students walk in front of timken library
Chiang Center

Reading broadly and intelligently are essential components of a good education, and Blair faculty members encourage reading throughout the year. The summer is no exception, which is why all Blair students are expected to read a minimum of five fiction or nonfiction books over the summer, and they are urged to read even more.

Students must read a minimum of five books over the summer months, including titles of their choosing in addition to those required by their teachers, and depending upon their courses, they may also have associated assignments and/or assessments to complete.

Titles for 2018 summer reading assignments are listed below. New and returning students enrolled in certain language courses for the 2018-2019 academic year must also complete summer work. Details about the summer work for language courses is linked in the list below.

All School Read for 10, 11, 12’s 

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

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


English 1: The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
English 2: Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)
English 3: Into the Wild (Krakauer)
English 3 AP or 4 AP Literature: Let the Great World Spin (McCann)
English 4 AP Language: Between the World and Me (Coates)


Global Issues; Western Civilization; US History: In lieu of summer reading, these courses are allowed to assign a book over either the winter or spring break.
AP US History: Students should read Charles Mann's article on "1491" from the March 2002 issue of The Atlantic magazine. Instructions and a link to the article are located here.
AP European History: Darkness at Noon (Koestler); please review instructions here from Dr. Miller for this reading.
AP Comparative Government:  Mr. Jenkins will email you an assignment in August.


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


Summer work in language courses differs by grade level and language studied. Please review the below requirements closely and click on the appropriate link.

Spanish 4/4H:  Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.
AP Spanish Language:  Click here for the assignment from Mrs. Lang.
All Classics students: Click here for the assignment from Ms. Fralick and Mr. Sheppard.
French 4 and above:  Click here for the assignment from Mme. Lavalle.
All Chinese students: Click here for the assignment from Mr. Facciani and Mrs. Wang.

Music & Performing Arts

Music Theory AP: The Complete Book of Scales, Chords, Arpeggios and Cadences…  (Palmer, Manus, Lethco)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blair Celebrates Alumni Weekend 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Blair Celebrates Underclassmen at Year-End Assembly

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

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

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

Following his remarks, the chairs of Blair’s eight academic departments recognized awardees for outstanding work in those disciplines. Veteran science teacher and longtime president of Blair’s cum laude chapter Rob Merrifield then inducted junior members and Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto thanked those students who will serve as prefects in 2018-2019 for their dedication to this important servant-leader position. Following that presentation, Mr. Pagotto’s student life office colleagues, Associate Dean of Students Andee Ryerson and Dean of Students Carm Mazza joined Head of School Chris Fortunato in recognizing underclassmen with a few more special prizes, after which Mr. Fortunato addressed the community for a final time before the 2017-2018 school year closed.

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

Mr. Fortunato asked the audience to remember that Blair is a promise and an opportunity, not a guarantee. “We must make sure we honor that for future generations,” he concluded. “We must continue to strive to fulfill the promise of this place.”

Blair chaplain the Rev. Lisa Durkee concluded the ceremony by introducing the class of 2018 video retrospective, which underclassmen had the opportunity to view for the first time following commencement-week festivities. Blair students and faculty will now prepare to say “goodbye for now” as the year officially ends on May 31 and summer vacation begins.

Congratulations to these awardees: 

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Alexandra Bakulina '21

The John Kinch Leach Merit Award: Dylan Benson '20

Sophomore English Prize: Cameron Bentley '21

Freshman English Prize: Jonathan Blanco '21

Performing Arts Prize for Theatre: Matthew Bottone '19

Performing Arts Prize for Instrumental Music: Yu Cao '19

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

Performing Arts for Instrumental Music: Joy Cheng '19

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Ariel Cobb '20

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

The Joan and Fernando Marcial Prize: Thomas Engel '20

Underclass Art Prize: Alex Glickman '19

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Katherine Holding '20

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

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

History Prize For Western Civilization: Alexandra Kirby '20

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

Gauss Prize For Algebra: Timothy Launders '20

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Lula Mantegna '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Ashton Martini '20

