Celebrating 175 years
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Blair appreciates who you are,

what you stand for & all that you can achieve.

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The Blair experience is transformative.

Find out how it can change your life.

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Blair academics inspire a lifelong love of learning.

Our robust curriculum invites you to explore your passions.

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

Vibrant fine & performing arts opportunities abound.

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Athletics are part of the fabric of our community.

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

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

Experience the highlights by taking a virtual tour.

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Let us introduce you to Blair!

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

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All together we boldly write Blair’s next chapter.

Our Strategic Plan highlights our “All In” philosophy.

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Our faculty members are passionate about education.

They care about & know our students exceptionally well.

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‘What do you stand for?’

Blair community members participate in The Leadership Stories Project.

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No matter what your interests or where you are from,

you will find your place at Blair.

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Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto greets a student at the start of the class day.

Each day of the academic year, Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 upholds a tradition that he began 11 years ago when he moved into his role. Standing under the stone archway of Clinton Hall, he pulls open the sturdy door and, holding it, greets students by name as they walk to their classes. He converses with many of them, chatting about what’s going on in their lives and making sure that new students feel welcome. With 97 new ninth graders and 380 additional students weaving through campus at the start of this school year, it’s no easy feat to recall each student’s name on the first day of class, but Mr. Pagotto is glad to dedicate himself to the task. “New students are often excited and eager on the first day of school, but there’s also often an element of anxiety. Our role as educators is to help them through that,” he explains. He hopes that, by making a point of connecting with students at the start of each day, they understand that he is there to support them.

As Associate Head of School, part of Mr. Pagotto’s job is to connect with students in different capacities and ensure that Blair is delivering on its mission of knowing our students well. And so students often find him popping up—in the dining hall, at Skeptics lectures, art openings, in the doorway of Clinton and wherever they are—to talk, to listen and to ensure that Blair’s community members are supporting students in all aspects of their lives. After 22 years of working with adolescents, Mr. Pagotto feels strongly that health and wellness play a critical role in fulfilling that mandate.

“We’ve been fortunate to retain faculty who know our kids and understand the importance of being a presence in their lives,” he explains. “Our counseling team is a critical resource as we support students’ psychological and emotional health. The first step in helping them acquire those wellness skills is knowing our students well and being a part of their lives.”

Regular Exercise Is Required
Mr. Pagotto, who is one of several dedicated teachers leading health-and-wellness initiatives on campus, says that in Blair Academy’s earliest years, exercise was central to the cultural understanding of student wellness. A reference from the 1883 catalog states, “Daily exercise in the open air is required except when the weather forbids. Calisthenics for the girls and military drill for the boys, three times a week.” After 100 years of operation, the School continued to emphasize the importance of physical health; the 1948 Blair Academy Bulletin records that, in addition to seasonal sports, “Regular exercise is required of all boys who are not exempt for special reasons.” 

A Modern, Holistic Approach
In the last quarter century, Blair has embraced a more holistic approach as our understanding of wellness has broadened to encompass the mental, emotional and social factors, as well as physical, that impact student well-being. 

Former director of health services at Blair, Diane Sauvé, RN, joined Blair in 1987 at a time when she recalls perceptions evolving. As director of the Hoffman Health Center, Mrs. Sauvé supervised the community’s medical needs and taught health class once a week to students.“We worked hard to incorporate mental health, counseling and athletics as part of an integrated approach to health services,” she recalls. “It was a different time, though. This was before computers, and we didn’t have access to the Internet yet,” Mrs. Sauvé says. “To give students information, the School invested in bringing in experts as a resource for kids in addition to regular health classes. We also held a good number of health fairs, bringing in professional health organizations to share information and conduct preventive screenings.” 

Some issues, such as the need for deep and regular sleep, impacted students just as much then as today. “As soon as students got cell phones,” she remembers, “It became apparent that family and friends would call students on their time, which could be the middle of the night here. Getting enough sleep could be a problem!” 

As time passed, Blair continued to find new ways to support student health. In the last decade, as part of Blair’s All In Strategic Plan, the School recognized the role that peers play in well-being and started an extracurricular group called “Be Well @ Blair” to create positive change on campus through peer health education. Last year, a meditation garden was opened to all members of the Blair community. Located in a clearing beside the woods and overlooking Lake Genevieve on the Siegel Property, the garden offers students, faculty and staff a calm and peaceful spot to practice meditation or simply take a breath.  

New This Year
In the 2022-2023 school year, Blair will continue to support student wellness through enhanced curriculum, new dining options and added mental health resources. Seeking to give students a strong base with two years of health-and-wellness education, Blair is shifting the curriculum of LEADS, the School’s signature leadership education initiative, to focus more on health and wellness. “Now students will start with ninth-grade seminar followed by 10th-grade LEADS class, providing them with weekly touchpoints about wellness,” Mr. Pagotto explains. “We are also continuing our Be Well talks, which are peer-led presentations and discussions on defined topics.” 
 
In addition to curricular enhancement, one change this year that excites many students is a switch to dining provider Flik. Along with offering a wide variety of fresh and local meal options, Flik educates students about healthful eating habits. As part of the fall student orientation process, for instance, Flik’s on-staff nutritionists addressed dietary choices with students while preseason athletes had the opportunity to sit down with certified nutritionist Dr. Joseph Stanzione ’08 about optimal eating to support athletic skill, strength, endurance and recovery. 
 
Finally, Blair is adding counseling and support resources for students and teachers this year. The School has hired a chaplain, as well as a Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, brought a third full-time counselor to campus and provided mental health training to teachers at the start of the year. “Mental health needs of youth have been increasing nationally,” Mr. Pagotto says. “Our hope is that this training will help us build on the good work we already do with our students by giving us additional tools to best reach those who may be struggling and that it will help our educators support teens beyond Blair.”

This year’s new resources augment the excellent work done by Blair’s school counselors, faculty and staff to take good care of students. With those resources, the added wellness education and health support system, as well as preliminary plans underway for a new health-and-wellness center at Blair, Mr. Pagotto trusts that each and every student he high-fives in the Clinton doorway on the first morning of classes is well-equipped to live the most positive and productive school year yet.
 

Physical Geographer & Climatologist Dr. David Robinson Revisited Society of Skeptics

It is the topic of all topics–the weather. We ask our friends and family every day, “What do you think the weather will be?” or “Who knows what the temperature is outside?” Seldom do we get the benefit of a climate expert, which is why Blair Academy was excited to welcome Rutgers University—New Brunswick professor and New Jersey State Climatologist Dr. David Robinson to speak at the Society of Skeptics on Tuesday, October 4. 

Having visited Blair Academy and delivered two previous Skeptics talks, Dr. Robinson came to the hilltop prepared. The title of his presentation asked students to consider the “Signs of a Changing Climate” and he planned to explore with them recent weather and climatic events and anomalies. In addition to his questions (and spoilers), the climate expert also explained how scientists predict certain climatic variables such as temperature, sea ice, extreme storms and sea levels, and how those factors are used to model global weather and climate patterns in the coming decades.
 
“My key message will be one of understanding the climate system and the profound changes that are occurring within it,” said Dr. Robinson in a pre-talk interview. “Before individuals and society as a whole can address matters associated with climate change, they must have a foundational grasp of the issue. With such, they will be best prepared to formulate and implement mitigative and adaptive means of addressing change.”
 
