Academy and the United States.”

Olivia, who is ESPN’s #2 ranked basketball player nationally in the class of 2021, will travel to Puerto Aysen, Chile, to compete in the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship from June 16 to 22. The top four finishers among the eight national teams in the competition will qualify for the 2020 FIBA U17 World Cup that will take place in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Olivia joins the following Blair girls’ basketball alumnae in international play

Camille Clarin ’19 made the Philippines’ national women’s U18 team this year and competed in Mongolia from June 3 to 7 in the 2019 FIBA 3x3 U18 World Cup. The team qualified for the second round of play in stunning fashion, as it defeated the Netherlands on Camille’s buzzer-beating shot and then later beat the Czech Republic in overtime. Camille will attend Hamilton College this fall, where she will play for the Continentals.

Thuraya Abdul-Hamid ’19 is training with the Jordanian national team this summer in an effort to make the team. She heads to American University in the fall. 

Onome Akinbode-James ’18, a former member of the Nigerian U16 team, currently plays for the Duke University women’s basketball team. 

Batouly Camara ’15 is playing in Africa for the Guinea national women’s basketball team. In 2019-2020, she will play her senior season for the University of Connecticut Huskies.

Sami Hill ’13 made Canada Basketball’s senior women’s national team for 2019, and she will play in a five-game European exhibition tour in Belgium (June 14-16) and Great Britain (June 18-19). A 2017 graduate of Virginia Tech, Sami played on the Canadian women’s national team that competed in the 2018 Asia Exhibition series in China and Japan. She is a professional basketball player in Germany.

Annette Snow ’12 plays professional basketball for team Ashdod in Israel. She is a 2016 graduate of Lafayette College.

Temi Fagbenle ’11 played for Great Britain’s women’s basketball team in the 2012 Olympics and is currently a member of Great Britain’s FIBA EuroBasket team that is competing in Latvia and Serbia from June 27 to July 7. During her college years, she played at Harvard University and the University of Southern California. She was drafted by the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx in 2016 and will join the team following her international stint.

2019 Alumni Weekend

Blair graduates representing eight decades registered to attend Alumni Weekend, and plans were in place for an exciting three-day event. From Friday, June 7, to Sunday, June 9, returning alumni had the opportunity to take part in parties, athletic events, master classes and much more as they connected with classmates, friends and faculty. Favorite memories were certainly re-lived and new memories created as the Blair family came together on campus.

“We were looking forward to welcoming alumni and their families back to Blair for a truly enjoyable weekend,” said Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy. “Many wonderful activities were planned, and each one gave alums the chance to spend time with old and new friends. Whether you were celebrating your 50th, 5th or any other reunion, it promised to be a very special weekend on campus.”

Alumni Weekend got underway on Friday with a luncheon for the Old Guard (those celebrating their 50th reunion and older), and activities for alumni of all ages continued throughout the afternoon. Returning athletes took part in the Blair Cup Golf Scramble, a 5K run, a guided hike through the Siegel Property or a tour of the golf training center, while those interested in academics chose to attend a master class in English, science, history or maker space, all led by a Blair faculty members. 

Friday evening highlights included the class of 1969’s 50th Reunion Dinner, which took place in the Romano Dining Hall, and the All-Alumni Welcome Back Party, an under-the-tent event on Hardwick Lawn. Six alumni provided beverages and catering for the Welcome Back Party: Marianne Lieberman ’79 (Maple Springs Vineyard), Tom Kehoe ’83 (Yards Brewing Company), Mark McLean ’98 (Remarkable Cuisine, LLC), Emily Downs ’02 (Emily’s Hearth), Shaun Mehtani ’02 (Mehndi) and Matt Gallira ’08 (Big Mozz, Inc.). A 9 p.m. fireworks display rounded out the evening and set the stage for even more excitement the following day.

