Film and Animation
Class of 2019
Chiang Center
2018 Registration
Explore
Allison Leddy
Allison Leddy

Allison Leddy joined Blair’s academic office in 2018 as director of academic support, charged with supporting and advocating for Blair students as they learn key organizational and study skills that will help them in college and beyond. Although she is new to the faculty this year, Ms. Leddy is already well known in the community as mother of Jake ’19, who came to Blair as a freshman in 2016.

Having spent her career as a certified rehabilitation counselor (CRC) working at two New Jersey universities and in private practice, Ms. Leddy notes that Blair takes exactly the right approach to student support by looking at individuals “as a whole, in a range of contexts” instead of just as “kids sitting in a classroom.” Whereas some institutions focus exclusively on academics, she notes that Blair emphasizes good citizenship as well as good scholarship.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tulane University (1992) and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from New York University (1996), Ms. Leddy worked as a disability specialist before moving to the academic sphere at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Drew University. After working for five years at Drew as the disability specialist and tutoring coordinator, Ms. Leddy started a private practice, Academic Connections, in Morris County, New Jersey, through which she continues to support the academic and personal growth of students of all ages. A longtime resident of nearby Allamuchy, New Jersey, she is enjoying the opportunity to be closer to home as her daughter, Mia, prepares to begin high school next year.

At Blair, Ms. Leddy embraces the high degree of collaboration among faculty members and departments and relishes in her work of supporting and advocating for students and introducing them to important executive skills. In what follows, she shares more about her background, her love for Blair and the difference she’s making, inside and outside the classroom.

Q. With a few weeks of school under your belt, is there one thing about Blair and Blair students that has stood out to you most as you acclimate to your new position?  
A.
The Blair community as a whole has been especially warm and welcoming to me in taking on this new role. Knowing what I know of the School, that’s hardly a surprise. Blair kids are really proud of this community, and I know my husband, Steve, and I have been thrilled to be a part of it since Jake became a student here in 2016. I have always been active as a parent and, when I saw this opening last year, I thought to myself “wow, that describes me to a ‘T’!” It was a perfect fit.

Q. What advice would you offer Blair students to help them thrive in their academic careers?
A. Always ask for help when needed and be willing to accept help. Students who are successful are the ones who aren’t afraid to say “I need help.”

It all goes back to confidence, really. Although people sometimes don’t think about confidence when it comes to academics, it can be life-changing to go into a test feeling you are going to ace it. When a student who is really struggling comes to see me, I immediately work to help them build confidence. When they come back the next week to tell me they did well on a test, it is incredibly gratifying.

I also regularly remind students that high school and college are times in life to explore different options. You don’t have to know what you want to major in or what you want to do for a living. Again, confidence is so important. If you go into a school experience confidently, looking at it as a series of endless opportunities, you will feel free to explore what you enjoy and are passionate about. If you are anxious or feel locked into a certain path, you are going to miss out.

In addition, I help kids to manage their time and plan ahead. These can be game-changers. For those facing specific challenges, having the perspective to identify those challenges and address them is invaluable. With a strong background in learning differences and managing academic accommodations, I hope to be able to allow students with learning differences to become their own best advocates.

If I can help students gain the perspective to see that I am teaching them skills that will benefit them for the rest of their lives, then I will have accomplished something.

Q. Your undergraduate work was in psychology and your graduate work in rehabilitation counseling. How have those two disciplines helped you in your career?
A. My entire career has been focused on working with individuals who may have learning challenges, need help with executive skills or just need someone to help them get organized. I have used my background in psychology and counseling to put students at ease and make them feel comfortable when working with me. I also try to use my sense of humor to make working with me appear less serious and more fun.

Q. How is executive coaching different at Blair than other places you’ve worked?
A.
My role at Blair crosses every discipline and department and, by the end of the year, I will have worked with every faculty member and hundreds of students. I love the collaborative atmosphere at Blair and the fact that working with my colleagues and students is a constant conversation. Our teachers have embraced the support I can offer in teaching teenagers to be effective students, not just participants—something that should be taught in middle school, but somehow isn’t addressed until you hit high school.

