Day of Giving photo

Blair's Day of Giving
One Day. One Gift. One Community.
April 4, 2019
Make a Gift.

Godspell
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Meaning & Media class
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The Fantasticks
Winter Student Life
Blair Academy Singers
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Science class
Girls' Varsity Squash
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Film and Animation
2018 Fall Concert
Boys' Varsity Basketball
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Chiang Center
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Skiing
2018 Christmas Vespers
Headmasters' Society Games
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Arch in spring

The Blair community will welcome more than 100 admitted students and their families over the course of two Revisit Days this spring. On Tuesday, April 2, and Friday, April 5, newly admitted students and their parents will experience life at Blair Academy firsthand.

"When students return to campus as admitted students, they can truly see what Blair daily life is like," said Peter G. Curran, associate head of school and dean of admission. "Revisit Day offers them the chance to get to know our faculty members and community. In addition, they will experience our student culture on a deeper level and have the opportunity to take a real look into our academic and co-curricular programs."

Revisit Day will begin with registration and continental breakfast in the Chiang Center for Innovation and Collaboration, followed by a welcome from Mr. Curran.Next, a panel of Blair students will talk about daily life at the School, and then  the newly admitted students and their families will attend a special-interests fair, where they can delve into Blair's athletics and activities.

After the fair, admitted students pair up with Blair student hosts, with whom they will attend classes and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, students will return to the Chiang Center for a seminar on innovation and collaboration at Blair, during which they will have a chance to explore the School's art and technology offerings.

Throughout the day, parents will have the opportunity to attend a class and hear from faculty members and current parents about the Blair experience. Head of School Chris Fortunato will join the group to share closing remarks. Prospective families may then attend athletic events and practices to see Blair's student-athletes in action.

"Revisit Days are both exciting and essential because they give admitted students an authentic understanding of our community," said Mr. Curran. "We hope they see all that the School has to offer and determine that this is the best place for them to learn and grow."

Simona Prives

Artist Simona Prives will exhibit her collages at The Romano Gallery from March 25 through April 20. An artist’s reception will be held on April 4, during which Ms. Prives will discuss her work, which she describes as being “about locating ourselves in the built and natural environments at this particular moment in history.” The reception begins at 7 p.m.

Ms. Prives creates physical and digital collages that focus on the process of decomposition and reconstruction and the dialect of growth and decay, and that examine the complex relationship between the organic and the manmade. “To make each collage, I draw, disassemble and reconfigure maps, geological patterns and industrial imagery to breed new worlds that are at once familiar and abstract,” she said. Every artwork combines multiple forms of printmaking, as the artist uses fragments of screen-prints, monotypes and found material to assemble the composition.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College (BA) and Pratt Institute (MFA), Ms. Prives also studied printmaking at the Scuola Internazionale De Graphica in Venice, Italy. She has exhibited in cities worldwide and has been awarded residencies in the U.S. and Europe. Ms. Prives teaches at Parsons School of Design, New York University and the City University of New York.

Golf Training Center

Since the opening of Blair’s golf training center in January, boys’ and girls’ golf team members have utilized the state-of-the-art facility nearly every day to hone their skills in preparation for the spring season. The team members, their coaches and the entire Blair community will have the opportunity to thank the donors who made the golf training center possible at a dedication on March 30 at 1 p.m.

“Our community is fortunate to have this outstanding athletic venue, and I am grateful to all those who supported the project,” said Athletic Director and head girls’ varsity golf coach Paul Clavel ’88. “Blair is among very few high schools to have such a facility on its campus, and it adds another positive aspect to the overall Blair experience.”

The golf training center, sited near the first tee, houses two hitting bays with professional-grade Foresight simulators, a putting/chipping area, lockers and a restroom. The center benefits Blair’s championship-winning golf teams in many ways. Players are able to work on their skills and maintain their swings year-round, and, if cold and snow keep them off the course at the start of the season, they can still practice indoors, on campus—including full swings, chipping and putting. Once the golf season gets underway, the facility is the perfect place to warm up before a match or work one-on-one with a golf pro.