On the note about “change,” Dr. Robinson will speak to the difficulties that a career in the weather field can bring. As a young boy, he fell in love with snow, and little did he know that interest would snowball into studying the climate as a career. Dr. Robinson says that climate’s “unapologetic unpredictability,” which may frustrate some, makes him find his field “fascinating.”
 
“I am exceedingly grateful to have had the opportunity to pursue a discipline that I’ve been fascinated with for as long as I can remember. Climate is critically important to addressing such problematic issues as sufficient water and food and environmental justice,” said Dr. Robinson. 
“The best lesson I have learned is to pursue what interests you most so that, at the end of the day, you feel that you have helped to make a difference in solving a problem.”
 
As a professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Dr. Robinson is often surrounded by young academics eager to learn from his experience. To these individuals, Dr. Robinson says, “Whether young or old, everyone must get on board to address these [issues of climate change]. Speaking to young individuals not only raises awareness, it also may spark someone to pursue an educational avenue that will make them a part of the solution to the climate crisis.”
 
Dr. Robinson says he owes his upcoming visit to his college friend and Blair English teacher, Craig Evans, who first introduced him to Blair Academy and the Society of Skeptics back in 2008. Just as he did then, Dr. Robinson looks forward to speaking to Blair’s students, “knowing full well that young folks are our future!”
 

Click "play" below to watch Dr. Robinson's Skeptics presentation. 


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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

Blair Teachers Hone Their Craft This Summer

Every June, Blair’s teachers leave their classrooms on the hilltop behind and travel to the far corners of the world. Some visit family or reconnect with their non-teaching passions, and many pursue a wealth of transformative learning opportunities—from fellowships and graduate school programs to research projects and institutes for professional development. Here are some highlights from the work our faculty engaged in this summer as well as how they plan to bring the lessons from their professional development back to Blair.


JULIA BOOTH & PAM SCHULMAN

Blair science teacher Julia Booth and history teacher Pamela Schulman joined an international community of educators in Lakeville, Connecticut, for a fellowship at the Klingenstein Summer Institute for Early Career Teachers. Learning from independent-school specialists and veteran teachers, Ms. Booth and Ms. Schulman delved into current issues in education, such as diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging work and cognitive science, and they met with peers from their academic disciplines, focusing specifically on ways to build long-term learning habits in students. The two-week program proved to be an opportunity to compare and contrast teaching styles, educational philosophies and issues facing independent schools.


EVAN THOMAS

Dean of Equity, Inclusion and Belonging Evan Thomas set out for both Maryland and Arkansas this summer to participate in the National Diversity Practitioner Institute and, later, the National Art Education Association’s (NAEA) School for Art Leaders in Arkansas. Both programs focused on developing community and capacity for leadership in a school setting and they introduced Mr. Thomas to a cohort of peers and practitioners who will serve as a resource throughout the year. “The program provided me with some great ideas and framing to help support my leadership. And, I had the opportunity to eat some great food, experience incredible works of art, and mountain bike on the trails in Bentonville, the ‘mountain bike capital of the world!’”


CALLY QUEALLY

English teacher Cally Queally undertook her first semester of a five-year master’s degree program, diving into creative-writing and literary-analysis classes at the Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English. “It was great to be a student again,” Ms. Queally says. “Being able to talk to my fellow students about resources to use as a teacher to help improve my lesson plans was a game-changer.” Ms. Queally took away techniques for dividing classes to maintain student interest and improve student performance and she learned new strategies to teach Shakespeare effectively—but it may be the hikes that captured her imagination the most. Ms. Queally and her fellow teachers discovered the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Ripton, Vermont, where several of the laureate’s poems are mounted in the woods and fields along the trail. “The trail itself was beautiful, but all of us would crowd around the poems, marvel at them, and then discuss once we started back on the trail,” Ms. Queally recalls. “That experience was definitely the embodiment of an English masters program in rural Vermont!”


CHRIS THATCHER
Straddling the boundary between scrub-filled Texas Hill Country and the open prairies of East Texas, the city of Austin is home to one of the University of Texas’ largest campuses. In late June, Blair science teacher Chris Thatcher settled in to the bustling campus to participate in the  “Engineer Your World” program, which puts teachers of Engineering Science in the role of students. Engineering Science is a new course offered at Blair and designed by University of Texas at Austin specialists for students interested in pursuing engineering as a possible future profession. In addition to offering curriculum based on real-world engineering needs, the program provides course teachers with the rare opportunity to sample the curriculum as pupils themselves. “This program helped us, as educators, better relate to how the material could be presented more clearly, while still allowing the students to learn and practice the tools used by real-world modern engineers,” Mr. Thatcher says. 


STELLA CHEN, AMANDA LUCAS & SHELLY MANTEGNA

Blair science teacher Shelly Mantegna, math teacher Stella Chen and Dean of Teaching and Learning Amanda Lucas spent a week in historic Exeter, New Hampshire, at conferences held at Phillips Exeter Academy. For Mrs. Mantegna, who teaches AP Psychology at Blair, the biggest lesson came from leading a history class discussion on World War II’s Yalta Conference, an area outside her expertise. “I was reminded of how students must feel when they enter territory that is brand new,” she recalls. “It was a nice reminder of what it feels like to be a student and why we should, as educators, never make any assumptions. It was a pivotal moment in my time at the institute, because growth happens when we leave our comfort zone and I definitely left mine for that hour!”

Attending the academy’s Anja S. Greer Institute on Mathematics and Technology, Mrs. Chen found value in learning from teachers with experience from all over the United States. “It is inspiring to talk with so many people who are passionate about math. I brought back ideas for several hand-on projects—including making a stellar icosahedron with straws and exploring external angles through experiment—that I know will appeal to my students.”


THE SIGETY FACULTY SUMMER INSTITUTE

All School faculty had the opportunity to take advantage of the Sigety Faculty Summer Institute, a professional-development resource that brings together Blair’s teachers annually for weeklong, on-campus programs focused on making their work in the classroom the best it can be. This year, renowned instructional coach Alexis Wiggins, founder and director of The Cohort of Educators for Essential Learning, hosted sessions in June designed to help teachers of biology, anatomy, physics and English determine how to make their courses applicable and relevant to the world outside the classroom. In August, teachers explored what creating an advanced curriculum that is independent of advanced placement classes might look like. “All of these meaningful experiences,” says Dean of Teaching and Learning Amanda Lucas, “further our teachers’ passion and vision for the art and craft of teaching. They are invaluable.”  

We look forward to seeing how all of our teachers’ summer adventures enrich students’ learning experiences this year and to continuing to support all those dedicated individuals who so expertly guide, mentor and challenge Blair students in classrooms and beyond.
 

Six Blair Alumni on How They Chose Their Institutions of Higher Learning

Blair students matriculated to a wide variety of renowned schools of higher learning last year, some among the most competitive in the world. From Ivy League institutions to schools for the arts and the United States military service academies, the Class of 2022 includes 33 recruited athletes, four service academy appointments, 15 Ivy League scholars and students with merit scholarships to Duke, the University of Virginia and Northeastern, among others.

Despite an increasingly competitive college admissions landscape, Blair’s seniors found new four-year “homes” where they will grow and thrive just as they did on the hilltop. As we approach a new college admission season, Blair alum Paula Hong ’16 sat down with some of our recent graduates to discuss the college admissions process and how their time at Blair helped them find the postsecondary school that would best fit their interests and abilities.


