Boys' Varsity Squash
Hardwick Hall
Meaning & Media class
Insley Hall
The Fantasticks
Winter Student Life
Blair Academy Singers
Science class
Girls' Varsity Squash
Student Life
Student Life
Film and Animation
2018 Fall Concert
Boys' Varsity Basketball
Student Life
Chiang Center
2018 Christmas Vespers
Jack Bogle
Jack Bogle

Inventor of the index mutual fund and founder of The Vanguard Group, Blair Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus John C. Bogle ’47 was a titan of the financial industry and an extraordinarily dedicated favorite son of Blair Academy. His spirit of innovation, drive to excel and vision for a better future led Vanguard to become the world’s largest mutual fund organization, and he brought those same sterling qualities to 47 years of unparalleled leadership, philanthropy and service to his beloved alma mater.

Mr. Bogle entered Blair as a junior in 1945, together with his twin, David ’47, and following in the footsteps of his older brother, William ’45. A scholarship recipient, Mr. Bogle worked as a headwaiter in the dining hall and distinguished himself as a high honor roll student, editor of The Blair Breeze and ACTA, and class treasurer. He was known for his “ready wit and smile,” and his classmates elected him “best student” and “most likely to succeed” as he graduated cum laude in 1947.

Mr. Bogle credited his Blair teachers with having made a tremendous difference in his life, and his Blair experience propelled him to Princeton University, where he studied economics and wrote his senior thesis, “The Economic Role of the Investment Company.” That pivotal work launched his career in the investment industry, and his ingenuity and dedication to business integrity and hard work brought him to its pinnacle.

Hired at the Wellington Fund upon his magna cum laude graduation from Princeton in 1951, Mr. Bogle rose to become the company’s chairman in 1970. An “extremely unwise” merger—that Mr. Bogle considered his “biggest mistake”—led to his dismissal from Wellington in 1974. However, from there, he founded Vanguard and, in 1975, created the world’s first index mutual fund. His insistence on the superiority of the index fund and his concern for the individual investor were radical departures for the investment industry, but his wisdom has been borne out in Vanguard’s success.

Mr. Bogle served as Vanguard’s chairman and chief executive officer from 1974 to 1996. He retired as chairman in 1999 and then became head of the firm’s affiliate, Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. A prolific writer, he authored 12 books and countless articles, op-eds and features on investing, financial markets and the investment world.

Recognition for his contributions to the financial industry came from many quarters over the past several decades; among the most notable were his designation by Fortune magazine as one of the investment industry’s four “Giants of the 20th Century” in 1999 and his being named one of the world’s 100 most powerful and influential people by Time magazine in 2004. In 2016, the Pennsylvania Society awarded Mr. Bogle its 108th-annual Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement, an award that recognizes leadership, citizenship and contributions to the arts, science, education and industry. Last year, business magnate Warren Buffett described Mr. Bogle, a man who “helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned,” as “a hero to them and to me.”

Even as he invested himself fully in his career and his growing family, Mr. Bogle gave generously of his time, talent and treasure to the institutions he held dear, especially Blair Academy. Inspired by his strongly held values and genuine desire to pay back the gift of his education, he joined Blair’s Board of Trustees in 1972. At that time, Mr. Bogle’s mentor, the late Chairman Emeritus J. Brooks Hoffman ’36, was in the midst of his crucial 16-year Board Chairmanship, a period during which Mr. Hoffman almost single-handedly brought the School from the brink of bankruptcy to firm financial footing. Mr. Bogle deeply admired Dr. Hoffman’s strong, decisive, energetic and good-humored leadership of the Board and his indefatigable quest for financial support. At the conclusion of Dr. Hoffman’s Chairmanship in 1978, the School was poised for the growth that would take place over the next several decades.

Mr. Bogle was elected Board Chair in 1986, a role to which he gave his utmost until 2001; he then served as Chairman Emeritus since 2009. During his Board tenure and especially his Chairmanship, Mr. Bogle built upon the foundation established by Dr. Hoffman and helped to lead an historic School renaissance, characterized by significant campus enhancements, robust admission, a strengthened endowment and expanded programmatic offerings.

Blair’s transcendence to a boarding school of national and international prominence is unequivocally a result of Mr. Bogle’s leadership and the deep loyalty to his alma mater that enabled him to attract great talent to the Board and the School. He was named Blair’s Alumnus of the Year in 1990 and received the School’s inaugural Citation of Merit, its highest honor, that same year. The Citation noted that more than anyone in Blair’s history, Mr. Bogle “embodied the notion that one man can make all the difference.”

