students walk in front of timken library
Chiang Center
Welcome signs on move-in day

Registration for the 2018-2019 school year is fast approaching, and we look forward to welcoming students and parents to campus! You can access information for each individual registration day here.

For quick reference, students are asked to arrive at  Blair on the following dates:

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

●      Prefects–Saturday, September 1

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

●      International students–Friday, September 7

●      All remaining students (boarding students to arrive at 9 a.m., day students to arrive at 11 a.m.)–Saturday, September 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Beginning Tuesday, August 14, textbooks may be purchased online for the 2018- 2019 school year. Students' course lists will be sent to parents prior to the start of the sale, and books can be ordered through Follett Virtual Bookstores.

Students and parents are able to view course enrollments for the 2018-2019 school year in the OnCampus/OnRecord portal.

Textbooks are no longer physically sold on Blair's campus and online orders should be placed as soon as possible to guarantee delivery in time for the first day of classes on September 11. To place your order, click the link above or visit the School Store website, where there is also a link to Follett's offerings. You can also download a PDF of frequently asked questions here.

In addition to new books, Follett also offers select titles at a discount for those interested in purchasing or renting used books. For four days (August 14 to August 17), Follett will offer a 10-percent discount on USED and RENTAL books for customers who use the promotional code "TEXT10" at checkout.

Also, from August 14 to August 20, Blair students can receive free ground shipping (select “ground shipping” at checkout to apply the discount). Once an order is placed, Follett will send the shipment from its warehouse the same or next business day via FedEx. Expedited shipping options are available, but it is best to order early when the used-book selection is most robust.

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

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

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

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

Melanie's Miles 5K

Blair sophomores tackled a wide range of individual and class service work as part of Blair LEADS, a course designed to build students’ self-awareness, ownership and confidence as leaders and communicators. 

Faculty members from across disciplines team taught 11 LEADS sections this year, focusing on a class-wide project in the fall and individual causes selected by students in the spring. Classes collectively tackled a host of issues, planning a 5K benefiting families living with cancer, hosting a cancer fundraiser, sponsoring a Jeopardy event raising money for cystic fibrosis, producing a video expressing appreciation for Blair staff members, and building a community garden, to name a few. The causes selected by individual students were just as varied, and the course ended with classmates presenting what they did and how they succeeded or failed. For those who planned to continue working with the charity or cause of their choice, they also described next steps for making a difference.

“One of our main goals is to teach students to be more self aware and to identify needs in their community and then address those needs through LEADS,” said Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, who oversees the program as Blair’s Dean of Campus Life and director of leadership programs. “We emphasize life coaching, values and ethics, and students learn these lessons through a combination of small and big things—from how much making your bed in the morning can change your day, to the impact you can have by researching cystic fibrosis and educating others, to the ins and outs of organizing a weekend activity or a fundraiser by yourself.”

The LEADS curriculum is deeply rooted in the leadership- and values-focused work Ms. Conforti-Browse has always done with Blair students, but it has become much more structured in the last several years. “The individual project work our classes are tackling is essentially a 21st-century version of what we used to call the ‘senior challenge,’” said Ms. Conforti-Browse.

A Class That Spans a Very Formative Year

Blair has found that focusing on leadership and communication competencies, as well as the value of serving others, earlier in the Blair experience yields dividends for students in terms of their understanding of self and the world around them. 

“Sophomore year is traditionally a year of vulnerability; you may not be in honeymoon period of Blair anymore and things are more challenging academically,” said Ms. Conforti-Browse. “It is a very formative year in terms of gaining a sense of ownership over what skill sets you are acquiring and what kind of person you are choosing to be. Students begin to really process the consequences of their choices and lay the foundation of the mindset that ‘even small action is better than intention.’ This is how they gain confidence and authenticity.”

Even just the realization that it is okay to make big plans and fail and then make small plans and succeed is an important life lesson, Ms. Conforti-Browse added. She and fellow LEADS teachers will continue to teach that lesson during the 2018-2019 school year.

1968 - first golf exchange

2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Blair-Swifts Golf Exchange, an annual opportunity for select boys’ golf team members to experience the excitement and enrichment of international travel and sport. Each year since 1968, the program has afforded seven or eight top high school golfers—alternately from the U.S. and England—the chance to travel “across the pond,” where they have played iconic courses and experienced culture and camaraderie during a multi-week tour of the U.K. or the eastern U.S.

The exchange was the brainchild of Blair parent Robert J. Castle, father of Michael Castle ’70 and grandfather of Ben Castle ’15. A 1968 Blair Bulletin article chronicled Mr. Castle’s hope that the exchange would “develop into a type of junior Walker Cup international competition” and noted that he generously agreed to subsidize those students who would have been otherwise unable to take the trip. Seven students—Michael Castle, George (Michael) Craig ’69, John Davis ’69, Robert Hays ’69, Andrew Pleninger ’69, James Ritzenthaler ’69 and Jex Wilson ’70—traveled to The Stowe School and other schools in England that year, and a Blair tradition was born.