The question I got asked most, and heard others get asked most, during my first year of college was “So, why did you end up choosing [school name]?” Truthfully, I hadn’t expected to have an immediate response. By no means did I feel prepared in the sense that I knew which major or career I wanted to pursue, but I did feel confident that I knew what kind of college experience I wanted. After all, I had just spent the last four years at a miniature, preparatory version of a college known as Blair Academy. 

I knew that although I loved the tight-knit community Blair provided, for college, I wanted a school with a bigger student population—but not too big because I valued a smaller teacher to student ratio. Though I loved the outdoors, for college, I wanted to be closer to a major city. Last but not least, I definitely knew I wanted a community as genuine and welcoming as Blair’s. 

Looking back now on my college admissions and decision process, I realize just how invaluable the experience at Blair was in helping me choose my next “home”—just as Class of 2022 graduates Schuyler Anderson, Laila Davson, Etka Ayhan and Sophia Papadopoulo are beginning to realize and just as alum William Pemberton ’16 did. 

For Schuyler Anderson ’22 (Duke University—Class of 2026) from Albany, New York, the most important quality she looked for in a boarding school, and ultimately college, was a welcoming community. 

“I visited a few schools, but none of the campuses felt warm or ‘just right,’” Schuyler recalled. “Then, my dad told me about his time at Blair and how they were some of the best years of his life, so I decided to visit and apply. Truthfully, I was a little frightened when I first visited Blair because everyone I passed said ‘hi’ or gave me a smile. I came to realize that their doing so was not fake or forced—everyone on campus was genuinely kind and welcoming.”

Somewhere inside her then-15-year-old self, Schuyler sensed that the strong, supportive community she observed would make the three years she ended up attending Blair an enjoyable experience, even when things got tough. 

“Blair was not always easy for me. As a new sophomore, the ‘year of COVID’ made it a little difficult, but I stayed because of my friends, my teachers, and my advisor, and it has been the best experience of my life thus far. Even in the difficult times, I realized I was never going to find people, especially teachers, who genuinely cared about me that much. I remember one night was especially rough and Mrs. Ryerson invited me into her home. It was pretty late, but she listened to me for a really long time simply because she cared about me. At Blair, moments like that aren’t unheard of.”

Fast-forward four years since touring and the very reason why Schuyler chose Blair was the quality that helped the 19-year-old choose her next institution of higher learning, Duke University. Nearly 50% of Blair seniors joined Schuyler in securing an admissions offer at a school with an admit rate of 15% or less, finding potential homes at their-best fit schools, regardless of the selectivity.

“Relationships and connections were really important to me [when choosing my school] because I realized that relationships and connections are some of the most important parts of life and  help your learning experience by leaps and bounds. I was lucky enough to learn and experience that at a young age at Blair,” Schuyler said.

“By forming connections with my teachers, I found that I could learn better and I felt more comfortable speaking up in class. A good community is one of the most important things you can have; going through life with people by your side who support you (like I had at Blair) can and will make any experience better.”

This fall, Schuyler joined her fellow Duke Devils in Durham, North Carolina, as a member of the Class of 2026. She plans on double-majoring in biology and statistical science, an interest she developed early on while attending Blair, and more specifically, while attending her Integrated Science Research (ISR) classes. 

Blair’s ISR course allows students to create their own independent science research projects under the mentorship of a faculty member, however, the student is encouraged to project manage the course entirely on their own. 

“I did ISR all three years at Blair and my project used CRISPR technology to edit the APP (familial Alzheimer’s gene) in Drosophila Melanogaster because they have the same familial Alzheimer’s-causing gene as humans. During my project, I developed my own plasmids and ran multiple trials. The program definitely influenced my interest in biotechnology and biomedical engineering, and only added to my pre-established interests in Biology and Medicine.”

“I am most excited about becoming part of another welcoming and close-knit community, one that has a different kind of strong spirit. I am also excited to take new classes and challenge myself in a different way. Oh, and I am super excited about getting to go to the basketball games. Go Blue Devils!”


For Laila Davson ’22 (Yale University—Class of 2026), in addition to a warm and welcoming community, having an abundance of opportunities in and outside the classroom to explore her life’s passions and interests was an important characteristic when choosing which school to attend. 

At Blair, she found that those interests included developing her saxophone expertise, contributing to both the Jazz Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra, and championing her voice and opinions in student-led activities such as Model UN and the Belonging & Equity Committee. 

For her next academic institution, she sought a place where she could expand her horizons and become more involved with community-oriented service groups. 
 
“When choosing which college to go to,” Laila explained, “I was most excited to find a place where I could look for a new set of opportunities for community service, learn more about topics I truly care about, and discover more about who I am as an individual. Currently, I’m inclined to major in a subject focused either on human rights or policy areas. Overall, though, I plan to let my experience lead me to clarity when the time is right.”
 
Dean of College Counseling Niki Applebaum ’01 stresses that Blair seeks to “guide Blair students to be strategic and authentic as they craft competitive and compelling applications to a balanced list of best-fit schools.” That process made sense to Laila, as she attends her “dream school,” Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, this fall. 
 
“My decision was inspired by research and understanding the programs that were offered at Yale, but it was solidified by visiting the school and meeting with students who went there. Once you get the feel for the kind of environment you could be in, you know for sure whether you want to actually be a part of it.”
 
The feeling of “knowing” which school was the right fit for her was one she had experienced years ago. Four, to be exact, when she had first stepped foot on Blair’s campus. 

“I remember how I wanted to be a part of a community that was positive and accepted me for who I was. My mom had suggested Blair and I remember how truly welcomed I felt. I instantly knew I had found a second home!”


For Etka Ayhan ’22 (U.S. Naval Academy—Class of 2026), learning how to build a legacy for himself was the most important attribute in choosing his next school of  higher learning. 

“My brothers and I are first-generation Americans, and family has always been important to me, to the point where I’ve always wanted to set up a strong legacy. I knew I wanted to choose a school where I could set up a good path for myself,” recalled Etka. 

A day student who grew up in neighboring Hackettstown, New Jersey, Etka felt that Blair helped solidify his yearning for a school with a strong history and legacy, and he looks forward to strengthening his abilities at The Naval Academy. 

“The Naval Academy [and other service academies] were most appealing to me because they know how to prioritize well. I was lucky to be able to get into the Naval Academy early on, but even then, it wasn’t a quick decision. I had to think about the questions, ‘Do I want to go to a school for sports? What about academics? Do I want to live a normal college life or do I want to go through one rough year but end up with a Naval career that will set me up for success in life?’” 

Ultimately, Etka decided that the latter option made the most sense for him. Now, the recent Blair graduate has gotten the infamous “Plebe summer,” known for its intensity, out of the way and is eagerly beginning his next chapter.


For Sophia Papadopoulo ’22 (Tufts University—Class of 2026), the fact that she would attend boarding school was pretty much a given. Her older siblings had decided to attend The Taft School, but she had felt most welcomed by Blair. 

“I toured Taft, Suffield and a couple of other schools, but the feeling I experienced when I stepped onto Blair’s campus was unmatched. I felt really welcomed and as if the community wanted to get to know me. The experience really made my decision an easy one,” Sophia said.

Fast-forward four years and Sophia officially committed to attend Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. There, she began taking advantage of the university’s five-year dual degree program, which lets students interested in the arts earn a bachelor of fine arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) in downtown Boston while simultaneously obtaining a bachelor of arts degree from Tufts University.

“This seemed like a perfect fit for me because it would let me balance both having a regular undergrad experience while also going to art school.” Sophia had become an integral part of the fine arts department, completing three AP art portfolios and contributing to countless shows in the Romano Gallery. 