Head of School Chris Fortunato, Mr. Clavel, head boys’ varsity coach Andrew Sykes and members of the boys’ and girls’ golf teams will be on hand to honor the generous donors at the dedication, as will the Alumni Board of Governors and many members of the community. Parents, alumni, Trustees and friends of the School contributed more than $400,000 to fund construction of the golf training center, a project that represents the first phase of planned upgrades to Blair’s golf facilities. Course enhancements, including green enlargement, bunker reconstruction and tree removal, are all in the works, and will be completed over the next several years as funds are raised.

Day of Giving Logo
Day of Giving Logo

Thursday, April 4, marks Blair’s fourth-annual Day of Giving, a once-a-year opportunity to celebrate all things Blair and give back to the School that has given so many their start. “Believe in Blair!” is the rallying cry as the advancement office seeks 698 gifts to the Blair Fund in 24 hours, one gift for each member of the campus community, including students, teachers and staff members.

“The Day of Giving really brings our community together as we remember and celebrate the connections and relationships that have made the Blair experience so meaningful for generations of students,” said Director of Annual Giving Colleen Smarth P’18 ’20. “It’s a chance to honor those relationships by making a gift to the Blair Fund to help ensure that today’s students enjoy an educational experience that is just as meaningful.”

Mrs. Smarth and Assistant Director of Annual Giving Anna Matthews are planning campus-wide Day of Giving events on April 4, including a “Blair Wear” day, a special Chapel featuring Samantha Tilney ’08 and student advancement ambassadors, and a picnic dinner in the Romano Dining Hall. They encourage everyone in the community to participate in the spirit of the day—and to make a gift, following the example of the senior class, which has already achieved 100-percent giving participation this year with their support of the Class of 2019 Scholarship.

Of course, Blair alumni, parents and friends around the world are also urged to show their Buccaneer pride on the Day of Giving with a gift of any amount to the Blair Fund. Gifts can be made in honor or in memory of a special teacher or coach, and everyone can show their Blair support on social media by posting a photo with a Day of Giving sign. In addition, alumni, parents and friends can share a special Blair story, which the School may post on its website.

“Class representatives, Board of Governors members, Trustees and other volunteers are helping us spread the word about the Day of Giving, and we are looking forward to a fun and successful day,” Ms. Matthews said. “It’s important for every member of the Blair family to show their belief in Blair and support today’s students and teachers. A Blair Fund gift on April 4 is the perfect way to do so.”

Believe in Blair—make your online gift here.

Front entrance

History teacher Martin Miller, PhD, and Director of Timken Library Ann Williams once again collaborated on the publication of the Blair Review, a biannual compilation of personal essays penned by members of the School community. The 2019 edition embraces a topic to which nearly all members of the Blair family can relate: the time-honored transition from high school to college.

This year’s alumni and faculty essayists are men and women from different generations, geographical regions and socioeconomic backgrounds, but as Dr. Miller points out in the volume’s introduction, some common themes emerge in their stories. Most notably, he writes, “The distance from the current Blair experience is simply stunning in terms of the intensity of counseling and the expectations of prospective collegians.” Yet, despite the fact that “our authors’ decision-making was often a hodge-podge of guesswork, the tossing of darts at the map of higher education,” it usually worked out well in the end.

“As we put the Review together, Dr. Miller worked his usual magic to allow writers to bloom—he even had me write an essay for this issue,” Mrs. Williams said. “In the end, I was entertained and moved by the stories people shared, and I hope our readers enjoy this edition.”

Dr. Miller noted that at the outset of the project, he and Mrs. Williams were not quite sure if the topic “from high school to college” would work. “Any number of evocative submissions have already elicited a warm response from the readership,” he continued. “My hunch is we underestimated how deeply this rite of passage is imprinted on our memories.”   

To read this fascinating edition of the Blair Review online, click here. If you would like to receive a paper copy, email Ann Williams at willia@blair.edu or call (908) 362-6121, ext. 5725. 

Top Winter Athletes 2019
Top Winter Athletes 2019

Blair Academy celebrated its winter student-athletes on March 4 at the third-annual winter varsity athletic banquet. It was a season of triumph for the Bucs as the teams overcame obstacles, broke records and won championships. Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88 was proud of the way the athletes carried themselves through this long winter.

