Chiang Center
2018 Registration
2018 Convocation
Explore
Watch Field Hockey Live on September 20

Blair’s varsity field hockey team takes on Phillipsburg High School at home on September 20. The game will be livestreamed beginning at 4:15 p.m. Watch here.

Marina Cramer

In her debut novel, Roads, Marina Antropow Cramer tells the story of a World War II-era Russian family’s survival through harrowing situations surrounding the Nazi invasion of their homeland and the hardships they face as labor camp workers and refugees in Germany during and after the war. Ms. Cramer, who was born in postwar Germany to a family of refugees from the Soviet Union, will speak at the Society of Skeptics on September 25 about the challenges Russian families faced during that time. The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

The topic of Ms. Cramer’s novel—and her Skeptics lecture—arose in part from her curiosity about the events that led to her family’s decision to leave their homeland, knowing that even if they survived their entry into enemy territory, they could never return. She had heard about the horrors of the war years from her family and other refugees her whole life, and the topic became all the more relevant in light of the many conflicts in today’s world. “I wanted to understand how people make that decision to leave everything they know, despite extreme deprivation, persecution, constant exposure to danger, the loss of loved ones, separation and daily uncertainty about their future,” Ms. Cramer said. “My 92-year-old mother still talks about the war as if it happened just the other day; clearly, for some, the trauma never ends.”

In Roads, Ms. Cramer purposefully gives voice to ordinary Russians, a group of people whose wartime ordeal, she noted, has not received much attention in literature. “Unlike Jews, Roma and other ethnic groups, ordinary Russians were not specifically marked by the Nazis for extermination,” she said. “Their only value to the enemy was the labor they could contribute to the German economy. For many of them, entering German labor camps was a deal with the devil made with a heavy heart, knowing the consequences but seeing no other alternative.”

Ms. Cramer also explores generational differences in the writing of her novel. “I was interested in how people of various ages within a family were affected by the events around them and how their levels of life experience manifested in their engagement with each other and in their response to elemental things like love and grief,” she said. She will touch on the writing process at Skeptics, including building characters, pacing the story, recognizing and maintaining themes, research and “editing again and again and again.” “I’ll do my best to answer any questions, especially from young writers,” she said.

In speaking about the Nazi invasion of Russia, Ms. Cramer hopes to introduce audience members to an aspect of World War II with which they may not have been familiar, increase understanding of how historical events affect the lives of ordinary people and raise awareness of the way life-changing decisions impact different generations within families. “I hope people take away a greater willingness to listen to the stories of strangers among us and move toward acceptance of varied interpretations of a troubled world,” Ms. Cramer said. “And, should they choose to read the book, I hope students find pleasure in exploring the story and getting to know the people in Roads.”

Read more about Ms. Cramer here.

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

Skeptics Examines 9/11 & How It Shaped the World

The first Society of Skeptics of 2018-2019 focused on September 11, specifically the personal recollection of a Blair alumnus and parent who was in New York City the day the Twin Towers fell in 2001. The presentation took place on September 18 in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

Former equities trader Chris Wolfe ’85, P’18 ’20 shared his experience as he witnessed events unfold in downtown New York City, underscoring how much September 11th changed America and the world—from how we go through airport security to a shift in immigration policy to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ongoing global war on terror. 

“In my opinion, 9/11 is the most significant date in recent American history, and many of the students to whom I’ll be speaking were not even born yet when it happened,” said Mr. Wolfe, who saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center from the window of his Guardian Life 20th-floor office at Hanover Square in 2001. Chris now works in Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch in Morristown, New Jersey. “I don’t want that day to become a distant memory. It was the first and only time that the United States mainland was attacked (Pearl Harbor not being on the mainland), and close to 3,000 people died in the span of 102 minutes. I want Blair students to realize the significance of 9/11 and never forget how much it changed people’s lives forever.”