Q. How can being prepared and organized help students with work outside the classroom, such as navigating the college process as juniors and seniors?

A. I am one of many Blair faculty members who are really vested in students’ college process, and I help kids see how approaching it in an organized and well-thought-out manner can make it a lot less stressful. Blair does a fantastic job of lessening the college process anxiety that most high school seniors face at one point or another by answering questions as students progress across grades, instead of waiting until a certain point in their high school career.

Q. Given that your role as director of academic support is a new one at Blair, how do students typically find their way to you?

A. Most often, I am talking with an advisor or a monitor, and they mention a student who could benefit from my help. I then reach out to them and set up a meeting, sort of a “get-to-know-you” that helps me assess whether they need help with general organization or study skills or specific learning challenges. I always tell students: “If you are really organized, things are a lot easier.” I encourage kids to have a daily to do list but also to plan ahead and think about what is coming down the road. Compartmentalizing is good at times, but your forecasting skills are also important.

I hope the office becomes a resource for students, and they see that my job is to make their lives easier, not harder. I hope kids will feel a sense of comfort  and realize that I am here to help them. It’s free help; take it! 

Q. Being an organizational expert, which is superior: The paper planner or Google Calendar?

A. A good hardcopy planner is everything. I tell students, make sure you write in pencil, never in pen. Electronics are ubiquitous, but they are not a substitute for true organization and can’t be a catchall for everything. 

Q. What advice do you offer your own kids, as they finish high school and middle school, respectively?

A. I give them advice that we can all benefit from, which embodies my line of work: Be prepared. You can’t feel comfortable if you are not prepared. 

Blair Community Eagerly Anticipates Parents’ Arrival

As the Blair community prepares for the 2018-2019 school year’s seventh week to begin, students and teachers alike are gearing up for Parents’ Weekend on October 18, 19 and 20, an annual program at which families from all over the world have the opportunity to experience life at Blair firsthand.

“Knowing how closely connected our students are to their parents and immediate and extended families, it is always such a pleasure to see how excited they are to share their Blair world with those they love most over Parents’ Weekend,” said Assistant Director of Advancement for Parent Relations Susan Long, who plans and organizes the festivities with fellow advancement office colleague, Kristine Scialla. “We do our best to make it an exciting program that gives parents the opportunity to attend classes, athletic events and performances, as well as some parent-specific networking events that offer them the chance to get to know teachers and fellow parents outside the classroom.”

The always-engaging event also aims to give families a sense of what daily Blair life entails by immersing them in courses, School Meeting, Blair on Stage, a host of athletic contests, campus tours, and even time to “hang out” in the Black Canteen, or take an up-close look at design projects in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

The weekend will begin on Thursday evening at the nearby Buck Hill Brewery, where Blair will host a reception at which parents can mix and mingle. The activities continue into Friday with a 5K run or a Golf Scramble. Later in the day, parents can watch athletic practices or attend workshops on topics such as travel opportunities or planning for college. An evening parent-faculty receptions will be followed by Blair on Stage, a performing arts event that will showcase the repertoires of the Symphony Orchestra, Singers and the cast of the Blair Academy Players production of The Fantasticks.

“As a Blair parent myself three times over, I know just how much this time with your children means,” said Mrs. Long, whose sons Conner ’13, Wyatt ’16 and Garrett ’20 are all proud Bucs. “Seeing how much your son or daughter has grown since September is a pretty incredible thing to watch, and our parents relish every minute they spend on campus learning the ins and outs of a typical Blair weekend.”

Parents can view the full schedule of events and register for Parents' Weekend online.

More photos of Parents' Weekend 2017 can be found on Blair's Photoshelter channel.