Mr. Bogle’s Blair philanthropy encompasses every facet of the School. He is a benefactor of faculty support and teaching excellence through the John C. and Eve S. Bogle Teaching Prize, and his many gifts include those that have generously supported the construction of Bogle Hall, Blair’s science building; Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts; Hardwick Hall, the School’s athletic and activity center; and the Tournament squash court. Especially dedicated to the support of scholarship aid for deserving students, Mr. Bogle established the Bogle Brothers Scholars Program in 1968, which has since provided the gift of a Blair education to nearly 200 students. Mr. Bogle delighted in meeting his scholars at an annual luncheon and kept in touch with many of them long after graduation.

Beyond his involvement at Blair, Mr. Bogle also gave of himself as chairman of the board of the National Constitution Center from 1999 to 2007; as a generous supporter of Princeton University; as a trustee of the American Indian College Fund from 1996 to 2002; and as a leader and member of numerous organizations, including the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received honorary doctorate degrees from more than a dozen colleges and universities.

Mr. Bogle leaves an enduring legacy of care for Blair Academy, one that will live on in his many gifts to the School, his kindness to all he encountered on campus, and his legendary leadership, vision and service as a Trustee. His loving family survives him, including his wife of 62 years, Eve; his brother, William Y. “Bud” Bogle III ’45; six children; 12 grandchildren, including Rebecca Renninger ’04, Molly England ’09 and Christopher St. John ’10; and six great-grandchildren. Mr. Bogle’s twin brother, David C. Bogle ‘47, predeceased him in 1994.

Swim Meet to be Livestreamed

On January 18, Blair’s swim meet against Rutgers Prep will be livestreamed. The action begins here at 4:15 p.m.

MLK Day Seminars

For the third-consecutive year, Blair students and teachers are honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a series of seminars on identity, race relations and inclusion. 

National champion slam poet Andre Bradford (also known as S.C. Says) kicked off this year’s events on January 17 with a show called Kintsukuroi: On Empathy and Other Things, which explores topics such as diversity, vulnerability, mental health and empathy. At seminars following that presentation, students and faculty explored topics such as race and biology, discrimination, racism and injustice in a largely film-based program. Over the course of three days, screened movies and documentaries included Get Out, Loving, Hidden Figures, Selma, Central Park Five and 13th. 

“An inclusive and connected community expands horizons, and the MLK seminars are an important way we promote knowledge, empathy and inclusion,” said Associate Dean of Students Andee Ryerson, who planned the 2019 program with Blair history teacher Hannah Higgin, PhD. “In addition to recognizing Dr. King and pushing kids to consider often sensitive issues of identity and race relations, these seminars give members of our community the chance to practice engaging in difficult conversations as they spend time with people they may not know well or see in their day-to-day Blair lives.”

Although the seminars, which are planned and co-led by students and faculty members, are a relatively new tradition at Blair—they were first held in 2017 and the program has been tweaked in the years since—celebrating the work of Dr. King each January is a longstanding Blair tradition that Mrs. Ryerson is proud to continue. “It is incredibly important to have these conversations and teach our students that knowledge is power and that empathy and kindness should never be in short supply,” concluded Mrs. Ryerson, who has also planned a series of themed weekend activities to take place before the program officially concludes on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 21.

Utah Beach

The Allied Forces’ June 6, 1944, D-Day landing at Normandy Beach, France, was one of World War II’s most significant operations in the fight against the Nazi regime. Five decades later, Marsha Smith visited the grave of her uncle who died in action in the battle to liberate Normandy. This trip to the Brittany American Military Cemetery at St. James, France, inspired Ms. Smith and her sister, Mary M. Stubler, to establish Normandy Allies, Inc., a nonprofit that promotes greater historical understanding of the 1944 liberation of Normandy and the reconstruction of France that followed.

Ms. Smith will join the Blair community at the Society of Skeptics on January 22 to discuss Normandy Allies’ annual remembrance tour of D-Day beaches, cemeteries, museums and villages. During her presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration, she will focus on legacy and remembrance and describe how high school students from across the U.S. travel to France each year for an in-depth experience of Normandy, past and present. Discussions with historians and eyewitnesses are part of this moving and meaningful tour, as are meetings with local residents and exploration of the beaches, battle sites and surrounding countryside.