The idea for the Skeptics presentation came about during daughter Sydney ’20’s softball game last spring, at which Mr. Wolfe enjoyed the opportunity to talk to his favorite Blair teacher and Skeptics director Martin Miller, PhD. Having worked five blocks from the World Trade Center in 2001, he shared his firsthand account of the attack and its aftermath and how amazed he was that his daughters didn’t know more about what happened that day. A few weeks later, Dr. Miller emailed asking if he would start the year off by sharing his story with the Blair community. 

The presentation included a bit of history and some facts related to 9/11, as well as the personal tales of Mr. Wolfe, leaving time for a question-and-answer session. Dr. Miller looked forward to an engaging discussion that will leave Blair students with a deeper understanding of what the events of 9/11 mean and the impact they continue to have on the world.

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

To watch a video of the presentation click "play" below.

Blair’s 171st Year Opens at Traditional Convocation Ceremony

Damp and dreary weather in Blairstown did not keep the Blair community from celebrating the official opening of school at Convocation on September 10. Led by the class of 2019, the ceremony began with a student procession across campus, made more colorful by the flags of the 27 countries represented by the student body. (To watch the ceremony in full, please click “play” below).

As is tradition and despite the rain, faculty members lined the entrance to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, clapping and cheering as students filed past into DuBois Theatre, where flag bearers gathered on stage as Blair’s Chaplain Lisa Durkee welcomed the community, noting that Blair students and faculty are “unique because of the unity in our diversity.” She then introduced two student speakers: Senior Class Council members Jake Mantegna ’19 and Esther Pasternak ’19.

Embracing the Journey & Taking Risks

Jake talked about the meaning of convocation, a “ceremonial voyage from Blair Commons to Armstrong-Hipkins” that has been a School tradition since the first convocation that took place during Blair’s founding year in 1848. “It is important to remember the things that Blair has given us,” he said. “It is because of Blair that many of you may have met your best friends. It is because of Blair that you all get great opportunities after high school and, especially, after college. It is because of Blair you have made memories that will last a lifetime. Blair will give you back way more than you put in.”

“Blair is more than just a pretty campus,” added Esther. “It is the people who shape the community. Each day, I learn something new about my peers, and they inspire me to be a better person. Push your limits. When you open yourself up to try something new, you will be rewarded. Take the risk. Your time at Blair is limited, so don’t waste it looking down.”

A Hero’s Journey

Following their remarks and the Blair Academy Singers’ performance of “We Will Rock You,” Mr. Fortunato officially opened Blair’s 171st school year with his keynote address. “Today, we all start a new journey,” he said. “Questions more than answers drive our journeys. They challenge us to find our moral compass so we may truly find our way.”

He then posed a philosophical question to the audience: “When will we make the same breakthroughs in the way we treat each other as we have made in technology?” He invited the community to embark on a “hero’s journey” to do just that. “I offer to you that the kind of heroes we need now are not born of greatness, but instead of goodness. They are ones who certainly rise to the occasion when circumstances or crises require them to do so, but much, much more often, and often more importantly, they are first and foremost good citizens.”

Sharing a personal story about a mentor who brought him to his life’s work with adolescents, Mr. Fortunato pondered what it means to be a good citizen, a citizen hero. “That’s the journey I invite you to navigate together this year,” he said. “Moments of goodness, not just greatness, are truly heroic. In all we do, we are offered the opportunity to be good citizens at Blair and well beyond Blair. To learn, to do a right and just thing, for the good of the order, even without personal reward.”

Every choice, Mr. Fortunato said, should lead us to a better Blair. “Every day, we are called and tested not only with the question of ‘what do I stand for?’ but ‘will we stand for each other?’ Who you are will be revealed through your friendships and relationships with your teachers. Traveling the world. Considering ideas you never knew you never knew. And serving the world beyond this hilltop.”

“We have the power and the duty to show our way to others,” he concluded. “To pass on what we have learned, to model what we have chosen. Treating other people with dignity and empathy and kindness and friendship, doing that here in the way that we do is a model for the rest of the world, wherever your travels or trials may take you.”