Saturday’s schedule was packed with events from morning until night. Many alumni attended the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring Gerald Knapp ’54, Anne Cramer ’75, Melissa (Paul) Erne ’96, Royal Ivey ’00 and Dion Lewis ’09. A crowd also gathered at the dedication of the plaque honoring Blair’s world record marathon swim of 1971 and record-holders David Borow ’72, John Greer ’74, Andrew “Scott” MacLean ’74 and Todd Ruppert ’74

To watch the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony, please click below:

Art aficionados delighted in the special Society of Skeptics presentation in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre featuring John Ahearn ’69 and Charlie Ahearn ’69. The twin artists presented a 50th reunion talk on their New York City street sculptures and movies, and this event marked first time in their successful 40-year careers that they appeared on stage together. 

To watch the Society of Skeptics video, please click below:

Meanwhile, alumni softball and lacrosse games, led by Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79 and Teddy Wenner ’96, respectively, and a rail trail bike tour led by Carl Cramer ’72, took place on Saturday afternoon. Traditional favorites, including the alumni parade, Head of School assembly, family picnic lunch and evening dinner dance, provided even more opportunities for alumni to mix and mingle.

Throughout the weekend, the School honored the life and legacy of Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus John C. Bogle ’47, who died in January at the age of 89. His great love of Blair Academy and his illustrious career as founder of The Vanguard Group was showcased in a special exhibit in Timken Library, and Mr. Bogle was among the many alumni remembered at the annual memorial service on Friday evening.

With something for everyone, Blair’s 2019 Alumni Weekend promised to be one of the best yet. We were excited to see many Bucs back on campus!

To watch the Head of School Assembly & Awards Presentation, please click below:

Olivia Miles '21

The Blair community is proud to highlight student-athletes who are representing Blair in international competitions and in venues around the world during summer 2019.

"These student-athletes have reached new horizons by earning the opportunity to compete at the world level," said Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88. “We are proud of their efforts and wish them success in their individual and team competitions.”

Varsity basketball player Olivia Miles ’21 made the 2019 USA Basketball women’s U16 national team, one of 12 players chosen from 146 athletes invited to team trials at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Olivia and the team travel to Chile to compete in the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship from June 16 to 22. 

Meanwhile, Blair wrestlers competed in the World Team trials in Akron, Ohio, at the end of May, and several earned places on world teams. Marc-Anthony McGowan ’23 will represent the U.S. in the late July Cadet World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travis Mastrogiovanni '21 and Rylan Rogers ’22 were selected as world team alternates for the Cadet world team. Finally, Trevor Mastrogiovanni ’20 will represent the U.S. in the Junior Pan Am Championships, which take place June 5 to 7 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. 

newspapers

Throughout the course of the 2018-2019 school year, Blair Academy, its students and its faculty have appeared in a wide range of news stories spotlighting their work inside and outside of the classroom, their successes on the athletic front, and their impact on a host of industries well beyond graduation. Below, we’ve highlighted just a few of the Blair Buccaneers whose achievements have garnered national and international news coverage this year.

 

Jenna Park '21

Jenna Park ’21 Selected as Runner-up in NYT Contest

The Blair sophomore submitted an entry to The New York Times’ contest calling on students to “connect what you are learning in school with the world today.” 

“‘Whether the connections these teenagers made were obvious, or whether they were so oblique it’s likely no one else has ever made them, what delighted us most was seeing the thinking in action,’” read the March 2019 article announcing the contest’s winners and runners-up. “‘Many described aha moments, when a work of literature or an event in history was illuminated by something in The Times.’”

Selected from a pool of more than 2,000 students from across the United States, Jenna’s essay connected The Veldt by Ray Bradbury and a December 2018 Times opinion piece on how technology has destroyed reality.

“‘Bradbury paints a world where technology is so advanced that it creates confusion between reality and fantasy,’” reads an excerpt of Jenna’s essay that appears on The Times’ website. “‘Although the short story was published way back in 1950, almost 70 years from today, it astonished me how Bradbury foresaw the implications of technology on people’s lives. The New York Times article, ‘Technology Has Destroyed Reality’ by Hito Steyerl, correlates closely with Bradbury’s work. Steyerl shares with her audience that technology ‘divides and fragments’ people, just as Bradbury’s nursery ultimately separates and destroys the family’s relationship.’”