The Future of Surgery with Dr. Benjamin Schwartz

Blair Academy was honored to welcome Dr. Benjamin Schwartz P’21 to the Society of Skeptics on October 9. Dr. Schwartz is a specialist in gynecologic oncology and minimally invasive surgery, and his Skeptics presentation focused on his experience with the daVinci® Surgical System and how robotic surgery is shaping the future of healthcare.

Robotic-assisted surgery with the daVinci® Surgical System allows surgeons to perform complex minimally invasive surgical procedures with precision and accuracy using robotic technology. The system is a cutting-edge platform designed to expand the surgeon’s capabilities and offer different options for patients.

Students had the opportunity to try out the daVinci® Surgical System in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration earlier in the day. Dr. Schwartz was present to answer questions and demonstrate how the system is utilized. 

Dr. Schwartz is a board-certified gynecologic oncologist, a fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Surgeons, as well as a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2015, he was named the regional director of obstetrics and gynecology for Northwell Health’s eastern region as well as the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwell Health’s Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. Dr. Schwartz oversees the inpatient and outpatient care for women and is Northwell’s lead clinician for the development of post-graduate programs.

Having attended Dartmouth College for his undergraduate degree, Dr. Schwartz obtained his medical degree from The George Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at The Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he served as administrative chief resident. During his residency, Dr. Schwartz completed a Galloway Fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He then completed subspecialty training in a three-year fellowship in gynecologic oncology at The Cleveland Clinic.

Since 2015, Dr. Schwartz has consistently been named by Castle Connolly as a “Top Doctor” in the field of gynecologic oncology for Long Island and the New York metropolitan area. He is also a leader in the field of chemotherapy for gynecological cancers and served on the medical oncology committee of the Gynecologic Oncology Group, a national collaborative group that studies experimental treatments for gynecological cancers.

Dr. Schwartz’s daughter, Abby Schwartz ’21, is a sophomore at Blair.

To watch Dr. Schwartz's presentation, click "play" below

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.

Boys’ Soccer & Field Hockey to be Livestreamed 10/10

Two home athletic contests will be livestreamed on October 10. Varsity field hockey plays Stuart Country Day School on the turf at 4 p.m. (watch it here). At 4:15 p.m., tune in here to watch boys' varsity soccer take on Gill St. Bernard. Go Bucs!

2018 Tag Sale

For the third-consecutive year, Assistant Dean of College Counseling Britt Freitag and history teacher Hannah Higgin, PhD, teamed up to organize a massive tag sale benefiting “Blair in Kenya,” an independent nonprofit founded by history teacher Quint Clarke ’87 that provides vital educational, medical and economic opportunities to hundreds of Kenyans. 

The sale, which became an annual event thanks to Ms. Freitag and Dr. Higgin’s tireless work to make it more successful each year, coincides with Blairstown’s town-wide yard sale in September. Over the last three years, they have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time and raised more than $25,000 for “Blair in Kenya,” while at the same time repurposed and recycled belongings that would have otherwise gone into dumpsters as Blair students departed for the summer.  

Supporting Mr. Clarke, a “really incredible colleague” whose nonprofit has built two Kenyan schools from the ground up, is, of course, a priority, as is sustaining a more eco-friendly campus by keeping items such as clothing and room furnishings out of the landfill. The fact that the event more closely connects Blair faculty and students to the local community is an added bonus.

Calling the tag sale a “win-win-win-win,” Ms. Freitag and Dr. Higgin are incredibly proud that this collaboration continues to raise thousands of dollars. Whereas proceeds totaled $4,000 during their first year in 2015, that doubled to $8,000 in 2016 and increased again to $13,000 this past year. “The money not only goes to a good cause, but literally tons upon tons of items are kept from a landfill,” said Ms. Freitag. “Our students learn about waste and conspicuous consumption and get to buy good stuff at great prices.” And, anything they don’t sell is given to the Salvation Army or otherwise outsourced to charities—literally, nothing goes to waste. 