Dr. Michael Craig, one of the original Exchange golfers, took the occasion of the 2018 Alumni Weekend Blair Cup Golf Scramble to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the program. Dr. Craig re-lived a bit of Exchange history for the alumni and faculty golfers who had just enjoyed an afternoon on the Blair links and spoke about the value of the program.

He describes his own experience of the trip as eye-opening and life-changing. “International travel was not common in 1968, and going overseas was a pretty big deal!” he said. Beyond the outstanding golf they played—including at St. Andrews, birthplace of the sport—he and his teammates experienced independence and learned about taking care of themselves during their three weeks away from home. “Our group got to know one another very well, and we experienced British culture by staying with host families and at other schools and basically fending for ourselves during two days of sightseeing in London. We all enjoyed it greatly!”

Dr. Craig praised the Exchange for the way it exposes players to different styles of golf, diverse game formats, and a wide variety of courses and course architecture, all of which helped him appreciate the truly international aspect of the sport. “I’ve taken about a dozen international golf trips since then, but every time, I remember the Exchange trip in 1968. It was a fun and interesting experience.”

Having followed the Blair-Swifts Golf Exchange “from a distance” over the years and spoken on occasion with veteran Blair math teacher Wayne Rasmussen, coordinator of the Blair side of the program since 2001, Dr. Craig hopes to continue the celebration of the Exchange’s 50th anniversary in the lead-up to his own 50th Blair reunion in 2019. He met this year’s British Swifts when they visited campus in March, and he is looking forward to a possible 2019 get-together of past Exchange participants at Pinehurst that is being organized by the British side of the program. A fundraising effort to commemorate the Blair-Swifts Exchange with a plaque or other naming opportunity on Blair’s golf course is also a possibility.

For his part, Mr. Rasmussen, who also spoke at the Alumni Weekend Blair Cup Golf Scramble, has remained impressed by the educational opportunities the Golf Exchange has afforded participants over his decades of involvement with the program. “It has been very rewarding to witness many young men benefit from the experience of traveling and playing golf for two to three weeks in a different country and culture,” he said. “The friendships those young men have formed last a lifetime. I’ve been fortunate to have made friends with several teachers in England, two of whom I count among my best friends.”


(Read more about the Blair-Swifts Golf Exchange here.)



edAccess Conference Brings Leading Technology Administrators & Educators to Blair

More than 50 faculty members, administrators and technology office staff from private secondary schools across the United States traveled to Blairstown in mid-June for the annual edAccess Conference, a four-day, peer-led program that focuses on how technology can best support teaching and learning. 

From June 18 to 21, attendees immersed themselves in Blair life, staying in the dorms, eating in the dining hall and convening each day in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration for a series of focus groups, demonstrations, guest lectures, breakout sessions and networking events. The flexible and technology-rich facility served as a perfect backdrop for the conference and highlighted just how much Blair has changed and grown since the School last hosted the meeting in 1997. 

“The people who are running this conference and attending it are technology administrators and educators at private high schools, and participants submit the topics they want to focus on, which makes for a good deal of grassroots discussion about the challenges and opportunities we all face,” said Blair’s Director of Technology Sam Adams, who planned the logistics of this year’s meeting. “What also sets the edAccess program apart from other conferences is that it takes place on campus, so it is really rooted in the host school experience and culture.” 

With topics ranging from classroom technology and connectivity to information systems and strategic thinking, the conference touched on routine and hot-button issues in the fields of technology and education, with identity theft and cybersecurity being an example of a recent, pressing issue currently being faced by schools and other organizations.

In addition to Mr. Adams and the four members of his technology team, Blair conference attendees included Dean of Teaching and Learning Gwyneth Connell, Director of Timken Library Ann Williams and computer science teacher Michael Garrant. While technology team members worked the conference by organizing logistics, facilitating focus groups and leading social activities after each day’s sessions had ended, they also had the opportunity to participate in the conference and enjoyed the opportunity to learn from peers at other schools. Mr. Garrant had the chance to connect with colleagues who also operate maker spaces and robotics programs during demonstrations he ran in those spaces; Ms. Connell enjoyed learning about cutting-edge technology that supports teachers and innovative ways to improve the classroom experience; and Ms. Williams collaborated with peers who manage library data systems and sought out teacher colleagues as she looked for ways to present content material to her history classes. 

In keeping with the theme of utilizing technology, Blair Head of School Chris Fortunato spoke via video conference with attendees from Massachusetts about the vision, thinking and planning that went into conceptualizing, designing and building the Chiang Center as a technology-heavy facility. “Our attendees really enjoyed talking about leadership at the highest level in terms of bringing this type of building to life at schools such as ours,” Mr. Adams said. “We have built this incredible facility, and it was gratifying to have peers come to campus and see how it supports and amplifies our academic and technology programs.”

