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Blair appreciates who you are,

what you stand for & all that you can achieve.


The Blair experience is transformative.

Find out how it can change your life.


Blair academics inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Our robust curriculum invites you to explore your passions.


At Blair, students explore artistic interests & discover new passions.

Vibrant fine & performing arts opportunities abound.


Athletics are part of the fabric of our community.

Bucs compete on 30 varsity & 21 JV and thirds teams.


Blair’s 460-acre campus is filled with history & natural beauty.

Experience the highlights by taking a virtual tour.


Let us introduce you to Blair!

We'd love to welcome you to campus for a tour and interview.


All together we boldly write Blair’s next chapter.

Our Strategic Plan highlights our “All In” philosophy.


Our faculty members are passionate about education.

They care about & know our students exceptionally well.


‘What do you stand for?’

Blair community members participate in The Leadership Stories Project.


No matter what your interests or where you are from,

you will find your place at Blair.


Community Weekend
Community Weekend

Hoarse voices, high energy and incredible memories are lingering on campus— remnants of our first Community Weekend. Saturday night was filled with the beloved Blair tradition of Soccerfest. This year, the girls’ varsity squad battled local high school Kittatiny under the lights on our home turf. Face paint, cheering and spirit were plentiful as fans rushed the field and piled onto the bleachers for the big game. A halftime penalty kick contest with the Blair Buccaneer as goalie brought laughter and free t-shirts to participants and spectators alike, followed by continuous chants and cheers led by members of the Senior Class Council.

Community Weekend

On Sunday, students gathered in dorm and day-student groups by Blair Lake for Kon-Tiki boat races, huddling as they hurried to craft a serviceable boat out of cardboard and duct tape in one hour. While Insley Hall, day students and the faculty kids rowed fastest across the lake, the Annie Hall boat lasted the longest, turning back to remain afloat and cheer on the second heat. The Kon-Tiki races were followed by Super Sunday, where the much-anticipated soap slide saw students flying down one end of the Bowl while hot pretzels, corn dogs, ice cream and a dunk tank featuring Mr. Curran gathered crowds in the other. In between, lawn games and the traditional egg toss kept students busy and laughing. The weekend ended with the delicious smell of a cookout wafting over campus as students and faculty, relaxed and hungry, settled at tables for a community-wide picnic down in the Bowl. As lines of students drifted back to the dorms for study hall, the air was filled with the camaraderie and friendships that were strengthened over a memorable first weekend at Blair.

The Bucs are Back - Fall Athletics Photo Gallery

The fall athletics season is in full swing as teams are competing in their first games of the year. Enjoy a few shots of our student-athletes in action above or visit this link to view the complete photo galleries. 

These galleries will continue to be updated as the season progresses.

Convocation 2021

On September 6, as the last rays of the sun stretched across campus before dark, a sea of eager Blair students spilled from the Romano Dining Hall. Coming together as a student body for the first time, they gathered on the flagstones, dressed in formal attire, and sorted themselves into order, ready for the procession to begin. Then, with bagpipers leading and the flags of 28 countries represented by Blair’s student body fluttering, the stream of students filed through the Arch and past Blair’s storied stone buildings, much as Blair Bucs have done for the past 174 years.

The procession marked the beginning of Convocation, Blair’s annual tradition that sets the tone for the year and affirms the sense of belonging that comes from sharing an experience that thousands of Blair students have participated in since the School was founded in 1848.

Click “play” below to watch the Convocation ceremony in full:

The entire Blair community extends a heartfelt welcome to our new and returning students. In the words of Head of School Peter G. Curran, who addressed the community at the ceremony: “If the last two years have taught us nothing else, it is how important it is to build relationships and connect with people, and these should be priorities for all of us this year...We are excited to open up our homes this year and for us to spend time together in a more natural setting. I know we will embrace all of the regular, day-to-day moments of boarding-school life that we were unable to fully enjoy last year, and I, for one, can’t wait!”

With campus once again teeming with eager students sharing hugs, conversation and stories for the first time in the 2021-2022 school year, we can’t wait to see the connection, learning and growth that this year will bring to each member of our Blair community!


Blair students and teachers spent their first days on campus at Orientation, an action-packed series of events designed to bring the community together after the long summer break and set the stage for a great year ahead. Orientation offered plenty of opportunities for classmates to get to know new students in their grade and reconnect with old friends and faculty.

Associate Dean of Students Rod Gerdsen planned and managed Orientation activities, which included a variety of class-specific and school-wide events, all geared toward helping students feel at home on the hilltop.

The action kicked off on Sunday as students gathered with their respective classes for bonding activities, which included a hike to the local fire tower and icebreakers, as well as a number of important sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion and community life. Twelfth graders attended a selection of seminars with topics including financial literacy, self-defense, survival skills, stress management, healthy relationships and social media/networking.

Later Sunday evening, 9th graders participated in a special “big brothers/ big sisters” dessert get-together with the 12th-grade class, during which they were paired with mentors to help them navigate their first year at Blair. All students then converged on Hardwick Commons for a Welcome Back Party complete with music by the Atomic Rock Band, s’mores and fire pits, a doughnut food truck, pizza, Spikeball and cornhole.