Because of its special dual-degree program, the decision to attend Tufts was easy for Sophia. 

“Though I knew that all the schools I applied to would provide me with great facilities and opportunities to thrive, the atmosphere and people with their genuine smiles is what brought me to both Blair and Tufts. With my decision to attend Blair, I remember the little one-on-one conversations I had throughout my whole tour left lasting impacts on me.”


For William Pemberton ’16 (Lehigh University—Class of 2020), the qualities that sold him on Blair were the School’s appreciation for diversity and inclusion and the kind interactions he had with the individuals he spoke to during his admission interview. 

 

“After having a successful interview with a Blair admission representative, I was invited to campus for a two-day visit with my mom and that completely sold me on Blair. The people I interacted with were quick to welcome me with open arms and treat me like family,” William said. “The diversity of the community made it clear that becoming a member would open my eyes to a whole new world, and the academic rigor and opportunities presented were a great complement to all the community had to offer.”

From day one, William knew that he would form lifelong relationships that would only positively impact his future. 

“To this day, it’s the relationships I made at Blair that I continue to lean on along my life’s journey, personally and professionally. All in all, I knew that giving Blair and its community 110% of me was a decision with only positive consequences.”

When the time came to choose his next institution of higher learning, William thought back to what, from his Blair experience, he wanted a college to replicate. In addition to the welcoming community, he discovered his profound appreciation for a school that offered multiple, diverse opportunities. 

“I was most excited about being able to explore a business curriculum at Lehigh University and be exposed to coursework specific to the industry I saw myself thriving in professionally one day. While at Blair, we had been exposed and introduced to various topics that served as a foundation for a liberal arts education, but going to Lehigh, I was excited to explore coursework outside that realm of academia.”

“Choosing Lehigh was a very easy decision as the community offered me a balance of familiarity and foreign [qualities]. Lehigh’s community wasn’t too big that I would only see new faces or too small that I would see the same faces. It was a mixture and the right size. Lehigh also offered me the chance to explore my budding passion for business and seeking out that industry as a first step in my post-graduate endeavors.”


About the Author
Paula Hong graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in 2020 and from Blair Academy in 2016. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she works remotely as an associate account manager at Oracle Corporation. Prior to that, she traveled the greater United States as a tour media official for the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). Paula has contributed to Blair Academy as a writer since the fall of 2021. 
 

Community Weekend Kick-Starts Blair’s 175th Year

There’s no better way to kick off the start of the school year, and bring students and faculty together, than Blair’s Community Weekends. Two jam-packed weekends of activities united the community in tradition and gave Blair students the opportunity to work together while showing off their school spirit. Highlights included Soccerfest, where Buccaneers showed their esprit de corps with face paint and signs as they rallied to support the varsity soccer teams against Sparta High School. Though rain moved students into the halls of the Field House this year on Super Sunday, each dorm worked together to build boats out of cardboard and duct tape, which they raced across Wallace Pool for the annual Kon-Tiki boat race. Next, students took their best shot at soaking Head of School Peter Curran in the dunk tank before they flew down the much-anticipated Soap Slide. 

Click “play” to watch a video below, highlighting a few of the memorable moments we shared as a community at the start of the 2022-2023 year.

 

Carlos Alejandro Brings ‘Community Figures’ to Life

BLAIRSTOWN—Classically trained musician Carlos Alejandro has spent the last 35 years building his legacy as an editorial, commercial and fine-art photographer and filmmaker. From September 19 to October 14, the acclaimed artist will focus his lens on community portraits in an exhibition entitled “Community Figures” at Blair’s Romano Gallery. Designed to underscore the bonds shared by humanity, the exhibition’s photographs highlight the stories, hopes and dreams that bind us all.

“The purpose…more than anything,” Mr. Alejandro says, “is to show a community that its connections are what matter most.” Whether focusing on gender and age or exploring the relationship between past and future, Mr. Alejandro elevates a variety of subjects and suspends them in time. He does so, he explains, so that participants recognize “the humanity of the faces and the strength of our bonds.” 

Based in Yorklyn, Delaware, Mr. Alejandro began his career as a commercial photographer and has traveled across 10 countries and more than 30 states serving a wide variety of U.S. and international clients, including Adidas, Goldman Sachs, MTV, National Geographic, Time Life Publications and The Vanguard Group, among many others. As a fine-arts photographer, he has exhibited in many solo and group shows, most recently at the SE Center for Photography in Greenville, South Carolina, and the Amanda Smith Gallery in Johnson City, Texas. 

A graduate of New York’s School of Performing Arts and Juniata College (BA), Mr. Alejandro is a passionate advocate for creativity and education. He is a founding member of the annual Yorklyn Storytelling Festival and the Cab Calloway Summer School of the Arts, and he currently serves as Executive Director of the Cab Calloway Foundation, a nonprofit that uses summer and afterschool programs to elevate the arts as a gateway to curiosity, inspire children and create tracks to different schools and futures. 

Mr. Alejandro will join the Blair community for an artist’s talk on October 13, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Romano Gallery. All are welcome to attend. 
 

Claude Johnson Skeptics

With a proud lineage of renowned alumni including many athletic stars, Blair Academy is excited to welcome Claude Johnson P’23, author of the newly-released book The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era, started the year’s Society of Skeptics on September 20. 

Mr. Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in civil engineering and economics from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford. His corporate career included executive posts at global brands IBM, American Express, NBA Properties, Nike, Phat Farm and Benetton Sportsystem.

Mr. Johnson visits the hilltop next week to discuss his book, a narrative nonfiction that reveals the forgotten but important pre-NBA history of African Americans in basketball. With innovative storytelling, the author brings to life the players, teams and contributors whose pivotal efforts helped shape the game we know and love today.
 
Mr. Johnson will speak about the premise of his book, which unravels the details of how and why basketball emerged and thrived in Black communities, while also touching on the meaning and life lessons embedded in his organization’s trademarked “Make History Now” slogan as well as his quest to “give voice to the voiceless.”

Like many of the role models written about in his book, Mr. Johnson is recognized by many as a leader himself. Not only is he an author, founder and historian, but he was also a stay-at-home dad to his three sons and a welcomed speaker at many institutions, such as Blair, where he gets to do something that he enjoys—connecting and sharing insights with young individuals.

“Being able to speak to Blair’s students means everything to me. I wish I had had speakers and similar opportunities like Society of Skeptics to attend when I was that age,” said Mr. Johnson in a pre-event interview. 

For high school students, he feels it is important that they “find their voice, pursue their passions and make history nowall while practicing what it means to be still and to trust the universe.”

“Staying humble, staying grateful and remaining open to divine guidance for the greatest highest good,” says Mr. Johnson, are all pieces of advice that he would like to get across to his mentees. 

To watch click "play" below.


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, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is 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 and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.
 

Hoby House Offers ‘Safe’ Retreat as a Faculty Home

In Baltimore, the Marriott Hotel uses its historic bank vault as a boardroom. In Laurel, Mississippi, the cool recesses of the former First National Bank vault are now stacked to the ceiling with vintage merlot, transformed into a wine cellar. As more Americans embrace digital banking, many financial institutions have been forced to shrink their brick-and-mortar presence, and as a result, many communities have turned to repurposing historic banks and their iconic vaults. 

When Blair Trustee Hoby Van Deusen ’54 and his wife, Nancy, both former bankers, saw that the former First National Bank on Main Street in Blairstown was available, the opportunity struck them. “For years, we had always peeked in the window and appreciated what an attractive building it was while it was on the market,” explained Mr. Van Deusen. “This seemed like the perfect way to help support Blair’s housing needs and renovate a beautiful building.” 

