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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!

Join an upcoming event or schedule an 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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textbooks

Families may purchase textbooks online for the 2021-2022 school year beginning on Wednesday, August 11. A list of textbooks required for your student will be emailed to parents prior to the start of the sale, and books can be ordered through a link in that email. Students and parents may view course enrollments for the current school year in the OnCampus/OnRecord portal.

Textbooks are no longer physically sold on Blair’s campus, and online orders should be placed as soon as possible to guarantee delivery by the first day of classes on Tuesday, September 7. To place an order, click this link or visit the School Store website. To watch a video tutorial about ordering, click here. From August 11 to August 24, Blair students can receive free shipping on orders over $59.

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

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

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

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

laptop and books

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about the unique mini-seminars:

The Science of Emotions

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

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

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

The [Space] Odyssey Continues

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

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

The Power of the Phone Camera

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

Michael Tobey ’12 Makes Olympic History

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miller House

On Friday, June 11, 2021, Blair celebrated the transformation of Steckel House into a new, two-family faculty residence with an open house and dedication ceremony. Many in the community remember the single-story structure, built in 1958, as the home of history teacher Dr. Martin Miller, Hon. ’81, and his wife, Micheline. Before retiring in 2020, Dr. Miller dedicated himself to Blair, working for 40 years as a history teacher, coach, mentor and friend to all. The house’s original name, however, dates back to an earlier instructor—World War I veteran Charlie “Cap” Steckel, who faithfully served Blair Academy for 30 years as a dorm head, coach and math teacher. 

Standing before a small gathering of faculty and Trustees at the dedication, Head of School Peter G. Curran paid homage to both previous community members, christening the new building the “Steckel & Miller House.” Mr. Curran thanked members of the Romano family for their support of the renovation and supporting Blair’s mission to retain and attract faculty who are experts in their fields and deeply engaged with students. “Elevating our faculty housing at Blair is critical,” Mr. Curran said. “It makes it possible to attract incredible teachers and coaches who are student-centered and love what they do.” He noted that the newest inhabitants of the house, the families of language teacher Tim Devaney and Dean of Admission Teddy Wenner ’96, are deeply student-centered. They have already used the renovated space to give students a home away from home, hosting team dinners and advisee meetings, bringing new life to the old quarters. 

Mr. Curran closed the brief ceremony by thanking Blair Trustee DJ Romano ’74, Vice Chair and Treasurer of Blair’s Board, and father to three remarkable Blair grads. The renovations were made possible by the generosity of Mr. Romano and his wife, Cathy, Mrs. Kathyrn Romano P’74 ’76 ’85, Mr. and Mrs. David P. Romano ’76, P’14 and Mr. Anthony Rizzo and Ms. Nina A. Romano ’85, P’14. 

The new Steckel & Miller House overlooks the Blair golf course and can be viewed to the east as one approaches the Bogle Science Center. It stands not only as a beautifully renovated home, but also as a tribute to those who, like “Cap” Steckel and Dr. Miller, have dedicated their lives to Blair students. 
 

Welcome to the Merrifield Meditation Garden

Welcome to the newest corner of Blair, the meditation garden, named in honor of longtime member of the Blair community, Sharon Maguire-Merrifield. Ms. Merrifield, the proud mother of Rebecca ’10 and Graham ’14, came to Blair in 1986 and worked in a number of roles, including as a member of the admission and advancement teams, a language and LEADS teacher and basketball coach. Over the past 35 years, Ms. Merrifield formed many deep connections at Blair, none more so than with Trustee Robin J. Scheman P '10 ’14, who met Ms. Merrifield when their daughters were in ninth grade. Ms. Scheman describes her friend as someone dedicated to growth and giving to others, saying, “Sharon has given herself as an advisor, teacher, coach and parent to so many at Blair. So many people who have come through Blair have been touched by her in one way or another.” 

Thanks to the generosity of Ms. Scheman, a portion of the Siegel Property has been transformed into a meditation garden in honor of Ms. Merrifield’s dedication to the practice of mindfulness and meditation. “Sharon is an amazing gardener and always leaves her patch of earth nicer than before she touched it,” Ms. Scheman says. She hopes that those who use this quiet corner of Blair will take that lesson to heart and learn from Ms. Merrifield’s example. “I hope they will learn from her. Use this space and appreciate nature. Take a breath.” The meditation garden is nestled into a clearing beside the woods and includes a platform, bench and flowers. It overlooks the calm water of Lake Genevieve and is open to students, staff and all members of the Blair community. 
 