A Dream Since High School

For Dr. Higgin, “saving all the things that get left behind when boarding students leave at the end of the school year,” selling those items and “giving that money to charity” has been a dream since she was a student at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. “I remember helping my friends pack up and seeing what got abandoned because there just wasn’t enough space in their suitcases or parents’ cars to take it all home,” she said. “When people live in a place for a whole school year, they accumulate a lot more than they realize! I was always alarmed by so much nice stuff—designer clothes, printers, etc.—just getting thrown out. It struck me as bad for the environment and wasteful when those things could be reused or at least donated to people in need if not sold to raise money.”

As a teacher in her high school’s summer program, Dr. Higgin salvaged anything that was in good shape—including still-packaged food—to donate to a local homeless shelter, first on a small scale in her dorm and then, with the help of Choate’s sustainability director on a larger scale in all dorms on campus. “Stemming from that, she actually now runs a sale there annually, on a much smaller scale than the one at Blair,” explained Dr. Higgin.

Noting that all residential schools—high school and college—have the same problem, Dr. Higgin said she was “really lucky to find a willing, equally driven, and similarly motivated partner” in Ms. Freitag when she arrived here. “We launched this huge project at the end of my first year at Blair, and it’s only grown in scope and profits since. Less makes it into the dumpsters, and we raise money for an amazing cause,” she said.

Organizing, Prepping & Selling to the Community

For the past couple of years, Ms. Freitag and Dr. Higgin have taken advantage of the many helping hands available during Blair’s springtime Day of Service, when volunteers help them sort and organize clothes (a task they had tackled alone in their first year). Using the Park Street maker space as a base of operations, they continue to prepare items for sale over the summer months. 

The fact that all proceeds benefit “Blair in Kenya” is one of the main reasons for its success, added Ms. Freitag. “People are drawn to support ‘Blair in Kenya’ because they know Quint Clarke, and they understand all of the good work he is doing,” she said. “Personally, I love that this project saves tons of perfectly good items from going into the dumpsters and then translates those items into liquid assets that go a really long way for the schools in Kenya. It seems karmically perfect, somehow. The fact that Q is such a beloved member of our community helps ‘sell’ the good work.”

Reflecting on her boarding school background, Dr. Higgin recalled learning about Mr. Clarke’s nonprofit during her Blair job interview with history department chair Jason Beck. “One of the things I really missed about boarding school was having charitable work be a community norm, and so that was one of the things I asked about,” she said. “It’s incredible to see how far money can go on these projects, and the Tag Sale for Kenya enables me to raise much more money than I would be able to give on my own.” 

Invaluable Volunteers & Community Support

While Ms. Freitag and Dr. Higgin are the driving force behind the tag sale, both were quick to recognize the many Blair faculty and staff members who contributed their time and effort to the cause over the last three years. “A number of faculty members have gone above and beyond for the project—we certainly couldn’t do it by ourselves!” Ms. Freitag said. Among those who have been “instrumental” to their efforts are Day Student Coordinator Lois Stival, “Blair in Kenya” founder Q Clarke and his wife, Blair English teacher Sarah O’Neil, admission associate Susie Antonelli and library assistant Kate Skeffington. “So many people have chipped in where they are able to, and it’s the cumulative effect of all those many helpers that creates a wave of energy that gets it all done!”

Calling both Mrs. Stival and Ms. Freitag “brilliant at organizing and coordinating help,” Dr. Higgin credited the support of “many wonderful people for many, many hours” as they saved more items than ever from going into dumpsters and then processing and organizing everything for last month’s sale. She was especially thankful to Mrs. Stival, who recruited day student volunteers to return to campus after the close of school to help sort out left-behind belongings, which proved invaluable to the efforts for the 2018 sale. 

Even with all the help they’ve received from the Blair community, Ms. Freitag and Dr. Higgin put in a staggering number of hours to ensure the tag sale goes off without a hitch and raises more money each year. The duo is already looking forward to 2019, when the event may include a pre-sale for the Blair community or perhaps be expanded to a two-weekend sale. 