Blair Academy is pleased to announce the addition of this beautifully restored 1,700-square foot two-bedroom faculty apartment. Located at 16 Main Street in Blairstown, the renovated building furthers Blair’s strategic priorities of providing excellent faculty housing on or very near campus while also continuing the tradition of improving downtown Blairstown. 

Home to the former First National Bank of Blairstown, the site has a rich history, which is part of what attracted Mr. and Mrs. Van Deusen to the project. “We led the establishment of the historic district in Watertown, Connecticut, so we are very interested in historic buildings and we loved this one because of its beautiful architecture,” said Mrs. Van Deusen. Originally opened in 1911, the bank’s notable architectural features include an ornate marble facade supported by three polished columns of Vermont granite. Inside, a massive vault manufactured by the Diebold Safe and Lock Company of New York sits, complete with iconic swirling locks, leaden cylindrical bolts and 100 safe-deposit boxes, which were modern innovations in 1911. Both the building’s exterior and the vault have been retained; the vault now doubles as a new and unique office. 

Named “Hoby House,” the project will be funded entirely through philanthropic gifts, including a very generous lead gift from the Van Deusens. The renovated two-story building features two bedrooms, living room, dining area, sitting area, kitchen and office inside the vault, as well as a patio with a stone path to campus. 

Head of School Peter G. Curran notes that Blair has a long history of teachers who dedicate themselves deeply to their students, getting to know them well, investing in their well-being and developing their intellectual curiosity. Faculty accommodations like Hoby House support those individuals and make it possible to attract those incredible teachers and coaches who are student-centered and love what they do. 

And, not unlike old factories converted into airy urban lofts, Hoby House’s refurbished interior offers Blair teachers  a unique, modern take on one of Main Street’s historic gems. The new building provides the community with a highly coveted living space, for, as Mr. Van Deusen puts it, “No other faculty in the country will live in a vault!” 
 

Convocation Celebrates 175 Years of Teaching & Learning

On September 5, the Class of 2023, neatly dressed and brimming with excitement for the upcoming year, filtered into two tidy rows to process through Blair Academy’s storied grounds. They were assembled to celebrate Convocation and the start of the School’s 175th academic year. Marching through the Arch, built by Italian stonemasons in 1904, they paraded past historic Clinton Hall, still standing strong long after the last, devastating fire of 1922. To the east, they passed the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration, opened in 2017, and home to some of the newest and most innovative technology on campus. From the newly-welcomed members of the Class of 2026 to the faculty and staff who have devoted themselves to the School for over 25 years, at this Convocation, the Blair family came together to celebrate the history of Blair, new and old, and 175 years of teaching and learning.

One of Blair’s most quintessential traditions, this year’s Convocation ceremony very much focused on Blair’s demisemiseptcentennial anniversary. After a benediction from Blair's Chaplain, the Reverend David Harvey, and a presentation of “Blair Love Song” from the Singers, Senior Class Council members Michael Diaco ’23 and Ellie Hyder ’23 began the ceremony by acknowledging the School’s long history and offering advice to the assembled audience for finding the best of Blair in the year ahead. “Let your light shine,” urged Michael, while Ellie counseled, “Let yourself be open to new experiences.”  

Head of School Peter G. Curran then shared some little-known facts about Blair history to show how far Blair has come from a school of a handful of students who attended class in the Old Academy 175 years ago to a school with 477 students, 463 campus acres and an endowment of approximately $140 million. During his remarks in the DuBois Theatre, Mr. Curran shared a website celebrating Blair’s history and a video honoring the School’s milestone anniversary. Depicting images from Blair’s beginnings, the stirring video showcased the transition that the institution has undergone since 1848 and described the student-centered philosophy that prevails to this day. To view the video, click “play” below:

“We have come a long way since the one-room schoolhouse,” Mr. Curran told students. While times have changed, he said, throughout its history, Blair’s fundamental mission has remained constant. “At the crux of all that we do at Blair is to prepare you for the future, both as academically focused scholars and as socially intelligent humans,” he said. 

Not only does Blair strive to instill in its graduates confidence, self-awareness, self-esteem and the ability to advocate for themselves, which puts them a step ahead and college and beyond, but faculty and staff also seek to arm students with the skills they will need for the jobs of tomorrow. “Our mission,” he told the community gathered in the theatre, “is to prepare you for the world you will inhabit beyond Blair and give you all of the experiences and tools to find personal and professional fulfillment.”

Mr. Curran went on to emphasize how much the Blair experience is defined by academic excellence, service to others, and fostering a dynamic and diverse community in which students feel a deep sense of belonging and challenge themselves to grow and thrive in an ever-changing world. While technology has many productive uses, he stressed the importance in our community of putting aside electronic devices. “Time spent on devices doesn’t just impact our productivity and ability to fulfill our academic potential. It also influences our ability to meaningfully connect with one another,” he noted.  

In his address, Mr. Curran reaffirmed Blair’s commitment to innovating inside and outside of the classroom while staying true to the Blair traditions that bind together so many generations of students, such as Convocation, which is the first of many events in 2022-2023 that will celebrate Blair’s history and look to the School’s next 25 years. Concluding his remarks, he challenged students to use the coming semester to be intentional in forging new relationships, step outside of their comfort zones, and embrace the power of using small gestures, or random acts of kindness, to positively impact the lives of others.

“We are very much a student-centered school,” he said, “Blair’s culture comes from our students, and I am so excited for the leadership of our senior class and from all of you to embrace our community norms and values.” As the evening wound to a close and students prepared to weave their way back to their dormitories after picking up some demisemiseptcentennial swag–in the form of socks that include the 175th anniversary logo—Mr. Curran left the community with one final thought. “It is extraordinary to think that we are all both part of Blair’s history and future,” he said. “I am so excited for the year ahead and all we will do to commemorate this historic occasion.”

Faculty and students departed, once again passing every young and old corner of campus, ready and excited to shape the place they call home—for the next 175 years and beyond. To watch this year’s Convocation ceremony in full, click “play” below:

 

Be sure to visit Blair’s demisemiseptcentennial website to learn more about upcoming events, as well explore the School’s milestones, get lost in vintage photos and test your knowledge of all things Blair.
  
 

Preseason at Blair

With the start of the 2022-2023 school year, things ramped up around the Arch. Over the last weeks of August, preseason athletes returned to campus and started training for the upcoming season. The teams practiced hard, finessed their skills, worked on their conditioning and participated in team-bonding activities. With all this hard work our athletes put in, we’re looking forward to a great season this fall.

Click "play" below for a peak at our athletes getting to work. Go BUCS!


 

Blair Academy Welcomes the Class of 2026

Blair Academy, which celebrates its demisemiseptcentennial anniversary this year, has just seen the most competitive admission cycle since the School’s inception 175 years ago. Since its founding by Mr. John Insley Blair, Mr. John Bunnell and Reverend John A. Reiley in 1848, the academy has enabled young, eager-eyed students to learn and grow, while fostering the qualities necessary to develop into global citizens. With a record 1,560 applications and an acceptance rate of 15 percent, this fall, Blair Academy welcomes its most competitive class yet.