Encouraging the community to come together in this journey over the coming year, Mr. Fortunato introduced a Blair challenge coin that he personally designed, and shared his hope that the community will embrace his call to be citizen heroes who will make Blair’s 171st year productive and joyful and heroic.

 

2018 Orientation

With the excitement of registration, move-in and preseason athletic training behind them, Blair students and faculty came together on September 9 and 10 for Orientation, two days of activities designed to build connections among classmates and community members and introduce new students to all things Blair. Associate Deans of Students Andee Ryerson and Caroline Wilson planned school-wide events and activities for students in each grade level, and, despite cold and rainy weather, students and teachers were eager to get the year off to a great start.

For ninth-graders, orientation is a time to begin to feel comfortable on campus and to get to know faculty members and seniors, the students who will be their mentors in the year ahead. To that end, freshmen participated in a host of on-campus games, a scavenger hunt, a special tour of the dining hall with Food Service Director Ron O’Rourke and a big brothers/big sisters breakfast with members of the senior class.

Sophomores had the opportunity to bond as a class and work together in small groups on a variety of outdoor projects during a daylong retreat at nearby Camp Johnsonburg and the Princeton Blairstown Center. As they prepared to take greater ownership of their Blair experience as 10th graders, they also spent time with their Blair LEADS groups to talk about the service projects they might tackle this year.

The junior class began Orientation with a special brunch in the Romano Dining Hall, where conversation and activities helped students renew old friendships and make some new friends, too. Since 11th grade can be a stressful year, Mrs. Ryerson and Ms. Wilson planned an afternoon of good old-fashioned field-day competitions and gave juniors the opportunity to have fun and make the Blair community a better place by working together on campus service projects.

With seniors about to begin the busiest semester of their Blair careers, their Orientation schedule included time to meet with their college counselors and work on college applications. A trip to Blue Valley Lanes for an afternoon of bowling gave classmates a chance to enjoy time together. In addition, seniors spent a good deal of Orientation with freshmen as they began to take the class of 2022 under their wing.

The Orientation experience was rounded out with grade-level presentations by guest speaker Mike Weber, who shared words of wisdom to help students set themselves up for their best school year yet. The community came together on Sunday evening for a performance by mentalist Denny Corby and a casual “hang out” afterwards, complete with music and plentiful snacks. Finally, faculty and students attended School Meeting and athletic practices on Monday afternoon, and they looked forward to the official opening of Blair’s 171st year at Convocation that evening.   

Anne-Marie Caruso Photography

Blair Academy’s Romano Gallery will feature the photography of New Jersey artist Anne-Marie Caruso at its first exhibit of the 2018-2019 school year. The show runs from September 4 to 20, and an artist’s reception will be held at 7 p.m. on September 20.

Ms. Caruso’s fine-art photographs represent the concepts of aging, nostalgia, domesticity, femininity and depictions of self. Through the construction of tableaux in rural and neglected corners of New Jersey, she channels folklore, fairy tales and dreams to create solitary and macabre imagery using a large-format camera and film.

Ms. Caruso holds a BFA with photography concentration from Montclair State University and has worked as a professional photographer for news outlets and magazines since 2006. She has extensive experience creating and editing feature, portrait, fashion, product, food, still life, architectural, news and fine art photography.

Faculty Institute Fortifies Sophomore Science & History Curriculum

Several teachers and administrators enrolled in two sessions of Blair’s Summer Faculty Institute, which aimed to restructure two longstanding classes at Blair—chemistry and western civilization—as well as design a new introductory science research course and explore additional areas of growth for Blair’s science department.  

While last year’s inaugural program was closely tied to the opening of the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration and how teachers and students might best utilize its features to promote creativity and hands-on projects across disciplines, this summer, faculty focused on curricular changes to some of Blair’s core classes. During two week-long sessions, the School’s science and history departments examined the infrastructure of their courses to pinpoint curricular goals that the groups as a whole want to attain each year.