She went on to write: “‘Although there is no roaring lion in Steyerl’s piece, she describes how contemporary technology provides a ‘custom-made’ reality for ‘your preferences’ if you ‘don’t like the reality you’re facing.’ As Bradbury highlights the dangers and fears of relying on technology too much, Steyerl underscores how our very real technology promotes fake news, false reports and rumors, as well as technology’s effects on the workforce.’”

Read The Times article in full at www.blair.edu/jenna-park

 

ESPN Profiles NBA Star’s Efforts to Help South Sudanese Athletes

In December 2018, ESPN published an article about the work the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Luol Deng ’03 is doing to support South Sudanese basketball players. Having connected with Mayor Chagai, a youth basketball coach in Sydney, Australia, via social media in 2013, Mr. Deng traveled to Australia to “see firsthand the basketball program Chagai had started.” 

“‘It was really interesting. That's the first time I really got an idea that there's a lot of South Sudanese in Australia,’ says Deng…’I reached back out and told Mayor I was going to take a trip to come down. When I got there, I was amazed by the program that they're running and the job that they were doing.’”

Calling his trip Down Under “‘a fact-finding mission,’” the NBA veteran was “wowed. The kids had game.” Seeing how good they were, Mr. Deng wanted to be more involved in helping such students get scholarships, so he told Mayor to contact his Blair basketball coach, Joe Mantegna. As a result, “elite South Sudanese players have landed scholarships to play for powerhouse high school programs such as the one at Blair,” and “this season alone, Mantegna has two players—6-foot-6 senior shooting guard Henry Makeny [’19] and 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Akoldah Gak [’21]—on his Buccaneers roster. Both boys grew up in Sydney's South Sudanese community and honed their hoops skills under Chagai's watch.”

“Makeny and Gak both gush[ed] about their good fortune during a break from classes in the autumn of 2018,” the article continued. “They know the story of Luol Deng—a South Sudanese son who helped raise Blair's profile when he played for Mantegna and who later starred for Duke before becoming a first-round pick in the 2004 NBA draft. ‘That's the dream,’ says Gak, 16.”

Reporter Christian Red concludes his article with a description of the boys at practice in 2018: “Makeny breaks from the pack of players at center court during warmups, sprints to the basket and makes a two-handed dunk. Right on Makeny's heels follows Akoldah Gak, whose finger-roll layup barely rims out and falls to the hardwood. The scene is a long, long way from the suburbs of Sydney. Makeny and Gak are in the beginning stages of a basketball path, one for which the final destination is yet to be determined.”

Read the article in full at www.blair.edu/espn.

 

A Rising Design Star on Her Authentic Style & Family Legacy

Brittany Haines '05

Brittany Haines ’05 was one of 10 designers selected from around the country by the magazine Traditional Home as “Rising Stars of Design” in 2018. Calling the recognition “a complete surprise and honor,” she had the opportunity to share inspiration and ideas with the other nine designers at an autumn New York City gathering that included roundtable discussions and panel speakers. “These designers were all so talented, fun and are taking their businesses in their own authentic directions,” said Ms. Haines, who launched ABD Studio in 2013, a San Francisco-based firm that specializes in high-end residential and boutique hospitality interior design. “I walked away from these couple of days with a huge wave of excitement for all the possibilities my career has before me, as well as feeling very supported by and grateful for the design community.”

Raised in New Jersey, where her father, Jeffrey B. Haines, still owns and operates Butler’s of Far Hills—the interior design firm that decorated the Blair Room and Blair’s Head of School’s office in 2007—Ms. Haines admits that growing up in and around beautifully designed spaces certainly impacted her career choice. In 2001, three years before she became a freshman at Blair, her longtime historic family home was destroyed by fire, and she recalls closely observing her parents carefully renovating the house where they moved next. “I began thinking that, one day, I would pursue interior design,” she said.

