Alumna to Talk College Connections, Archaeology & Understanding the Past at Skeptics

By the time Emily Boak '13 graduated from the University of Chicago last year with a degree in anthropology, archaeology and geographical studies, she had already discovered her love of research, thanks in large part to her involvement in a U.S. State Department-funded project called the Afghan Heritage Mapping Partnership. She will talk about her work on the project, as well as how Blair helped her to discover her passions and ultimately connect with the college professors moving the project forward, during a March 27 Society of Skeptics presentation in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration (CIC).

"Working on this project through the University of Chicago's Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes introduced me to a niche of scholars using geographic information systems and high-resolution satellite imagery to map archaeological sites, not just looking at a single site, but at whole regional systems of settlements and irrigation systems," said Emily, who found every University of Chicago class "absolutely fascinating" and loved having the freedom to very liberally choose her courseload. "I got involved simply by emailing the professor who was leading the project and got very lucky with the timing."

College Connections & Narrowing Down Major Options

Noting that she came to college with a vague plan of studying political science or public policy, Emily hopes Blair students take away from her talk the power of getting in touch with college professors, even if you have never met them or taken their classes, and letting them know you're interested in what they do.

When Emily arrived in Chicago in 2013, she quickly found that the university had a solid two years of core curriculum and that most students didn't seriously start courses to fulfill major requirements until midway through their second year. She spent a lot of time as a freshman and sophomore trying out various disciplines, taking courses in math, social sciences, art, geology and biology. After spending six months in Paris studying history, Emily was torn because she really enjoyed history, science, art and languages, but ended up deciding on her major by looking through the course catalog and choosing the one that had the most classes that she found interesting.

'Learning as a Part of Living'

Anthropology and archeology, Emily soon discovered, perfectly fused her passion for all of those other disciplines. Although some of those interests dated back to childhood, she credits Blair with helping her find her career path. "Blair and all of the incredible teachers and individuals who I met there played a huge role in how I got to where I am now," she said. "I think that, more than anything, the approach to learning that is infused into every day at Blair is what has been most formative, for it followed and encouraged my sense of curiosity and independent thought. Through countless conversations with teachers and mentors on walks to School Meeting, in the dorms, at formal dinner, on the sports fields and in Thursday Chapels, Blair made it clear to me that learning is not something that just happens in school; it is part of living."

During her 7 p.m. presentation in the CIC's Collaboration Forum, Emily will detail for the audience how the Afghan Heritage Mapping Project came into being as a partnership among the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Kabul Polytechnic University. During her "fun, very visual talk," Emily will address how Blair shaped her scholarly interests, explain how connecting with college faculty members can lead you down unexpected paths and underscore the impact of war on cultural heritage.

"The project I am working on has access to extremely high-resolution aerial imagery of Afghanistan, and I will share some of these images from various periods from the 1950s to today," concluded Emily, who will touch on her work tracing the 16th-to-17th century Silk Roads through Afghanistan, through which she and colleagues have found nearly 200 previously unrecorded "caravanserai," which are caravan inns where travelers, merchants and pilgrims would stop. "The scale and scope of study that satellite imagery allows gives archaeologists the opportunity to focus on huge areas."

All members of the Blair community are welcome to attend Emily's lecture and she encourages audience members to learn more about her University of Chicago lab and the Afghan Heritage Mapping Project in advance of her presentation.

The History of Skeptics

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.

Alumni Reconnect at Events & Receptions

Throughout the 2017-18 school year, Blair alumni have had many opportunities to gather at various locations both near to and far from campus. While the Bucs celebrated exciting milestones on the hilltop—such as the opening of the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration and the dedication of Joe and Shelly Mantegna Court—Shaunna Murphy, director of alumni relations, has been busy planning a variety of festive events for Buccaneers to enjoy in between all the big moments at Blair.

"Blair is ever-evolving," said Mrs. Murphy. "Every Blair graduate leaves the School having helped shape its past and its future. It's important that the alumni who have had such an impact feel connected to both the School and their fellow classmates."

In January, Blair's Chief Advancement Officer Craig Hall and Director of Stewardship E. Courtnay Stanford '95 joined alumni at the School's first-ever reception in Anaheim, California. Alums from nearly all recent decades were represented, which inspired many conversations about Blair's history and how the School has grown over the years.

Next, Head of School Chris Fortunato joined alumni, parents and Blair advancement staff at Yards Brewing Company, founded by Tom Kehoe '83, in Philadelphia on March 1. Mr. Kehoe, who hosted the event at his brewery for a second time, gave attendees an inside look at his company's distillery processes before inviting guests to enjoy conversation, appetizers and, of course, brewed-on-site beverages.

"Blair is a place that fosters strong friendships and a sense of community," Mrs. Murphy continued. "Those connections don't end after your four years at Blair, and alumni events are so special because we get to see those relationships continue outside the physical School community. Attendees are always genuinely excited to see each other and their former teachers, reminisce about good times and hear about Blair happenings!"