Sophomore Science Prize for Honors Chemistry: Olivia McLaine '20

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

History Prize for Western Civilization: Abigail Morris '20

Sophomore English Prize: Emia Musabegovic '20

Underclass Art Prize: Elizabeth Negvesky '19

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

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

The Stephen Curry Prize: Joop Olthof '21

Underclass Art Prize: Meredith O'Neill '19

Pythagoras Prize for Geometry: Jenna Park '21

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

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Robert Rucki '20

Performing Arts Prize for Theatre: Audrey Sacks '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Samuel Salander '19

Underclass Art Prize: Justin Shi '19

The John Kinch Leach Merit Award: Elise Sigety '20

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: George Sigety '21

Performing Arts for Vocal Music: Nina Sigety '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Linda Starrs '21

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Mollie Sysler '21

The Henry B. Cowan Prize: Linda Tong '19

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

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Cleary Waldo '19

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize: Jonathan Wong '21

History Prize for Global Issues: Hei Chun Wu '21

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

Blair Buccaneer

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

2018 spring athletic prizewinners:

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

Blair Celebrates Commencement of Class of 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faculty awards presented at graduation:

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

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

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

To view more photos visit our Flickr album.

Class of 2018 Reflects on Time at Blair at Baccalaureate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outstanding Seniors Recognized at Class of 2018 Assembly

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

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

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

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

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

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

2018 prize winners:

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

Ethan Amato and Veronica Blair

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

Thomas Menoni

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

Onome Akinobode-James and Apaar Anand

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

Savannah Doelfel and Elisabeth Pinkerton 

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

Luigi Pasquariello and Daniel Sysler

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

William Kaiser

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

Katherine Douglas

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

Clio Bersani and Dy-Jae Pearson

A Night to Remember: Seniors & Juniors Make Memories at Prom

Prom-goers enjoyed hors d'oeuvres, dinner and dancing all night long at the Stroudsmoor Country Inn in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, May 22. “We look forward to going to the prom every year,” said Day Student Coordinator Lois Stival, who organizes the annual event. “The juniors and seniors get excited about dressing up and going off campus for a fun evening of dinner and dancing.”

Prior to departing campus, prom-goers gathered at the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration, wearing their best formal attire. They exchanged corsages and boutonnieres and posed for photos. To view more photos, click here to visit Blair's Flickr page.

Girls’ Golf & Softball Teams Win State Championships!

After earning their respective Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) titles earlier in May, Blair’s girls’ golf and softball teams capped their 2018 seasons by earning state championships as well. Both contests took place in Blairstown, with girls’ golf taking on Lawrenceville, Peddie, Kent Place, Villa Walsh and Morristown Beard on May 18 and softball battling Hun on May 20. 

Girls’ Golf

This year marked the girls’ golf team’s third-consecutive NJISAA state championship and seventh such title in the past eight years. Senior captain Katie Douglas ’18 was Blair’s top golfer and the sole champion in the tournament. Anna Taivalsaari ’19 followed her lead by placing fifth. Both Katie and Anna received all-state honors.

Linda Tong ’19 and Yolanda Cao ’19 also contributed to the win, shooting 41 and 42 respectively. Marilyn Fang ’20 shot a 45 playing in her first state tournament. 

"I am so proud of the team for finishing the season with the state championship title," said Athletic Director Paul Clavel ’88, head girls' golf coach. "Since March, the girls have been working toward this day, and they put in the effort to achieve this championship."  


Blair softball finished its season in fine style as the team earned the 2018 New Jersey prep “A” state championship by defeating Hun 4-3. Co-captain Emma Mohlmann ’18 led off the scoring, hitting an RBI double that brought Katie Miller ’21 in for the first run. Jessie Schable ’19 and Gwen Safin ’20 followed with RBIs, scoring co-captain Meg Baldwin ’18 and Jessie.  

In the sixth inning, the team faced a tough challenge as Hun scored three runs with no outs, tying the game at 3-3. The Bucs got out of the inning with bases loaded, and, in the bottom of the sixth, Emma hit another RBI, this one the game winner, bringing in Ashton Martini ’20 who lead off the inning with a single. Jessie struck out 11 batters, walking none in the effort, finishing the season with a record 199 strikeouts and 12 walks in 18 games. The Bucs ended their MAPL and prep “A” championship season with a 16-2 record. 