Blair students have taken part in Normandy Allies experiences for nearly 20 years, thanks in large part to Archer Martin ’42, a Bronze Star- and Purple Heart-recipient who fought in the Normandy campaign when he was just 19 years old. His desire to give Blair students a firsthand look at Normandy and an understanding of the importance of the events that took place there have inspired his generous annual gifts to the School that help fund annual Normandy Allies trips. 

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings and liberation, and this summer’s two-week tour promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Read more about the tour 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. 

Winter Sports Complex

No matter what kind of weather Mother Nature decides to throw at Blairstown this winter, Blair athletes have warm, dry places to practice and train thanks to two new athletic venues. The indoor golf training center and seasonal winter sports complex were completed in December, and students began taking full advantage of both venues as soon as they returned from winter break.

“I’m excited about these new athletic facilities,” said Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88. He described how golf team members can now work on their skills throughout the year using professional-grade simulators in the indoor golf training center. Meanwhile, track, softball, baseball, lacrosse, football, soccer and tennis athletes are experiencing excellent training conditions on the turf field and tennis courts in the winter sports complex. “These facilities add another positive aspect to the overall Blair experience,” Mr. Clavel continued. “Our community is very fortunate to have such athletic venues, and I am thankful to all those who supported these projects.”

Indoor Golf Training Center

The indoor golf training center, sited near the first tee, houses two hitting bays with Foresight simulators, a putting/chipping area, lockers and a restroom. Blair’s golf team members are using the facility daily to practice full swings, chipping and putting. They can even play a simulated round on their choice of 20 top courses around the world. Once spring arrives, the indoor golf training center will provide a place for players to warm up before a match or work one-on-one with a golf pro.

“I love that the indoor golf facility allows me to practice during the wintertime,” said girls’ golf team member Linda Tong ’19, who helped lead the Bucs to consecutive Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and state prep championships. “The off-season is a great opportunity to work on my swing and improve my golf skills. I am looking forward to a successful spring season.”

Blair ‘Bubble’

Just a short distance from the indoor golf training center, the “bubble”-enclosed winter sports complex is a new seasonal landmark on Blair’s campus that will remain in place throughout the coldest months of the year. Created by enclosing a portion of the tennis center under an air dome, the facility features two tennis courts and a temporary turf field installed over three other courts. While numerous athletes are taking advantage of the climate-controlled venue to train and practice, winter track team members are especially enjoying the fact that they no longer have to train in the hallways of academic buildings or brave injury-inducing cold weather to get in a run.

“I expect the winter sports complex to have a huge impact on Blair track and field going forward,” said track and field head coach Roy Wilson. In the “bubble,” all of the team’s equipment, including jump mats, hurdles, weights, pulleys, sleds, medicine balls and bands, is readily available, and there is plenty of room to practice jumps, throws and running events. Dedicated space makes scheduling easier and allows for increased organization and intensity at practice. And all of this translates to a full training cycle during which athletes can improve in every bio-motor area: strength, endurance, speed, flexibility and coordination.

“These are the areas we seek to improve each day, in some capacity. The speed ingredient, in particular, should be more possible than ever with the ‘bubble,’” Coach Wilson noted. “Kids’ ability to learn more skills earlier in the year and earlier in their careers should help us in competitions, too. I’m excited to find out just how much we can gain.”

In addition to winter team practices, Mr. Clavel noted that student athletes who “love to be active” are taking advantage of the winter sports complex to play pick-up games or just throw or kick a ball around.

Generous Donors Funded Projects

“We’re grateful to the current and past parents, alumni and Trustees whose generous contributions funded construction of these outstanding athletic facilities,” said Chief Advancement Officer Craig Hall. More than $400,000 has been raised for the indoor golf training center, which represents phase one of Blair’s planned golf improvements. Concurrently, donors have contributed more than $1.5 million for the winter sports complex, with fundraising for that project propelled by a generous 3:1 challenge gift from Blair Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Kimmelman P’12 ’13 ’15 ’22.

Plans are in the works for improvements to Blair’s golf course, including tree removal, bunker reconstruction and green enlargement; these enhancements will take place as funds are raised over the next several years.