Stock photo of book shelves

The all-school read provides the entire Blair community, from students to faculty and staff, an opportunity to engage with a single work of literature. The tradition, started in 2017, offers students the chance to interact with up-and-coming authors and thinkers, and it allows the entire community to have a collective conversation about important issues. Past all-school read titles include Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, an autobiography detailing “The Daily Show” host’s funny and harrowing childhood in aparthied South Africa, and Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi’s historical fiction account of slavery in 18th-century Ghana.  

This year’s all-school read committee, composed of 10 Blair students and their faculty advisor, English teacher Molly Hoyer, selected The Boy with Two Hearts by Hamed Amiri. A memoir about hope and perseverance, the book describes the author’s family of five and their trials with the Taliban. Amiri follows them in their flight from Herat, Afghanistan, across the globe, detailing the obstacles the refugees encounter on their journey to safety. The book is comparable to last year’s Born a Crime, Ms. Hoyer says, in that, “Both stories...bring global perspectives to the Blair community, raising issues with which countries around the globe are reckoning: the legacies of imperialism, racial and ethnic divides, immigration and asylum.” 

Having flagged the book as a stand-out in an early round, Lily Starrs ’21 is excited about the committee’s selection. “When this title came up for discussion,” Lily recalls, “every student who read it was emphatic that it would be an excellent candidate for this year’s all-school read. From its gripping first chapter to its emotional depiction of a family overcoming countless obstacles to save one another, Amiri's book has something to pique every reader’s interest.” Lily notes that one of the aspects that drew her to Amiri’s novel is the new perspective it gave her on the refugee experience. “Immigration and refugee issues are prominent topics of political conversation in America today, and seeing this issue from the refugee point of view was eye-opening,” Lily claims.

Ms. Hoyer hopes that readers will take away other lessons as well. “Blair students will learn more about Afghani culture and life under the Taliban, a name with which almost everyone is familiar, but few young people currently understand,” she says.  

The process for selecting the all-school read title has evolved since the tradition’s inception.  This year, students read several titles each, rated them, then wrote about what they learned.  “The four readers of The Boy with Two Hearts learned a lot, which is a significant part of what brought the book to the final,” explains Ms. Hoyer. At the last stage of selection, English department chair Jim Moore read all three finalists and then narrowed it down to the winner based on the entire committee’s discussion. Among this year’s top contenders, Amiri’s memoir stood out to Mr. Moore. “This book is going to go beyond the English department and will be applicable to curricula beyond English,” he says.  

While students on the committee can sometimes feel pressure to select a title that will be well-liked by the Blair community, Lily is confident with this selection. “I’m not worried about this one,” she says. “Every chapter ends with a cliffhanger.” 
 

textbooks

Reading is an essential component of a well-rounded Blair education, and the summer is no exception. All Blair students are expected to read a minimum of five fiction or nonfiction books over the summer, and they are urged to wade into even more.

The five books students read may include titles of their choosing in addition to those required by teachers. Depending upon their courses, they may also have associated assignments and/or assessments to complete.

Titles for 2021 summer reading assignments are listed below. New and returning students enrolled in certain language courses for the 2021-2022 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 2021-2022: The Boy with Two Hearts by Hamed Amiri

Requirements for selected courses (listed by department) for 2021-2022

English

English 2: Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)

English 3: Into the Wild (Krakauer)

English AP Literature: Let the Great World Spin (McCann)

English 4 AP Language: Between the World and Me (Coates)

 

History

Modern European History:  Please read the article shared here. Students should complete the writing assignment on the last page. All work is due on the first day of class.

AP U.S. History:  Read this selection from Charles Mann’s 1491 here. Students should annotate as they read, write down three to five main ideas from the selection, and develop a question to guide our discussion about the reading on day one.

AP European History: Assignment is here.

Global Issues; U.S. History: In lieu of summer reading, instructors may assign a book over either the winter or spring break.

 

Science

AP Biology: Riddled with Life (Zuk). Students should complete RWL Supplemental Questions as they read.

Campbell Biology in Focus AP Edition, 3rd Edition; Chapters 1-3 reading and notes.

AP Chemistry:  The Disappearing Spoon (Kean), published byBack Bay Books in 2011. Students may complete the assignment here.

AP Physics C: Mechanics: Physics: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press)

AP Psychology: Read Unit 1, Part I of the textbook (Updated Myers' Psychology for the AP® Course, 3rd Edition). Complete the assignment here.

Chemistry Honors: Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World (Miodownik). Dr. Sayers and Dr. Markolovic ask that students review this document as part of the assignment.

Marine ScienceClose to Shore (Capuzzo)

Language

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 2/2 Honors: Click here for the assignment from Mrs. Castillo, Ms. Cullen, and Mrs. Lang.