"The winter season is long and demanding," he said. "I applaud all our student-athletes, who exhibited outstanding character and sportsmanship as they surmounted the many challenges they faced over these past few months.”

The following prizes were awarded at the banquet:

Brooks Basketball Prize: Camille Clarin ’19

Leroy Haskins Basketball Prize: Jordan Dingle ’19 & Keenan Worthington ’19

The Captain’s Swimming Trophy: Andrew Brooks ’19, Jake Leddy ’19 & Summer Will ’19

Blair Squash Prize: Mikey Garcia ’20

Blair Squash Prize: Avery Clavel ’19

Winter Track Award: Ashlyn Alles ’20

Most Improved Wrestler Award: Nick Incontrera ’19

James C. Jamieson Wrestling Award: Michael Colaiocco ’19

Merit Ski Award: Jun Park ’19, Niall Sheridan ’19, Nina Sigety ’19 & Grace Rayer ’19

Blair Buccaneer

Five exceptional athletes have been named to the Blair Academy Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2019: Gerald Knapp ’54, Anne Cramer ’75, Melissa (Paul) Erne ’96, Royal Ivey ’00 and Dion Lewis ’09. The inductees exhibited the highest caliber of athletic accomplishment and were outstanding members of the community during their student days, and each continued to pursue athletics beyond Blair. The School will celebrate their achievements during the Alumni Weekend Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday, June 8; all are welcome to attend.

Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88 once again chaired the Hall of Fame selection committee, and he noted that in the fourth year since Hall’s establishment, the selection process continues to be extremely competitive. “Members of the Blair community nominated athletes spanning 60 years of School history,” he said. “I am grateful for the deep knowledge of our selection committee members and thank them for serving so diligently.” 

The 2019 Hall of Fame selection committee included former athletic directors John Frere, Dan Hazen and Jim Stone; Chief Operating Officer and former wrestling coach Jim Frick; Assistant Director of Athletics, head wrestling coach and former Blair athlete Brian Antonelli ’93; history teacher and track and cross country coach Martin Miller, PhD; Dean of Campus Life, softball coach and former Blair athlete Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79; Chief Advancement Officer Craig Hall; Director of Alumni Relations Shaunna Murphy; Sports Information Director and former Blair athlete Rhett Moroses ’13; athletic office administrative assistant Danielle Costantino; Board of Governors President Robert Van Stone ’69; and former Director of Alumni Relations and girls’ soccer coach Jenny Maine P’13 ’17.  

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

“As with every member of Blair’s Athletic Hall of Fame, the members of the class of 2019 represent the athletic excellence of our School,” Mr. Clavel said. “These five alumni helped shape the foundation of sportsmanship, camaraderie and competition that supports our student athletes to this day. It is rare that a high school's Hall of Fame class includes two professional athletes, as well as those who competed at a very high level beyond high school. We are proud to recognize all of this year’s inductees.” 

Here, we introduce Blair’s Athletic Hall of Fame class of 2019.

Gerald T. Knapp ’54

Mr. Knapp came to Blair for his senior year, during which he captained the Buccaneer football and track teams and was named to the 1953 all-New Jersey football team. As a track athlete, he won titles in shot put and broad jump and earned second place in high jump at the national AAU prep division indoor meet in Madison Square Garden. He also broke high jump and shot put records and tied a record in high hurdles in a national indoor meet in Philadelphia. Mr. Knapp matriculated at Cornell University, where he played football and participated in track and field. He earned varsity letters in football in 1955, 1956 and 1957, and served as team captain his senior year. He was being scouted by the Cleveland Browns when he suffered a football-career-ending injury. In July 1957, Mr. Knapp placed first in broad jump, second in javelin throw and third in discus throw in a Philadelphia track meet that pitted a combined Cornell/University of Pennsylvania team against a British team from Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The following June, the rival university teams competed in London, and Mr. Knapp placed second in discus throw and third in high jump. He was also the victor in high jump at a Dublin invitational meet in June 1958. Mr. Knapp died in 1996 at the age of 61.