A guest lecture on digital citizenship by author and Internet studies pioneer Reuben Loewy was also a big draw. The author of Living Online: Teaching the Internet focused on the importance of guiding teachers and students to engage positively and creatively with the Internet, rather than addressing the negative aspects of social media and fake news. “We are in the midst of the greatest information and communications transformation in human history,” he said. “Entertainment, commerce, education, healthcare and communication have all been radically upended by the Internet. However, the majority of institutions do not address the complete picture of what the Internet is, how we affect it and how it affects us.” 

Other popular activities were the special sessions in Blair’s maker space and robotics classroom. “Our attendees were at all levels when it came to these kinds of programs: Some schools are considering how they would go about creating them, while others have exceptionally well-run facilities and were able to share tips about getting such an effort off the ground,” Mr. Adams said. “The Chiang Center is an incredible facility to showcase these technology programs, and the building itself served as a launching pad for many discussions about creating learning environments that foster collaboration and innovation among our students.” 

Blair will host edAccess again in 2019, and Mr. Adams came away from this year’s program pleased with how smoothly everything went. “At the end of the day, we want attendees to have a good experience and to feel that they left Blair having found answers to technology challenges they are facing at their own schools, which is really what the conference is about. I hope that attendees felt our program worked well and that the trip to Blair was a critically good use of their time. Speaking from personal experience at past events, I can say attending the four-day program is the equivalent of doing 50 site visits to other schools and is always worthwhile.”

Blair Students Experience Intersection of Ancient & Modern Culture During Visit to Rome

Eleven Blair students immersed themselves in an interdisciplinary study of Rome during a June trip to the Eternal City. Chaperoned by Blair’s classics teachers and self-described “classics nerds” Kelsie Fralick and Chris Sheppard, the itinerary gave young travelers many opportunities to experience Latin in its real-world context and connect the abstract world of Latin literature to a material, modern city that had a lasting impact on not just the Mediterranean region but also the entire world.

Connecting Language & Culture

In fact, Rome’s lasting influence on modern society is one reason Ms. Fralick was quick to propose a summer trip there during her first year as a Blair faculty member. “It is unbelievable that, 2,000 years later, there are places that have well-preserved remnants of a culture that shaped and changed that whole area over the course of thousands of years,” explained the teacher of Latin 1, 3 and 4, who decided to become a teacher after visiting Italy as a college student and being overwhelmed by the powerful remains there. “We helped students find their own paths to connect to this culture and language and join the ongoing conversation in which people across the world are trying to interpret antiquity and understand the ways in which the ancient and modern intersect. The opportunities to do so are really endless.”

Exploring Historical Parallels & Current Affairs

The group’s travels focused on more than just sightseeing and had students literally walking the same streets ancient Romans traversed. 

“We took great care to emphasize connections and parallels between ancient Rome and the world today,” said Mr. Sheppard, who teaches Latin 2, 5 and Greek. “Students got to see firsthand that many cultural issues, such as immigration of refugees, debate about national identity, and the fact that extreme poverty exists alongside extreme wealth, are hardly new and continue to impact modern Rome.”

By analyzing the civilization that conquered the Mediterranean, and looking to current affairs as well as the past, students saw that classical study is multidimensional; in fact, the chaperones took advantage of every opportunity to encourage travelers to look at artifacts, art and architecture through more than one lens and using a wide range of sources, reinforcing skills that will help students succeed in today’s globalized world, both at and beyond Blair.

“It was overwhelming to stand in the presence of millennia of history and breathe the air of ancient giants,” said Sam Salander ’19. “In particular, I was especially fascinated by the ruins of the Palace of Domitian. When it stood, one ancient writer commented that its splendor made his eyes hurt to behold. The gray ruins which remain in its place stand as a testament to man's eternal drive to magnificence and the unrelenting power of time. In addition, the teachers accompanying us brought us a large step closer to appreciating the ancients' relationship to the world they crafted. Through these writings and the city's inscriptions, I gained a more complete understanding of Latin abbreviation and poetic style. Overall, it was an amazing experience and one which all students of Latin should have.”

The trip included a visit to an art restoration cooperative, where students met Matteo Doria, a professional who specializes in the restoration of paintings. Mr. Doria graciously welcomed the group into his lab for a first-hand look at the very detailed and highly technical process of restoration.

Off the Beaten Path

In planning the trip, Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard focused on classical Rome, taking students to some of the city’s most well-known attractions, such as the Colosseum, the Forum, the Pantheon, the Vatican museums and a number of churches, as well as slightly tweaking the itinerary offered by their tour company with a few excursions they felt would especially benefit students.

These add-ons included Ostia Antica, a city right outside of Rome that was abandoned because of malaria and still has full surviving structures. While visiting the middle-class port town of Rome, students saw beautiful mosaic floors from which ancient Romans sold their goods. They also visited Tiber Island, the site of the modern world’s first-ever hospital, and Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, which served as an ancient emperor’s retreat.