But she wouldn't take her first formal design class until she was a student at Lehigh University, where she majored in art, architecture and design and studied textile design while studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. After graduating college in 2009, she relocated to San Francisco and began working for some of the city’s top interior designers. “I was learning a lot very quickly, but I realized that my true passion for design continually comes back to the connection to the client, which I felt was not being prioritized in the design process,” Ms. Haines explained. “Shiny magazine pages, antique shopping trips and beautiful chandeliers can lose their allure to me if the end result doesn’t feel authentic to the personalities and lifestyles of those who dwell within the home.”

That’s why, as principal of ABD Studio, her goal goes far beyond just recreating the same design style over and over again for each client. “Ideally, our clients hire us for our knowledge of the industry, ability to gracefully maneuver the sometimes tricky construction process, and our enthusiasm for getting to know their family and creatively enhancing life’s moments through design,” she continued. “In the end, our projects have a consistent level of quality and elegance that is customized for each individual client and speaks to the style that makes them feel the most at home.”

As she works on projects from San Francisco and the Bay Area Peninsula to Napa and Tahoe, tackling everything from ground-up builds to large-scale remodels, she continues to find her own authentic style while always tapping into the inspiration of her father’s designs. “I am continually amazed by my father’s eye for detail and ability to create a complete ambiance within a space that is more than a visual experience,” she said. “He also has a way of making the process seem effortless and not overthinking it all, which I admire!” 

Ms. Haines loves that her dad created warm and welcoming spaces at Blair and appreciates their thoughtful nods to school culture and history and classic elements that speak to the architecture of the original campus buildings. “The Blair Room in particular is such an important part of many people’s first impression of the School,” she said. “When waiting in this space for their first interview or to meet a tour guide, the hope is that all visitors feel at ease, welcome and simply at home.”

To read the Traditional Home article, visit www.blair.edu/brittany-haines. Read more about Brittany, her style and clients at www.abd-studio.com

Underclass Prize Assembly

Blair’s freshman, sophomore and junior classes came together on May 28 to celebrate students’ accomplishments at the Underclass Prize Assembly, at which faculty members presented a number of subject and major department prizes.

Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni welcomed the audience to the last assembly of the 2018-2019 school year, commending students for their hard work and dedication to excellence in the final days of the spring semester.

“You each deserve a slice of the credit for how rich the intellectual life of the School has been during this school year. We thank you for your willingness to invest yourselves in different opportunities and ideas aside from your norm,” he said. “Each of you makes the experience of learning here better for yourselves, your classmates and for your teachers.”

Following his remarks, the chairs of seven of Blair’s academic departments recognized awardees for outstanding work in those disciplines. Veteran English teacher Kaye Evans then inducted juniors into Blair’s cum laude chapter. Following that presentation, Associate Dean of Students Andee Ryerson and Dean of Students Carm Mazza joined Head of School Chris Fortunato in recognizing underclassmen with a few more special prizes, after which Mr. Fortunato addressed the community for a final time before the 2018-2019 school year closed.

“Every day, with every decision and connection, each of you makes the School what it is. Each of you helps to write Blair’s story and impacts the experience of everyone around you,” he remarked. “I want you to enter the summer thinking about not only the things you might stand for, but what you are going to do every single day to build on what you have learned here this year at Blair.”

Mr. Fortunato asked the audience to remember that Blair is both a promise and an opportunity, but not a guarantee. “We must make sure we honor that for future generations,” he concluded. “We must continue to strive to fulfill the promise of this place.”

Blair chaplain the Rev. Lisa Durkee concluded the ceremony by introducing the class of 2019 video retrospective, which underclassmen had the opportunity to view for the first time following commencement-week festivities. Blair students and faculty will now prepare to say “goodbye for now” as the year officially ends on May 29 and summer vacation begins.

