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.


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 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)


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.


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 Elements:  A Visual Exploration (Mann/Grey). 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)


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)

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. 


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



Last night’s traditional Baccalaureate service gave seniors the opportunity to reflect on their Blair experience and hear words of wisdom from a beloved faculty member they selected to speak on the night before their graduation. (To watch the Baccalaureate service in full, please click "play" below.)

The program has long been a Blair tradition and began with a bagpiper-led procession through the Arch to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, where faculty members lined the sidewalk and applauded the graduating class. Once inside, the service was spiritual in nature and included readings by Daisy Kahn ’19, Jacob Leddy ’19 and John Zoetjes ’19, as well as musical meditations performed by the Blair Academy Chamber Orchestra, the Blair Academy Singers and the student-run A Cappella group.

Head of School Chris Fortunato introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw, a fellow boarding school graduate who attended The Lawrenceville School. Mrs. Shaw shared with students the importance of being grateful for life’s lessons and from whom or what we learn those lessons.

“I challenge you to express your gratitude openly and honestly and to live thankfully, for you are alive and you are here on this earth to serve a purpose,” she said. “Each and every one of us is here for a reason. Relish that and always be grateful to be here, even on the bad days, because according to one of my closest friends, ‘God don’t make no mistakes.’”

Mrs. Shaw has been a Blair faculty member since 2010, and has held numerous roles across campus, most recently as a member of the admission office, freshman class monitor, Blair LEADS teacher, advisor and a member of the Faculty Executive Committee. In past years, she has also taught Spanish, a subject in which she majored at Georgetown University before getting her master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.

Having experienced boarding school herself as a youngster from the Bronx who later became a boarding school teacher and is now a Blair parent of Nia ’17 and Ian ’20, Ms. Shaw is well-suited to talk about the anticipation and excitement—and, yes, gratitude—that students feel on the eve of commencement. She talked about her own teachers—actual teachers, as well as the other people in her life and experiences from which she has learned valuable lessons—and delved into her own gratitude for family, friends, colleagues and, of course, the students of the class of 2019.

“The wonderful thing about life is that we are all students, we are all learners, and you have been my most surprising teachers,” she said. “I have been a student of yours, inspired by you, motivated by you, and I am grateful for the lessons you have imparted.”


Blair seniors and their families came together in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts to celebrate class members’ many accomplishments at one final prize assembly before commencement. Mr. Fortunato welcomed the audience, noting the class of 2019’s many exceptional achievements and his anticipation of students’ great successes beyond Blair as undergraduates and young professionals.

“Look around this theatre at your friends, at your faculty, at your family that has enriched your lives over your years at Blair,” said Mr. Fortunato. “Soak it in for the last time, the experience of sitting in this place, in these chairs as Blair students. Remember both the good times and the challenging ones, for all we have experienced together has formed you into the person you are today. And we wouldn’t want it any other way.”

“Let us be thankful for the people, the place, the ideas and opportunities that have come into our lives through Blair,” he concluded. “I am grateful you have shared yourself and allowed us the pleasure of being a part of your growing up here. I am especially grateful for having the chance to grow alongside of you, and for how you and your faculty continue to make me a better Head of School and a better person.” 

Following Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni’s recognition of seniors who had received awards earlier in the week, Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 thanked prefects, athletic team captains and the Senior Class Council for their contributions to the community and love of Blair. 

“My charge this evening is recognize those of you who have held more formalized leadership roles at school this year, but, in many respects, you have all led, in one way or another,” he said. “As seniors, you are the Blair culture carriers; underclassmen take their cues from you all across this campus. When we gathered this year as a community, you contributed greatly to the tone that was set. Your voices have been essential to the Blair experience, and we are thankful for that.” 

English teacher Kaye Evans then officially inducted the seniors who were elected to join Blair’s chapter of the cum laude society and Blair administrators took the stage to present a range of Blair’s top prizes to deserving students (see the full list of inductees and awardees below).

The class later presented Mr. Fortunato with their class gift: a check for $4,561.14, made possible by a 3:1 match from Trustee Emeritus Jim Krugman ’65 and his wife, Connie. This marks the 18th-consecutive year that the Krugmans have made this generous match of the senior class gift and, in doing so, underlined the importance of giving back to Blair for students who will soon be alumni. This year’s senior class gift is designated for the endowed Class of 2019 Scholarship. Seniors and their parents raised $264,549 to fund the scholarship, which will provide the gift of a Blair education to deserving students for years to come.

As the assembly came to a close, the audience reflected on their time at Blair during a video perspective screened by students who created a film as part of an after-school activity this spring. 