Looking ahead, students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends of the School will gather on March 12 at The Gresham Centre at St. Ann & St. Agnes Church in London, where Blair's Orchestra and Singers will perform pieces from their American and British repertoires before mingling with guests at a post-concert reception. The event is part of the musicians' spring break tour of England, and Mr. Fortunato, along with fellow faculty members Ryan '97 and Jen Pagotto, Craig and Kaye Evans, and Ryan Manni, look forward to reconnecting with many alumni, parents and friends who live across the pond. (Read more about the students' performances and travel abroad.)

East Coast alumni will have two more opportunities to meet up at spring events in New York and Connecticut. More information on these events, and future ones, will be posted at www.blair.edu/alumni-events in the coming weeks.

Blair Announces the Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Blair Academy has named six outstanding Buccaneers to the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2018: Craig N. Scott '68, Milton C. "Skip" Waddell '73, Stacey (Gorski) Spring '95, Nicole P. (Armano) Weston '98, John Giacche '98 and Charlie A. Villanueva '03. Representing the very best of the School's storied athletic tradition, these former Blair players will be celebrated during an Alumni Weekend induction ceremony on Saturday, June 9.

Director of Athletics Paul Clavel '88 led the Hall of Fame committee's consideration of nearly 50 Bucs this year, many of whom were nominated by Blair community members. He noted that the Hall of Fame class of 2018 comprises phenomenal athletes who excelled in multiple sports at Blair, in college and beyond. "These alumni are the foundation of Blair's tradition of athletic excellence," he said.

The 2018 Hall of Fame selection committee included former athletic directors John Frere, Dan Hazen and Jim Stone; Chief Operating Officer and former wrestling coach Jim Frick; Assistant Director of Athletics, head wrestling coach and former Blair athlete Brian Antonelli '93; history teacher and track and cross country coach Martin Miller, PhD; Dean of Campus Life, softball coach and former Blair athlete Carolyn Conforti-Browse '79; Director of Advancement Craig Hall; Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy; Sports Information Director Rhett Moroses '13; athletic office administrative assistant Danielle Costantino; and Board of Governors President Robert Van Stone '69.

Blair's Athletic Hall of Fame was instituted in 2016 to recognize and celebrate the athletic achievements of its alumni and coaches, and the selection criteria established at that time continue to guide the selection process. In order to be considered for Hall of Fame membership, nominees must have exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment during their time at Blair and have been outstanding members of the School community in the areas of scholastic achievement, citizenship, integrity and moral character. Selection is based primarily on athletic accomplishments while a Blair student or coach, although subsequent achievement in athletics or other areas may be considered. Finally, alumni nominees become Hall-of-Fame eligible in the 10th year following their graduation, while coaches become eligible after their retirement from Blair.

All are welcome to attend the June 9 induction ceremony, which will be held in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Members of the Blair community are welcome to suggest nominees for the Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2019 using this online form.

The Blair Academy Athletic Hall of Fame Class of 2018

Craig N. Scott '68

A three-sport varsity athlete at Blair, Mr. Scott served as co-captain of the basketball and baseball teams as a junior and captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams as a senior. He earned all-state accolades in basketball (second team) and baseball (first team) during his junior year and was named to the first team in all three sports as a senior, one of only three athletes in New Jersey to receive that distinction in 1967-1968. Mr. Scott lettered in golf at Cornell University and continues to play the links at a high level to the present day. A 2011 Lehigh Valley Golf Hall of Fame inductee, he has qualified for six career United States Golf Association (USGA) national championships and made two trips to the U.S. Senior Amateur. Among his many tournament wins are the 2004 Golf Association of Philadelphia Senior Amateur and the 2013 and 2014 Lehigh Valley Senior Inter-Club championships. Mr. Scott has remained connected to his alma mater as a parent volunteer during his children's (Corey '00, Lindsey '04 and Lucas '06) Blair years, as a class of 1968 reunion committee member, as a Blair-Wellington Golf Exchange volunteer and as a participant in the Alumni Weekend Blair Cup Golf Scramble, which his foursome has won several times.

Milton C. "Skip" Waddell Jr. '73

Mr. Waddell earned 10 varsity letters during his Blair athletic career, four each in football and baseball, and two in basketball. A leader on the athletic fields, he co-captained the School's undefeated 1972 football squad and was named to the first team all-state; he also served as captain of the baseball team. Mr. Waddell continued to play football and baseball at Bucknell University, earning a total of seven varsity letters. As a freshman, he led Bucknell's baseball team in hitting with a .354 average, and he became the first African-American in school history to earn four varsity letters in the sport.