Honors Presented at Senior Prize Assembly

Senior class members and their families gathered in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre on May 21 for the Senior Prize Assembly. The first of many commencement-week celebrations, the event provided an opportunity for Blair’s faculty and administration to honor the academic, extracurricular and athletic achievements of graduating seniors with the presentation of a number of significant awards.

(To view the entire Senior Prize Assembly, click “play” below.)

Dean of Academics Nathan Moltenti welcomed seniors and their families and noted that the academic prizes conferred during the assembly recognize breadth and depth of learning, present achievement and promise of excellence in future settings. “At Blair, you’ve learned to grow, to better understand yourself and let others see and be part of the ways in which this journey has happened,” he said, advising seniors to, “stay committed to the ideals you’ve learned at Blair.”

Academic department chairs took the podium next to acknowledge and award the top seniors in each subject area, and these presentations were followed by Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88’s recognition of outstanding athletes in the class of 2018. (Please see below for full list of awards.)

Assistant Head of School & Dean of Faculty Lorry Perry presented the final accolade of the evening: the James M. Howard Jr. Fellowship Prize. This award honors a faculty member early in his or her career who has especially impacted the Blair community over the course of the school year. To great applause, Ms. Perry announced that fine art teacher Evan Thomas is this year’s honoree. “Mr. Thomas is a person who takes genuine interest in students, one who is always and ever even-keeled,” she said, praising his natural ability to connect with students. “He continually encourages students to focus on the positive, to ask questions without judgment and to hold themselves accountable for bearing witness to what is important.” 

Before Blair chaplain the Rev. Lisa Durkee concluded the Senior Prize Assembly with a benediction, Head of School Chris Fortunato addressed the seniors and their parents. “You are a remarkable class, with so many dimensions and so many individual achievements that are only amplified by what you’ve collectively achieved. I think the world of you,” he said. “Seniors and all who have supported you, we are very, very proud of you today.”

2018 prize winners:

THE HARDING MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who has contributed most to musical organizations: Siena Isabel Tipton

THE ROBERT F. HARRIS MEMORIAL TROPHY, awarded to a member of the senior class for special interest and outstanding achievement in the study of English literature: Alvin Shu Wai Fan

THE ROBERT F. HARRIS DRAMATICS AWARD, presented to that member of the student body who has shown the highest standard of excellence in dramatics: Ernesto Ernst Lippert

THE PAUL R. WHITE HISTORY PRIZE, awarded to that student who is considered to be the most proficient history student in the senior class: Rebecca Eve Xi

THE CHARLES H. BREED LATIN PRIZE, awarded to an outstanding student in advanced Latin: Rebecca Eve Xi

THE DALE ROSENSON DRAMATICS PRIZE, given in memory of Dale Rosenson '72 and presented to a senior who has demonstrated dedication, reliability, imagination and technical proficiency in lighting, sound, special effects and set management for theatrical productions at Blair: Emma Jayne Mohlmann

THE DUMONT ENGLISH PRIZE, awarded to the member of the senior class who ranked highest in English and presented in memory of the late Senator Wayne Dumont and his father, Wayne Dumont Sr. by Mrs. Helen Dumont: Rebecca Eve Xi

THE JOSEPH F. EBERLE MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who exhibits outstanding achievement in music: Paul Naratorn Sereeyothin & Brandy Yijin Zhang

THE WINSON D. EWING PRIZE, awarded to that student who is considered to be the most outstanding mathematics student in the senior class: Zoom Paspol Saowakon

THE DURLAND PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN COMPUTER SCIENCE, awarded to that student who has demonstrated extraordinary ability and interest in computer programming or computer applications while at Blair: Pierce Henry Forte

THE AP SCIENCE PRIZE, presented to that student who exhibits an overwhelming passion and commitment toward science and who has written a superior academic record in multiple AP science courses: Rebecca Eve Xi

THE DONALD E. LAWSHE PRIZE, presented in memory of former Blair physics teacher Donald E. Lawshe and presented to that student who has consistently demonstrated a passion for science, and a dedication to interests beyond the classroom: Samantha Hui Bon Hoa