Anne E. Cramer ’75 

An outstanding three-season athlete, Ms. Cramer earned varsity letters in field hockey, skiing and softball. She served as a senior tri-captain of the field hockey team, along with teammates Laura (Cochran) Morris ’75 and Linda (Dobozynski) Pettie ’75, and was a campus leader as a prefect and member of the Blue and White Key Society. Ms. Cramer was awarded the Phillips James Rosen Trophy as the top student in all respects as a junior and the Headmaster’s Prize, given annually to the senior who displays conspicuous loyalty, outstanding leadership and a fine spirit in Blair life. She was the valedictorian at her Blair graduation and continued to ski as a member of the Dartmouth College ski team. Ms. Cramer was Blair’s first alumna Trustee when she was elected to the Board in 1992, and she has served for 26 years, 13 of which as Board Secretary. In recognition of her dedication to her alma mater, Ms. Cramer was named Alumnus of the Year in 1998. She received Blair’s highest honor, the Citation of Merit, in 2015.

Melissa (Paul) Erne ’96

Winner of 11 varsity letters as a Buccaneer, Mrs. Erne won the Blair field hockey, ski and lacrosse prizes as a senior, as well as the William Zester Prize, given to the female athlete who best represents Blair in competition. She twice earned all prep “A” first-team recognition in field hockey and lacrosse, was the top scorer for both Buccaneer teams as a junior and senior, and captained the varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams during her senior year. A field hockey standout, she was named to the North Jersey Coaches’ Association All Star team for two consecutive years and represented team North in the New Jersey Coaches’ Association state senior showcase. As a skier, Mrs. Erne was named to the first team all-state three times, and she was the state runner-up in giant slalom and third-place finisher in the combined. She represented New Jersey at the Eastern Regional skiing championship in New Hampshire. Mrs. Erne played lacrosse at Cornell University. She returned to Blair in 2000 as a member of the School’s fine arts faculty and mentored the next generation of Buccaneer athletes as coach of the field hockey and girls’ lacrosse teams for 15 years. She received recognition for her many contributions as a Blair faculty member with the Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence (2005) and Riether Dorm Master Prize (2010).

Royal Ivey ’00 

An NBA basketball player for a decade, Mr. Ivey was a member of the basketball and track teams during his postgraduate year at Blair. He played college basketball from 2000 to 2004 at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was twice named to the Big 12 all-defensive team (2003 and 2004) and finished as the all-time career leader in games started (126). Mr. Ivey began his professional basketball career with the Atlanta Hawks as the 37th overall pick in the 2004 NBA draft. He subsequently played for the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Oklahoma City Thunder and the Guangdong Southern Tigers before retiring as a player in 2014. Mr. Ivey then commenced his NBA coaching career, and he has served as an assistant coach for the Oklahoma City Blue, the Oklahoma City Thunder and, currently, the New York Knicks. Mr. Ivey’s Blair jersey (number 12) was retired in in 2009, along with the jerseys of his fellow NBA players, Luol Deng ’03 and Charlie Villanueva ’03.

Dion Lewis ’09

A football standout, Mr. Lewis helped lead the Bucs to a 17-1 overall record during his two years at Blair (2007-2008 and 2008-2009). He captained the team and was named Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) offensive player of the year in 2008, during an undefeated season in which the Bucs won the MAPL championship and the New Jersey prep state championship. He also won the Brooks Football Prize (2008 and 2009) and earned varsity letters in track. Mr. Lewis played football at the University of Pittsburgh for two seasons. In 2009, he set the Big East freshman rushing record previously held by Tony Dorsett and was ranked third nationally in rushing. He set new records for most points by a Pitt freshman in the Big East championship game and most rushing yards by a Pitt freshman during the Meineke Car Care Bowl, for which he was named the game’s MVP. Mr. Lewis was named national freshman of the year by the Sporting News and CBSSports.com and offensive freshman of the year by College Football News. In addition, he was named to the second team All American, the only freshman to be named to the first or second team All American that year. Mr. Lewis was the Big East Conference rookie of the year and offensive player of the year, the first player to earn both awards since Michael Vick, and he was the Eastern College Athletic Conference rookie of the year. Selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFL draft, Mr. Lewis has since played for the Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and, currently, for the Tennessee Titans. He made two trips to the Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2017 and 2018, earning a Super Bowl ring in the Patriots’ come-from-behind victory in 2017.