Stacey (Gorski) Spring '95

Winner of 12 varsity letters and a starter in each season, Mrs. Spring played soccer, basketball and softball as a Buccaneer. Recipient of post-season honors in 11 of those seasons, she co-captained the soccer and softball teams as a senior and was a member of two prep "B" championship teams, including the School's only girls' soccer state title in 1993 and a girls' basketball state title the following winter. Her Blair athletic awards include the Stowell Softball Prize, the Blair Soccer Prize and the William Zester Memorial Award, presented annually to the senior girl who has best represented Blair in athletic competition. A Blair Bogle Brothers Scholar, Mrs. Spring was also recognized for her many contributions to the School community with the David Avery-Jones Freshman Prize, the John Kinch Leach Merit Award and the Lee Rose Memorial Trophy. She matriculated at Middlebury College, where she earned six varsity letters (three in soccer, one in basketball and two in softball). Mrs. Spring and her club softball teammates, with the support of Title IX and the school's administration, formed Middlebury's first-ever varsity softball team in spring 1998, and she was a co-captain during the program's first two years. From 2002 to 2013, Mrs. Spring served on Blair's faculty as an English and history teacher as well as head varsity soccer coach and assistant varsity softball coach. She was recognized for exemplary teaching with the 2012 John C. and Eve S. Bogle Teaching Prize.

Nicole P. (Armano) Weston '98

Captain of Blair's girls' soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams, Mrs. Weston was a force to be reckoned with in each of these sports. She was the leading scorer on the soccer team (1995, 1996 and 1997), the basketball team (1998), and the lacrosse team (1997 and 1998), and she received all-state honors in soccer and lacrosse as a junior and senior and in basketball as a senior. Having earned 12 Blair varsity letters, Mrs. Weston was awarded the Brooks Basketball Prize, the Blair Lacrosse Prize and the William Zester Memorial Prize, presented to the senior female athlete who has best represented Blair in competition. She continued her athletic career at Barnard College, where she played soccer for the Columbia University Lions.

John Giacche '98

A standout wrestler at Blair, Mr. Giacche was the first Buc to win four national prep championships (1995 at 103 lbs., 1996 at 112 lbs., 1997 at 119 lbs. and 1998 at 125 lbs.) and the third four-time winner in national prep tournament history. He also claimed the 1997 Ironman title (125 lbs.) and competed as a freestyle wrestler at junior nationals, placing fifth in 1997 (123 lbs.) and fourth in 1998 (132 lbs.). He was awarded the Franklin Prize as a senior, an honor accorded to the student in the senior class who has shown the greatest development and improvement throughout the course. Mr. Giacche continued to achieve success as a four-year varsity wrestler and starter at Northwestern University. In 2002, he was an NCAA Division I national qualifier, and he placed first in freestyle wrestling at university nationals (66 kg.). He also received three Northwestern University accolades that year: the Lupton Award for net takedowns, the Jack Riley Award for total falls and the Stuteville Award for season points leader. The university honored Mr. Giacche in 2003 with a Billy McKinney Award, given to the male athlete "who has exhibited exemplary leadership qualities, constant (110-percent) effort and a positive attitude, that, in his coach's estimation, make him a 'coach's dream.'" In addition, he earned multiple academic all-Big Ten honors during his college career.

Charlie A. Villanueva '03

An NBA player with an illustrious professional basketball career, Mr. Villanueva was a varsity-letter winner in basketball and track at Blair and co-captain of the basketball team his senior year. In 2003, he was named a McDonald's and Parade magazine All-American, and he received Blair's Haskins Basketball Prize. A highly sought-after college recruit, Mr. Villanueva continued to play basketball at the University of Connecticut, where he earned Big East All-Rookie team honors as a freshman in 2004 playing for the national champion Huskies. As a sophomore, he led the team in scoring, was named most valuable player and made the second team all-Big East. Declaring for the NBA draft at the conclusion of his sophomore year, Mr. Villanueva began his professional basketball career in 2005 with the Toronto Raptors as the seventh overall draft pick. He has since played for the Milwaukee Bucks (2006-2009), Detroit Pistons (2009-2014) and Dallas Mavericks (2014-2016). Mr. Villanueva is a spokesperson for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and he was recognized with two Raptors Community MVP Awards and the February 2006 NBA Cares Community Assist Award for his work with children who have this autoimmune disease. His Blair jersey (number 31) was retired during a 2009 Alumni Weekend ceremony, along with those of fellow Blair NBA players Luol Deng '03 and Royal Ivey '00.

Students Engage in 'World of Ideas' at TEDxBlairAcademy

More than 100 students and teachers gathered for the second TEDxBlairAcademy conference on February 28, the third event in a three-year collaboration with Gill St. Bernard's School. In the spirit of events sponsored by TED—a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks—it was fitting that the School hosted its second TEDx (the "x" denoting an independently organized event) in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum, a space on Blair's campus that is frequently used for similar gatherings.

The daylong conference kicked off with a welcome from Blair history department chair Jason Beck, who again organized the event with Michael Chimes, a college counselor at Gill, before launching into talks and presentations by seven juniors and seniors from Blair and Gill. The event also featured prerecorded TED talks and a guest lecture by Sam Tarantino, a businessman, musician and entrepreneur. Mr. Tarantino, brother of Leo '18, has founded two start-ups, and he spoke on experiencing failure and how to bounce back from it.