Congratulations to all students who received prizes at the Class of 2019 Assembly (and to watch the assembly in full, click here):

The Franklin Prize: Alexandra Foster Glickman

The Elaine & James Kelley Prize: Henry Thomas Somerville

The Selena & James Howard Prize: Jacob Harrison Leddy

The Selena & James Howard Prize: Serena Rachel Ninomiya

The Lee Rose Memorial Trophy: Jasmine Mustafa

The Lee Rose Memorial Trophy: Jessica Marie Van Valkenburg

The Harold F. Walker Memorial Prize: Cheuk Kiu Justin Leung

The Harold F. Walker Memorial Prize: Joseph Peter Mantegna

Robert Dalling Prize: Owen Addison Trephan

William Zester Memorial Award: Esther Anna Marie Pasternak

Herbert J. Siegel Prize: Kerem Ekta Ayhan

Herbert J. Siegel Prize: Serena Rachel Ninomiya

Herbert J. Siegel Prize: Summer Savannah Will

Herbert J. Siegel Prize: Keenan Toliver Worthington


Cum Laude Inductions 

Elected to cum laude both junior & senior year

Jacob Leddy

Tianzhuo Li

Anthony Moore

Emily Neuffer

Serena Ninomiya

Hai Phan

Samuel Salander

Kate Setteducate

Justin Shi

Linda Tong

Jessica Van Valkenburg

Cleary Waldo


Elected to cum laude senior year

Zoe Affron

Nancy Beaujeu-Dufour

Erica Choi

Bryson Garriques

Tanner Humphrey

Daisy Kahn

Ava Katz

Genevieve Koffman

Joseph Mantegna

Alexa Setteducate

Lena Srun

Summer Will


Prom-goers enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, dinner and dancing all night long at Perona Farms in Andover, New Jersey, on Tuesday, May 21. The prom, which takes place two days before graduation, gives students the opportunity for a classic night of fun off campus.

Prior to departing campus, prom-goers gathered at Sharpe House, wearing their best formal attire. They exchanged corsages and boutonnieres, posed for photos and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

To view more photos, click here to visit Blair's Photoshelter.

2019 Senior Prize Assembly

In the lead up to commencement, members of the class of 2019 were recognized for their academic and athletic achievements at the Senior Prize Assembly on May 20. Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni welcomed seniors and their families to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre and opened the ceremony with congratulatory remarks and words of advice for the soon-to-be graduates.

“This is only the start of the next story, the next part of your life. We know you are ready, and we’re proud of the people you have become,” Mr. Molteni said. “Share in each other’s joy, sadness, nostalgia, uncertainty and even pride, the last and essential part of tonight’s assembly. If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned each year, students and faculty alike, it’s this: Experiencing this journey of learning and growth together is what makes our experiences worthwhile.”

Academic department chairs and administrators took their turn at the podium to recognize students for their outstanding work across the curriculum (please see below for full list of awardees)

Finally, Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Lorry Perry presented the James M. Howard Jr. Fellowship Prize to Director of Vocal Music Ryan Manni. The award honors a faculty member early in his or her career who has especially impacted the Blair community over the course of the school year. Each year, the Senior Class Council helps choose its recipient. 

“Mr. Manni is known for his deep and genuine care for everyone he encounters,” Ms. Perry said in presenting the award. “With great energy and verve, he pushes his students to be better. He dedicates his entire self to helping his students reach their goals…[Mr. Manni] knows how to have fun and how to teach at an elite level, thanks to his high standards and creativity.”

Head of School Chris Fortunato concluded the Senior Prize Assembly by thanking the faculty members who have been seniors’ teachers, coaches, cheerleaders and confidants over the years, and expressing his pride in the class of 2019. “It’s extraordinary what you’ve done to distinguish yourselves as scholars, performers, athletes and friends,” he said. “I don’t know if you realize just how much that inspires all of us, and how it truly serves as a wonderful model for those who aspire to be on this stage in the years to come.”

2019 prize winners:

THE HARDING MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who has contributed most to musical organizations: Cornelia Ring Sigety & Summer Savannah Will 

THE ROBERT F. HARRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY, awarded to a member of the senior class for special interest and outstanding achievement in the study of English literature: Linda Kaihua Tong & Summer Savannah Will

THE ROBERT F. HARRIS DRAMATICS AWARD, presented to that member of the student body who has shown the highest standard of excellence in dramatics: Matthew Michael Bottone 

THE PAUL R. WHITE HISTORY PRIZE, awarded to that student who is considered to be the most proficient history student in the senior class: Linda Kaihua Tong & Cleary Ruth Waldo

THE CHARLES H. BREED LATIN PRIZE, awarded to an outstanding student in advanced Latin: Summer Savannah Will

THE DALE ROSENSON DRAMATICS PRIZE, given in memory of Dale Rosenson '72 and presented to a senior who has demonstrated dedication, reliability, imagination and technical proficiency in lighting, sound, special effects and set management for theatrical productions at Blair: Jingyi Chen