Spanish 3/3 Honors: Click here for the assignment from Dr. Mundo and Ms. Cullen.

Spanish 4 Regular:  Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.

Spanish 4 Honors: Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.

AP Spanish Language:  Click here for the assignment from Mr. Devaney.

French 2: Click here for fun ways to stay connected to French.

French 3/3 Honors: Click here for fun ways to stay connected to French.

French 4/4 Honors:  Click here for the required assignment.

                                   And here are more fun ways to stay connected to French.        

AP French Language: Click here for the required assignment.

                                      And here are more fun ways to stay connected to French.

All students studying Chinese: 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)

 

Fine Arts

AP Art History: Ways of Seeing (John Berger)

 

Mathematics

AP Calculus BC & AP Calculus AB:  All AP students are required to complete summer work in advance of the start of school. This work is required for enrollment in the course.  The assignments will be linked to this article by early July, and instructors will also send them directly to enrolled students.

 

Far Hills Scholarship Recipient

When Far Hills Country Day School student Cayden Walton opened his acceptance package to Blair Academy and saw that he had been awarded the Blair Academy Far Hills Endowed Scholarship Prize, he felt elated. “I’m so grateful to have received this scholarship from my top choice for secondary school,” Cayden said. From the first time he toured Blair, he felt the hilltop campus was where he belonged. “I felt a sense of inclusion and belonging, a personal and welcoming connection, a sense of genuine care for your well-being, and strong relationships among the teacher and student community.” He was happy to announce that he’d be moving to Blairstown this fall. 

While Cayden is the first student to be awarded this scholarship, Blair Academy and Far Hills Country Day School have long held a close relationship. Blair is the top boarding school destination for graduates from the private primary school, and in 2019, one Blair/Far Hills family pledged $250,000 to create the scholarship and strengthen that partnership further.  To fully fund the award, Blair will need to grow that amount to $500,000. 

Blair awards the Endowed Scholarship Prize to the best all-around student in eighth grade who is representative of the ideals of Far Hills and Blair. Dean of Admission Teddy Wenner ’96 recalls that Cayden stood out as a student who would excel academically and was self assured, athletic and fully immersed in service to his community. A few years ago, for example, Cayden and his dad travelled to Tanzania and Zanzibar to install Solar Suitcases™, a system that provides lighting and power for medical and communications devices, at a remote clinic. The equipment made it easier for medical providers and women giving birth at the facility. Cayden plans to continue helping others at Blair. “I have a responsibility to give back to others within and outside of my own community,” Cayden said. 

On April 16, Cayden and his family joined staff from Blair and Far Hills at a celebratory lunch, where he received some Blair swag and a plaque to commemorate his achievement. “I would like to give a big thank-you to the Blair admission team for selecting and seeing something within me, and letting me join the Blair family,” Cayden said, addressing the gathering. “I know that Blair will challenge me...I am looking forward to...making my family at home and FH proud.”  

Congratulations, Cayden!
 

Underclassprizeassembly

Blair’s freshman, sophomore and junior classes came together on May 27 on Hampshire Field to celebrate students’ accomplishments at the Underclass Prize Assembly. During the event, faculty members presented a number of subject and major department prizes, as well as awards that recognize achievements in other aspects of student life. To watch the full presentation, press "play" below.

Dean of Academics Nathan Molteni welcomed the audience to the last assembly of the 2020-2021 school year, commending students for their hard work and dedication during an unprecedented and life-changing time.

“I think most of us are looking ahead excitedly to a summer of greater freedom and a coming school year which returns the nature of our physical spaces at Blair to what we once knew,” he said. “But we can never truly go back to what was, only forward to what will be. Next year, just as in this one, Blair will once again be what all of you choose to make of it. You’ve done amazing work this year bringing to life this community in all of its many aspects.”

Following Mr. Molteni’s remarks, academic department chairs recognized students for outstanding work in their respective subjects. Veteran English teacher and president of Blair’s cum laude chapter Kaye Evans then inducted junior members into the society.

Blair administrators presented several special prizes to underclassmen, after which Head of School Peter G. Curran addressed the community for a final time before the school year closed. In his speech, he highlighted the many “firsts” in a year that will go down in Blair history, with the most poignant being the introduction of The Five Fundamentals of Living and Working at Blair Academy.

Recounting The Five Fundamentals—1) See the good; 2) Know yourself & practice honesty; 3) Honor the dignity of others; 4) Show care in all spaces; and 5) Be curious & suspend judgment—Mr. Curran asked students to truly reflect on and embrace the values as their own, both on campus and at home. He finished his speech by reminding students of their intellectual curiosity and willingness to take smart risks.