Boys' Basketball

Throughout the winter season, Blair athletes competed in more than 150 contests both on and off campus. As always, the Bucs exhibited exceptional sportsmanship, dedication and teamwork, noted Director of Athletics Paul Clavel ’88. "I am very proud of our student-athletes this season, as they achieved team and individual milestones while working hard with grit and integrity,” he said. “This was another successful season in School record books.”

Wrestling

Blair wrestling capped a historic season in late February when the team won its 40th national prep title in 45 years. The Bucs scored a total of 354 points, followed by Wyoming Seminary in second place with 325 points. Blair tied the all-time record for the number of individual champions with a remarkable nine champions.

Earlier in the season, the Bucs won their fourth-straight Walsh Jesuit Ironman tournament by 100 team points in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. Blair had two champions in the tournament, Trevor Mastrogiovanni '20 (120 lbs.) and Shayne VanNess '21 (132 lbs). Runners up included Michael Colaiocco '19 (126 lbs.), Julian Ramirez '19 (170 lbs.) and Owen Trephan '19 (220 lbs.).

Head wrestling coach Brian Antonelli ’93 reflected on the season with pride in and excitement for his wrestlers. “Wrestling one of the toughest schedules in the country and going through it undefeated is a huge accomplishment for our guys,” Coach Antonelli said. “They competed hard and represented the School with class. We are thankful for the all of the support we received from parents, alumni and friends.”

Basketball

Blair’s varsity girls' and boys' basketball teams won their respective Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) championships in mid-February. The girls defeated Lawrenceville 76-47, securing the team’s ninth-straight conference title, while the boys overcame Hill 65-56, marking their fourth conference title in five years.

The  boys' varsity basketball team then made history on February 21 with its 86-64 win over New Jersey rival St. Benedict’s Prep in the NJISAA prep “A” state championship. This marks the first time ever that the boys' varsity basketball program has clinched both the MAPL and state titles during the same season.

"We played at a high level this season, overcoming some very strong teams,” said head boys’ varsity coach Joe Mantegna. “Our seniors finish undefeated in the MAPL regular season and tournament play for their final two years."

Meanwhile, the girls' varsity basketball team finished second in the nation at the 2019 independent school national championship, held February 22 and 23 in North Carolina. Having placed fifth at last year’s prep nationals, the Lady Bucs notched three key tournament wins to achieve second place this year.

"We played one of the most challenging schedules in the country, and it was so gratifying to play our best basketball late in the season," said head girls' basketball coach Quint Clarke ’87.

Skiing

The varsity ski team braved frigid temperatures to compete in a number of slalom and downhill races. During the first race of the season on January 15, the girls' team placed first and the boys' team finished third. As the winter progressed, the girls’ and boys’ teams continued to place in the top three.

The girls’ team traveled to Mountain Creek on February 28 and earned four trophies, winning the New Jersey non-public state championship. The team earned second place in both the giant slalom and slalom races, marking their second non-public state championship in three years.

Swimming

The swim team competed in a number of meets this season. In mid-February, the varsity swimmers traveled to Franklin & Marshall College for the Eastern Interscholastic Swimming & Diving Competition. During the meet, Camille Williams '20, Rachel Ninomiya '19, Anna Insana '21 and Summer Will '19  all qualified for finals in the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. Andrew Brooks '19, Nate Castimore '20, Jake Leddy '19 and Aidan Stockhausen '20 qualified for finals in the 200 free relay.

A number of swimmers had personal best times, and Anna broke her own School record in the 500 free relay.

Squash

Both the boys’ and girls’ squash teams competed in several successful competitions this season. The boys placed third in the MAPL tournament at home, while the girls’ team placed second in the MAPL tournament at the Hill School.