Sharpe House

Head of School Chris Fortunato and his wife, Erin, welcomed 105 students to Sharpe House on October 5 for the annual scholarship dessert social. This event gave students who are this year’s recipients of Blair’s 87 named, endowed scholarships the opportunity to learn about donors whose gifts support scholarship aid and to meet several of these generous individuals over milk and cookies.

The 2018-2019 named scholarship recipients include boys and girls from every grade, chosen for this honor based on their outstanding citizenship in the Blair community. They are among the 40 percent of Blair’s student body that was awarded a total of $6.7 million in financial aid this year.

Several scholarship donors joined the gathering at Sharpe House, including Mr. and Mrs. John Kennedy P’90 ’98, Mr. and Mrs. William Cramer ’64, Mrs. Cheryl Clutsam and Mr. Alexander Sloane ’70. They all spoke to students about why they chose to direct their philanthropy to scholarship support. In the coming weeks, each student will write a letter to the donor of his or her scholarship to express gratitude and share some news about his or her Blair experience. 

“Donors often tell us how much they appreciate the annual letters they receive from their scholarship recipients,” said Director of Stewardship E. Courtnay Stanford ’95, coordinator of the scholarship event. “The letters truly affirm how their gifts have made a difference in students’ lives, and, many times, donors write back and encourage students to ‘pay it forward’ by one day making gifts of their own to support the next generation of Blair students.” 

Lisa Durkee in class

Blair’s English department is continuing to sustain and strengthen the School’s literary community by introducing several new AP English language electives for 2018-2019. During the fall and winter, seniors are delving into nine literary genres in tried-and-tested courses such as “The Meaning of Life,” “America at War” and “Horror,” as well as in new courses, including “Dystopian Literature,” “Religious Themes in Modern Literature” and “International Short Stories.” Through their study of a wide variety of works, students are gaining new perspective into language, writing and some very compelling topics as they prepare for the spring AP exam.

Religious Themes in Modern Literature

Blair’s chaplain and religion and philosophy department chair, the Rev. Lisa Durkee, is returning to her English-teaching roots this semester with her AP English language course, “Religious Themes in Modern Literature.” “I’m excited to teach three novels that I love,” said Ms. Durkee, who was an independent school educator for 15 years before her 2007 ordination. “I want to instill in my students a love of language, a love of the art form of storytelling and a real understanding of religious traditions that they may have only heard about through the media or other means.”

The nine seniors in Ms. Durkee’s class will read works of the late 20th century that reflect varying religious traditions. They began with Herman Hesse’s Siddartha, a novel that provides an introduction to Buddhism and Hinduism as well as opportunities for self-reflection and consideration of the self in relation to the larger world. Later in the fall, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen will give students an opportunity to learn about Judaism, including a comparison of ethnic versus cultural Judaism. Finally, Rudolfo Anaya’s Bless Me Ultima will cover multiple religious themes including Catholic Christianity.  As Ms. Durkee put it, all of the novels “give students a chance to explore and engage with ideas that are relevant to them, all while reading beautiful literature.”

“I love how Ms. Durkee's class is primarily discussion-based,” said Linda Tong ’19. “As we read Siddartha, our conversations around the text have led me to a deeper understanding and appreciation of Buddhism, a religion that I was not familiar with before. I am grateful to have that learning experience in addition to the normal AP English language curriculum.”

Dystopian Literature

English teacher Becca Litvin ’10’s dystopian literature classes are tackling two short stories (“Harrison Bergeron” and “The Lottery”) and three novels (The Handmaid’s Tale, The Road and A Clockwork Orange) to explore the complexities of human society and power structures as critiqued by dystopian authors. Ms. Litvin, who holds a master’s degree in the teaching of English from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, developed the college seminar-style course because she felt it was important to empower students to question what they are told, appreciate the value of multiple perspectives and understand the importance of knowing who is in power and why.