“I couldn’t be more grateful to stand here before you tonight and to wish you a wonderful break filled with time with families and friends as you recharge for next year,” he said. “I will be ready to enthusiastically welcome you back to campus in August. Until then, be well, get some rest and know that all of us at Blair will miss you until you return!”

Blair students and faculty will now prepare to say goodbye as the year officially ends on May 29 and summer vacation begins!

Congratulations to these awardees:

Freshman English Prize: Natalie Chamberlain ’24, Peyton Franz ’24 & Simisola Onakomaiya ’24

Sophomore English Prize: Elizabeth “Betsy” Kim ’23, Chloe Lau ’23 & Ellie Walker ’23

The Henry B. Cowan Prize: Megan Donaghy ’22, Aidan Ward ’22 & Timothy Xi ’22

The Edyth Jeffrey Shakespeare Essay Prize:

Nathan Bo ’24

Fengyi Fiona Han ’23

Charlene Jiao ’24

Elizabeth “Betsy” Kim ’23

Garrett Lee ’24

Lorenzo Norman ’23

Paul Ognissanti ’24

Amanda Olthof ’23

Owen Shin ’24

Renee Tracey ’23

Napat “Jene” Vachirapong ’23

Ellie Walker ’23

Emily Wang ’23

Shihan “Apple” Wu ’24

Kaitlyn Zachareas ’23

Michael Zhang ’24

Underclass Art Prize: Duc Dinh ’22

Photography Art Prize: Luisa Fernández ’22

3D Art Prize: Sophia Papadopoulo ’22

Kampmann Video Prize: Chris Tung ’22

2D Art Prize: Julia Twomey ’24

Design Art Prize: Timothy Xi ’22

Freshman History Prize: Simisola Onakomaiya ’24 & Owen Shin ’24

Sophomore History Prize: Elizabeth “Betsy” Kim ’23 & Ellie Walker ’23

Junior History Prize: Yuchuan “George” Gan ’22 & Ben Liu ’22

Chinese Language Prize: Duc Dinh ’22

Pythagoras Prize for Geometry: Morgan Edwards ’24

Newton Prize for Calculus: Yuchuan “George” Gan ’22 & Timothy Xi ’22

Euler Prize for Analysis: Aidan Ward ’22 & Dylan Zhang ’22

Gauss Prize for Algebra: Shihan “Apple” Wu ’24

Instrumental Music Prize: Laila Davson ’22

Vocal Music Prize: Nikki Kirkwood ’22

Underclass Theatre Prize: Alex Schamberger ’22

Religion & Philosophy Prize: Bella Conway ’23 & Evelyn Sharma ’22

Biology Prize: Michael Zhang ’24 & Shihan “Apple” Wu ’24

Chemistry Prize: ElizabethBetsy” Kim ’24

Physics Prize: Ben Liu ’22

Cum Laude Inductees - Class of 2022:

Archer Benedict '22

Sofia Ciminello '22

Laila Davson '22

Duc Dinh '22

Isabelle Dugan '22

Frederick Hargett III '22

Caroline Johnson '22

Benjamin Liu '22

Sean Um ’22

Aidan Ward ’22

Timothy Xi '22

Elleen Xue '22

Commencement

On the morning of May 25, as the sun settled on the shining faces of Blair’s class of 2021, it became clear that this year’s graduation brought an extra sweetness. “Had I known I’d be standing here, addressing you as Head of School back when we were sending many of you your acceptance letters in March 2017,” said Head of School Peter G. Curran, “I might have focused...on some of the challenges you would face over your high school career and the self-awareness, empathy, emotional intelligence and resilience you would develop as you navigated what lay ahead."

The morning began as family and friends gathered at tables in the Bowl under a wide blue sky. In keeping with tradition, seniors passed through the Arch one last time with the faculty before joining their families on the field. Standing before the crowd, Blair Trustee the Reverend David Harvey opened the ceremony with an invocation. Mr. Curran welcomed students and families to the event, and Senior Class Speakers Daniel Siyuan Dai ’21 and Alexandra Andrea Bakulina ’21 reflected on the lessons they have learned and how the last year has fostered deeper connections. “We grew closer from six feet apart and had the impossible role as senior leaders and prefects of teaching underclassmen to do the same,” observed Alexandra.

Blair administrators took the stage to recognize the outstanding achievements of several faculty members, who were commended for their skill and for inspiring students’ love of learning. Likewise, several seniors were honored with prizes for distinguished performance over the course of their Blair journeys (please see below for the full list of prizes awarded at commencement).