“I am pleased to report that the 2022-2023 admission cycle was Blair’s most successful to date,” said Dean of Admission Teddy Wenner ’96. “There is no question the value of a Blair education continues to resonate with prospective families, and I am excited to welcome the Class of 2026—an incredibly diverse and high-achieving group of scholars, artists, athletes and leaders eager to share their talents with the Blair community.”

The admitted students join a diverse population, coming from 26 U.S. states and 29 countries. Approximately 17 percent of the student body hails from international locations, and as many as 38 percent of students and their families will benefit from Blair’s financial assistance. 

“The Class of 2026 is joining us at a very special time in Blair’s history,” says Dean Wenner. “From the beginning, Blair has steadily grown and attracted students in ever-widening circles. After opening in 1848 with a handful of students, that first decade saw students hailing from increasing distances from Blairstown. A catalog for the 10-year anniversary tells us that ‘The school…was remarkably well patronized, not only by the immediate community, but from adjacent neighborhoods, and numbers even coming from a distance’ for the very practical purpose of offering students an excellent education,” said Dean Wenner. “Our community is diverse and dynamic, which is critical to carrying forward our mission of knowing our students so we may empower them to more fully understand themselves and the world—and to leave Blair not only as prepared undergraduates, but ultimately as global citizens contributing to the greater good.”

A Time to Both Look Back & Grow Moving Forward

Since the School’s founding, Blair Academy has adopted its “Seven Principles,” which includes but is not limited to faculty and staff knowing their students, fostering an inclusive and connected community, and preparing students for a life that values service and humble excellence. In addition to the seven values, the School adheres to “The Five Fundamentals,” which include Seeing the Good, Showing Care in all Aspects, Being Curious while Suspending Judgment, Knowing One’s Self and Practicing Honesty, and Honoring the Dignity of Others. As the School celebrates its demisemiseptcentennial anniversary and reflects on its history, it also looks forward, making sure to continue upholding the values that have enabled the academy to reach its place today. 

“The 175th anniversary provides a great moment to pause and reflect on our history,” said Dean Wenner. “As Blair moves forward in our next two centuries, we will continue to be innovative and forward-thinking in our extraordinary educational offerings, but we will also remain rooted in the values and traditions that are at the heart of the Blair experience,” he noted. Those, he says, are “strong faculty-student relationships and fostering a community in which students challenge themselves, grow and thrive.” 

“Since 1848, Blair has emphasized the importance of character and skill, meeting the challenges of an ever-changing world and making a difference in it. We will continue to hold those goals close, while also enhancing our facilities, technology and curriculum that best prepare our students for success in college and life.”

To that end, the Class of 2026 will have access to the newly renovated science facility, Bogle Hall, which hosts state-of-the-art equipment and labs, a reconditioned “Bubble” for indoor athletic practice year-round and an enhanced indoor rowing center. In addition, the incoming class will have the opportunity to experience forward-thinking programs such as Integrated Science Research and J-term, which expose students to real-world topics intended to spark their intellectual curiosity and prepare them for the careers of the future.   

“There are not many institutions of learning that have sustained growth for 175 years, and I look forward to celebrating our history this year. I hope the members of our newest class take advantage of all our School has to offer, as they will be the next generation of leaders, thinkers and innovators who will bring the best of themselves to Blair and the best of Blair to the world.”

 


 

Baltimore Ravens David Ojabo ’19 and Odafe Oweh ’18  Make a Pass-Rushing Pair to Watch

What has seemed like a slight possibility for a number of months has now become a sensational reality. In April of this year, David Ojabo ’19 was drafted to the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft, joining former Blair teammate and Ravens rookie standout Odafe Oweh ’18. During the 2017-2018 Blair football season, the potent pass rushers dominated the defensive side of the ball every Saturday, recording multiple sacks and making big-time plays. As outside linebackers, both Odafe and David will look to create similar havoc against NFL offenses on Sundays this fall.

The Blair careers of these defensive linemen started off similarly. Both Odafe and David came to Blair in the hopes of becoming standout basketball players. Former Blair head football coach Jim Saylor convinced Odafe that with his physical size and impressive athleticism, he could earn a college scholarship to play football. Once Odafe had an impressive football season his first year playing, it didn’t take much to convince David to do the same.

Odafe and David had incredible high school football careers at Blair, making profound impacts after playing only a few games in their lives. Odafe went on to find success at Penn State University, while David trailblazed at the University of Michigan.

In a recent radio interview on the Jim Rome Show, Odafe spoke about his old friend and teammate’s potential as an NFL player. “[David] is a natural savant in pass rushing,” Odafe said. “You can see it in the way he spins, you can see it in the way he takes the edge.” He also mentioned that not only is David incredibly athletic, he has a slight advantage over most rookies. He will be playing in the same defensive scheme as he did at the University of Michigan under Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator and former Michigan assistant coach Mike Macdonald. Confident in their prospects for the year ahead, Odafe told Jim Rome, “I am feeling blessed. I am happy to have my brother with me. We are just going to wreak havoc.”

The Baltimore Ravens open their season with the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, September 11. 
 

2022-23 New Faculty

With the work of teaching and mentoring students already well underway, Blair is pleased to welcome its newest faculty and staff members. Read on to learn more about the educators and devoted individuals who joined the Blair community for our 175th year. 


Rev. David Harvey
Longtime community member the Rev. David Harvey joins Blair in 2022-2023 as chaplain, adjunct faculty member, member of the religion and philosophy department, director of the Chapel program and advisor to the Christian Fellowship. Rev. Harvey, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Blairstown since 1994 and a Blair Trustee since 2000, has long chaired the Board’s Covenant Committee and served as a member of the Executive and Education and School Life committees. A 1985 graduate of Northeast Missouri State University (now called Truman State University), he earned a BS in health and psychology, and graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1989 with an MDiv. A member of the Presbytery of the Highlands, he is involved with the North Warren Clergy Ministerium and the Blairstown Historic Preservation Committee, while also serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern New Jersey Truck Stop Ministries, which provides counseling support to truckers at the Travel America Truck Stop in Columbia, New Jersey. Rev. Harvey and his wife, Teri, will continue to live in Blairstown, where they have resided for almost 30 years. 


Mackenzie Maguire (Admission Office)
Mackenzie Maguire joined Blair this fall as an admission associate and head girls’ varsity lacrosse coach. Prior to working at Williams College as an assistant women’s lacrosse coach, Ms. Maguire earned her BS in business marketing with a minor in sports management from the University of Mary Washington in 2019. During her time as a student athlete, she served as a collegiate team captain, made four NCAA appearances and was named rookie of the year by various sports conferences. At Williams, Ms. Maguire worked as recruiting coordinator, a mentor for student athlete development, and as a coach on and off the field. Ms. Maguire’s previous professional experience includes working as a sales and marketing associate for Trilogy Lacrosse and as a trainee in GEICO’s management-development program for claims adjusters.


Greg Rosnick (Admission Office) 
Blair welcomed Greg Rosnick this year as Assistant Dean of Admission and head girls’ varsity basketball coach. Since 2017, Mr. Rosnick served as assistant coach of women’s basketball at Columbia University in New York City. In addition to coaching and teaching physical education, Mr. Rosnick was deeply involved in the team’s recruiting efforts, helping to bring the best student athletes to Columbia in his role as international recruiting coordinator. His responsibilities included strategy and analytics, scheduling and accountability efforts. Prior to Columbia, Mr. Rosnick served as assistant coach of men’s basketball at Colby College in Maine (2013-2017), Haverford College in Pennsylvania (2012-2013) and Belchertown High School in Massachusetts (2011-2012). Since earning his BA in political science at Haverford in 2009 and MA in teaching from Smith College in 2010, Mr. Rosnick has been active in basketball camps as well, most recently co-founding and directing DiverseCity from 2007 to 2017. He is joined at Blair by his wife Alison, and their children, Calvin, 3, and Tim, 2.