Monday morning found students scouring the far corners of campus as 9th graders embarked on a scavenger hunt to familiarize them with Blair’s buildings and grounds. Both 10th and 11th graders traveled off-campus to mini-golf and bowl, giving them another chance to bond with classmates. With 12th graders set to begin the busiest semester of their Blair careers, last-year students slept late and had a relaxing day playing games, sipping iced coffee, and sampling brunch and various sports such as volleyball, swimming, basketball and golf.

Students will gather together later in the afternoon for the first School Meeting of the year, preparing to celebrate Blair’s 174th formal opening at Convocation later in the evening. To watch a livestream of Convocation starting at 7 p.m. visit this link.


Still from "5 Years From Water"

Thao Nguyen ’21 was honored recently when her film “5 Years from Water” was selected for inclusion in the 2021 Indy Shorts International Film Festival. A celebration of determination, the film was selected to screen from hundreds of entries from around the world.

“5 Years from Water” is a documentary short centering on Mike Danesi, a 72-year-old man from New England who has spent the last decade building a wooden boat by hand in his self-crafted barn.

The film explores the emotional and personal connection Mike has to the lost art of wooden shipbuilding and what prompted him to pursue such an ambitious project at this period of life. Using a three-member crew of Blair students, Thao shot the film’s footage on a field trip led by film teacher Robert Hanson.

Thao’s film won Best Documentary Short and Audience Choice Award during the festival, and it marked Thao’s directorial debut and the first time she submitted work to be featured in a film festival. The film was also screened in the New Jersey Documentary Film Festival, the LA Student Film Fest, the All American High School Film Festival and the Phantoscope High School Film Festival.

Presented by Heartland Film, the 2021 Indy Shorts International Film Festival is the largest shorts festival in the Midwest, running in Indianapolis, Indiana. Originally an expansion to the Heartland International Film Festival, Indy Shorts has become its own six-day summer festival that celebrates the unique, creative and captivating art of short films in a wide range of categories. Winners frequently qualify for consideration in the Annual Academy Awards’® Short Film category.

“It was an absolute honor to have something I am so passionate about be recognized and shared to film lovers like me,” Thao said. “An added joy that came out from the experience was being able to meet and connect with talented filmmakers all over the world that I might not have had the chance to acquaint with otherwise.”

Thao credits the community at Blair for helping her bring Mr. Danesi’s story to life.

She is especially grateful to her friends, Aniketh Bandi ’23 and Gator Hopkins ’21, for forming the crew and handling the cameras and equipment without much prior experience. She notes that Blair’s art department provided her and the production team with the proper gear and the support that aided herin realizing her vision for the film.

“Lastly, and I have probably beaten this gratitude horse to death, but thank you to Mr. Hanson for discovering this story, for being the silent driving force behind this entire project,” Thao said. “I simply cannot wait to see how he will guide the future generations of filmmakers at Blair Academy.”

Due to the pandemic lockdown restrictions in Vietnam, Thao is now mainly focused on screenwriting, but her dream is to attend film school. She hopes that the success of “5 Years from Water” will provide new opportunities to work in-person on film sets and create her next vision. The Blair community looks forward to Thao’s career and the stories she will tell in future films.


Welcoming Fresh Faces to Blair: 2021 Preseason is Here!

With the first hints of fall and the excitement of preseason hanging in the air, Blair welcomed a sea of shining faces this week as students and athletes returned to campus.

Relaxed from their summer and energized for the year ahead, Blair’s football players reunited first, enjoying a picnic at Sharpe House before diving into warm-ups and conditioning on Hampshire Field on August 23. A few days later, leaders with the Senior Class Council (SCC) gathered for the annual retreat during which they craft their mission statement and plan the year ahead. On August 29, prefects and members of the student organizations Be Well @ Blair and the Blue & White Key Society joined SCC leaders to begin a two-day orientation under the direction of Dean of Campus Life Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79. Their training focused on certifying students as peer educators and building the listening, conflict resolution and referral skills that are essential for Blair’s student residential advisors.

Faculty advisor to the Senior Class Council Andee Ryerson described this time prior to the official start of the school year as critically important for Blair’s athletes and student leaders. “These groups develop teaming skills, learn about their group dynamic, and get a jump start on planning events for the rest of the year,” she noted. The training provided to senior leaders is especially vital. “By bonding as a group at the start of the year, they form deep connections with each other so that they have an added support system throughout the year. Senior leaders acquire the skills that will assist them as they become mentors to younger students, including listening skills, DEI training, and a deeper understanding of the School's many resources so they can best support the younger students.”

As registration continues, Blair will get even livelier as nearly half our campus community reunites when preseason athletes return on August 31st. They will be followed by international students on September 3rd and all students on September 5th. 

With orientation activities beginning that afternoon and classes on September 7th, we can’t wait to welcome all our students and start the 2021-2022 academic year!


2021 New Faculty and Staff

As students returned to Blair’s hilltop campus this week, they were greeted not only by the veteran faculty they’ve come to know and love but also by a number of dynamic new teachers and administrators who joined the School community this year. Read on to meet the newest members of Blair’s dedicated faculty and staff. 