To watch the Underclass Prize Assembly, click below:

Congratulations to these awardees:

Freshman English Prize: Peyton Schreiber ’22 and Alexandra Schamberger ’22

Sophomore English Prize: George Sigety ’21 and Ashley Dai ’21

Three-Dimensional Art Prize - Elizabeth Negvesky ’20

Two-Dimensional Art Prize - Dianya Tan ’21

Video Prize - Thomas Walker ’21

Photography Prize - Lydia Richardson ’20

Global Issues Prize - Benjamin Liu ’22 and Yuchuan Gan ’22

Western Civilization Prize – Linda (Lily) Starrs ’21 and Theodore (Teddy) Zinn ’21

U.S. History Prize - Hallie Guyton ’20 and Joop Olthof ’20

Euler Prize for Analysis: Hao Cui ’22

Pythagoras Prize for Geometry: Benjamin Liu ’22 and Alexandra Schamberger ’22

Gauss Prize For Algebra: Linda Starrs ’21

The Stephen Curry Prize: Helena Frawley ’20

Performing Arts Prize for Theatre: Montana Carson ’20 and Ryan Gomez ’20

Performing Arts Prize for Vocal Music: Hannah Starorypinski ’20

Performing Arts Prize for Instrumental Music: Ashton Martini ’20 and Timothy Launders ’20

Philosophy Prize for World Religions: Robert Rucki ’20

Freshman Science Prize for Biology Honors: Alexandra Schamberger ’22

Sophomore Science Prize for Honors Chemistry: Lucy Clayton ’21 and Jonathan Wong ’21

Junior Science Prize for Physics: Thomas Engel ’20 and Timothy Launders ’20

The Joan and Fernando Marcial Prize: Tabitha Amanze ’22

The David Avery-Jones Freshman Prize: Samantha Antonelli ’22 and Benjamin Liu ’22

The Henry B. Cowan Prize: Alexandra Kirby ’20 and Cameron Bentley ’20

The John Kinch Leach Merit Award: Dominique Darius ’21 and Siddharth Mehta ’21

The Phillips-James Rosen Trophy: Kathleen Devlin ’20 and Aidan Riano ’20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Simar Anand '21, Alexandra Bakulina '21, Alyssa Frick '21, Hayoung Irene Jung '21, Olivia Mohlmann '21, Devin Oster '21, Linda Starrs '21, William Thomas '22, Corrine Wilm '21, Elleen Xue '21, Yuchuan George Gan '22, Minyuan Max Gao '22, Benjamin Liu '22, Alexandra Schamberger '22, Peyton Schreiber '22 and Aitalia Sharpe '22

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal: Shaoyang Ni ’20

George Washington University Medal: Chloe Park ’20

University Of Rochester Prizes:

     Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award: Emia Musabegovic ’20

     Eastman Young Leaders Award: Rob Rucki ’20

     Douglass & Anthony Award in Humanities: Grace Wilkey ’20  

     Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology:  Carmen Liuzza ’20

Kenyon College Presidential Book Award: Kendra Payne ’20

Eisenhower Award: Preston Krivulka ’20

Princeton Book Prize: Ariel Cobb ’20

 

Blair Buccaneer

Blair Academy is proud to announce the 2019 spring athletic award winners. This year's recipients are extremely deserving, as they set new milestones for Blair’s athletic programs.

"I am very proud of these student-athletes," said Director of Athletics Paul Clavel '88. "The spring season can feel like a sprint and be exhausting. Not only did these athletes perform well throughout the season, they also elevated their teammates' performances through their grit, perseverance and hard work. 

Congratulations to the 2019 spring athletic award winners:

Blair Lacrosse Prize: Victoria Benanti ’19

Blair Lacrosse Prize: Emily Mooney ’19 

Blair Lacrosse Prize: Jun Park ’19

Paul Tennis Award: Joop Olthof ’19

Anzel Tennis Award: Jack Weber ’20

Hurley Crew Prize: Liam Junkermann ’19

Kemp Crew Prize: Caeley Tierney ’19

Blair Girls' Golf Award: Linda Tong '19

Zimmerman Golf Trophy: Brian Li ’19

Zimmerman Golf Trophy: PJ O'Rourke ’19

Stowell Softball Award: Jesse Schable ’19

Pender Track Award: Kerem Ayhan ’19

Pender Track Award: Kendra Payne ’20

Brooks Baseball Prize: Anthony Moore ’19

2019 Commencement

Pomp, circumstance, happy graduates and proud parents were the order of the day at Blair’s 171st commencement on May 23. The tradition-filled ceremony was held on Sharpe House lawn, where families and friends celebrated bright futures ahead for Blair’s 131 graduates.