Blair Welcomes Alumni & Parents to Inaugural Finance Industry Summit

Blair Academy’s first-ever Finance Industry Summit promises to be a highly informative and enjoyable networking event exclusively for the School’s alumni and parents. Set for Thursday, January 24, at Goldman Sachs’ New York City headquarters, the Summit will be hosted by Goldman Sachs Vice President and Blair Trustee Emmanuel Bello ’04 and Goldman Sachs Managing Director Akhil Garg ’02.

Head of School Chris Fortunato and Blair Board Chairman Doug Kimmelman P’12 ’13 ’15 ’22 have extended an invitation to all Blair alumni and parents to attend the Summit, especially those who work in or who are interested in the financial sector. A keynote address by Stephen Scherr, Chief Financial Officer, Goldman Sachs Group, headlines the evening, followed by a panel discussion and Q & A with Blair finance industry experts. A cocktail reception and opportunities to network with fellow attendees round out the event.

"The Finance Industry Summit offers Blair alumni and parents a uniquely valuable opportunity to make connections, share ideas and learn from one another,” said Mr. Kimmelman, Senior Partner and Founder of Energy Capital Partners and a former Goldman Sachs Partner. “Building relationships and expanding horizons are at the heart of everything Blair does, and this event is no exception. I am looking forward to in-depth discussion with our outstanding panel of Blair finance experts and to meeting parents and alumni at all stages of their careers during the event.”

The evening’s panel comprises six industry professionals who, together, represent a wealth of experience and knowledge gained over their years in finance. Panelists include Blair Trustee Victoria Bailey ’97, Executive Director and Private Wealth Advisor at Morgan Stanley; former Trustee Kevin Clayton P’03 ’09, Partner at Energy Capital Partners; Akhil Garg ’02, Managing Director at Goldman Sachs; Trustee Allen Gibson P’20 ’20 ’20, CIO of Centaurus Capital; Elizabeth Robinson P’22, former Global Treasurer of Goldman Sachs; and Peter Santoro P’22, Global Head of Equities at Millennium Management.

Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy encouraged attendees to bring questions for the panelists and to anticipate great conversation with like-minded individuals throughout the event. “Everyone in the room will share the Blair connection, and I’m excited to bring alumni and parents together in a spectacular venue for professional networking and true camaraderie,” she said.

Tim Fite '95

Tim Fite ’95 loves to draw. He draws on paper. He draws on walls. He draws with markers. He draws with music. He draws so much, that sometimes he is even forced to draw over old drawings.

The multimedia and print artist returns to his alma mater to display recent works in The Romano Gallery from January 14 through February 9. Mr. Fite’s “Quick Draw” exhibit includes large-scale, compositionally complex, allegorical, black-and-white drawings on paper, video and wood, some of which have a musical or performative component. He will share his music and work in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration on January 17 at 7 p.m. prior to encouraging visitors to view his exhibit in The Romano Gallery. The public is welcome to attend this evening event.

A 2000 Rutgers University graduate, Mr. Fite spent over a decade making music and touring for Lava/Atlantic Records and ANTI records and has exhibited his artwork at Gallery Tom Blaess in Bern, Switzerland, the Governors Island Art Fair in New York City and other locations. Having recently decided to focus his artmaking on drawing, his true love, he said that most of his drawings center on emotional, instinctual and political truth-telling. “I believe creativity, communication, and hard work are the keys to fostering a more benevolent and inclusive society,” Mr. Fite said, “and I hope my artwork can ultimately contribute to that end.” 

College Counseling to Hold Junior Parents' Day

Saturday, January 19, will mark Blair's annual Junior Parents' Day, during which parents will be introduced to the college admission process and learn more about Blair's college counseling philosophy.

Parents of the class of 2020 will be welcomed by Head of School Chris Fortunato, who will provide the welcoming remarks, and Lew Stival, Blair's dean of college counseling, who has advised hundreds of students through the college admission process over the last three decades.

Following that, Guest speaker Gil Villanueva, who has served as associate vice president and dean of admission at University of Richmond since 2009, will discuss issues relating to selective college admission and answer questions from the audience about the admission process.

Next, a student panel of current Blair seniors will take the stage to discuss their own experiences during the college admission process. To finish off the morning, parents will then attend breakout sessions with their child's college counselor to discuss the details and logistics of applying to college.

"We want to give parents the chance to meet us and recognize that we’re here to help in every step of the process," Mr Stival, who added that the college admission process is constantly evolving every year. "When everyone works in harmony and is reading off the same page, the process moves towards a successful end for everyone involved. Junior Parents’ Day is our opportunity to light the way for our families and to teach them what to expect.”   