"The whole point of the TEDx is to give kids the opportunity to engage in the world of ideas, apart from their day-to-day experience inside the classroom," said Mr. Beck. "Students generated the presentations, and students were the audience. It really is about students talking with their peers about the things about which they're passionate."

Listening, Learning & Sharing Ideas

Mr. Beck gave his students responsibility for creating TEDx conference content, inviting them to "draft a proposal for a TED talk on a subject that you find interesting and that you are passionate about." He was pleased to receive more than 20 proposals, a sign that his students are eager to explore and share their ideas with a larger audience. Ultimately, three Blair students were chosen to present at TEDxBlairAcademy.

"I hope the students see that we all have subjects that we're interested in, and that it's important to share those passions with other people," Mr. Beck said. In addition to the excitement of students willing to present at the TEDx event, many juniors and seniors were also enthusiastic about gleaning bits of knowledge and wisdom from others, as evidenced by the many TEDx attendees who filled the Collaboration Forum.

Blair Student Presentations

Despite past hesitation to discuss her topic, Linda Tong '19 was excited to present on neurodiversity at the conference. "I have always wanted to talk about this topic, but, in the past, I have not had the courage or appropriate platform," she said. "Blair's TEDx conference seemed like the perfect opportunity to discuss it."

During her talk, Linda shed light on the "unique strengths" of neurological differences and aimed to confront and dismiss the stigma that often surrounds mental disabilities. "I hope the audience will come to value neurodiversity, rather than simply viewing autism and other neurological disorders as disabilities and deficits," she said.

Fernando Doddoli '19 hoped to inspire others to act on their ideas without fear of failure through his TED talk on goal setting, self-confidence and achieving "the impossible." By sharing a narrative about personal struggles he faced over the last two years in trying to start a company at a young age, Fernando told attendees, "I want to let everyone know that even though they may be facing difficult circumstances in their lives, it is always better to try and see the outcome than to do nothing."

"In the world we live in, a vast majority of teenagers and adults limit themselves and think that they can not achieve their goals," said Fernando, explaining why he felt so strongly about sharing his story at the event. "I believe I can change that."

In her address, Onome Akinbode-James '18, a native of Nigeria, shared her passion for fighting misconceptions and stereotypes about Africa and its people. As a student attending school so far from home, Onome has experienced firsthand many judgments by others who are misinformed about the continent where she grew up. "Even though these narratives were often not applicable to everyone, people tended to make conclusions about me as a person solely based on narratives they have heard about where I am from."

Hoping to combat these preconceived ideas, Onome disclosed stories from her personal experience to urge others to seek out information from multiple sources, instead of just one, and to dispel stereotypes as being "universal." She also shared with the audience how she is actively working toward that goal on a local level in her hometown in Nigeria.

Empowering Kids

Throughout the conference, Mr. Beck was impressed by the students' presentations, as well as by audience members' attentiveness to others' thoughts and beliefs. Looking forward, he hopes students will continue to share their ideas, while also being open to learning from others.

"It's empowering for kids to realize they can be thought creators and that they don't simply have to be recipients of others' knowledge," he said. "Students can create and share their own ideas with the world, and TEDxBlairAcademy is a great mechanism for doing that."

School Roundtables Explore National & Global Issues

During the 2017-2018 school year, Head of School Chris Fortunato has continued to bring the Blair community together to discuss topics of national and global importance at Head of School and Alumni Roundtables. The events, which have been held in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration during the academic day and in the evening, have been well attended by students, teachers and staff members eager to engage in dialogue with expert speakers and one another on subjects that matter to them and to our society at large.

The focus of this year's Roundtables has ranged from human rights with Harvard professor Dr. Timothy Patrick McCarthy to bitcoin with Blair parent Allen Gibson P'20 '20 to careers in law and finance with Blair alumni William Cramer '64 and Matthew Maillet '06, respectively. The community also recently convened to discuss subjects that are part of the current national conversation on gun violence, school safety, mental health, and the advocacy and political power of students affected by these issues. (To read a statement from the heads of the six schools comprising the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and Six Mid-Atlantic Boarding Schools (SMABS) calling for meaningful change to end gun violence, please click here.)

"It is important to come together as a community to ask questions, share our perspectives on a variety of topics, and remind our students that they are global citizens whose opinions matter," Mr. Fortunato said. "Such dialogue helps us to collectively consider how we experience and respond to the issues and national and international happenings of our time as students, teachers, staff members and, ultimately, human beings."

US & International Trips Planned for Spring Break 2018

Spring break provides a welcome respite from the busy academic year, but many Blair students are excitedly anticipating an action-packed break as they prepare to travel with teachers and friends on school-sponsored trips. Over the next three weeks, Blair's Orchestra and Singers will travel to England for a musical performance tour and athletes will head to destinations in the southern and western U.S. and the Caribbean for sports-team spring training. All will return to campus for the start of classes on March 27 having experienced new adventures and created memories that will last a lifetime.