Finally, the moment that the last four years had been building toward arrived. As their names were read by Dean of Campus Life and Director of Leadership Programs Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, each senior accepted his or her diploma and shook hands with Mr. Curran. When the last student had taken his seat, Mr. Curran listed many of the class of 2021’s notable achievements, saluting the group's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and its legacy of leadership. He also commended  the new graduates’ flexibility in responding to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Recognizing how bittersweet the moment must be for many parents, Mr. Curran thanked them for their support over the last four years.

“The relationships that you have built during your time at Blair are what you will take with you today and in the months and years ahead, relationships that you will carry with you through different phases of your careers and lives," he said.

Above all, he urged the members of the outgoing class to “Build on what you have learned here...Become confident citizens of the world who move their professions forward, give back to their communities and find great personal fulfillment.” At the conclusion of the ceremony, Jenna Madison Van Valkenburg ’21 had the honor of accepting the class of 2021 pennant from Michael J. Lieberman ’71, a dedicated Blair alumnus and member of this year’s 50th reunion class.

After the recessional and as the last strains of “Ode to Joy” faded, the graduates joined their families at each table to share a meal and memories from Blair. It had been a morning filled with heartfelt speeches, lighthearted quips, and the cheering of proud parents and faculty. As the first cars began to leave, a few friends stood on the steps of Hardwick Hall for a last photo. Although masks obscured their faces, no one needed to see their lips to know they were smiling. They radiated the joy of a class that had overcome an especially challenging year and, surrounded by friends, emerged stronger on the other side.

Congratulations to the Blair class of 2021! To watch the ceremony, press play below:

Faculty awards presented at graduation:

Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence: Science teacher Suzana Markolovic

John C. and Eve S. Bogle Teaching Prize: Science department chair Kelly Hadden

Riether Residential Life Award: English teacher Molly Hoyer

Lillian and Samuel Tedlow Teaching Prize: Math teacher Robin Anthony

Headmaster’s Faculty Prize: Director of Academic Support Allison Leddy

Student awards presented at graduation: 

Headmaster’s Prize: Abney Tessier Whitehead ’21 & Jaylen Tomi Blakes ’21

Blair Academy Trophy: Grace Anderson Hogue ’21 & Sarab Singh Anand ’21

George P. Jenkins ’32 Prize: Daniel Siyuan Dai ’21 & Alexandra Andrea Bakulina ’21

Appointment to the United States Coast Guard Academy: Sean Horner ’21

Seniors Reflect at Baccalaureate

Seniors’ Blair experience ceremoniously approached its close on May 24 at Baccalaureate, a service that is held annually on the eve of graduation. Throughout the evening, the soon-to-be-graduates reflected on and celebrated their time at Blair and looked to the future as they prepared for commencement the next day.

The program began with a bagpiper-led procession through the Arch to Marcial Field, where faculty members lined the path and applauded the graduating class. Maria Strulistova ’22 and Nikki Patterson ’22 opened the service with a piano prelude before Blair Trustee the Rev. David Harvey welcomed the audience and offered a prayer.

The ceremony included readings by Mollie Sysler ’21, Jordan Abraham ’21 and Campbell Craig ’21, as well as an original spoken word poem by Michael Richardson ’21 titled “B.L.A.I.R., Believe Living An Incredible Reality.” In addition, the Blair Academy Chamber Orchestra and the Blair Academy Singers each performed a song.

Head of School Peter G. Curran introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Associate Dean of Students Andee Ryerson. Mrs. Ryerson shared with students the important impact change will have on their lives for years to come. She began her speech recounting the changes Blair students experienced this past year due to the ongoing pandemic.

Mrs. Ryerson went on to remark on the role that change will play in graduates' lives after they leave campus tomorrow to move into their next chapters. Change, she noted, many challenges and difficulties that students must learn to grow through. The class of 2021 was inspired to meet this challenge, utilizing the many skills they learned during their time at Blair. Mrs. Ryerson ended her speech by empowering graduates to feel confident in their ability to navigate difficult change.

“Whether the changes lying ahead of you are academic, social, athletic or personal in nature, your ability to navigate the difficult baggage of change will help bring you success,” she said. “By preparing for the side effects, finding the familiar and reminding yourself of the constant waiting for you, you will be able to weather the storm that is life’s constant change.”

Mrs. Ryerson has been a Blair faculty member since 2012 and has held numerous roles across campus, most recently in the student life office and fine arts department teaching Advanced Placement art history and the Freshman Seminar design module. In July 2021, she will become Blair’s director of communications.