Winter Track

It was another tremendous season for indoor winter track. To date, the team has competed in three invitationals, with several athletes delivering strong individual performances at each. At the MAPL invitational, five Bucs were named individual champions, including Madison Jones ’19 in the 55 meter, Kerem Ayhan ’19 in the 200 meter, Tiheem Crocker ’19 in shot put and Kendra Payne ’20 in pole vaulting. In addition, five athletes qualified for the Eastern State Championships.

In addition to being ranked eighth in New Jersey and number one in the MAPL, Ashlyn Alles '20 shattered a School record in long jump at 18 feet 3 inches, a feat that makes her one of only 11 girls in New Jersey to surpass 18 feet and qualified for the New Balance High School Indoor National Championships.

“It was a tremendous indoor season, thanks in part to the new winter sports complex,” said head track and field coach Roy Wilson. “We are on track for an incredible outdoor season here at Blair Academy, and I expect to see more School records broken.”

Human Physiology Class

A dozen Blair students with a passion for biology and chemistry are investigating human physiology in an upper-level honors science course taught by Joseph Wagner. 

As the class explores the basics of macromolecules, protein structure and function (particularly in the context of enzymes), molecules genetics, and the regulation of protein synthesis, Mr. Wagner emphasizes the importance of deeply understanding and being able to articulate course content to others outside the classroom, as well as identifying real-world applications and relevance in their work.

“The acquisition of understanding rather than knowledge is invaluable in the life sciences and to growth as science students,” said Mr. Wagner, who joined Blair’s faculty in 2014 after earning his undergraduate degree in biology from Hamilton College. “So often, students are lost in the quagmire of scientific jargon and can’t see the forest because of the trees. I want students to put their coursework into context—to simply see that what they are studying matters and understand why it matters.”

Topics Covered & On the Horizon

At the start of the year, the class studied the ways in which structure implies function, particularly as it relates to the three-dimensional shape of proteins. They then turned their attention to the flow of cell information that originates with DNA, which allows us to synthesize proteins. Once students finish examining the structural differences between hemoglobin and myoglobin and connecting that to their function as oxygen delivery and storage, respectively, in the human body, they will spend the last few months of the year exploring the heavily controlled process of protein synthesis and principles of thermodynamics as they relate to metabolization of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. 

Intended for juniors and seniors looking to pursue science in college, Mr. Wagner designed biochemistry honors to give students a preview of the rigorous content to which they will be exposed as undergraduates. The course culminates in a capstone research project, and the class will share their results with the rest of the Blair community at the School’s annual spring Science Poster Expo, which mimics a professional scientific conference. 

“Given Blair's role as a preparatory institution, the poster session fosters the development of the skills necessary to engage with higher-level science at the undergraduate level,” explained Mr. Wagner, who also serves as housemaster of Freeman Hall and head baseball coach. “Students are often asked to present research of value, so it is necessary for our students to understand how to convey their work to an audience with no prior knowledge of their experiment.”

Developing Critical Skills 

Mr. Wagner’s commitment to deepening students’ knowledge and helping them develop those skills is one of the reasons his class is so popular. Hai Phan ’19 calls him “a great and caring teacher” who knows how to make difficult topics easy to understand, doesn’t hesitate to stop his lectures for questions and allows students time to digest the material. “Mr. Wagner always makes the class fun, but informative,” said Hai, whose favorite topic studied so far has been enzyme kinetics. “He is a great role model for students because he is passionate about learning and appreciates the beauty of biology.”

Beyond biology and the classroom, Mr. Wagner is also known for his care of students in other parts of Blair life. “He tries to relate to us on a personal level, which allows us to be more comfortable in the classroom to ask questions and share our opinions,” said Matt Tung ’19. “He is my favorite teacher at Blair, and I will miss being part of his class next year.”

Solving Real-World Problems

In addition to appreciating Mr. Wagner’s help in mastering course material, students have found they are sharpening their ability to apply what they have learned in the classroom to real-world problems. “Instead of asking questions that have straightforward answers, Mr. Wagner always strives to present us with complicated situations that require us to not only know the material by heart, but also be able to deduce real-world solutions using logical reasoning,” said Hai, who cited the opportunity to investigate how genetic mutations cause Rett Syndrome as one example. 