Orchestra & Singers Tour England

Eighty students are set to travel to London, Oxford, Ely and Cambridge from March 7 to 15 for the School's first-ever musical performance tour of England. The Orchestra and Singers will perform at a variety of venues, including St. John the Evangelist Church in Oxford, the Church of St. Mary the Great in Cambridge and Kings' Ely School in Ely, where a school concert exchange will take place. They will also enjoy tours of Cambridge and Oxford, stops at a medieval castle and a World War II American cemetery in the British countryside, and conclude the trip with two exciting days of sightseeing in London.

"Our musicians will enjoy amazing opportunities on this trip," said performing arts department chair and Director of Instrumental Music Jennifer Pagotto. "They will perform their British repertoire in the country where the music was conceived and composed and have the chance to share distinctly American works with British audiences. I hope our students bring home memories of at least one truly meaningful performance and that they enjoy experiencing British history and culture with their friends. They've all worked so hard together in the months—and, for some students, years—leading up to this trip."

Spring Training for Athletes

Blair's spring athletic teams will leave still-wintry Blairstown behind and travel to warm-weather destinations over the break to prepare for the season ahead. Skill-building activities and scrimmages will fill the teammates' days, but there will also be time to enjoy fun in the sun together.

This year's spring training locations are as follows:

  • Baseball: Cal Ripken Experience Baseball Complex, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Softball: Disney Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
  • Boys' lacrosse: Disney Sports Complex, Orlando, Florida
  • Girls' lacrosse: Trilogy Lacrosse Camp/Rising Star Sports Ranch, Mesquite, Nevada
  • Crew: Austin Rowing Club, Austin, Texas
  • Boys' tennis: Saddlebrook Tennis Resort, Tampa, Florida
  • Track: National Training Center, Orlando, Florida
  • Boys' golf: Pinehurst Resort and Golf Courses, Pinehurst, North Carolina
  • Girls' golf: Hilton Rose Hall Resort, Cinnamon Hill & White Witch golf courses, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Alumni Roundtable on Asset Management Highlights the Impact of Blair Connections

Nearly two dozen Blair students and faculty gathered in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration to hear Goldman Sachs vice president Matthew C. Maillet '06 share his path to and experiences in the financial services industry. During the March 1 Alumni Roundtable in the Collaboration Forum, Mr. Maillet reviewed the basics of different roles within asset management, where he has spent the majority of his career.

In introducing him to attendees, Head of School Chris Fortunato noted the Maillets' deep Blair roots; fellow graduates include Mr. Maillet's mother Patty (Gallagher) Maillet '77, brother Patrick Maillet '10 and sister Kaitlin Maillet Matyasovsky '04, as well as four cousins. As he gave the audience some background on his love for Blair and experiences in higher education, Mr. Maillet talked about the importance of Blair connections in "getting you from point A to point B," as well as the responsibility he feels to remain connected and give back. He then segued into an overview of his career in finance, offering students tips about the educational and professional opportunities they should explore if interested in entering that industry.

"When I look back and think about my closest network and the individuals who were most helpful during the first eight years of my career, it was undoubtedly my Blair people," said Mr. Maillet, who studied finance and entrepreneurship and emerging enterprises at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, from which he earned his undergraduate degree in 2010. "When you are living in the dorms or day halls and making friends with classmates and teammates, you might not realize that you are truly building long-standing relationships with people. It might not make sense right now because, when I was in your shoes, I didn't realize how important my Blair friends would be. But, as you advance through college and professional life, you will see just how instrumental your Blair connections will be in your careers."

He then described how he learned this lesson firsthand. After earning his undergraduate degree, Mr. Maillet worked at State Street in Boston, rotating around in various roles throughout his three years at the company. By 2014, he was ready to move back to his home state of New Jersey and the stars aligned when he ran into fellow Blair alum and current Trustee Emmanuel Bello '04 at an Alumni Weekend gathering in Blairstown. They got to know each other, and Mr. Bello recommended Mr. Maillet for a position in Goldman Sachs' asset management division. He got the job, and the rest is history.

Four years later, the two still work together as vice presidents in different departments at Goldman Sachs. In his role, Mr. Maillet is deputy chief operating officer for the Quantitative Investment Strategies (QIS) group within Goldman Sachs Asset Management, while Mr. Bello works in fixed income.

"Emmanuel was an incredible resource for me at a time I was looking for a position with a large bank, and he had a profound impact on my professional direction, all because we share a Blair connection," said Mr. Maillet. "It definitely helped me see how we are all tied together, and I feel it is important to pay that forward," said Mr. Maillet.

The conversation flowed easily as Mr. Maillet fielded students' questions about his views on the impact of digitization on the finance industry, how the 2008 financial crisis influenced on his own career choices, the certifications he holds and plans to earn, and the various roles and career paths within the industry.

About Alumni Roundtables

Blair's Alumni Roundtable speakers' series connects today's students with prominent alumni across industries, giving soon-to-be graduates the opportunity to learn about different fields from experienced professionals.