For a full schedule of the day, click here.

Young Republicans Club

The leaders of Blair’s Young Republican and Young Democrat Clubs have modeled political cordiality and cooperation during several evening discussions this year. Throughout the fall, the clubs gathered with community members in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration for open dialogue on a variety of current political topics. While each conversation focused on a different hot-button issue—ranging from immigration to the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to midterm elections—one premise remained the same: Everyone was welcome to voice his or her point of view. 

Young Republican leader Patrick Reardon ’19 has been involved with the club since he was a sophomore, but he noted that this is the first year in his experience that the organization has held meetings and events. “I enjoy leading big, open discussions about the issues,” he said, describing how the club is for anyone who wants to share ideas, not just those who consider themselves Republicans. “The goal is to educate people about the facts of any given issue. So much political discussion is opinion-based, when it should focus on fact. That’s what really matters.”

On the opposite side of the aisle, Katherine Holding ’20, Camille Williams ’20 and Arielle Cobb ’20 formed Blair’s Young Democrat Club in fall 2018. “We’re all passionate about politics, and we wanted to make sure people of all views were represented on campus,” Camille said. She was pleased that nearly 40 people—including students and teachers—attended each of the fall events and that discussion was wide-ranging and covered many perspectives.

Last fall, the Young Democrat Club also spearheaded a voter registration drive and hosted an informational seminar about the midterm elections. Members continue to use a group chat space to post interesting articles and ask questions, and they hope to invite speakers to campus. “Our primary founding goal was to ensure there was an organized liberal presence on campus,” Katherine said. “Now we work to engage students and ensure everyone has access to a fundamental understanding of our political system and current events.” 

In the new year, the leaders of both clubs hope to keep the all-views-welcome political conversation going on campus during regular evening discussions. Club members may also attend a Women’s March in the coming weeks, a joint undertaking that Arielle noted will take a lot of organization and planning and will likely be the biggest event of the year for the clubs. 

“Even though we represent two political parties, I think we share a common goal to make our country the best it can be,” Patrick reflected. “The only way we can do that is by remaining open minded and becoming educated. That’s especially important at a great school like Blair. Someday, one of us may start a business or run for office and, in that way, effect change and really have an impact.”  

Crocodile River Music

On January 10 and 11, internationally recognized balafon player Balla Kouyate and his band Crocodile River Music visited Blair Academy offering a once-in-a-lifetime performance to the Blair community. They shared their unique sound at Chapel on January 10 and in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration on the evening of January 11.

Crocodile River Music includes five instruments in addition to the balafon: a kora, djembe, electric bass, electric guitar and drum set. The group resides in Providence, Massachusetts, and tours the country full-time performing and teaching master classes. Crocodile River Music came to Blair courtesy of the Rev. Lisa Durkee, chaplain and chairman of the religion and philosophy department. Mr. Kouyate and Ms. Durkee met five years ago at a benefit concert for refugees at her church in Massachusetts.

“Meeting Balla was a life-changing moment,” Ms. Durkee said. “To see a historic art form in action is one thing, but the passion that Balla brings to his music is something I knew needed to come to the Blair community. ”

In addition to the performances, Crocodile River Music lead workshops with Blair’s instrumental and vocal music classes. Students had the opportunity to ask questions and discover more about the balafon and its history. The balafon is a kind of xylophone or percussion instrument which plays melodic tunes, and usually has between 16 and 27 keys. At the January 11 performance in the Chiang Center, attendees had the chance to learn traditional dances to Crocodile River Music’s music.

Nicknamed “Balafon Mania,” Balla Kouyate is considered to be among the greatest balafon players in the world today. Playing the instrument is a family tradition passed down over 800 years, and Mr. Kouyate’s family is in possession of the oldest balafon in the world. The art of the balafon dates back to the medieval times.  He began to play the balafon at the age of 6 and did his first show in Bamako, Mali, at the Palais de la Culture with Malian singer Sanignai Kouyate. In 1994, he became a member of the National Percussion of Mali, and, by 1997, he was granted the opportunity to play with singer Ami Koita at an international conference. Mr. Kouyate has been featured on at least 45 albums including Angelique Kidjo’s “Oyo” and Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy-winning “Songs of Joy and Peace.”