2021 New Faculty and Staff

Chase Palanca 15, Admission

Chase Palanca ’15 joins Blair’s admission team as an admission counselor. He completed his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins University and received his master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021. From 2019 to 2021, he worked as a humanities teaching fellow and wrestling coach at St. Paul’s School. Mr. Palanca is excited to share his love for Blair with prospective families and work with Ross Gitomer ’05 as assistant wrestling coach. He is joined by his partner, Haley Chrobock ’15, and lives in West Hall.

Monisha Randhawa, Admission

Misha Randhawa joined the admission office in 2020 as assistant dean of admission and coordinator of multicultural student recruitment. She earned a bachelor’s degree in global and international studies at the University of Kansas in 2016 and a JD at Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law in 2020. As a law student, Ms. Randhawa served as business editor for the Law Journal on Race, Gender and Ethnicity and as a student representative to the Coalition of Houston Diverse Bar Associations. Her professional experience includes legal internships for a Seward County, Kansas, district court judge and a Houston legal aid office, as well as working as a clerk for a Houston law firm. She also served as a student assistant in the law school’s office of career and professional development, where she was involved in many facets of recruitment and hiring, including assisting in the development of programs surrounding minorities in the legal field. Ms. Randhawa is a graduate of Fountain Valley School in Colorado, and she is excited to return to a boarding-school setting and introduce prospective families to the Blair community. 

Batouly Camara ’15, College Counseling

Batouly Camara ’15 returns to Blair as a college counselor and head girls’ varsity basketball coach. Ms. Camara played NCAA Division I basketball at the University of Connecticut, where she earned bachelor and master of science degrees in sport management. She went on to play in Spain’s professional women’s basketball league and founded the nonprofit Women and Kids Empowerment (WAKE), which develops partnerships and programs with community leaders, local basketball federations, and global organizations to combat the lack of access, resources and opportunities for young girls. At Blair, she continues in her role as a counselor and mentor to young people, imagining their futures through her role in Blair’s college office. She is replacing her own high school mentor, Quint Clarke ’87, who stepped down as head coach of the varsity team after 10 years of exceptional dedication to the program.

Annie Gardner, English

Annie Gardner is an alumna of the Lawrenceville School and Dartmouth College, where she earned a BA in English in 2015. A graduate of the Teach for America program, Annie worked for two years in the rural Mississippi Delta at Amanda Elzy Junior High and subsequently taught sixth-grade English at Canyon Ridge Middle School in Texas. She brings to Blair extensive experience in rowing, serving as girls varsity head coach of the Austin Rowing Club since 2017 where she helped build a competitive program that qualified for Nationals each spring. At Blair, Ms. Gardner teaches English 2 and 3 and coaches the girls’ crew team. She and her fiancé, Steve, reside at Lake House. 

Cency Middleton, English

Cency Middleton works in Blair’s academic support center and serves as a member of the English department. She teaches the senior elective “Great New Books,” as well as Blair’s health-and-wellness and LEADS programs. Ms. Middleton completed her undergraduate work at Washington and Jefferson College in 2011 and earned a master’s degree from the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English in 2020. She brings eight years’ experience to the classroom, working previously as an English teacher at the Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Northwood schools in New York and the Berkshire School in Massachusetts. She looks forward to coaching soccer and skiing at Blair, as well as exploring Blairstown during her regular runs. Ms. Middleton and her partner, Anders, live in Mason Hall. 

Anders Fogel, History

Anders Fogel teaches history and serves as head coach of boys’ varsity lacrosse. A graduate of the Hotchkiss School and North Park University, Mr. Fogel is completing his master’s degree at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. He came to Blair from Vail Mountain School, where he taught history and English and served as head coach of the boys’ lacrosse team and assistant coach of the boys’ soccer team. Mr. Fogel began his teaching career at Salisbury Summer School in 2017, and then went on to teach English and coach soccer and lacrosse at New Trier Township High School. A world traveler who has been everywhere from Norway to Antarctica, Mr. Fogel lives in Mason Hall with his partner, Cency. 

Anna Raley, History 

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in history from Huntingdon College, history teacher Anna Raley worked at St. Paul’s School, where she became assistant director of the summer Advanced Studies Program. Ms. Raley came to Blair from Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, where she taught humanities and served as head JV volleyball coach and assistant coach of girls’ varsity soccer. Prior to that, she taught history and coached basketball and soccer at various levels at St. Michael Catholic High School in Alabama. Ms. Raley earned her master’s degree in liberal studies with a concentration in cultural studies from Dartmouth College in 2018. Ms. Raley’s partner, Ashlyn, is a registered nurse who works in Blair’s Health Center. The couple resides in Insley Hall. 

Allan Issenchmidt, Language 

Allan Issenchmidt, a native French speaker, joins Blair’s language department as a French teacher. He earned his undergraduate degree in applied foreign languages from the Université d’Avignon in France and his certificate in teaching French as a foreign language from the Université Le Mans. Most recently, he taught French at the Tarabya British Schools in Istanbul, Turkey. In addition to his work in the classroom at Blair, Mr. Issenchmidt coaches junior varsity boys’ soccer and skiing. He is an avid soccer fan, especially of Marseille’s football club. He and his wife, Blair language teacher Maria Smith Issenchmidt, reside in Lakeside Hall.