Following Mrs. Ryerson's address and Rev. Harvey's litany and benediction, attendees sang the "The Blair Love Song. The ceremony came to a close with a piano recessional as the audience dispersed, with seniors one step closer to graduation.

 

Coeducation logo

Blair returned to its coeducational roots when girls once again joined the student body in the fall of 1970. In the years that followed, these pioneering young women became an important part of every aspect of school life, and they distinguished themselves in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in artistic pursuits and more.

We continue our celebration of the 50th anniversary of Blair’s reinstatement of coeducation by sharing the names of the first females to receive some of the School’s major prizes in the 1970s, according to Arthur Hamlin’s Sesquicentennial History and the plaques that hang in Locke Hall. (The year in which each prize was awarded appears in parentheses. Special thanks to library assistant Holly Newcomb for compiling this list.)

(1972) THE JOHN KINCH LEACH MERIT AWARD, given to that member of the sophomore class whose record of scholarship, participation in activities, and general citizenship have been a special credit to the School and an example for others to follow: Mary Beth (Lewis) DiMarco ’74 

(1973) THE FRANKLIN PRIZE, awarded to the senior who has shown the greatest development and improvement throughout the course: Aileen (Madden) Gaumond ’73 

(1973) 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: Marguerite C. Laporte ’73 

(1973) THE ROBERT F. HARRIS DRAMATICS AWARD, presented to that member of the student body who has shown the highest standard of excellence in dramatics: JoAnn (Deibel) Taylor ’73 

(1973) THE SCHMEIZER-SELINGER RELIGION PRIZE (now THE PETER AMERMAN PRIZE): Debra (Goldman) Markowitz ’74 

(1974) THE BLAIR ACADEMY TROPHY, awarded in recognition of the member of the senior class with the highest all-around achievement: Pamella L. Olsyn ’74 

(1974) THE HARDING MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who has contributed most to musical organizations: Eleanor T. Howard ’74 

(1974) THE PHILLIPS-JAMES-ROSEN TROPHY, awarded to that member of the junior class whose record has been marked by devotion to the School, and who has, while performing creditably as a student and citizen of the school community, displayed uncommon leadership: Anne E. Cramer ’75  

(1974) THE HAROLD F. WALKER MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to a senior who is deserving of recognition not provided in other awards: Susan E. Perna ’74 & William A. Hindle ’74 were co-recipients

(1974) Class Valedictorian (now THE GEORGE P. JENKINS ’32 PRIZE): Lida Drummond ’74 

(1975) THE HEADMASTER’S PRIZE, awarded to the student in the senior class who has conspicuously displayed loyalty to the school, outstanding leadership, a fine influence in sportsmanship and Blair spirit in athletic competition: Anne E. Cramer ’75 (Ms. Cramer was also the 1975 Class Valedictorian.)

(1975) THE ROBERT DALLING PRIZE, presented to the athlete who has best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition: Laura (Cochran) Morris ’75 (Mrs. Morris is the first and only female to ever receive this prize. In 1976, the School established the William Zester Memorial Prize to recognize the top female athlete, and the Robert Dalling Prize became the award for the top male athlete.)

(1976) THE WILLIAM ZESTER MEMORIAL AWARD, presented to the female athlete who has best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition: Janet (Jones) Harrington ’76 

(1977) THE JOSEPH F. EBERLE MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who exhibits outstanding achievement in music: Louise E. Ewing ’77

Latta Browse

At the last School Meeting on May 21, yearbook editors Kathy Fong '21, Belle Laxer ’21, Xinyi Lu '21 and Tess Whitehead ’21 presented the first yearbook to math teacher and longtime girls' cross country coach R. Latta Browse, to whom the 2021 ACTA is dedicated.

“This year’s theme of ‘Change’ is indicative of the year we had and the positive change we experienced together,” Belle said. “It was easy for us to choose Mr. Browse.”

Appointed to Blair’s faculty in 1982, Mr. Browse has impacted the Blair community in a variety of ways during his tenure, serving as math department chair, dorm head of Davies, West and Mason halls, and sophomore class monitor. He has also served as head or assistant coach for a myriad of sports and is currently head coach of the girls' cross country team.

Mr. Browse began his career graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1978 from Middlebury College with a BA in mathematics. In 1989, he earned an MALS in Islamic studies at Columbia University and, in 1991, received his CAS in mathematics from Wesleyan University. Before coming to Blair, Mr. Browse taught high school mathematics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia and as an international baccalaureate math teacher in Belgium.

Mr. Browse is married to Dean of Campus Life and Director of Leadership Programs Carolyn Conforti-Browse ’79, they are the parents of Tyler ’08 and Annelies ’13.