THE DUMONT ENGLISH PRIZE, awarded to the member of the senior class who ranked highest in English and presented in memory of the late Senator Wayne Dumont and his father, Wayne Dumont Sr. by Mrs. Helen Dumont: Zoe Elizabeth Affron & Andrew Paul Brooks

THE JOSEPH F. EBERLE MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who exhibits outstanding achievement in music: Yu Cao & Joy Cheng

THE WINSON D. EWING PRIZE, awarded to that student who is considered to be the most outstanding mathematics student in the senior class: Samuel A. Salander

THE DURLAND PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE, awarded to that student who has demonstrated extraordinary ability and interest in computer programming or computer applications while at Blair: Justin Shi 

THE AP SCIENCE PRIZE, presented to that student who exhibits an overwhelming passion and commitment toward science and who has written a superior academic record in multiple AP science courses: Sixiang Dong & Summer Savannah Will

THE DONALD E. LAWSHE PRIZE, presented in memory of former Blair physics teacher Donald E. Lawshe and presented to that student who has consistently demonstrated a passion for science, and a dedication to interests beyond the classroom: Jessica Lee Schable

THE KAMPMANN VIDEO PRIZE, named for Blair video program creators Judith Kahan Kampmann and Steven Kampmann and awarded to that student each year whose exceptional talent, enthusiasm, dedication and accomplishment in visual expression and storytelling not only meets the highest standards of excellence, but uniquely sets him/her apart from all others: Maxum Joseph O’Halloran 

AN ART PRIZE, awarded to the student who, in her study of art, is widening her life by sharpening his perceptions: Cecelia Mae Fralick

PURCHASE ART PRIZE, awarded to the student for the purchase of their artwork to be displayed at the School: Clare Yao Yanting Lieberman Grant

THE PETER L. AMERMAN RELIGION PRIZE, awarded to that student of religion who has been most challenged by the material encountered and who has demonstrated an effort to re-evaluate the philosophy of life accordingly: Hai Thanh Phan

THE MARGUERITE DEYSSON HABERMANN MEMORIAL FRENCH PRIZE, awarded to a senior who has done exceptionally well in French: Andrew Paul Brooks & Cleary Ruth Waldo

Other prizes given for outstanding performance were:

Chinese: Ava Elisabeth Katz

Spanish: Alexandra Foster Glickman

Outstanding Achievement in the Study of a Foreign Language: Linda Kaihua Tong 

Two-Dimensional Art: Cheuk Kiu Justin Leung

Three-Dimensional Art: Nancy Monahan Beaujeu-Dufour

Photography: Jessica Marie Van Valkenburg

U.S. History: Hai Thanh Phan

Newton Prize for Calculus: Hai Thanh Phan

John Wyeth Yearbook Prize: Olivia Claire Altman, Xiaofei Gu, Samantha Porsche Tsang

Senior Athletic Award, given to students who have earned seven or more varsity letters (five varsity letters for new juniors or three varsity letters for postgraduates):

William Arnold

Kerem Ayhan

Karenna Benanti

Victoria Benanti

Avery Clavel

Tiheem Crocker

Ian Willis Crosland

Madison Jones

Abigail Kreider

Emily Mooney

Rachel Ninomiya

Junhan Park

Esther Pasternak

Alexa Setteducate

Kate Setteducate

Henry Somerville

Caeley Tierney

Cleary Waldo


Yearbook Dedication

At School Meeting on May 20, yearbook editors Olivia Altman ’19, Fiona Gu ’19 and Samantha Tsang ’19 were excited to give the first 2019 yearbook to math teacher Danyelle Doldoorian, to whom the 2019 ACTA was dedicated.

“Your constant positivity is a motivation to everyone you meet on this campus, and we are so lucky to have you here at Blair,” said Fiona, adding that “Ms. D” is “so deserving” of this honor.

Ms. Doldoorian is an alumna of Trinity College and holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and educational studies. A Blair faculty member since 2014, she teaches AP calculus AB, pre-calculus and number theory courses, coaches girls’ basketball and field hockey, and helps run Blair’s Healthy Relationships Committee (HRC). She resides and serves dorm duty in Annie Hall.

2018 Commencement

Blair Academy will livestream several events this week as we celebrate the class of 2019. Please click the links below to access the livestream broadcasts:

Senior Prize Assembly, Monday, May 20, 5 p.m.

Class of 2019 Assembly, Wednesday, May 22, 5 p.m.

Baccalaureate, Wednesday, May 22, 8 p.m.

Commencement, Thursday, May 23, 11 a.m.

Next week, family and friends are invited to view the Underclass Prize Assembly livestream by clicking the link below: 

Underclass Prize Assembly, Tuesday, May 28, 5 p.m.