Beyond Textbooks

Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard ensured that students tied their travel experiences to textbooks in Latin and English. For example, while visiting the Forum, the group read Cicero, who regularly spoke at that venue. “The Latin students on the trip served as a great resource to the handful of kids who hadn’t taken classics courses,” said Mr. Sheppard. “The Latin language added a layer to unlocking the ancient world and our students got to experience Latin beyond textbooks, seeing everything from funerary inscriptions and plaster casts of Pompeii citizens who died in 79 AD to the ancient world’s most active port that allowed Romans to import grain from Africa and other goods from Asia.” 

"I really enjoyed reading Latin literature in the original locations in which they were written," said Linda Tong '19, who has taken Latin at Blair since her freshman year and is enrolled in Greek for the 2018-2019 school year. "Some highlights were reading Ovid’s Ars Amatoria in the Circus Maximus, a text about Cicero in the Roman Forum, and Pliny’s letter about the eruption of Vesuvius in Pompeii. I could visualize the descriptions of the authors, and it really made Latin come to life. Overall, this trip helped me develop a stronger connection to the Latin language and Roman history." 

Traveling with Blair's classics teachers was especially gratifying, Linda added, as they helped her to understand the historical and cultural context of the places that the group visited, as well as appreciate the Latin inscriptions on monuments throughout the city. That she had the opportunity to experience Rome with close friends and teachers made it a much more meaningful experience. "It was a lot of fun learning with other Latin students, Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard," she said. “They are all so passionate about the language and we shared a lot of nerdy Latin jokes during the trip."

Adding Complexity & Nuance

Both Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard look forward to bringing their latest Roman experiences back to their classrooms next year by continuing to focus on the interdisciplinary nature of classical study. “On a trip like this, the intersection of science, language, archeology and philosophy is really apparent and you see how layered this discipline is,” said Mr. Sheppard. “To the extent we can convey that to students, encouraging them to learn a grammar point and then connect to its larger implications, we will.”

Doing so, Ms. Fralick explained, adds complexity and nuance to students’ understanding of the ancient cultures that have shaped our own, while they are, at the same time, somewhat alien to our own. “There is a tendency to think things were simplistic in the past, so we want to ensure students see the depth of one of the world’s earliest globalized societies, as well as the fact that the issues Romans were grappling with are similar to the ones we are facing today,” she said. 

To learn more about the students’ day-to-day experiences, click here.


Reading broadly and intelligently are essential components of a good education, and Blair faculty members encourage reading throughout the 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, and they are urged to read even more.

Students must read a minimum of five books over the summer months, including 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 2018 summer reading assignments are listed below. New and returning students enrolled in certain language courses for the 2018-2019 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 10, 11, 12’s 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (Click here for more on this year's all-school read.) 
*Ninth-grade students should wait to read Homegoing until it it covered during the school year in their English 1 class.

Requirements for Selected Courses (listed by department) for 2018-2019


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; US History: In lieu of summer reading, these courses are allowed to assign a book over either the winter or spring break.
AP US 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.
AP Comparative Government:  Mr. Jenkins will email you an assignment in August.


Chemistry Honors: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials that Shape our Man-made World (Miodownik). Dr. Sayers will email a related assignment in August.
AP Chemistry: The Elements:  A Visual Exploration (Mann/Grey). Dr. Sayers will email a related assignment in August.
AP BiologyRiddled With Life  (Zuk); Campbell 10th Ed AP Biology text Chapt. 1-3. Mrs. Hadden will email a related assignment in August.
Physics AP C (Mechanics): 50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know (Baker)
Physics AP C (Electricity & Magnetism): Relativity Simply Explained (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 Mrs. Lang.
All Classics students: Click here for the assignment from Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard.
French 4 and above:  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)

Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing Is Blair’s 2018 All-School Read

A 30-member committee of students and teachers selected Yaa Gyasi’s debut novel Homegoing as Blair’s 2018 all-school read, and the School community is delving into the award-winning work over the summer. “Each committee member who read the book was struck by its compelling story and beautiful prose,” said English department chair James Moore, who instituted the all-school read last year as part of his department’s effort to nurture Blair’s literary community. “We are excited to have Homegoing become part of the Blair conversation in 2018-2019.”

Mr. Moore explained that the selection-by-committee process was new this year. “I personally chose Weike Wang’s Chemistry as our all-school read for 2017-2018, but I wanted others—especially students—to have a say in this year’s book,” he said. He contacted publishers, university professors and independent bookstores for recommendations, but, ultimately, it was history teacher Hannah Higgin, PhD, who brought Homegoing to his attention. The book became one of three debut novels (including Elizabeth Cohen’s The Glitch and Christine Mangan’s Tangerine) that Mr. Moore chose for the committee to consider. After reading one or more of the works, committee members made the selection, which Mr. Moore, Lydia Richardson ’20, Avery Lehman ’21 and Gardner Coates ’20 revealed at School Meeting on May 11.