“We discovered there is an appetite among our teachers to sit down and hammer out what we want our core curriculum to look like,” said Gwyneth Connell, dean of teaching and learning. “We want to determine what great things happen in each teachers’ section of a course and find ways to incorporate those opportunities in every section for every student.”

Both sessions of the Institute included a mix of guest speakers, feedback sessions, one-on-one instruction and attendee presentations. At the end of two weeks, faculty felt in sync with their colleagues across the department, and confident that Blair students in each of these courses in 2018-2019 would greatly benefit from the “nitty-gritty” organizational work accomplished during the Institute, Ms. Connell added.

Bolstering Blair’s Science Program

Members of the science department gathered in June to map out plans for two courses: a revamp of the School’s longstanding sophomore chemistry class and curriculum for a new introductory research elective for underclassmen. In addition to the extensive work done on those courses, the department also laid the groundwork to implement a number of exciting offerings over the next two years as renovations to Bogle Hall commenced this summer. The three-story addition and interior overhaul will yield updated classrooms, state-of-the-art labs for AP courses and dedicated research space for team and individual projects.

“These enhanced and new spaces will provide students more hands-on laboratory experiences, which will help immerse them in the science behind the theory and reinforce concepts learned in the classroom,” said science department chair Kelly Hadden, who added that Blair’s curriculum needed to be restructured in some areas to fully realize all features of the new building. “These changes will also help to connect students with research that is currently underway by other scientists in industry and academia and give them the platform to support that research.”

With just over a week until the first day of classes, science faculty prepared to roll out a number of new and improved courses for students of all grade levels.

Introducing an Independent Research Elective

In 2018-2019, motivated and scientifically curious underclassmen can enroll in the School’s inaugural Foundations of Research course, which will introduce them to the world of independent research this spring, followed by an opportunity to embark on a research project of their choosing during their junior year in the department’s Integrated Science Research (ISR) program. As part of the foundations course, students will examine scientific writing, explore current industry research and gain in-depth knowledge of cutting-edge laboratory techniques. The course culminates in student research project proposals submitted to the ISR committee, which, if accepted, may be pursued during the next two school years in the ISR I and II courses.

“We want students to ask questions and find ways to answer those questions through research,” Mrs. Hadden explained. “We also feel it is necessary for students to get a realistic idea of what it is like to be a scientist by introducing them to current scientific literature and helping them to make connections to research scientists in industry and academia.”

Elevating Core Curriculum

Faculty Summer Institute attendees also spent time restructuring the department’s chemistry offerings. Though every Blair sophomore takes the course, Ms. Connell and Mrs. Hadden understand that not all students are scientifically inclined or interested in studying the subject beyond their required coursework. With this in mind, they redesigned the course to frame the curriculum on basic human needs—air, water, energy, food and materials, which will be the five units of study throughout the year.

The goal, Ms. Connell explained, is to connect what kids learn in chemistry class to what they experience in their own daily lives.

“We don’t want students to be passive absorbers of knowledge,” said Ms. Connell. “We don’t want to just give an answer before students even know the question or want to know the answer. We hope to tap into their curiosity through these course changes.”

Additional changes to the science department’s offerings include a new biochemistry honors course and concepts in psychology class, both of which will be taught using a hands-on, project- and inquiry-based platform. Mrs. Hadden also looks forward to mid-2019, when the Bogle Science Center comes online and the School can further expand AP science and research opportunities. (Click here to read more about the repurposing of Bogle Hall.)

Reshaping Western Civilization

Members of Blair’s history department returned early for the 2018-2019 school year to spend a week revamping the School’s Western civilization course in a second session of the Summer Faculty Institute. Throughout the week, teachers focused on aligning the course curriculum across sections and developing new project-based assessments for the fast-approaching school year.

A longstanding class at Blair, Western civilization has been “shaped by the most hands” of any course in the department, said history chair Jason Beck. A large number of faculty teach sections of the class each year, so the goal for the Institute was to start from "first principles" of the course: “What goals, outcomes and skills do we want students taking the course to take with them in their future studies?” Mr. Beck said. Next, he added, the team determined how to build content, activities and assessments to accomplish those goals.