To view their full performance, click below:

Improv Class

Improvisational theatre (aka improv) has been part of Dean of Teaching & Learning Gwyneth Connell’s life since she was a teenager. Introduced to the unscripted performance genre in theatre classes at Peddie School, she loved its positive vibe and emphasis on supporting fellow performers. She joined an improv troupe as an undergrad at Amherst College, performed in New York City with an improv team called Chemistry Grad School, and even wrote her master’s thesis at Teachers College, Columbia University on improv and teaching practices.  

Having coached an improv team at Millbrook School and developed an improv and teaching workshop for faculty colleagues at Packer Collegiate Institute earlier in her career, Ms. Connell shared her passion for improv with Blair students this semester in a new elective dedicated to the art form. “My goals were to teach students how to do improv and help them feel more confident and courageous onstage, of course,” she said. “But beyond that, I also wanted them to learn about listening to and trusting others and looking outside yourself to solve problems, all of which is part of the improv performance experience.”

Eight freshmen through juniors—none of whom had ever seen improv performed before the semester began—enrolled in the course. Class meetings typically started with an energy-building warm up to help students transition into “performance head space,” and continued with all kinds of exercises in listening, spontaneity, agreement and character development. These exercises challenged students to come up with ideas quickly and react authentically as scenes played out among classmates.

Improv appealed to Dylan Bentley ’22 as a performing arts elective because she knew she wouldn’t be required to memorize lines; she enjoyed her experience as part of the class. “I learned how to ‘yes and…’ things to support my scene partners and build on their ideas. I also learned how to be more creative in my thinking and less embarrassed by my mistakes,” she reflected. “I’ve really enjoyed being with the people in my class! We love to joke around with one another, and we are all very different, so it is always a fun time.”

In November, the class traveled to the Peoples Improv Theatre (The PIT) in New York City, where they experienced live musical improv that had actors turning scenes into musical numbers. Students showcased their own burgeoning skills in four on-campus performances held throughout the semester. The final show, their signature assessment, featured their first public attempt at long-form improv—a 30-minute play that the eight classmates made up as they went along. “That’s a much more complex type of improv than the ‘Who’s Line Is It Anyway-style’ games students performed in earlier shows,” Ms. Connell said. “Long-form demanded much more of them as artists.”

As the semester drew to a close, Ms. Connell hoped her students would remember the skills they learned in improv throughout their years at Blair and beyond. “Improv feels like it’s high stakes, but it’s actually pretty low stakes. Nobody dies because they make a mistake onstage; everybody gets up the next day,” she said with a laugh. “By doing improv, though, you learn how to navigate the authentically high stakes situations you face at school, at work and in family life. We’re all improvising every day, but we’re not all equipped to do it well or to enjoy the ride. I’d love for my students to experience the life-altering paradigm shift that improv was to me.”

Rob Monz Skeptics

Independent documentarian Rob Montz talked about political correctness on college campuses at the January 8 Society of Skeptics in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

During his hour-long presentation he planned to take a unique “spin” on the pressures undergraduates are under to be politically correct, specifically examining the student experience at some of the most well-known elite universities in the United States. “I don’t think most Blair students think about that much—and, if they are like me as a teenager, they are blinded by the prestige associated with such institutions,” said Mr. Montz, whose work has attracted millions of views and coverage in major outlets including The Economist, USA Today, The New York Times, the Washington Post and "The Adam Carolla Podcast." 

If nothing else, the filmmaker hoped his talk will encourage Blair students to think more critically about what they want from a college education, not simply “see it as the next mandatory thing they are supposed to do.” 

Mr. Montz last addressed the Society of Skeptics in December 2017 about his documentary The Quarterlife User Manual, which focuses on how the American education system has kids emerging from college with no idea what to do and therefore experiencing "quarter-life crises." Other recent work includes a 2017 documentary “Silence U. PT 2: What Has Yale Become?,” published on We the Internet TV, which won the 2018 Reason Video Prize. This latest film is the second installment of a three-part series on controversies associated with free speech on college campuses. He also produced a documentary on the U.S. presidency that was published in November 2018. 

Mr. Montz graduated from Brown University in 2005 with a degree in philosophy and admits he left there with “precisely zero marketable skills.” He soon relocated to Washington, D.C., where he worked in public policy and communications before beginning to make his own films in 2012. He and his wife, their two children and “authoritarian corgi” Bronson still live in Washington. Learn more about Mr. Montz and his work at

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.