THE KAMPMANN VIDEO PRIZE, named for Blair video program creators Judith Kahan Kampmann and Steven Kampmann and awarded to that student each year whose exceptional talent, enthusiasm, dedication and accomplishment in visual expression and storytelling not only meets the highest standards of excellence, but uniquely sets him/her apart from all others: Sabrina Grace Helck & Spencer Aidan Quinn

AN ART PRIZE, awarded to the student who, in her study of art, is widening her life by sharpening his perceptions: Ahn Nguyen

PURCHASE ART PRIZE, awarded to the student for the purchase of their artwork to be displayed at the School: Caroline Anne Wolfe

THE PETER L. AMERMAN RELIGION PRIZE, awarded to that student of religion who has been most challenged by the material encountered and who has demonstrated an effort to re-evaluate the philosophy of life accordingly: Katharina Sophia Kremer

Other prizes given for outstanding performance were:

Spanish: Siena Isabel Tipton

Two-Dimensional Art: Amy Seung Min Lee

Three-Dimensional Art: Luke Anthony Corrado

Photography: Megan Rosemary Baldwin & Nami Caroline Hoffman

Senior Athletic Award, given to students who have earned seven or more varsity letters (five varsity letters for new juniors or three varsity letters for postgraduates):

Alexa Bazsa
Clio Bersani
Veronica Blair
Kraig Correll
Savannah Doelfel
Katherine Douglas
Sabrina Helck
Samantha Hui Bon Hoa
William Kaiser
Seth Kim
Zachary Kreider
Alec Lawless
Emma Mohlmann
Tiara Myrie
Jayson Oweh
Katherine Peacock
Dy-Jae Pearson
Soura Saxton
Michael Stockley
Adham Sobhy


Rose speaks at the gratitude chapel
Rose speaks at the gratitude chapel

The Blair community convened in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts on May 21 for the annual Gratitude Chapel, the final Chapel of the 2017-2018 school year. Jade Hernandez ’18, Zeynep Cavusoglu ’18, Cody Romano ’18 and Rose Mascarenhas ’18 each took a turn at the podium and spoke from their hearts about all they are thankful for as they prepare to graduate from Blair later this week.

Relationships were the subject of Jade’s speech, as the senior track runner and prefect from the Cayman Islands deeply appreciates the lessons she’s learned from those with whom she has become close. “Whoever it is that has made a positive impact on you during your time at Blair, it’s important to hold onto them, even if it’s just through the lessons they’ve taught you,” she advised. “I know I will.”

Zeynep, who serves as a prefect and head tour guide, urged underclassmen to appreciate all they have at Blair, through the great moments and the difficult moments, too. “I hope you enjoy your time here,” she urged, “it will not last forever.”

Cody thanked his advisor, Dean of Campus Life Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, for encouraging him to speak at Chapel. The football and lacrosse player also expressed gratitude to his teachers and, especially, his friends, “the best part” of Blair.

Finally, Rose, a four-year senior, prefect, and squash and tennis player, focused on the Blair family, giving thanks for the close relationships with friends and teachers that help students when they are away from their own families. Having followed in her brothers’ footsteps to Blair, she noted that she has been a “Blair kid” for 10 years. “I’m thankful for my family paving the way for me to go here, but I’m also thankful for the amazing community at Blair for proving my decision right,” she said.

After they spoke, Jade, Zeynep, Cody and Rose opened the floor for members of the senior class to stand and thank others who have impacted their lives. The outpouring of gratitude that followed was both a fitting end to Chapel and start to commencement week.

5th-Annual Day of Service Inspires Passion for Volunteering While Building Relationships Across Community

Blair students, faculty and staff fanned out to assist nonprofits and neighbors across New Jersey and Pennsylvania as part of the School’s fifth-annual Day of Service on May 18. With more than 500 volunteers tackling projects ranging from gardening and environmental conservation efforts to visiting with elderly nursing home residents and preparing food at a soup kitchen, Blair students and teachers did their best to give back to the local community, and it was a fulfilling day for all those who participated.

Noting that this year’s program was slightly different in that volunteers were involved in new kinds of project work, including supporting a local hospice, Day of Service organizers Joanne Brandwood and Kaye Evans were gratified to see so many in the school community excited about making service their number-one priority for the day. 