Other students have found biochemistry honors has given them the confidence to teach their peers. Alex Kirby ’20, Sarika Pyreddy ’19 and Matt credit their group projects—teaching a freshman biology classes about DNA replication and other topics—with helping them to explain complex scientific principles and theories to a lay audience. “This task was more challenging than I initially expected and gave me a greater respect for teachers everywhere,” said Matt, whose favorite course material has focused on spontaneity and Gibbs Free Energy. “Now, I feel more confident sharing things I've learned with younger students.”

“Mr. Wagner does a great job of varying the way we learn,” said Alex. “Instead of always taking tests, we do labs and presentations. I can apply what I know in a different way and use that knowledge to teach others.” 

Girls' Varsity Basketball

Blair’s girls' varsity basketball team finished second in the nation at the 2019 independent school national championship, held February 22 and 23 in North Carolina. Having placed fifth at last year’s prep nationals, the Lady Bucs notched three key tournament wins to achieve second place this year.

On Friday afternoon, Blair overwhelmed a depleted Comenius School 68-35. Olivia Miles ’21 led the Lady Bucs’ effort with 19 points, while Camille Clarin ’19 scored 15 points and Tabitha Amanze ’22 contributed 10 points. 

Later that same day, Blair played prep power Crestwood from Ontario, Canada, the consensus #1 team in Canada. In an epic heavyweight battle, Blair took the lead early and barely held on to a 71-68 win when a potential tying shot clanged off the rim at the buzzer. Dominique Darius ’21 (27 points), Olivia (23 points) and Thuraya Abdul-Hamid ’19 (10 points) led the team in scoring.

On Saturday, Blair took on the top team in Quebec and the #2 team in Canada, St. Laurent. Avenging a loss earlier this season, Blair won in overtime 70-63 in a game that saw 15 lead changes. In the heart-pounding final minutes, Camille hit a three to put Blair ahead by one point. After a St. Laurent score, Tabitha hit a reverse layup to again put Blair up one. A free throw by St. Laurent tied the game, but Dominique hit a running layup off a gorgeous pass from Olivia. St. Laurent made a layup to send the game to overtime, but Blair finished with a jumper from Thuraya and five points from Olivia, which propelled the Lady Bucs to the finals. Dominique and Olivia led the scoring with 28 and 19 points, respectively.

In the final, Blair lost to an undefeated Westridge Academy, falling by nine points. Camille scored a team-high 14 points, upping her total three-pointers to 99 this season.

"We have played one of the most challenging schedules in the country, and it was so gratifying to play our best basketball this late in the season," said Quint Clarke ’87, head girls' basketball coach. "More than their obvious talent, I was impressed with the team members’ character, poise and grit as they rose to this level on the biggest stage. This is a special group of people, and I'm fortunate to work with them."

Chrissy Devenny '08 Roundtable

Blair’s Alumni Roundtable series continued on February 27 when Chrissy Devenny ’08, founder and CEO of Los Angeles-based Dynamo Events, joined the Blair community via video conference to share her passion for the events industry. During the Roundtable, students had the opportunity to learn about Ms. Devenny’s company and career path and engage in Q & A. The Alumni Roundtable series was established during the 2017-2018 school year by Head of School Chris Fortunato, and it has since given students a unique view of fellow Buccaneers’ careers in a number of fields.

Ms. Devenny is a 2012 magna cum laude graduate of Duke University, where she studied cultural anthropology and markets and management studies. At the beginning of her career, she held business development roles at a New York City-based startup in the floral industry but quickly transitioned to the tech industry as a marketing event coordinator. She founded Dynamo Events in 2016 with a mission to “help modern marketers produce events that build brands and drive business.”

To date, Ms. Devenny has managed more than 150 events around the globe. In a recent interview, she noted that the career accomplishment of which she is most proud is “taking the leap to leave my cushy corporate job with colleagues I loved in favor of starting Dynamo.” Read more about Dynamo Events here.

National Prep Championships
National Prep Championships

On February 24, Blair wrestling won its 40th national prep title during the annual national prep tournament held at Lehigh University. The Buccaneer team scored 354 points and was followed by Wyoming Seminary, which placed second with 325 points. Blair tied the all-time record for the number of individual champions at national preps with a remarkable nine champions, including four seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and one freshman.