Maria Smith Issenchmidt, Language 

Language teacher Maria Smith Issenchmidt earned her bachelor’s degree in French and political science from Hood College and holds a master’s degree in intercultural communication with a concentration in Francophone studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. In addition to teaching French at her most recent position at Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey, Mrs. Issenchmidt also taught at Garrison Forest School in Maryland, where she coached field hockey and advised the Model UN team. She and her husband, language teacher Allan Issenchmidt, have settled into Lakeside Hall. 
Kurt Neumaier, Language 

Language instructor Kurt Neumaier is a 2019 graduate of Lewis & Clark College, where he majored in classics with a concentration in ancient language and minored in religious studies. While at Lewis & Clark, Mr. Neumaier studied abroad in Siena, Italy, and spent several summers leading outdoor wilderness adventures that included whitewater rafting and rock climbing. Prior to coming to Blair, he worked as a substitute history teacher and librarian-in-training for his alma mater, The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Neumaier has also spent time working as a youth development associate at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Portland Metropolitan Area. At Blair, Mr. Neumaier teaches Latin, coaches football and boys’ JV lacrosse, and lives in Mason Hall. 

Meiyi Cheng, Mathematics 

Meiyi Cheng came to Blair from the BASIS Independent School, where she taught mathematics. Having graduated from the Punahou School in 2009 and earned her bachelor’s degree in management science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2014, Ms. Cheng now teaches geometry and multivariable calculus at Blair and coaches the debate team. Earlier in her career, she worked in the real estate and banking industries and mentored students as they learned test-taking strategies while teaching SAT mathematics and reading comprehension at Elite Prep. Following her college graduation, she got her start in teaching during a gap year in China. Ms. Cheng resides in Ivy Hall and is excited to share both her passion for learning and her love of all things Harry Potter with her students. 
Ross Gitomer ’05, Mathematics

Ross Gitomer ’05 returns to his alma mater as a math teacher and head coach of the wrestling program. His teaching and coaching experience includes 10 years at St. Christopher’s School in Virginia, where he served as an upper-school mathematics teacher, freshman dean and head wrestling coach. As coach, Mr. Gitomer proudly led St. Christopher’s team to win a multitude of titles including two Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) State Championships, six Virginia Prep League Championships as well as helping secure top-five rankings for the team at the 2016 and 2017 National Prep Wrestling Championships. During his time at Blair, Mr. Gitomer distinguished himself as wrestling team captain and a national prep champion. He was also an NCAA qualifier and ACC champion at the University of Virginia, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in government studies and master of education/teaching. Mr. Gitomer teaches algebra and precalculus, and he is joined at Blair by his wife, Kellyn, and two sons. The family lives in Wayside House on Park Street.

Will Murray, Mathematics

A member of Blair’s math department, Will Murray holds dual bachelor’s degrees from Miami University, one in mathematics and statistics and a second in French. In 2021, he earned his master’s degree in mathematics from Western Washington University, where he gained classroom experience as a graduate teaching assistant, filling the role of primary instructor for courses in Calculus, Precalculus and Algebraic Functions. Mr. Murray has worked in a variety of other positions that include clinical database programmer for a medical laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio, and an office manager intern for a cycling and adventure company in Camaret-sur-Aignes, France. At Blair, he will teach mathematics and coach junior varsity girls’ basketball and varsity baseball. 

Emma Barnes O'Neill, Advancement

Ms. Barnes O’Neill joins Blair’s advancement team as director of annual giving. She is a 2015 alumna of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in media and American studies and played Division III field hockey. She began her career in advertising in New York City before gaining independent school experience as assistant director of the annual fund at Noble and Greenough School. A graduate of The Lawrenceville School—where she grew up on campus—Ms. Barnes O’Neill serves as a class representative for both her alma maters. She and her husband, Terrence, reside in Mount Olive, New Jersey, with their dog, Brodie.

Catie Urfer, Advancement

Ms. Urfer holds a bachelor’s degree in English (2002) and a master’s degree in education (2003) from Quinnipiac University. A former teacher and director at The Giving Tree Preschool and The Buttonwood Preschool, which she co-owned, she is skilled in fundraising, event planning and parent relations. Ms. Urfer joins Blair’s advancement team as an advancement associate, and she assists in managing the office’s many events and activities. She lives in Knowlton Township with her husband, Doug, and children Sam and Emma. 

Adele Starrs, Communications

Adele Starrs joins the communications office as senior writer and editor. Her professional experience includes 20 years as a freelance proofreader and copy editor for Penguin Random House, Inc., and she has served as the mayor of Knowlton Township, New Jersey, since 2015. Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English at The College of William and Mary, Ms. Starrs earned her master of science degree from Columbia University in 2021 in human capital management. She is a co-founder, past president and trustee of the Warren County Governing Officials Association and a volunteer with the Land Conservancy of New Jersey and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Ms. Starrs and her husband, Tom, have four children, including Lily ’21 and Brigette ’25.