“Service is fun, and stepping away from academics, the arts and athletics to focus on the needs of those around you exposes our students, some of whom may not have volunteer experience, to the many different kinds of opportunities that are available,” said Mrs. Brandwood, who teaches history and coordinates Blair’s Service Corps activities with English teacher Mrs. Evans year-round. “We have found that students who give service a try as part of this day find they want to do more and more of it, both at Blair and after they leave campus.” 

A Personal Story of Lifelong Service

As has become tradition, the day kicked off with an all-school assembly, at which Blair Leadership Stories Coordinator Gina Trish spoke to students about the importance of public service. “For the last several years, I have filmed your leadership stories and heard about the things you have done to serve,” said Mrs. Trish. “Today, I would like to talk to you about my own service and why you should continue to seek it out in your life, too.” 

Admitting that she is an introvert who fell into volunteer opportunities in college, she explained how her quiet nature in many ways held her back and that she came to the realization that she needed to get out of her comfort zone and try new things. “If I didn’t break out of my notion of what I thought I was capable of, I’d never learn anything new,” she explained. “For my causes, I have stepped away from what I am comfortable with.” She went on to talk about a yearly fundraiser she organizes and a town park she helped conceptualize and create.

“Though the changes that will happen from your projects today will be small, they will be impactful,” Mrs. Trish concluded. “When you volunteer, I want you to remember, there is no limit to what you can do. Volunteering is 100-percent inclusive, and we all have strengths to contribute.”

Fanning Out Across the Region

Following the assembly, students, faculty and staff left campus for their project work, which included initiatives sponsored by the Blairstown Enhancement Committee and Blairstown Township.

This year’s activities also once again included a collection for the annual “Blair in Kenya” tag sale that takes place each September. Led by history teacher Dr. Hannah Higgin and Assistant Dean of College Counseling Britt Freitag, who first launched the project in 2015-2016, students and teachers solicited and organized donated materials to be sold during Blairstown’s town-wide yard sale in September 2018. The proceeds—which, thanks in large part to items donated or left behind by students when they move out of the dorms at the close of school—now total approximately $12,000 raised (with sales doubling in just one year). All funds raised support the independent nonprofit founded by history teacher Quint Clarke ’87, which provides vital educational, medical and economic opportunities to hundreds of Kenyans.

Building Community Connections

In addition to encouraging students to discover a love for helping others, the Day of Service aims to give back to Blair’s neighbors and organizations that can benefit from the combined efforts of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers. 

“For the last five years, we have built the School’s relationship with our community, and being part of that has been fun and meaningful,” said Mrs. Evans. “Even more exciting is the fact that we are starting to be known for our annual Day of Service, and organizations are starting to come ask us to support them. Of course, we are proud to say our volunteers have been very well received because of the great work they do. We are unbelievably proud of all of them, and their dedication says a lot about Blair and the people in our community.” 

The day concluded with an all-school picnic, at which students and teachers celebrated their hard work and the impact those efforts had across Blairstown and surrounding areas. “After five years, the Day of Service has become one of the newest Blair traditions, one that demonstrates the best of what it means to be a part of the Blair community,” Mrs. Brandwood said.

2018 ACTA Yearbook Dedicated to David Facciani

At School Meeting on May 17, yearbook editors Irene Choi ’18 and Lauren Fountain ’18 were eager to give the first yearbook to history and Chinese teacher David Facciani, to whom the 2018 ACTA was dedicated.

“From our move-in day freshman year, hearing ‘Hello, hello, hello!’ as we entered Locke Hall for the first time, to the rougher days of junior year, he’s been present to crack a few dad jokes or dole out some sarcastic comments just whenever we needed it,” said Lauren, adding that Mr. Facciani is “certainly beloved by our class.”

Mr. Facciani joined Blair's language department in 2007 as a Chinese teacher. He also teaches Advanced Placement microeconomics, is an international monitor and serves as housemaster of Kathryn Hall, where he lives with his wife, Lian, daughter, Angela, and their dog, Captain.