Homegoing tells the story of two half-sisters born in 18th-century Ghana, one of whom is sold into slavery while the other is forced to marry an English slaver. Ms. Gyasi traces their descendants through eight generations, alternating viewpoints throughout the novel, a literary technique that piqued Lydia’s interest. “Seeing the story through the eyes of a slave in Mississippi, the Ghanaian wife of a British colonizer and various members of their tribal family provides the reader with new and different perspectives on the history of slave trade and its effects on the people involved,” she said. “That’s what makes this book so fascinating.”

Director of Timken Library Ann Williams loves the way the two branches of the matriarchal line cross fortunes through the slave trade and across continents as their destinies unfold. “The characters are warmly drawn and the human drama is engaging and real,” she said. “The reader is taken on an epic journey in this thought-provoking tale.”

Having introduced Homegoing as a potential all-school read for 2018-2019, Dr. Higgin said, “It's such a joy to find a book that's as readable as it is poignant and relevant, and I'm so excited that the committee picked this book so I can share it with the wider community.” 

Mr. Moore, Mrs. Williams, Dr. Higgin, history department chair Jason Beck and English department faculty members are planning a variety of programs surrounding the all-school read for the coming year, including a possible author visit, panel and classroom discussions, and presentations. New and returning sophomores, juniors and seniors have been assigned Homegoing as summer reading, while freshmen will study it as part of their English classes in the fall. “The book is fast-paced and beautifully written, but it touches on some difficult issues, including slavery and cruelty,” Mr. Moore noted. “We want to make sure we support our youngest students around those issues as necessary.”

Looking ahead, Mr. Moore envisions students becoming even more involved with the annual selection of the all-school read. “I’d like students to research possible works, to connect with the literary world and to make decisions about the literature we read on campus,” he said. “In the next couple of years, the selection committee will become primarily student-run with some faculty support. This year’s process was a good step in that direction.”

Blair Celebrates Alumni Weekend 2018

An outstanding celebration of Blair camaraderie and community was on display during Alumni Weekend 2018. Blair grads representing eight decades registered to attend, and a full schedule of time-honored and unique events provided many opportunities for alumni and their guests to see the campus and connect with classmates, teachers, and old and new friends.

Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy noted that one of the highlights of the weekend was the Friday-night all-alumni Welcome Back party. While members of the Old Guard (50th reunion and above) enjoyed the traditional dinner in the Romano Dining Hall, alumni from all other classes gathered under a tent on Hardwick Hall lawn to enjoy catering and beverages provided by Tom Kehoe ’83 (Yards Brewing Company), Mark McLean ’98 (Remarkable Cuisine, LLC), Shaun Mehtani ’02 (Mehtani Restaurant Group), Matt Gallira ’08 (Big Mozz, Inc.) and Steve Abrams ’75 (Magnolia Bakery). A 10:30 p.m. fireworks display capped off the event that Mrs. Murphy said truly brought the Blair community together. “Everyone on campus, from the oldest alum to the youngest faculty child enjoyed the fireworks that night!” she said.

Of course, there was plenty to do throughout the entire weekend. Sports enthusiasts had their pick of activities, including a guided hike through the Siegel Property and the Blair Cup golf scramble on Friday; the coed alumni soccer game in memory of Ryan Newton ’08 and the alumni lacrosse game on Saturday; and the “Verdant Hills” road cycling tour on Sunday. And Bucs of all ages filled the bleachers in Hardwick Hall’s performance gym on Saturday morning for the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony honoring Craig Scott ’68, Milton (Skip) Waddell ’73, Stacey (Gorski) Spring ’95, John Giacche ’98, Nicole (Armano) Weston ’98 and Charlie Villanueva ’03.

Saturday’s Alumni Parade, Head of School Assembly, family picnic luncheon and dinner dance were as enjoyable as ever, while Dick Boak ’68’s “Skeptics” presentation offered an exclusive look at “Designing Guitars with Legendary Musicians.” Alumni also took advantage of opportunities to tour the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration, gather for their reunion class photo, and just spend time catching up with friends and classmates.

“Every year, Blair enjoys celebrating its graduates at Alumni Weekend, but this year, we really tapped into the talents of our alumni,” Mrs. Murphy said. “Even Sunday’s breakfast featured an alumni business, with Ashley Thompson ’08’s MUSH Overnight Oats on the buffet. From start to finish, it was an exciting weekend, and we can’t wait to welcome alumni back to Blair again next year.”

Blair Celebrates Underclassmen at Year-End Assembly

Blair’s freshman, sophomore and junior classes came together on May 29 to celebrate students’ accomplishments at the Underclass Prize Assembly, at which faculty members presented a number of subject and major department prizes. To watch the assembly in full, click “play” below.

Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni welcomed the audience to the last assembly of the 2017-2018 school year, commending students for their hard work and dedication to excellence in the final days of the spring semester. 