Erin Sobczak, Head of School's Office 

Erin Sobczak is assistant to the Head of School, a role in which she provides administrative and project support and plans events for the Blair community. She is a 2000 graduate of Rutgers University, where she majored in environmental science, and subsequently began her career as an environmental scientist. Over the years, Erin has worked in a variety of roles across industries, including as a senior library assistant at the Warren County Library, as a medical administrative assistant at New Jersey’s Premier Health Associates and as an administrative assistant at a paper company in Utah. Her experience also includes public outreach, education and creating and managing programs as both an outdoor educator and summer nature director at Camp Sloane YMCA in Lakeville, Connecticut, and assistant teacher and assistant director of The Montessori Children’s Academy in Convent Station, New Jersey. A longtime volunteer, Erin enjoys mentoring children as a soccer coach and Girl Scout volunteer. She lives in Hardwick with her two children.
Rosalyn Zamora, Health Center 

Rosalyn Zamora, a registered nurse with more than five years of experience in emergency room trauma nursing, is Blair’s new director of health services. She joined the Health Center staff in August 2020 and was instrumental in helping to develop our COVID-19 health-and-safety protocols and executing the School’s COVID-19 testing strategy. Prior to coming to Blair, Ms. Zamora served as operations manager of the emergency department at Geisinger Wyoming Valley in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; a registered nurse at Morristown Medical Center; and a clinical nurse supervisor at Pocono Medical Center in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. She earned her master’s degree in nursing leadership and administration from Capella University in 2018, a bachelor of science in health science at Mercy College in 2010 and a bachelor of science in nursing at Rutgers University in 2011. Ms. Zamora is currently working toward becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP) at Chamberlain University and expects to graduate in 2022.

Sigety Summer Institute
Sigety Summer Institute

While students relax during their last moments of summer, faculty have begun preparing for the upcoming year. Last week, 14 faculty  members joined Dean of Teaching and Learning Amanda Lucas and Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni for the 5th-annual Sigety Summer Institute. “The institute is such an incredible opportunity for faculty,” explained Mrs. Lucas. “Once the school year gets underway, it can be difficult for faculty to carve out time to dive into their own learning. The Sigety Institute offers our faculty that time: time to step away from the grading and prepping and instead delve into learning they care deeply about in a collaborative environment where they can explore along with their colleagues.”

Historically, these institutes have provided Blair faculty with the opportunity to join together, whether intra- or inter-departmentally, on a common topic or goal. This year, three teams developed, each with their own proposed product. They took advantage of the myriad spaces in the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration to work both in groups and independently. They heard from nationally renowned presenters Dr. Liza Talusan and Dr. Laura Link, both experts in secondary education, during morning sessions early in the week. In the afternoon, colleagues engaged in deeper conversations and explorations and reflected individually on their takeaways. The week ended with each team presenting to peers, administrators and the entirety of this year’s new faculty cohort. Each group demonstrated the time, care and knowledge that went into developing their product, sharing with a larger audience that could also benefit from their work.

Sigety Summer Institute

Team One: Working Effectively with Peers from Different Backgrounds
Mrs. Mantegna & Ms. Randhawa

Science teacher Shelly Mantegna and Assistant Dean of Admission Misha Randhawa presented first on a three-day lesson plan they developed for the LEADS curriculum. LEADS, Blair’s sophomore leadership seminar, pushes students to reflect on their own identities, perspectives and personal values. Mrs. Mantegna and Ms. Randhawa created a three-day sequence designed to deepen students’ understandings of their own and others’ identities and cultures while building in space for them to reflect on their perspectives, strengths and weaknesses. The exercise will help students better appreciate, communicate with and work more effectively with peers from different cultures, backgrounds and perspectives.

Team Two: Nurturing Future Scientists
Dr. Abascal, Ms. Booth, Ms. Chamberlain, Dr. Sayers, Mr. Termidor, Mr. Thatcher & Mr. Wagner

Seven members of the science department joined together in an effort to more closely align the department’s broad curriculum goals. As Biology teacher Joseph Wagner explained, once the school year begins, it can be easy to get “stuck in your discipline” without considering what’s happening on the other floors of Bogle. Together, these colleagues identified six tenets of a Blair science graduate; Blair science students are: powerful communicators, effective collaborators, thoughtfully skeptical, intellectually adaptable and self-sufficient, ethically concerned citizens and curious. Participants not only identified these skills as essential to being a successful science student at Blair, but also developed a timeline of implementation that unifies the department’s focus on nurturing these traits in students. 

Sigety Summer Institute

Team Three: Prioritizing Clear Communication with Effort Marks
Ms. Castillo, Ms. Doldoorian, Mrs. Hadden, Ms. O’Neil & Ms. Schulman

The last group brought together five faculty members from five different departments. Together, they affirmed the strengths of Blair’s 6.0 grading scale in the context of available research. They discussed effort marks at Blair and how to improve community clarity, understanding and communication of those effort marks. As a final product, they developed a prototype of a more formalized effort mark rubric that could be used as a tool to better communicate with students how they’re performing currently and where they can improve. The team’s work will be shared with the entire faculty later this week as part of Blair’s opening-of-school meetings. The faculty’s time together last week prepared them to lead the full community in ongoing professional learning throughout the coming school year. 