Instituted in 2018 by Head of School Chris Fortunato, the Alumni Roundtable series welcomes Blair graduates of all generations to campus to speak about their careers and engage in question-and-answer sessions with students. Find out more about past and upcoming speakers, and please let us know if you would like to participate in a future event by contacting Director of Stewardship E. Courtnay Stanford at (908) 362-6121, ext. 5646, or stanfc@blair.edu.

Blair Honors Winter Sport Award Winners

The winter athletic season concluded at the varsity athletic banquet on Wednesday, February 28, during which team captains of each program spoke about their triumphs and teamwork over the winter months. The head coaches of each team then presented their program awards to athletes who displayed excellent play, dedication to their teammates and outstanding sportsmanship. Congratulations to the student-athletes honored with individual awards.

Brooks Basketball Prize - Katie Douglas '18

Haskins Basketball Prize - Gabe Ravetz '18 & Tucker Richardson '18

Merit Ski Award - Michael Uglum '18, Soura Saxton '18 & Chloe Rayer '20

The Captain's Swimming Trophy - Aidan Stockhausen '20 & Camille Williams '20

Lieberman Wrestling Prize - Leo Tarantino '18

Jamieson Wrestling Prize - Andrew Merola '18

Blair Squash Prize - Alexa Setteducate '19 & Kate Setteducate '19

Blair Squash Prize - Luigi Pasquariello '18 & Adham Sohby '18

Blair Winter Track Award - Savannah Lee '20, Katie Peacock '18 & Veronica Blair '18

Blair Winter Track Award - Alec Valle '18

Robotics Team Finishes Season at State Championship

Since the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Blair's robotics team has participated in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Tech Challenge Relic Recovery competition, a regional, national and global contest that has had students designing, building, programming and operating a robot that has competed in alliance-format, head-to-head challenges. Building upon the Bucs' accomplishments in local tournaments during the fall and early winter, teammates Yingjian (Jason) Pan '18 and Pasapol (Zoom) Saowakon '18 continued to compete in February, and the pair achieved success for Blair robotics at the regional and state levels.

Armed with feedback from fall tournament judges and their observation of competing teams' robots, Jason and Zoom took the month of January to return to the robotics classroom in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration and completely redesign the Blair robot's arm, driving systems, code and autonomous programs. "That was significant, since at that point, other teams were working with robots they had started designing in September," said computer science teacher and robotics team advisor Michael Garrant. The redesign led to Blair's success as part of the winning alliance at the February 3 Northwest New Jersey league tournament and secured the team's berth at the FIRST Tech Challenge state championship competition.

Blair robotics was among 48 of approximately 200 New Jersey FIRST Tech teams invited to compete in "The Garden State Rumble" championship on February 25. Jason and Zoom traveled with Mr. Garrant to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School where they took part in five qualifying matches in their division, each with a different alliance partner. "The students had to quickly get to know their alliance partners and analyze the strengths of their partnership to potentially maximize their score," Mr. Garrant noted. "Jason and Zoom also had to discuss their robot design with multiple judges throughout the day."

Jason was inspired by the many new designs and tactics he saw at the tournament, and he was honored to compete against like-minded opponents. "I learned a lot about teamwork, taking responsibility and learning from others through this experience," he said. "On the technical side, I strengthened my engineering skills, improved my programming ability and mastered many useful technologies, including CAD design, laser-cutting and 3D printing. "

At the competition's conclusion, Blair robotics placed 11th in their 24-team division, and Mr. Garrant was proud of the team's showing and Jason and Zoom's efforts. "Blair robotics has become a well-regarded FIRST Tech Challenge team in New Jersey just two years after the team was founded," he said, He is looking forward to new challenges and competitions when the FIRST Tech season begins again next fall.

Jason will be off to college at that point, but he is thankful for this year's opportunity to pursue his interest in robotics in the Chiang Center. "The resources and attention students can access here are far greater than even at some tech colleges I've seen," he said. "I strongly recommend that other students who are similarly passionate about technology take advantage of this opportunity to explore their potential."

History Elective Brings 21st Century Conflicts into Focus

Fourteen juniors and seniors are taking an in-depth look at some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing the United States and the world today in the yearlong history elective "21st Century Conflicts." Developed and taught by history teacher Andrew Sykes, the new course examines the origins and trajectories of some of the national and global events that frequent today's headlines and aims to deepen students' understanding of them through reading, writing and discussion.

Rather than making the class a broad survey of myriad topics in the news, Mr. Sykes has chosen to delve into specific conflicts and crises: During the fall semester, the class examined the post-Cold War rise of failed states, including Syria, Venezuela and North Korea. In the spring, students are studying the U.S. tax bill and the demographic and political conflicts that impact immigration policies in the U.S. and Europe. "By spending several weeks on a topic, students gain an appreciation for its depth and breadth," Mr. Sykes said. "They realize that you can't really understand a story that appears on Twitter or a Facebook news feed unless you know the history behind it."