“The work of real learning is dirty and it is messy and it leaves a mark,” he said. “That mark is what we take with us. It is a mark formed by surprising facts, challenging ideas, inspiring teachers, your personal willpower to learn, your struggle to do it consistently and your willingness to let others help you along the way. The best learners among us are the ones who see a chance to see a chance to learn like a muddy hill during a major rainstorm. The only way forward is a full-speed, head-first dive down that hill into the glorious muck and mess below. Emerging with the remnants of your journey coating every inch of your person. Tonight, we honor those who got the muddiest this year in the pursuit of learning.” 

Following his remarks, the chairs of Blair’s eight academic departments recognized awardees for outstanding work in those disciplines. Veteran science teacher and longtime president of Blair’s cum laude chapter Rob Merrifield then inducted junior members and Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto thanked those students who will serve as prefects in 2018-2019 for their dedication to this important servant-leader position. Following that presentation, Mr. Pagotto’s student life office colleagues, 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 2017-2018 school year closed.

“At a time when we rightfully honor the achievement of your peers on this stage today, along with the great and many deserving things you have all done that don’t fall into a category of prize or award, I would like to take the opportunity to close this year and prepare us for the next one, our 171st year, by reflecting for a few moments on the idea of honor,” he said. “Blair is not just magically a kind and good and honorable place of achievement and friendship. Blair is not a kind and good place unless each of us chooses to be kind and good to each other, every day. Every day, every year, with every action, each of you makes this school what it is and I am proud of you when you write its story and influence the experience of all around you.”

Mr. Fortunato asked the audience to remember that Blair is a promise and an opportunity, 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 2018 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 31 and summer vacation begins.

Congratulations to these awardees: 

The Phillips-James Rosen Trophy & Underclass Art Prize: Aiden Abrahamsen '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Alexandra Bakulina '21

The John Kinch Leach Merit Award: Dylan Benson '20

Sophomore English Prize: Cameron Bentley '21

Freshman English Prize: Jonathan Blanco '21

Performing Arts Prize for Theatre: Matthew Bottone '19

Performing Arts Prize for Instrumental Music: Yu Cao '19

History Prize for Global Issues & the Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Xiaopei Chen '21

Performing Arts for Instrumental Music: Joy Cheng '19

Freshman Science Prize for Biology Honors & Freshman English Prize: Lucy Clayton '21

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Ariel Cobb '20

Freshman English & the Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Ashley Dai '21

The Joan and Fernando Marcial Prize: Thomas Engel '20

Underclass Art Prize: Alex Glickman '19

The Marguerite Deysson Habermann French Prize & the Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Eleanor Haines '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Katherine Holding '20

The David Avery-Jones Freshman Prize: Katherine Jacobs '21

The Henry B. Cowan Prize & U.S. History Prize: Daisy Kahn '19

History Prize For Western Civilization: Alexandra Kirby '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Seo Yeong Kwag '20

Gauss Prize For Algebra: Timothy Launders '20

Newton Prize For Calculus & Junior Science Prize for Physics: Chun Pang Li '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Lula Mantegna '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Ashton Martini '20

Sophomore Science Prize for Honors Chemistry: Olivia McLaine '20

Newton Prize for Calculus, Junior Science Prize for Physics & U.S. History Prize: Anthony Moore '19

History Prize for Western Civilization: Abigail Morris '20

Sophomore English Prize: Emia Musabegovic '20

Underclass Art Prize: Elizabeth Negvesky '19

Sophomore Science Prize for Honors Chemistry: Shaoyang Naviee Ni '20

Euler Prize For Analysis & Language Prize For Chinese: Serena Ninomiya '19

The Stephen Curry Prize: Joop Olthof '21

Underclass Art Prize: Meredith O'Neill '19

Pythagoras Prize for Geometry: Jenna Park '21

AP Science Prize & the Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Hai Phan '19

History Prize for Western Civilization & the Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Lydia Richardson '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Robert Rucki '20

Performing Arts Prize for Theatre: Audrey Sacks '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Samuel Salander '19

Underclass Art Prize: Justin Shi '19

The John Kinch Leach Merit Award: Elise Sigety '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: George Sigety '21

Performing Arts for Vocal Music: Nina Sigety '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Linda Starrs '21

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Mollie Sysler '21

The Henry B. Cowan Prize: Linda Tong '19

The Phillips-James Rosen Trophy & Underclass Art Prize: Jessica Van Valkenburg '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Cleary Waldo '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Jonathan Wong '21

History Prize for Global Issues: Hei Chun Wu '21

The David Avery-Jones Freshman Prize, Religion & Philosophy Prize for World Religions & Freshman Science Prize for Honors Biology: Xiucheng Zhang '21

Blair Buccaneer

On May 14, Blair Academy honored its top spring varsity athletes for their hard work this season. Prizes were presented to team members in each sport, in recognition of their tremendous impact on and off the playing fields. Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88 noted that the Blair community is proud of all its spring athletes for the grit, determination, good sportsmanship and perseverance they exhibited throughout the season.