“One of my goals for this course is to help students become better critical thinkers,” she said. “That’s what literature is meant to do. Through our discussions, they’ve already acquired new terms like ‘gaslighting’ and ‘uncanny’ to talk about things they knew existed but didn’t know how to express. I hope students take what they learn in this course and apply it to their studies of history and politics—and even to the organizations they join—to really understand who is in charge, why, and what that means to them individually and to society as a whole.”

A few weeks into the semester, Olivia Cruz ’19 described the class’ first forays into dystopian literature. “We’ve contrasted the short stories we’ve read, explained their similarities and differences, and compared them to see what truly makes a dystopian society,” she said. “I’m excited to learn more throughout the year.”

Bryson Garriques ’19 has been intrigued by the authors’ use of dissociation, which “forces the reader to read very closely to pick up on clues that allude to the fact that things are becoming less and less familiar and more unusual.” He cited the black box in “The Lottery” that indicates death, yet is only brought out when someone “wins” the lottery. Andrew Brooks ’19 has found it interesting to examine the darker side of human nature and learn how authors can use a dystopian setting to depict their message. “I’m really enjoying this class,” he said.

International Short Stories

Likewise, Caeley Tierney ’19 loves her international short stories class, thanks to the diversity of readings and the depth of in-class discussions. Taught by English teacher David Mamukelashvili, a Bard College graduate with bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and art history, this course’s reading list includes more than a dozen non-Western literary works that invite students to investigate the idea of being human from a global perspective.

“By focusing away from the traditional Western stories many of us know and love, we have been able to see different storytelling perspectives and cultures through the eyes of others,” Caeley said, adding that when it comes time to talk about those readings, Mr. Mamukelashvili’s knowledge of philosophy helps students see the bigger picture. “Things aren't simply the ‘plot’ or the ‘traits of the main character,’ but all have a much deeper meaning that we have begun to relate to ourselves, to Blair, to society and to the entire world. Seeing how varied literature can help us grow as open-minded young adults and create a new sense of appreciation of all that it can mean to be human has already taught me to appreciate things in ways I haven't before, and I look forward to continuing to develop this new awareness throughout the semester.”

Ava Katz ’19 describes “International Short Stories” as one of the most interesting and thought-provoking courses she’s taken during her high school career. “Having the opportunity to discuss a wide range of complex topics, from mass incarceration and the concept of freedom to Plato's allegory of the cave, has enabled me to further connect the purpose and meaning of certain pieces of literature with their relevance in today's society,” she said.

Because all the works on the reading list, from Guy de Maupasant’s “The Necklace” to Anton Chekhov’s “Gooseberries,” have been translated into English, Mr. Mamukelashvili noted that class discussion throughout the semester will center “more on us understanding our lives and being” than on language. “This is a self-explorative course as much as it as an exploration of the other,” he said.

John Zoetjes ’19 embraced that self-explorative aspect by the second week of class. “This course has already taught me to work hard, learn with enthusiasm and, most importantly, discover more about who I am and where I fit in our society,” he said.

As the school year progresses, students in every AP English language section will continue to read critically, discuss literary works thoroughly and write essays in a variety of styles as they sharpen their rhetorical skills in preparation for the May AP exam.

Watch Tennis at States October 3!

The girls' varsity tennis team is competing in the state tournament at The Lawrenceville School on October 3. Watch the livestream here.

Romano Gallery Hosts ‘Geometry & Manufacturing’ Exhibit

The work of sculptor, product designer and maker space artist Blake Courter is on display in The Romano Gallery from October 2 through November 3. The Blair community had the opportunity to meet the artist at a reception on October 11.

Geometry, generative algorithms, and top-down engineering drive Mr. Courter’s sculpture, interactive media and apparel. The principle that motivates his work is the construction of simple sets of rules that synthesize results through manual problem solving and programmed automation. Recurring themes include mapping abstract concepts into tangible objects and confronting engineering orthodoxy. Most of Mr. Courter’s work is documented via open source software and CAD models.