Anna Andrasek (Advancement Office)
Anna Andrasek P’24 joined Blair in 2021 as associate director of annual giving, a position in which she participates in outreach and fundraising. In addition to fostering a culture of giving among Blair’s alumni, Mrs. Andrasek helps to manage Blair’s 1848 Leadership Society and upcoming reunions. Graduating summa cum laude from Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Mrs. Andrasek is also the proud recipient of the school’s prestigious Scarlet Key and Blue Chip awards. She comes to Blair with extensive experience in executive recruiting, as both the co-founder and managing partner of The Hardwick Group, a boutique executive search firm that specializes in the banking industry. She resides in Hardwick with her husband, Steve, and their children, Avery ’24 and Nina ’26.


Courtney Cronin (College Counseling)
Courtney Cronin came to Blair in 2022 as Associate Dean of College Counseling and a Blair lacrosse coach. In addition to her experience at Thacher School in Ojai, California, as Associate Director of College Counseling, head girls’ varsity lacrosse and dorm parent, Ms. Cronin worked for eight years as a college counselor, French teacher and girls’ lacrosse coach at Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, where she also served as language department chair. Ms. Cronin graduated from Colby College, where she majored in French studies and history, and earned her master’s degree in independent school leadership from the Klingenstein Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 2017. In addition to serving as an advisor and mentor to students at Thacher, she also co-leads adult and student anti-ractist groups and ally spaces. At Lawrence, Ms. Cronin also served as dorm head, chaperoned “Winterim” trips to Belize, Peru and Ecuador, and chaired the Professional Development Committee. She joins the Blair community with her dog, Coach.


Tara (Williams) Prezioso ’96 (Counseling)
A proud graduate of the Blair class of 1996, Tara (Williams) Prezioso returned to Blair as school counselor. A licensed clinical social worker in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Mrs. Prezioso previously worked as director of Children’s Services at Allies Inc. In this role, she oversaw the program directors and clinical teams who treat at-risk youth through residential programs. Her experience includes performing diagnostic evaluations via telehealth and working as an in-patient clinician for behavioral health as part of the Atlantic Health System in Newton, New Jersey, clinical coordinator of Morris County Juvenile Services in Morristown, New Jersey, and an in-patient clinician at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Since 2017, Mrs. Prezioso has supervised independent contractors providing in-community therapy to at-risk adolescents and their families through an LLC in her name. A 2005 graduate of Kean University where she earned a master’s in social work, Mrs. Prezioso lives locally in Columbia, New Jersey, with her husband, David, and their son, Ty, 13.


Susie Antonelli (Admission Office)
Susie Antonelli rejoined Blair this fall as full-time Assistant Dean of Admission. Mrs. Antonelli earned her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Towson University in 1996 and worked for several years as an elementary school teacher at the Naval Academy Primary School in Annapolis before coming to Blair in 2014 and joining the admission team in 2015. For the last several years, she has taught first and second grade at Far Hills Country Day School. She lives on campus with her husband, Director of Safety and Security Brian Antonelli, and their children Kate ’20, Sammi ’22, Topher ’24 and Mikey ’26.


Gina Trish (Arts)
Gina Trish, who worked at Blair in a part-time role as Leadership Stories Project coordinator from 2016-2018 while also serving as art history and design professor at Centenary University in Hackettstown, New Jersey, returned to Blair as a full-time member of our fine arts department. Since 2018, Mrs. Trish has served as digital communications and press lead for the New Jersey Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Department of Community Affairs. After earning a BA in fine arts with a concentration in visual communications from George Washington University in 1997, Mrs. Trish held a number of roles related to the arts, communications and marketing, beginning her career as a senior designer at Fidelity Investments in Boston and later becoming art gallery director of GJ Cloninger & Co. in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Following a yearlong stint as Peters Valley School of Craft’s guest artist in residence in 2006, Mrs. Trish became a freelance web development designer. Her teaching experience includes serving as a painting and drawing instructor at The House of the Good Shepherd in Hackettstown and developing and teaching undergraduate-level courses at Centenary. She has also pursued a number of postgraduate arts courses on advanced painting, sculpture and drawing. Mrs. Trish coaches JV girls’ soccer and track at the School. She, her husband, Tyson, and their children, Weston ’25 and Cameron, 13, continue to live near campus in downtown Blairstown. 


Nathan Johnson (English)
Blair’s English department welcomed Nathan Johnson, who has taught sophomore English and a senior film and literature elective at Lexington High School since 2002. Mr. Johnson completed his undergraduate work at Amherst College and earned his master’s degree from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English. He joins his wife, Dean of College Counseling Niki Applebaum, in Hoby House on Main Street in Blairstown. 


Amira Shokr (English & History) 
Amira Shokr joined Blair’s history and English departments this year. A 2019 graduate of Lehigh University, where she majored in English and minored in creative writing and film, Ms. Shokr has served as a teaching fellow at Lehigh for the last two years while she earns her master’s degree in English from the university, expected in 2022. During her time as a student, she worked as a writer for the Lehigh online publication, Southsider, as well as copy editor and journalist at The Commuter in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and social media coordinator at Lehigh’s literary magazine, Amaranth. Ms. Shokr also edited documents as a quality assurance specialist at FCI Multiple Services in Easton, Pennsylvania, during college. 


Eddy Thornton (History)
In 2022, Eddy Thornton became a member of Blair’s history department and began to coach the School’s cross country and track teams. Since 2009, Mr. Thorton has taught various levels of history classes at Union Catholic Regional High School in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Over the course of his tenure there, he served as summer school principal and worked with the athletics and admission offices on marketing and recruiting. He began his teaching career at St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, after earning his BA in historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 2008. Mr. Thornton went on to continue his studies in educational leadership, management and policy at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, from which he earned an MA in 2012. Mr. Thornton is joined on campus by his wife, Ashley, and their 1-year-old son, Felix.


Stella Chen (Mathematics)
Stella Chen joined the math department full time in the 2022-2023 academic year after serving as a substitute math teacher at the School since spring 2022. Prior to Blair, Mrs. Chen served as a private mathematics and SAT tutor, as well as a student teacher at Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Earlier in her career, she worked at the Sharon Chinese School in Sharon, Massachusetts, where she taught Chinese. Currently, Mrs. Chen is earning her master of education degree in secondary education (mathematics) from Lehigh University, as well as working toward a certificate of college counseling through the UCLA Extension. She also holds a BA in economics and English from Peking University in Beijing, China, and a master of business administration degree in finance from Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island. She volunteers at the Lehigh Valley American Regions Math League team in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and lives on campus with her husband, Frank, and son, Charles, 4. 


Kat Francis (Mathematics)
Kat Francis completed her undergraduate degree in accounting at Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she worked as a rowing coach for the Nereid Boat Club in Rutherford, leading their first women’s varsity quad to Youth Nationals, along with a women’s varsity single. After college, Ms. Francis gained experience in accounting at WithumSmith+Brown, PC, in Whippany, as well as rowing while coaching for Gippsland Grammar during a year abroad in Australia. Prior to coming to Blair, Ms. Francis worked at Fordham University as a women’s head rowing coach and at RowAmerica Rye as assistant rowing coach. After working at Blair as a math department intern and crew coach last spring, she continued in that capacity full time this fall. She is joined by her fiancé, fellow mathematics instructor Dylan Gould.