Sigety Summer Institute

The Faculty Summer Institute has existed as an invaluable professional development resource for Blair teachers since 2017. The Sigety family has generously ensured that this unique opportunity will continue to enrich Blair’s faculty for years to come by endowing the program. In its fifth season the program continued to offer unique learning opportunities for our faculty that will directly benefit Blair students this year. 

Blair Honors Veteran Faculty & Staff
Leucretia Shaw and Reanna Mauriello

Head of School Peter G. Curran welcomed faculty and staff back to campus on the evening of August 24 at the annual Opening of School Dinner, during which he looked forward to the coming year and congratulated veteran employees for service milestones.

Bookstore manager Reanne Mauriello was recognized for her 25-year milestone as a dedicated member of the School’s staff, and Dean of Strategic Initiatives & Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw, who was appointed in 2010, was recognized for her contributions to the School with a ten-year award.

Luol Deng ’03, Royal Ivey ’00 & Head Coach Joe Mantegna Reunite for Afrobasket 2021

A new student arrived on Blair’s campus in the fall of 1999 lugging a bookbag and little else. Standing over six feet tall, with a broad reach and a broader smile, the boy told classmates that he “came from nothing,” and indeed, he didn’t have the basketball shoes he needed to play at the School. Seeing an opportunity to help, a Blair postgraduate approached the younger man, offering him his basketball sneakers… And the friendship between Blair basketball legends Luol Deng ’03 and Royal Ivey ’00 was born.  

Head coach of the Blair varsity boys' basketball team, Joe Mantegna, fondly recalls the early years in which the two basketball standouts trained on the Blair court together. “Luol had just come from the United Kingdom, and Royal mentored him, challenging him on the court in practice every day. They developed a very close rapport, and Luol certainly got used to American basketball.”  
Having fled war-torn South Sudan with his family in 1990, Luol Deng ’03 entered Blair Academy as a student from the United Kingdom and went on to a storied basketball career that took him to the highest echelons of the sport. After graduating from Blair, Luol spent one season at Duke and then starred for 15 illustrious years in the NBA, even playing for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics before retiring in 2019.

Then, in November 2019, an unexpected opportunity came knocking. The country of South Sudan needed a leader for their newly formed national Basketball Federation, and with overwhelming support, the parliament elected Luol Deng. With responsibilities that included overseeing the men’s and women’s national teams with hopes of creating a junior national team down the road, Luol settled into his new position as president of the South Sudan Basketball Federation.

While the presidential position didn’t require coaching the men’s national team, Luol soon found himself faced with time and budget constraints and accepted the role of coach for a few games this year. To his delight, the South Sudan men’s team made history, grabbing one of 14 spots and qualifying for the 2021 African basketball championship, known as AfroBasket, for the first time. The hugely popular tournament, which occurs only once every four years, has served in the past as a qualifying tournament for the FIBA World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games. Recognizing that the national team needed experienced leadership for this prestigious tournament, Luol turned to those who had befriended and mentored him in his first semesters at Blair. 

In the years since he graduated from Blair, Luol had kept in close contact with Coach Mantegna and Royal. While Coach Mantegna built Blair’s boys’ basketball program into a national prep school powerhouse, he also served as consultant to Luol’s nonprofit foundation, running camps throughout North America and Australia for Sudanese immigrants and, annually, for the best players in the UK. The two maintained a close relationship, with Luol even serving as godfather to Coach Mantegna’s youngest son, Xavier ’24. Meanwhile, Royal played college basketball at the University of Texas at Austin and then starred for 10 distinguished years in the NBA before retiring as a player in 2014. He then commenced coaching in the NBA, serving as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets, while still finding time to reunite with his fellow Bucs at events like Blair’s 2009 ceremony at which their numbers were retired (pictured above).

Recognizing the impressive talent and deep experience that his fellow Blair alums offered, in May 2021, Luol Deng named Royal Ivey head coach of the South Sudan Basketball Federation’s Men’s National Team and Coach Mantegna assistant head coach.  

Coach Mantegna is now busy preparing for his departure to Rwanda, where the Afrobasket competition will be held on August 24 through September 5. He could not be more excited about this opportunity for both of his former students. “It is an incredible honor for Luol to be the first president of the South Sudanese Basketball Federation. This is the first time South Sudan has competed in Afrobasket and it carries incredible weight. I am humbled to be a small part of it,” he said. 

Coaches Ivey and Mantegna have their work cut out for them. In the weeks ahead, they will need to refine their roster, run training camp, strategize and develop detailed game plans for each opponent they face. But Luol is confident that Royal is the right person to guide the team. “Royal is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, with an exceptional understanding of the game,” Luol said. “His personality, IQ and drive are precisely what our Men’s National Team needs to elevate to the next level.”

Coach Mantegna concurs. “Royal is an absolute star coach in the making. This is a great opportunity to not only lead the South Sudenese national team but to show the world what a talented leader he is.”