Mr. Facciani completed his undergraduate work at Yale University in 1997 and earned an MBA from the Thunderbird Business School in 2002. During his tenure at Blair, he has also served as housemaster of Locke and Davies Halls, assistant coach of thirds-level soccer and advisor to the student newspaper, The Blair Breeze.


Five Spring Blair Teams Win MAPL Championships

Capping a superb season of Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) action, five Blair teams earned MAPL championships this spring: girls’ crew, boys’ and girls’ golf, softball and boys’ tennis. 

Girls' crew won its championship on May 5, when the first varsity four boat burned the competition by placing first with a time of 5:42.8. This was eight seconds faster than Peddie School, which finished at 5:50.9. Both the girls' second and third varsity four placed second in the Mercer Lake invitational. 

"Unlike most regattas where each crew races for a medal in a specific event, the MAPL championship is a reflection of a team's overall depth and speed,” said Director of Rowing Programs Will Forteith. “Winning MAPLs shows the level of commitment and hard work that all of our girls possess, and it was a wonderful send-off for Coach Hannah Solis-Cohen, who has helped build a culture of speed and tenacity."

Playing in the MAPL boys’ golf tournament on May 9 at Peddie Golf Club in Hightstown, Blair shot a total score of 234, 10 shots better than runner-up The Lawrenceville School. This marked the Bucs’ third consecutive MAPL championship, and Brian Li ’19 and Harrison Valentine ’18 led the way with low scores.

"Brian has led us all year, so it was no surprise that he and Harrison each shot a good number to get us started," said Andrew Sykes, head boys' golf coach. "Apaar Anand ’18 and Robbie Donnelly ’20 struggled in the second group, in part due to knocking three balls out of bounds on the second hole and taking a 10 there. But they battled throughout, which was great.”

The girls' golf team brought home its fourth straight MAPL title on May 10 at Peddie School, accumulating a team score of 171, 17 strokes better than runner-up Peddie. Katie Douglas ’18Anna Taivalsaari ’19 and Linda Tong ’19 earned All MAPL honors.

"I am very proud of the team," said Director of Athletics and head girls’ golf coach Paul Clavel ’88. "The girls competed well during the tournament and stayed focused. It was great to see three Bucs finish in the top five."

The varsity softball team concluded its MAPL season at home on May 12 with a 9-2 victory over Hill School, a win that brought Blair’s league record to 7-1. The Bucs started the Hill game strong with five runs and continued to keep the Rams at bay. Jesse Schable ’19 struck out 10 batters. Emma Mohlmann ’18 hit a triple, and Megan Baldwin ’18 thwarted a Hill player’s home run with her over-the-fence grab. 

"Winning the MAPL title in softball is an incredible feat," said Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, head softball coach. "A team must win all season long, despite injuries and heavy academic work weeks. You cannot have an off day, especially as the MAPL softball teams are usually very evenly balanced. But, the one ingredient this team has is great talent, and great talent needs great team chemistry. We have that for sure. I am very proud of this team."

Boys' tennis brought home the final spring MAPL championship on May 12 as the team claimed the title at Mercersburg. Joop Olthof ’20 struck first by winning his #4 singles flight, followed by Tim Johns ’18 and Boris Vlasov ’20 who won their 1st doubles flight with a come-from-behind victory over Peddie. Ignacio Ybanez ’18 lost to a Lawrenceville competitor but secured second place. The MAPL championship was determined when Fernando Doddoli ’19 won his match to earn third place.

"The Bucs set the goal at the beginning of the season of becoming MAPL or state prep champions," said Ryan Pagotto ’97, head boys' tennis coach. "After suffering a loss to Lawrenceville earlier in the season, our hope was slightly diminished. But hope was restored as our team battled all season, performing extremely well at the MAPL tournament."

The five spring MAPL championships combined with four MAPL championships earlier this year (girls' tennis, boys' soccer, and girls’ and boys' basketball) make 2017-2018 the most successful MAPL year in School history. 

"I am extremely proud of all our student-athletes," said Mr. Clavel. "Winning nine MAPL championships in one year is a first for Blair Academy. Our teams overcame adversity, showed grit time and time again, and displayed hard work every day in practice to make this a record-breaking year."