2018 spring athletic prizewinners:

Blair Lacrosse Prize: Carter Albers ’18
Blair Lacrosse Prize: Ellie Pinkerton ’18 
Paul Tennis Award: Brian Park ’19 
Anzel Tennis Award: Tim Johns ’18 
Hurley Crew Prize: Zachary Kreider ’18
Hurley Crew Prize: Max Cavallaro ’18 
Blair Girls' Golf Award: Katie Douglas ’18
Blair Girls' Golf Award: Anna Taivalsaari ’19 
Zimmerman Golf Trophy: Brian Li ’19 
Stowell Softball Award: Jess Schable ’19 
Kemp Crew Prize: Nia Henry ’18
Kemp Crew Prize: Sammi Hui Bon Hoa ’18
Brooks Baseball Prize: Matt Tung ’19
Pender Track Award: Madison Jones ’19
Pender Track Award: Alec Valle ’18

Blair Celebrates Commencement of Class of 2018

Blair Academy marked its 170th commencement on May 24 as the members of class of 2018 received their diplomas before an enthusiastic and appreciative audience of Trustees, faculty, students and family members. Assembled on the sun-dappled lawn in front of Sharpe House, seniors celebrated their accomplishments and promising futures as they enjoyed their final class gathering before joining Blair’s alumni ranks. To watch a video of the ceremony, click "play" below.

The traditional faculty, Trustee and senior procession opened the graduation ceremony, after which Blair chaplain and religion and philosophy department chair the Rev. Lisa Durkee offered the invocation. Head of School Chris Fortunato and Senior Class Council members Helen Mercedes ’18 and Ronan Smarth ’18 each stepped to the podium to welcome guests, thank all those who made students’ Blair experience possible and reflect briefly on the momentous occasion.

Presentation of faculty awards and appointments to the United States service academies followed (please see list of appointees below), after which three top student prizes were accorded: Kenza Fernandez ’18 and Emma Mohlmann ’18 received the Headmaster’s Prize; William Kaiser ’18 won the Blair Academy Trophy; and Rebecca Xi ’18 was named class speaker as the recipient of the George P. Jenkins ’32 Prize.

Rebecca offered perspective on her Blair experience, sprinkling in a few quotes from Marvel and DC Comics, which she discovered during her junior year and has grown to love. Noting that the super power she secretly longs for is the ability to fly, she described graduation day as a day on which the entire class is flying together. Yet there have been times when each of them has fallen, too, and they’ve learned a great deal from those falls. “Flying and falling, failure and triumph, everything has happened for a reason,” she said. “And that reason is this moment, this day, this time of celebration and smiles and stomach-clenching thoughts that we’ve made it, we’re actually here.” Looking to the future, Rebecca advised her classmates, “We have so much ahead of us, in college and beyond. We will fly and we will certainly fall. But, like we have during our brief time at Blair, we will become all the better for it.”

The moment that many in the audience were waiting for arrived as Assistant Dean of College Counseling Britt Freitag called each graduate’s name and Mr. Fortunato conferred diplomas. Handshakes and hugs were shared as the graduates crossed the podium and then returned to their seats for the conclusion of the ceremonies.

Mr. Fortunato took the opportunity to advise Blair’s newest alumni one more time before they headed off to make their mark on the world. Noting that each of us is an unending work-in-progress, he affirmed that the members of the class of 2018 are all becoming exactly what the world needs to make it a better place. He also encouraged seniors to carry the “Blair bubble” wherever they go. “Inside that bubble is the best you’ve experienced here and the best that you’ve become, and it lives in the good work you’ll do in the lives of others,” he said. “So spread the ‘bubble’ beyond this campus, and go make the world more like the best that you’ve experienced and created here.”

Finally, Mr. Fortunato introduced Richard Rubin ’68, longtime class representative of this year’s 50th-reunion class, who presented the class of 2018 pennant to Timothy Johns ’18. As the Blair Academy Commencement Ensemble struck up Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” the class of 2018 triumphantly processed from Sharpe House, through the Arch and into the waiting arms of their cheering families and friends. Congratulations, class of 2018!

Faculty awards presented at graduation:

Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence: English teacher Douglass Compton
Riether Residential Life Award: Associate Dean of Admission Teddy Wenner ’96
John C. and Eve S. Bogle Teaching Prize
: Performing arts department chair Jennifer Pagotto
Headmaster’s Faculty Prize: fine art teacher Tyson Trish
Tedlow Teaching Prize: Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw

Appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy:
Xavier Carbonaro ’18

Appointments to the United States Naval Academy:
James Joyce IV ’18  
Thomas Menoni ’18
Jade Torres ’18

To view more photos visit our Flickr album.

Class of 2018 Reflects on Time at Blair at Baccalaureate

Seniors’ Blair careers ceremoniously drew to a close last night at the School’s Baccalaureate service, which is annually held on the eve of graduation. Throughout the spiritual service, the soon-to-be-graduates reflected on their time at Blair and looked to the future as they prepared to receive their diplomas the following day. To watch a video of the service, click "play" below.