In addition, two sophomores placed second in their weight categories and one freshman placed third. The Bucs’ final placements are as follows:

106 lbs: Danny Wask ’22, 1st 
113 lbs: Ryan Miller ’20, 1st 
120 lbs: Trevor Mastrogiovanni ’20, 1st
126 lbs: Michael Colaiocco ’19, 1st 
132 lbs: Shayne Van Ness ’21, 2nd
138 lbs: Travis Mastrogiovanni ’21, 1st
152 lbs: Nick Incontrera ’19, 1st
160 lbs: Dominic Mata ’20, 1st
170 lbs: Julian Ramirez ’19, 1st
182 lbs: Peyton Craft ’21, 2nd 
195 lbs: Rylan Rogers ’22, 3rd
220 lbs: Owen Trephan ’19, 1st  

This marks the 40th title for Blair in the last 45 years, making this championship a milestone for the wrestling program. Head coach Brian Antonelli ’93 expressed pride in the team, noting that the entire coaching staff was excited for the Blair wrestlers. “Wrestling one of the toughest schedules in the country and going through it undefeated is a huge accomplishment for our guys,” Coach Antonelli said. “Blair wrestlers competed hard, and they represented the School with class the entire season. We are thankful for the support we received throughout, and we are proud of concluding the high school season with a national championship.

Boys' Varsity Basketball NJISAA Champs
Boys' Varsity Basketball NJISAA Champs

Blair’s boys' varsity basketball team made program history on February 21 with its 86-64 win over New Jersey rival St. Benedict’s Prep in the NJISAA prep “A” state championship. This marks the first time in School history that the boys' varsity basketball program has earned both the Mid-Atlantic Prep League (MAPL) and state titles in the same season.

The team’s journey to the 2019 state title began after its heartbreaking, one-point loss to St. Benedict’s in last year's state final. The Bucs redeemed that loss with this year’s victory, capping their season with the team’s fourth state title, its first since 2014. 

The championship game was hard fought, as Blair was down 13 points in the second quarter. However, the Bucs’ offense surged to score 58 points in the second half. Top scorer Jaylen Blakes ’21 came off the bench and scored 27 points. Jabri Abdur Rahim ’20 was a force to be reckoned with throughout the game with 21 points. Seniors Jordan Dingle ’19 and Keenan Worthington ’19 rounded up the scoring with 18 and 11 points, respectively. 

“These guys invested deeply in each other and in their own development as players and men,” said varsity head coach Joe Mantegna. “When the moment was the biggest, and they could have quit, they bonded together and made plays to become the first Blair boys’ basketball team to win both the MAPL and state prep “A” tournaments in the same year."

In addition to its four state titles, Blair boys' basketball now holds a total of 11 MAPL championships. 

2019 TedX Conference

More than 100 students gathered on February 13 at Gill St. Bernard’s for the fourth-annual collaborative TEDx conference. Seven students, including five from Blair Academy, shared talks on a range of topics. TedX is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks and Blair’s involvement in this event has been organized by history department chair Jason Beck since 2015.

Cleary Waldo ’19 shared thoughts on prejudice in the United States in her talk, “How Far We Haven’t Come: Combating Prejudices We Didn’t Know We Had.” Liv Kreider ’21 addressed mental health in "Please Don't Say Relax," while Tanner Humphrey ’19 shared with attendees his personal journey in "From Tragedy to Triumph." Abby Morris ’20 and Madina Shabazz ’20, on the other hand, teamed up to address the issue of vaping and its health implications in "Vaping: A Teen Epidemic.”

Throughout the conference, Mr. Beck was impressed by students' presentations and, looking forward, he hopes participants will continue to share their ideas, while also being open to learning from others.

“The students developed ideas on their own and, together, we worked as a group to develop their presentations prior to the conference,” he said. “The point of the conference itself is to provide students with an opportunity to explore issues they are passionate about in a forum outside the classroom, one that wants to hear what they have to say. I hope to see more students participate in 2020.”

Please check back for a video of the TedX conference soon.