Luol Deng has come a long way since he arrived at Blair toting only his backpack. As all great athletes do, he has learned from the past. This time, he will show up on the new court armed with two weapons: Royal Ivey and Joe Mantegna. Join us in cheering them all on as they lead the South Sudan Men’s National Team to world history on August 24; games will be televised on ESPN+ and YouTube.

Kristin Muller artist
Kristen Muller art

From August 17 through September 18, multimedia artist Kristin Müller opens the Romano Gallery season with an exhibit exploring the natural world titled “Interpretation and Iteration: An Exploration of Ideas and Visual Language in Clay and on Paper.” Using a selection of wood-fired ceramic vessels, clay mono prints and prints on paper, the artist draws from different interpretations of the natural world, wabi-cha aesthetics, gesture and surface design.

Ms. Müller describes her artistic process as “sometimes deliberate,” but she says, “My most productive moments are those in which I let go and immerse myself in the process of making. On these occasions, stream-of-consciousness thoughts are channeled through my hands and onto the material of choice.” Describing herself as restless by nature, the artist allows impressions to flow through her work stemming from the visual, experiential, physical and subliminal. 

The Executive Director of Peters Valley School of Craft in Layton, New Jersey, and an adjunct professor for the graduate ceramics program at Hood College, Ms. Müller currently divides her time between working with the next generation of artists and creating at her studio in Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania.  She is the author of “The Potter’s Studio Handbook: A Start to Finish Guide to Hand-built and Wheel-Thrown Ceramics,” which reviewers acclaim as an essential pottery manual and has been translated into Dutch and Swedish since its 2007 publication. More recently, Ms. Müller co-authored "Making Good: An Inspirational Guide to Being an Artist Craftsman," which was published by Schiffer Books in April 2017. 

Ms. Müller will join the Blair community for an artist’s talk on September 16, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Romano Gallery. This opportunity for the artist to discuss her work, process and influences is open to the public and provides a terrific opportunity for Blair students to learn more about the creative process. 

Alumni Weekend Sign

For the Blair Academy community, Alumni Weekend is a cherished moment of annual celebration. It’s a time when friends and classmates return to a campus that holds many memories, reunite with old friends whom they may not have seen in years, make new connections with graduates from other classes, and most importantly, share their stories.

In what promised to be an outstanding celebration of camaraderie, alumni reunited for a single-day celebration on August 14, with festivities kicking off the night before to honor the 25th and 50th reunion classes.

“Above all, we were excited to see our alumni return to campus and see each other, many for the first time in a very long time,” said Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy. “Although this didn't look similar to previous years’ celebrations, we hope that alumni continued to create great memories from this event.”

Of course, there was plenty to do throughout the entire weekend. On Friday evening, members of the graduating classes of 1970, 1971, 1995 and 1996 came together for dinner and cocktails under the stars at Sharpe House. The action continued on Saturday as alumni attended the Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the awards presentation.

Blair established the Hall of Fame in 2016 to recognize the men and women who have distinguished themselves and Blair on the athletic fields, or who have contributed to the development of athletics at the School. To be considered for membership, nominees must have exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment at Blair and have been outstanding members of the community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character.

The 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Class included Janet (Jones) Harrington ’76, Melissa Henderson Koenig ’84, Chris Nallen ’00, Patrick Santoro ’85 and Steven Mocco ’01. The 2021 Athletic Hall of Fame Class included Jan Hutchinson, Tom Hutchinson, the 1954-55 Football Team and the 1987-1988 Softball Team.

Of course, Saturday included the traditional lunch picnic followed by a variety of activities for recreation enthusiasts from co-ed softball and basketball games to a hike through the Siegel Property and a visit to the new Merrifield Meditation Garden. In addition, the class of 2020 had the opportunity to gather and reconnect with a lunch and presentation on Sharpe House Lawn.

“Alumni Weekend 2021 promised to be a relaxing day on campus to enjoy time together,” Mrs. Murphy said. “We put together an event that brought out everyone's Blair spirit, and we hope that attendees had a wonderful time!”

To view photos from the weekend, click here.






Families may purchase textbooks online for the 2021-2022 school year beginning on Wednesday, August 11. A list of textbooks required for your student will be emailed to parents prior to the start of the sale, and books can be ordered through a link in that email. Students and parents may view course enrollments for the current 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 by the first day of classes on Tuesday, September 7. To place an order, click this link or visit the School Store website. To watch a video tutorial about ordering, click here. From August 11 to August 24, Blair students can receive free shipping on orders over $59.

In addition to new books, MBS Direct also offers select titles at a discount for those interested in renting books or purchasing used books. Students may have textbooks shipped to their homes or, for those who would rather travel to Blairstown without textbooks, directly to the School. Shipments should be addressed as follows: Student Name, Blair Academy, 2 Park Street, Blairstown, NJ 07825.

Parents are encouraged to sign up for the Virtual Bookstore email list where they can receive direct notifications from MBS Direct about upcoming promotions, buyback events, book availability and other reminders.