A 1996 graduate of Princeton University, Mr. Courter holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a certificate in materials science. He has dedicated his career to innovation in computer-aided engineering and is currently the head of software research at Stratasys, where he is building a new generation of tools for functional additive manufacturing. In 2016, Mr. Courter received the Peter Marks Pioneer Award from the CAD Society, which acknowledges visionary leaders in the engineering software industry.

2017 Admission Open House

Blair’s admission office hosted its annual Fall Open House on October 8, and the School community enjoyed welcoming prospective students and their families to campus. The event included a full schedule of activities designed to showcase all that Blair has to offer, as well as opportunities to speak one-on-one with teachers, athletic coaches, administrators and current students. 

The 2018 Fall Open House began with registration, light refreshments and informal conversation with faculty and admission counselors in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration. Head of School Chris Fortunato opened the day’s program, and his remarks were followed by a variety of panel discussions, including an overview of the admission process, campus tours and an activities fair. Attendees enjoyed a buffet lunch, and they were welcome to observe afternoon athletic practices.

Associate Head of School and Dean of Admission Peter G. Curran was pleased that so many prospective families attended the Fall Open House. “The best way to experience Blair’s warm and welcoming community is to visit campus,” he said. “Our Open House gives attendees a glimpse into every aspect of the Blair experience, and there’s no better way for prospective students to really begin to picture themselves here.”

 

Welcome Class of 2022!

Blair Academy welcomed 469 students back to Blairstown in early September, including 97 freshmen in the class of 2022. Comprising 50 girls and 47 boys, the ninth-grade class is the largest in Blair’s history, and it joins a robust campus of students from more than 24 states and 26 countries.

“This was Blair’s most competitive admission round ever, with an overall acceptance rate of 19 percent for the 2018-2019 school year,” said Associate Head of School and Dean of Admission Peter G. Curran. “The members of this class are accomplished, service-minded and driven, and we are delighted that they have chosen to attend Blair.”

Mr. Curran anticipates an amazing year ahead in academics, athletics, the arts and campus life for the diverse and talented class of 2022, which includes two sets of twins, multiple siblings of current Blair students and relatives of Blair alumni. Current freshmen will be the first students to experience the recently revamped Freshman Seminar, a yearlong seminar that features modules in health and wellness and design-and-maker-space training.

"Our freshmen are bonding quickly and are already an active part of the Blair community," Mr. Curran said. "By engaging in all the School has to offer, they are challenging themselves and each other to succeed and truly making Blair their home away from home."

Welcome, class of 2022!

Alison Wright Skeptics

Award-winning documentary photographer Alison Wright returned to the Society of Skeptics for her fourth appearance on October 2. Having spent more than two decades traveling the world as a photojournalist, Ms. Wright explored her journey as she captured photographs for National Geographic and other publications. Her presentation was held in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration.

Ms. Wright’s most recent book, Human Tribe, is an intimate collection of 170 color portraits celebrating the diversity and connectivity of our beautiful and unique visual human tapestry. Last year, she kicked off the annual Skeptics lecture series with a discussion of Human Tribe to spotlight working women in developing countries.

In her previous Skeptics engagements in 2013 and 2014, Ms. Wright shared her many experiences of traveling abroad to capture the world's most secluded areas on film. Her photography has appeared in numerous publications, including National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Islands, Smithsonian, American Photo, Natural History, Time, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times, Yoga Journal, Outside and the San Francisco Chronicle.

She has also published several books of photography including The Spirit of Tibet: Portrait of a Culture in ExileA Simple Monk: Writings on His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Faces of Hope: Children of a Changing World. Ms. Wright was named the 2013 National Geographic Traveler of the Year, is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography and is a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award.

A graduate of Syracuse University with a bachelor's degree in photojournalism, Ms. Wright completed her master's degree in visual anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. To learn more about Ms. Wright and her work, click here.

To watch Alison's lecture click play below.

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.