For the printed dedication, the yearbook editors gathered testimonials from Blair students, alumni and faculty, each of whom has a special connection with Mr. Browse. Many of the entries highlight Mr. Browse’s optimism, dedication to students and the lasting impact he has made on campus.

“Mr. Browse is the most genuine, funny, and supportive coach imaginable, and he is so much fun to be around,” said Lily Starrs ’21, Corrine Wilm ’21 and Jessica Wilm ’21. “Even during seasons when he isn’t coaching us, he shows up at our meets and practices. Coach Browse has proven that he truly cares about us, not just as athletes and students, but as people for these past four years, and we couldn’t be more grateful to have gotten to know him! Mr. Browse is our biggest supporter, and we are all so lucky to have him in our corners. Thank you for all the bonfires, team dinners, strategy talks before races, deep conversations, and for being such a constant and positive role model. You are one of things we will miss most when we graduate from Blair.”

“I always appreciate Latta’s honest and frank appraisal of things, he’s such a voice of reason and one of my most valuable friends,” noted English teacher Craig Evans.

As he accepted his award on Marcial Field, Mr. Browse humbly expressed his gratitude to the Blair community for his nomination. He explained that to him, this is the greatest honor a teacher can receive.

“You cannot imagine how happy I am to receive this, thank you to everyone,” he said. “To the class of 2021, I will always remember you and the year we experienced together.”

Senior Prize Assembly

With graduation just a few days away, the members of the class of 2021 came together on May 21 to celebrate one another’s achievements at the Senior Prize Assembly. Held in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre, the event gave Blair’s department heads and administrators the opportunity to recognize the top seniors in each academic discipline, as well as in the arts, in athletics and in the life of the School.

Head of School Peter G. Curran welcomed senior class members, whom he initially had the privilege of meeting as prospective students in his former role as Dean of Admission. "I remember admission committee meetings where we discussed your incredible strengths and merits, and we knew that you were going to wow us all,” he said. “And you have done exactly that, especially over these last 15 months. Please know how proud we are of your accomplishments."

To watch the full presentation, press play below:

Among the many awards presented at the Senior Prize Assembly, one honor was accorded to a faculty member: The James M. Howard Jr. Fellowship Prize. This award recognizes an early career teacher who has especially impacted the Blair community over the course of the year. Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Lorry Perry presented the honor to science teacher Nadia Abascal, PhD, noting that, in accordance with tradition, the members of the senior class had assisted in selecting Dr. Abascal as this year’s recipient.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the class of 2021 gift to Blair Academy by Advancement Ambassadors Jasneed Meghadri ’21 and Jonathan Wong ’21. Ninety-eight percent of the senior class contributed to the gift, which totaled $1,945 and included donations earmarked for the Blair Fund and the Scholarship Fund. The bulk of the senior class gift—nearly $1,700—will help fund The Class of 2021 Scholarship, a fundraising endeavor that seniors have undertaken with their parents.

Blair Trustee the Rev. David Harvey closed the Senior Prize Assembly with a benediction, and then the audience enjoyed the premier of the Class of 2021 Video Perspective, a film created by seniors that highlights all the happenings of the historic 2020-2021 school year.

Class of 2021 Prizewinners:

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: Sarab Singh Anand

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: Grace Anderson Hogue & Linda Marie Starrs

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: Lucy Pearl Clayton & Ava Ryan Nothstine

THE EDYTH JEFFREY SHAKESPEARE ESSAY PRIZE, awarded to a Blair Academy student based on an essay related to the work of William Shakespeare: John Charles Weber III

AN ART PRIZE, awarded to the student who, in his or her study of art, is widening his or her life by sharpening his or her perceptions: Katherine Allison Jacobs

ART DEPARTMENT PRIZES, recognizing outstanding work in these areas:

DESIGN: Matthew K. Neuffer

TWO DIMENSIONAL ART: Eunseo Elle Choi & Ashley Hanrui Dai

THREE DIMENSIONAL ART: Olivia Ann Mohlmann

PHOTOGRAPHY: Avery Patricia Lehman & Linda Jorden Maree Thomas-Galloway  

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

THE CHARLES H. BREED LATIN PRIZE, awarded to an outstanding student in advanced Latin: Alice Catherine Devereux

THE MARGUERITE DEYSSON HABERMANN MEMORIAL FRENCH PRIZE, awarded to a senior who has done exceptionally well in French: Abigail Margot Schwartz

SPANISH LANGUAGE PRIZE: Ashley Hanrui Dai & Alexandra Andrea Bakulina

THE WINSON D. EWING PRIZE, awarded to that student who is considered to be the most outstanding mathematics student in the senior class: Hao Hank Cui