The ceremony began as faculty and Trustees processed to their seats amid enthusiastic applause, followed by the beaming members of the class of 2019. The Rev. Lisa Durkee, Blair’s chaplain, addressed the assembly with an invocation, and Head of School Chris Fortunato and Senior Class Council members Cheuk Kiu Justin Leung ’19 and Jillian Rogers ’19 each shared warm words of welcome.

Several outstanding members of Blair’s faculty received recognition for their dedication to Blair’s students and their teaching profession. Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Lorry Perry, Dean of Students Carmelo Mazza and Mr. Fortunato each stepped to the podium to present faculty awards. Next, Mr. Fortunato, Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 and Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni acknowledged the achievements of five seniors as they awarded the Headmaster’s Prize, the Blair Academy Trophy and the George P. Jenkins ’32 Prize (please see full list of award winners below).

Anthony Moore ’19 and Linda Tong ’19 shared the honors as this year’s recipients of the George P. Jenkins ’32 Prize and the 2019 class speakers. Anthony spoke gratefully about the warmth and kindness of the Blair community. He shared special memories of moments with friends, noting that while academic and extracurricular challenges will be tougher in college, “the most difficult part, by far, will be finding new people who can compare to the ones we are leaving today.”

“Our time at Blair has been a privilege for many, many reasons, but the 131 brilliant, talented and unbelievably kind people I am lucky to call my classmates are what have made this place truly special,” he said. “We have all been truly lucky to be part of this wonderful, amazing class.”

In her remarks, Linda shared a “love letter” to Blair Academy. “As much as I love this place now,” she said. “That wasn’t always true.” She described how she was terrified in her early days at Blair, but that the wise words of an upperclassman convinced her that she should make the most of her time on campus. The more she became involved, said yes to every opportunity and allowed herself to be vulnerable, the more she fell in love with Blair.

Concluding with words of advice for her classmates, Linda said, “I dare you to fall in love again, wherever you are next year. You are the most talented group of human beings I know, and you don’t know just how talented you are until you try. Take risks and say yes.”

Finally, the moment the class of 2019 was eagerly anticipating arrived: the awarding of diplomas. Each senior crossed the stage as his or her name was read, and they exchanged hugs and handshakes with Mr. Fortunato. Families and friends cheered for the graduates, while happy tears were shed, as well.

Mr. Fortunato addressed the graduates one final time before they headed out into world as Blair alumni, describing the members of the class of 2019 as his heroes. “I see you in this way not because you are perfect or because of your number of 6.0s, goals, prizes or achievements, but because you have been brave enough to continue this journey with us, celebrating your triumphs and, more importantly, facing your fears,” he said. “You were flawed, but true heroes always are.”

He advised the classmates to remain optimistic, to be builders of society, and to extend the kindness and love they have known at Blair to all they encounter. “Stay true to that, my friends, and to yourselves,” Mr. Fortunato concluded, “and, I assure you, you will always be heroes.”

The traditional pennant presentation brought the ceremony to a close. Robert Jenkins ’69, a member of this year’s 50th reunion class, handed the class of 2019 pennant to Faith Marie Sanchez ’19, symbolizing a hearty welcome to the graduates as they join Blair’s alumni body. Faith led the recessional as the Blair Academy Commencement Ensemble played “Ode to Joy,” and the class of 2019 jubilantly celebrated this milestone event with their families and friends.

Faculty awards presented at graduation:

Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence: English teacher Becca Litvin ’10
Riether Residential Life Award: Associate Dean of Students Caroline Wilson
John C. and Eve S. Bogle Teaching Prize: math teacher R. Latta Browse
Headmaster’s Faculty Prize: language teacher Lian Wang
Tedlow Teaching Prize: history teacher Quinten Clarke ’87

Student awards presented at graduation:

Headmaster’s Prize: Aiden Abrahamsen ’19 & Cornelia Sigety ’19

Blair Academy Trophy: Madison Jones ’19

George P. Jenkins ’32 Prize: Anthony Moore ’19 & Linda Tong ’19