Dylan Gould (Mathematics)
Math teacher and rowing coach Dylan Gould came to Blair from Brunswick School, where he taught computer science and coached rowing since 2020. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Cornell University in 2013, where he also rowed on the varsity lightweight rowing team, and then went on to earn his master’s degree in information technology from Virginia Tech in 2017. Earlier in his career, Dylan taught math, coached rowing and served as a dorm parent at The Storm King School in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, and at Ross School in East Hampton, New York. From 2015 to 2020, Dylan served as head rowing coach at the Nereid Boat Club in Rutherford, New Jersey, where he met his fiancée, Kat Francis, who also joined Blair’s math department. 


Patrick Link (Mathematics)
A 2002 graduate of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, Patrick Link majored in mathematics and began his teaching career at the Dublin School in New Hampshire as a math teacher and assistant sailing coach, ultimately becoming head of the women’s crew team. Prior to that, he worked in quality assurance and as a tutor before joining The Kiski School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, in 2007 as a math teacher, dorm head and cross country coach. In 2020, after 13 years, he and his wife, Eliza, moved to St. Edward’s School, in Vero Beach, Florida, where he taught a wide variety of math classes and sponsored the Social Justice Club and served on the Honor Board and Discipline Council. He joined Blair this fall as a mathematics teacher. 


Dana Donlon (Science)
Since 2015, Dana Donlon worked as a science teacher at West Morris Central High School in Chester, New Jersey. Prior to that, she taught at Voorhees High School in Glen Gardner, New Jersey, as well as at Northern Valley Regional High School in Demarest, New Jersey, where she also served as a field hockey, track and field, and swimming coach. After completing her undergraduate work at The College of New Jersey, where she majored in biology and minored in mathematics and chemistry, Mrs. Donlon went on to earn her master of science education from Montana State University in 2016. Early in her career, she worked as an educational consultant who mentored middle-and-high school teachers at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Mrs. Donlon joined Blair this fall in the role of science teacher and lives with her husband, Kevin, and children, Brendan, 18, Ryan, 14, Kellen, 12, and Ciara, 9, in Knowlton, New Jersey.


Megan Ehrenwerth (Science) 
Megan Ehrenwerth joins Blair’s science department after 11 years at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where she served as a chemistry teacher, dorm parent, advisor, varsity swim coach and JV field hockey coach. Prior to that, she was an adjunct professor at Lawrence Technological University, where she lectured and planned labs. A graduate of Haverford college, Megan earned her BA in chemistry in 2004 and her MA in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 2007. 


Jo Ellen Redshaw (Business Office)
Jo Ellen Redshaw joined the Blair business office this year, where she manages accounts payable and purchasing and supports other members of the business office. Mrs. Redshaw held a number of positions in New Jersey prior to coming to Blair. Most recently, she was assistant office manager at Klae Construction Inc. in Oak Ridge; earlier in her career, she served as office manager at Byram Bus Inc. in Stanhope, and secretary at Ronetco Supermarkets, Inc. in Ledgewood. A graduate of Sussex County Technical School in Sparta, New Jersey, where she became certified in office and business technology, Mrs. Redshaw lives in Stillwater with her husband, RJ, and two children, Dominick, 20, and Madeline,13.  


Chris “CJ” Palanca (Communications Office)
A producer with many years of experience in storytelling through video and audio, CJ Palanca joined Blair’s communications office as video and marketing specialist. With expertise in all stages of film production acquired over nine years at Sound Imagination in Springfield, New Jersey, and over six years at Lindeblad Piano Restoration in Dover, New Jersey, Mr. Palanca has also freelanced for marketing teams and individual clients in a variety of industries since 2014, shooting and editing, interviewing and capturing B-roll. After earning his associate degree in digital filmmaking and video production from The Art Institute of Philadelphia in 2012, Mr. Palanca began his career as a videographer at Liquid Lightning Energy Drinks in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey. In the years since, he has honed his skills in camera operation, equipment, lighting, and combining audio, video and graphics through nonlinear editing and compositing. No stranger to Blair, Mr. Palanca and his daughter, Isabella, 7, live in Blairstown, and have many Blair family connections, including to uncle Paul Clavel, who oversees the athletics office, aunt Marivelle Clavel, who is assistant controller, and brother Chase Palanca, who serves as an admission associate. 


Christina Williams (Timken Library)
An assistant in a variety of capacities in the Warren County Library System since 2011, Christina Williams joined Blair in 2021 as a Timken Library assistant. She holds an associate’s degree in literature from Warren County Community College (2011), a bachelor’s degree in literature from Ramapo College (2013) and a master of information degree from Rutgers University (2019). Ms. Williams lives in Hackettstown, New Jersey, and enjoys reading, walking and watching anime in her free time. 

Veteran Staff and Faculty
Veteran Staff and faculty

This year, six faculty and staff celebrated milestone years of service with Blair Academy. At the annual Opening of School dinner on August 24, Head of School Peter G. Curran expressed his deep appreciation for the contributions of employees who have, for many years, dedicated themselves to moving the School’s mission forward and supporting students and colleagues.  

Troy Strunk, who has worked in Blair’s maintenance department for 25 years, received an original painting of campus in recognition of his years of service. Faculty and staff members who marked 10-year milestones received handcrafted wooden chairs engraved with the Blair seal. They include database administrator Harold Kay, language department chair Joyce Lang, Assistant Head of School for Strategic Communications Suzy Logan ’99, Acting Dean of Students Andee Ryerson and Dean of Admission Teddy Wenner ’96.

Mr. Curran expressed his sincere gratitude to the honorees for their commitment as all employees gathered at Sharpe House and in the Romano Dining Hall to celebrate the opening of the School’s 175th year. 
 

Painter Liz Dwyer Opens the 2022-2023 Romano Gallery Season

From August 25 through September 16, painter Liz Dwyer opens the Romano Gallery season with an exhibit exploring the human condition, female identity and motherhood titled “Figures and Planes.” “Among all of my work,” she says, “these feel nearest to me. They are how I choose to work out and process difficult things and connect with others.” Combining modern abstraction, symbolism, cultural patterns and geographical influences, the exhibit showcases the artist’s use of a minimalist approach to capture the complexities of her subjects. 

Ms. Dwyer’s current paintings are latex on wood, a medium she began experimenting with after coming across a painted barn quilt hung high on a local barn. Struck by the colorful juxtaposition of geometric shapes competing against the raw backdrop of nature, she began exploring painting processes that allow wood grain to remain and become part of each finished piece. She often designs each composition around the spaces where they will hang, cutting and customizing her work to fit their settings. She describes her finished compositions as modern folk art. 

A graduate of Radford University in Radford, Virginia, with a BS in art, Ms. Dwyer went on to study special topics in art history at Middlesex University in the United Kingdom before completing graduate work at Montclair State University in New Jersey, earning her Baccalaureate Teaching Certification in art. Ms. Dwyer has facilitated many levels of art instruction, working in both public schools and private studios, while continuing to display her work in curated galleries and regional exhibitions. Her work was most recently displayed at the Atelier Rosal Curated Gallery Show in Rahway, New Jersey. Currently a small business owner and studio art teacher, Ms. Dwyer owns and operates The Makery studio in Hardwick, New Jersey.  

Ms. Dwyer will join the Blair community for an artist’s talk on September 15, 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.