The class is responsible for weekly reading assignments culled from a variety of primary sources, including newspapers, journals and online publications. The readings fuel in-class discussion, and students also express their findings and viewpoints through essays, including one they wrote for their first-semester signature assessment on how the U.S. and the world should handle a nuclear-armed North Korea.

In addition, Mr. Sykes and his students attend current-events focused Society of Skeptics lectures once or twice a month and take time to talk about the presentations, shifting focus if a topic is not immediately relevant to what they are studying. In January, the group was privileged to host a post-Skeptics visit from retired Army Major Jason Howk, who took over the class for a day to discuss Islam and his recent English translation of the Qur'an.

Senior Danny Sysler '18 considers the power struggle on the Korean peninsula and North Korea's nuclear program the most interesting issue the class has covered so far. "This topic is extremely relevant to the world today, as are Syria's civil war, Venezuela's struggles and tax reform in the U.S.," he said. "Mr. Sykes brings a ton of knowledge to the table, and I look forward to every class meeting."

After closely studying and writing about headline-making conflicts this year, Mr. Sykes hopes his students will not only have become better writers, but that they will have gained a new awareness of the world and the problems it is facing. "I want them to be skeptical about what they read, to ask questions and know enough to ask the right questions," he said. "A class like this is important to help students develop a deep curiosity about global events that they'll take well beyond Blair into college and their careers."

Team Howard Wins Headmasters' Societies Games!

This year, Blair's Headmasters' Societies Games finally reached its 15th anniversary, with the four teams—Kelley, Howard, Sharpe and Breed—competing in a multitude of on-campus events: dodgeball, brain puzzles, basketball, ultimate Frisbee, Olympic curling, water polo, mural painting, squash, tug of war and the list continues. While these hosted activities kept school spirit high throughout the week, the crux of the Headmasters' Societies Games boils down to the talent show, which took place on Friday evening and gave each team the opportunity to demonstrate its strengths to the whole community.

The members of teams Kelley, Sharpe and Breed all displayed their musical talents via small bands and dance teams. Team Howard, however, came out on top with its big act, combining the singing efforts of many students. Coupled with this carefully-executed performance was their small-act song. Performers included Tatum Fuller '19, Brennan Cooney '19, Grace Rayer '19 and Emia Musabegovic '20. Both acts contributed to the team's overall victory, a splendid comeback from last year's total defeat!

Senior Naratorn Sereeyothin will cover a number of campus events this year in his role as intern to Blair's communications department.

Chiang Center Spotlight

Since the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration opened last fall, teachers and students have taken advantage of the technology, tools and space available in the state-of-the-art academic hub to work on a variety of projects. Here we spotlight some recent undertakings.

Go Team!

When she wanted to show her school spirit during Peddie Week last fall, Chiang Center student manager Summer Will '19 went beyond the traditional hand-painted sheet poster: She used the tools in the Chiang Center's maker space to create a vinyl "Beat Peddie" banner. "I used design software to draw a Buccaneer logo and the vinyl cutter and grommet machine to make the banner," she recounted. "I loved that banner and was really proud of the way it came out."

As the Headmasters' Societies Games approached in mid-February, Summer and fellow Chiang Center student manager Samantha Tsang '19 shared their maker space skills with students eager to create Team Breed, Kelley and Howard memorabilia at a Sunday-afternoon workshop. During the hands-on event, Samantha guided attendees through the design-and-fabrication process as they made vinyl stickers that captured their team spirit.

"The point was to teach students how to utilize the maker space tools safely and efficiently so they can apply that knowledge to future projects," Summer said. She and Samantha were satisfied with how the project turned out.

"The stickers were a huge hit, and we had a lot of fun making them," Samantha added. "It was really great to see the teams help and laugh with each other!"

Spanish 'Flash Project'

Inspiration hit language teacher Tim Devaney recently as he spent a free period in the Chiang Center: The facility's size and configurable spaces made it the ideal location for Spanish 3 honors students to complete a one-day "flash project." "I had the idea for my students to create a video reenactment of the classic, dramatic short story Un Día de Estos," Mr. Devaney explained. "The Chiang Center was spacious enough that each group of three or four students could find a nook where they could work undisturbed and complete the project during a single class meeting."

The class kicked off in a Chiang Center conference room, where Mr. Devaney discussed the assignment before students fanned out to the café, the ceramics studio and other Chiang Center venues. There, they took on the roles of the story's three characters and recreated its Spanish dialogue, all while taking turns filming on their cellphones.

"Film is a great medium for expressing ideas and playing with language," Mr. Devaney said, noting that students handled the film-editing end of the project, too. "I liked what my class was able to do in a short time and appreciated that we had a venue where we could tackle a creative and somewhat tangential project."