By the end of the week, Institute attendees felt confident that they had designed a more structured and purposeful curriculum for Blair’s Western civilization course that would best serve students moving forward.

“The outcome for the student experience is multi-fold,” Mr. Beck explained. “It will help to create a more uniform experience among sections and teachers, focus student learning on essential questions and common skill sets, and maintain high expectations while asking students to focus on higher-order thinking, instead of more elemental recall.”

Looking ahead, the history department is enthusiastic that the course will continue to introduce historical research skills and provide students with the opportunity to complete independent research projects.

 

Veteran Faculty & Staff Recognized for Service Milestones

Head of School Chris Fortunato honored five faculty and staff members for their many years of service to Blair and its students at the Opening of School Dinner in late August.

Dan Celli received a painting of campus in acknowledgment of his 25 years as a member of the School’s buildings and grounds crew. Four teachers and professional staff members were also recognized for reaching the 10-year milestone, including Assistant Director of Advancement for Parent Relations Susan Long, Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni, math teacher John Padden and security department staff member Chuck Warner.

Welcome signs on move-in day

Registration for the 2018-2019 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 are asked to arrive at  Blair on the following dates:

●      Pre-season football (invited by coaches)–Friday, August 24

●      Prefects–Saturday, September 1

●      Pre-season athletes (invited by coaches)–Monday, September 3

●      International students–Friday, September 7

●      All remaining students (boarding students to arrive at 9 a.m., day students to arrive at 11 a.m.)–Saturday, 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!

a group of alumni pose fora  photo at the Museum of Natural History

While nearly 500 alumni and guests gathered at Blair for a spectacular Alumni Weekend celebration in June, two smaller events gave alums the opportunity to get together at interesting and fun off-campus venues during the months of May and August.

On May 6, nine Bucs joined veteran science teacher Rod Gerdsen in New York City for an informative tour of the Museum of Natural History and its newly opened Unseen Oceans exhibit. The idea for the outing originated with Emily Collins ’11, who is a member of Blair’s greater New York City regional chapter, an alumni group that is always on the lookout for new and different ways to stay connected to the School. The attendees spent an enjoyable afternoon getting to know one another and viewing the museum’s many exhibits with the added bonus of Mr. Gerdsen’s expert commentary.

“The only thing better than exploring the Museum of Natural History and their new Unseen Oceans exhibit was having the chance to do it with Blair alumni!” Mr. Gerdsen said. “The group was eager to learn all about not only the mysteries of the deep ocean, but also the history of humankind’s interaction with this realm. Our day together showed me that despite our alumni coming from very different backgrounds and different careers, our collective fascination with the science of the unknown regions of our oceans ties us all together. By the end of the day, I think all left with an appreciation for science and a deeper wonder of what lies beneath the waves.”

Three months later, on August 5, 26 members of the Blair family took in a Lehigh Valley IronPigs minor league baseball game at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The IronPigs invited a member of the Blair group to throw out one of the first pitches of the game, and Norman Solomon ’70 proudly did the honors. The family-friendly afternoon included a buffet lunch at the ballpark.

Pleased with both events, Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy and Blair’s advancement team are planning more gatherings in the coming months. “We’re hoping to offer alumni a variety of ways to connect in different locales and at different types of get-togethers this year, in addition to the on-campus events that everyone loves so much,” Mrs. Murphy said. “It’s all about celebrating what we share as members of the Blair family—our lifelong connection and love for the School.”

Visit Blair’s receptions and events webpage to learn more about upcoming events.

textbooks

Beginning Tuesday, August 14, textbooks may be purchased online for the 2018- 2019 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 2018-2019 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 11. To place your order, click the link above or visit the School Store website, where there is also a link to Follett's offerings. You can also download a PDF of frequently asked questions here.

In addition to new books, Follett also offers select titles at a discount for those interested in purchasing or renting used books. For four days (August 14 to August 17), 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 14 to August 20, 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.