For assistance in ordering books online, please call the MBS customer service department at 1(800) 325-3252 or email customerservice@bncservices.com.

If you have questions regarding textbook purchases, please contact School Bookstore Manager Reanne Mauriello at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5635, or maurir@blair.edu.

laptop and books

While most of Blair’s students and faculty are enjoying time off before the start of the 2021-22 school year, a group came together over the summer holiday for a series of unique learning opportunities. Starting July 19, four Blair faculty members offered a series of mini-seminars on topics that gave students a special opportunity to learn from their teachers free of charge.

The mini-seminar series began in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic as students were unexpectedly stuck at home. Blair teachers came together to create a different way to connect and share interests with students, no matter where they might be on the globe.

This year, the virtual mini-seminars took place from July 19 to August 6. Each participating teacher chose a subject that is not traditionally taught during the year and about which they are passionate.

Science teacher Chris Thatcher, who taught Physics at the Intersection of Fear and Fun: Design Your Own Roller Coaster, noted that for most of the students who participated in his seminar, the physics terms and concepts are new. His seminar offered a look at physics in a fun, low-pressure environment. Experienced physics students were given the opportunity to further apply what they might have learned during the school year.

“Above all, I hope the students enjoyed seeing fellow students during the summer and getting a chance to interact while on-screen in our sessions,” he said.

Mr. Thatcher and his fellow seminar instructors enjoyed having a chance to meet some of the new students before they arrive on campus later this month. It is rewarding, he noted, to see their progress and motivation to optimize the great ideas they discussed and demonstrated.

Learn more about the unique mini-seminars:

The Science of Emotions

Taught by science teacher Joe Wagner, this course explored what scientists think and know about emotions. By using major findings of affective neuroscience and psychology to construct an understanding of the experience of emotion, students examined how the brain uses concepts to simulate our reality.

Physics at the Intersection of Fear and Fun: Design Your Own Roller Coaster

Students discussed what is important for a fun (and safe) roller-coaster ride while exploring the variety of roller coasters in theme parks around the world today. Led by Mr. Thatcher, students used an online program to practice with ready-made rides, then designed their own roller coaster. The program’s interactive simulation model recreated the physics of the roller coaster and tracked statistics including how passengers liked the ride.

The [Space] Odyssey Continues

Under the guidance of science teacher Doc Sayers and Annika Rollock ’14, students took a short look at the history of spaceflight to find out what it took to have “the right stuff” to put people into the cosmos. They also explored the work being done in preparation for a return to space exploration and discussed the pros and cons of current uses of space, including tourism, telecommunications, weather, climate and resource monitoring, national surveillance, and long-range human and robotic exploration.

Annika, who assisted Dr. Sayers, is currently enrolled at the University of Colorado, Boulder, studying bioastronautics, one of the institution’s specialties. Her work centers on changing the design of space habitats, such as the International Space Station, to update them with cutting-edge technology.

The Power of the Phone Camera

Taught by photography teacher Tyson Trish, this seminar had students studying the language of photography, which is further empowered by social media and interactions from around our community and our world. Students explored the power of the smartphone camera and different ways to express themselves through this medium. The group of student photographers created a virtual show with images from the week.

Michael Tobey ’12 Makes Olympic History
Michael Tobey '12

Born on October 10 at 10 a.m. and weighing 10 pounds, former Blair Buc Michael Tobey has spent his entire basketball career, from high school to professional leagues, wearing the number 10 on his jersey. Since he secured a spot in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Michael may have just found his new lucky number: 2021.

Blair basketball standout Michael Tobey ’12 secured his place in the Tokyo Olympics after helping the Slovenian national team qualify for the games for the first time in team history, a feat covered by a number of national and international media outlets. Named to the Slovenian roster in June, Michael proved key to bringing the national team to this point. As the team’s second-leading scorer, he averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the qualifying rounds and scored an impressive 27 points on the July 3 Olympic qualifying tournament in Kaunas, Lithuania. According to Dallas Mavericks' point guard Luka Dončić, who also plays on the Slovenian national team, Michael’s outstanding 12 defensive rebounds proved pivotal in the 96-85 win over Lithuania that secured Slovenia’s Olympic berth. 

Dončić praised his teammate’s performance in the clinching game, which included facing off against Lithuanian team and NBA stars Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valančiūnas. “He’s a great defensive guy,” Dončić says of Michael. “He’s really helping us down there.” 

A 7-foot-tall center, Michael first gained notoriety at Blair and rose to prominence with the University of Virginia’s Cavaliers, where he played 138 games, a program record, and made three trips to the NCAA tournament. In 2015, the Atlantic Coast Conference named him the Sixth Man of the Year. Currently, Michael is coming off his third season playing in the EuroLeague for Valencia, Spain. 

Michael becomes the second Blair Buc to qualify for the Olympics in men’s basketball, joining the elite company of Luol Deng ’03, who played for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympic Games. Be sure to watch Michael in the Olympics as Slovenia plays Argentina on July 26, Japan on July 29 and Spain on August 1.  

On behalf of the Blair community, we congratulate Michael and wish him the best of luck in Tokyo. We are rooting for him!