Maker Space Challenge

The Chiang Center maker space was the scene of the Headmasters' Societies Games' newest contest, a Rube Goldberg-style competition that tested students' design-and-build skills. Competitors from Teams Breed, Kelley, Sharpe and Howard met in the maker space just after noon on February 20 and took their places at team tables. As they surveyed the raw materials at their disposal—everything from wiffle balls and popsicle sticks to cardboard and rubber bands—computer science teacher Michael Garrant explained the challenge: Each team was to use the dominoes at their table to set up the first letter of their team's name, and then build a device that would knock it down.

The teams worked intently over the next several hours on their complex contraptions, aiming to gain as many points as possible by maximizing overall height, number of steps and transfers, and the time it took from start to final domino knockdown. A trial run and preliminary judging took place at 3 p.m., after which it was back to the drawing board for another hour of redesign, improvement and testing. When time was called at 4:30, each team demonstrated its final apparatus—and Team Sharpe emerged victorious amid cheering and high-fives.

Mr. Garrant and science teacher Chris Thatcher were on hand to advise and assist the student makers throughout the afternoon, and Mr. Garrant was impressed by the effort the teams invested in their devices. "The competition was a great way for students to get their hands on different materials and figure out how to use them to get the job done," he said. "We gave them a starting point—it was interesting to see the variety of approaches taken by each team to conquer the challenge."

Blair Wrestling Wins 38th National Prep Championship

During its final weekend of competition for the 2017-2018 season, Blair's wrestling team traveled to Lehigh University for the national prep tournament and won its 38th national prep championship. The Bucs dominated the entire event, crowning seven national champions: Ryan Miller '20 (106 lbs.), Trevor Mastrogiovanni '20 (113 lbs.), Willy Kaiser '18 (152 lbs.), Andrew Merola '18 (160 lbs.), Julian Ramirez '19 (170 lbs.), Leo Tarantino '18 (182 lbs.) and Owen Trephan '19 (220 lbs.).

Tournament runners up included Michael Colaiocco '19 (120 lbs.), Chris Cannon '19 (126 lbs.), Travis Mastrogiovanni '21 (132 lbs.) and Malcolm Robinson '18 (138 lbs.). Notable performances were also recorded by Michael Madara '19, who placed fifth at 145 lbs., and Peyton Craft '21, who placed fourth at 195 lbs. Eleven Bucs competed in the finals, and Blair achieved an overall team score of 345, followed by Wyoming Seminary at 294.5 and Malvern Prep at 170.5.

"The national prep tournament was another challenging event where our wrestlers competed hard and represented Blair well," said Brian Antonelli '93, Blair's head wrestling coach. "The prep title is a complete team effort and a great way to send our seniors off to wrestle in college."


Young Alumni 'Share Their Love for Blair' at NYC Reception

Blair alumni gathered in New York City on February 21 for the annual young alumni reception. The event, which draws alumni who have graduated in the past 15 years, has been generously hosted by Emeritus Trustee Jim Krugman '65 and his wife, Connie, in their home on the Upper East Side for nearly two decades.

"Our goal is for young alumni to share their love for Blair," said Shaunna Murphy, director of alumni relations, who organized the 2018 event. In addition to reminiscing with old friends, alumni also enjoyed catching up with their former teachers, as several veteran faculty members were in attendance.

"It doesn't matter how old you are," Mrs. Murphy continued, "it's important to stay connected! I hope all attendees enjoyed seeing their former classmates, but also connecting with other members of the Blair family, too."

Blair students, parents and alumni will have a few more opportunities to meet up this spring at events hosted by the School in locations spanning the globe, from Pennsylvania, Florida and Connecticut, to London, Mrs. Murphy added. Visit www.blair.edu/alumni-events for details on all upcoming events.

Chromatic FM Founder to Talk Entrepreneurship at Skeptics

Businessman and musician Sam Tarantino is uniquely qualified to discuss entrepreneurship at his February 27 Skeptics lecture: The 2016 Forbes "30 Under 30" awardee has experienced success and failure as the founder of two music-sharing ventures. He will share his story and thoughts on entrepreneurship beginning at 7 p.m. in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration's Collaboration Forum.

Mr. Tarantino's first foray into the music-sharing business began during his freshman year at the University of Florida in 2006, when he founded the streaming music service Grooveshark. Over the next nine years, the pioneering, on-demand streaming business grew to a $60-million, 35-million user company with more than 100 employees before a copyright-infringement lawsuit forced its shutdown in 2015. Mr. Tarantino has since launched radio station startup Chromatic FM, a social radio service which allows consumers to create their own radio stations.

During his Skeptics presentation, Mr. Tarantino will discuss entrepreneurial challenges and how to overcome them. He offers these tips to students thinking about starting their own businesses:

  • Focus on a need. Make an existing service or product better.
  • Think of entrepreneurship as a 10-year journey.
  • Be unreasonable.
  • Hang in there when all hope seems lost.

A Colorado resident, Mr. Tarantino is an avid skier and hiker who finds inspiration for his music and creative projects in the great outdoors. In addition to running Chromatic FM, he lectures frequently on entrepreneurship and mentors entrepreneurs.

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon.'65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.