As is tradition, the evening ceremony began with a bagpiper-led procession through the Arch to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, where the class of 2018 marched through a walkway lined with applauding faculty members. Chaplain and religion and philosophy department chair the Rev. Lisa Durkee welcomed the audience in DuBois Theatre before opening the service with a prayer.

Student leaders Alex Roberts ’18 and Savannah Doelfel ’18 read from the Hebrew scriptures and Christian testament before Blair’s Chamber Orchestra and Singers played musical meditations. Head of School Chris Fortunato took to the podium to give brief remarks and introduce the night’s keynote speaker, math teacher Danyelle Doldoorian, who was elected by the senior class to give the Baccalaureate address.

As they prepared to graduate, Ms. Doldoorian shared “moments of inspiration” that have profoundly impacted her and challenged seniors to find what inspires them as they prepare for the next chapter of their lives.

“You will soon have your own moments of inspiration that will teach you something,” she said. “These moments might completely change the way you think or the way you live your life.  Some of these moments might just come to you, but I’d encourage you to do all you can to go find them.”

Ms. Doldoorian added that throughout her life, inspiration has come most readily when she has surrounded herself with “good” people: “People who inspire you to be better, who inspire you to take chances, who inspire you to create the life you want.” Then, she left the soon-to-be graduates with a final charge: “Go find your happiness and your inspiration, and make the most of everything this phenomenal world has in store for you.”

The ceremony continued with a litany led by Ms. Durkee, followed by a rendition of Blair’s alma mater, "The Blair Love Song" by former faculty member H.C. Thorpe, led by Blair’s a cappella group. Ms. Durkee closed the evening with a benediction, and seniors and their families enjoyed dinner together in the Romano Dining Hall for a final time following the ceremony.

Outstanding Seniors Recognized at Class of 2018 Assembly

On the eve of graduation, seniors gathered in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts to celebrate the achievements of outstanding classmates, to collectively present the School with a class gift, and to look back at the 2017-2018 school year in video retrospective. 

Head of School Chris Fortunato and Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni welcomed attendees to the Class of 2018 Assembly, recognizing senior leaders and cum laude society members before introducing the faculty members who presented named prizes (see a full list of award winners at the end of this story). Teachers and administrators alike praised award recipients for their contributions to the community over the course of their Blair careers. 

To watch a video of the assembly, click “play” below.

When the eighth and final prize was given, members of the Senior Class Council presented Mr. Fortunato with a check for $3,609.76, the amount raised by 93 percent of seniors who made gifts to the Blair Fund. Assistant Director of Annual Giving Anna Matthews worked throughout the year to raise awareness among the senior class about the importance of alumni Blair Fund support. For the 17th year, Trustee Emeritus Jim Krugman '65 and his wife, Connie, maximized the class gift by generously contributing a 3:1 match of every dollar raised by seniors. 

After accepting the check and thanking seniors for their generosity, Mr. Fortunato closed the ceremony with a short introduction to the class of 2018 video perspective and his advice to the soon-to-be-graduates as they anticipated commencement and life after Blair.

“We applaud you for your achievements, and we know they are the result of incredibly hard work, dedication and great care,” he said. “The accomplishments of the class of 2018 are many. They are exceptional and worthy of our pride because they are a product of individual determination, talent and the support of so many—your teachers, roommates, parents, siblings, coaches, and everyone inside and outside the Blair community, past and present, who have created a culture of achievement and care for one another. We are so proud of them, the School and all of you.”

2018 prize winners:

The Franklin Prize is awarded to the senior who has shown the greatest development and improvement over the course of his or her Blair career. 

Ethan Amato and Veronica Blair

The Elaine & James Kelley Prize is awarded to that student who best represents the spirit of the postgraduate program by strengthening academic skills and his or her horizons through meaningful participation in the life of the community.

Thomas Menoni

The Selena & James Howard Prize is awarded to a member of the senior class who has made significant contributions to the life of the School.

Onome Akinobode-James and Apaar Anand

The Lee Rose Memorial Trophy is awarded to the senior, who, while performing with merit in the classroom, has made significant contribution to Blair life.

Savannah Doelfel and Elisabeth Pinkerton 

The Harold F. Walker Memorial Prize is awarded to a member of the senior class who has made significant contributions to the life of the School.

Luigi Pasquariello and Daniel Sysler

The Robert Dalling Prize is presented to the male athlete who has best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition.

William Kaiser

The William Zester Memorial Award is presented to the female athlete who has best represented Blair in athletic competition.

Katherine Douglas

The Herbert J. Siegel Sportsmanship Prize is presented to that senior whose sportsmanship, spirit, and selfless dedication to his or her teams best represents Blair athletics.

Clio Bersani and Dy-Jae Pearson