THE HARDING MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who has contributed most to musical organizations:  Linda Marie Starrs & Nathaniel Chung Hsing Tung

THE JOSEPH F. EBERLE MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to that student who exhibits outstanding achievement in music: Michael Gerard Richardson

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

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: Daniel Siyuan Dai

THE SCIENCE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, 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: Lucy Pearl Clayton, Daniel Siyuan Dai & Dylan Tianyu Zhu

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

THE ROBERT DALLING PRIZE, presented to the male athlete who has best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition: Jaylen Tomi Blakes

THE WILLIAM ZESTER MEMORIAL AWARD, presented to the female athlete who has best represented Blair Academy in athletic competition: Olivia Rose Miles

THE HERBERT J. SIEGEL ’46 SPORTSMANSHIP PRIZE, presented to those seniors whose sportsmanship, spirit and selfless dedication to their teams best represent the ideals of Blair Academy: Aaron Yassin Armitage, Morgan Avery Jones, Dominique Alexis Darius & Grace Anderson Hogue  

THE LEE ROSE MEMORIAL TROPHY, awarded to the senior who while performing with merit in the classroom, has made significant contribution to Blair life: Ashley Hanrui Dai & Mollie Elizabeth Sysler

THE FRANKLIN PRIZE, awarded to the senior who has shown the greatest development and improvement throughout the course: Ava Rose Gamble & John Charles Weber III

THE SELENA AND JAMES HOWARD PRIZE, awarded to a senior who is deserving of recognition not provided in other awards: Michael Gerard Richardson & Miki G. Wang

THE HAROLD F. WALKER MEMORIAL PRIZE, awarded to a senior who is deserving of recognition not provided in other awards: Simar Singh Anand & Oliver Patrick Tipton

THE JOHN H. WYETH YEARBOOK PRIZE: Hoi Ki Kathy Fong, Isabelle Sara Laxer, Xinyi Lu & Abney Tessier Whitehead

Inducted into Cum Laude:  

Aksher Aiyer

Sarab Singh Anand

Simar Singh Anand

Johannes Boellhoff

Zachary Goncalves

Nicholas Harpe

Xinyi Lu

Siddharth Mehta

Olivia Ann Mohlmann

Oliver Patrick Tipton

Nathaniel Chung Hsing Tung

Hei Chun Jeffrey Wu

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):

Aaron Yassin Armitage

Alexandra Andrea Bakulina

Beverley Condoleezza Marie Da Costa

Ashley Hanrui Dai

Alice Catherine Devereux

Owen Gerald Donaghy

John Jason Hadden Jr.

Grace Anderson Hogue

Morgan Avery Jones

Sofia Louise Kasparik

Avery Patricia Lehman

Olivia Rose Miles

Olivia Ann Mohlmann

Hunter Olaf Sloan

Jenna Madison Van Valkenburg

Corrine Amber Wilm

Jessica Grace Wilm

 

Senior Speech Contest

With just over a week until graduation, the members of the class of 2021 gathered in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre on May 17 for a quintessential Blair rite-of-passage: the annual Senior Public Speaking Contest. During the evening event, 12 seniors spoke eloquently on topics of their choosing, and a panel of faculty judges selected the top three orators: Lily Starrs ’21 (first place); Sofia Kasparik ’21 (second place); and Ramla Gunnarsdottir ’21 (third place). English department chair Jim Moore announced the winners at the seniors’ final School Meeting on May 21.

To view the winning speeches, press “play” below”

Seniors began gearing up for the Senior Public Speaking Contest earlier in the second semester, when they wrote and filmed their Leadership Stories as part of their English classes. In this exercise, they related how they faced a challenge or choice and remained true to their values, and the experience helped prepare them to construct a speech they could share with a broad audience.

“Unlike the Leadership Story—which allows for ‘do-overs’ since it is filmed—the senior speech incorporates much more in the way of delivery skills,” Mr. Moore remarked. “Students have to focus on projection, pacing, enunciation and reading the audience, all the elements that speaking to a live audience in a large venue requires. These are important skills for our seniors to begin to master before they graduate, and the Senior Public Speaking Contest is excellent practice in this regard.”

In addition to the development of writing and speaking skills, Mr. Moore shared another reason why the Senior Public Speaking Contest is such an important milestone for Blair’s soon-to-be alumni. “The event is essentially the beginning of seniors’ last week at Blair,” he said. “Their speeches represent a final message or thoughts they want to share with the School community before they move on to the next stage of their lives.”