All In The Campaign for Blair Academy 2018-2025
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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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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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kady senior speech

In an event revered as the kickoff to Commencement activities, a select group of seniors stole the stage last week, captivating the audience with their narratives. The Senior Public-Speaking Contest brought out the best of the Class of 2024 in the DuBois Theatre, imprinting their words on the hearts of the community that will bid them farewell as they graduate Thursday. Before leaving, they took to sharing just a little bit more about themselves, hoping another student could resonate with their experience.

“Once again, the senior speakers displayed an inspiring combination of close observation, narrative structure and polish as they reflected on their own lives and those of others through topics that ranged in scope from how to approach one’s choice of ice cream to the challenges of living in two distinctly different cultures,” English department chair and contest organizer Jim Moore, Hon. ’93 said.

One by one, the seniors took to the stage, elected to represent their English class by their peers and teacher. The contest, a quintessential Blair rite of passage, offers students a platform to practice core skills they will need as they look to continue their journey after graduation: projection, pacing, enunciation and reading the audience. Preparations for the speeches begin earlier in the year, teaching the art of brevity and drafting a speech that accurately conveys your final thoughts leading up to Commencement.

“Public speaking is a risky venture for even the most experienced speaker, so it poses a substantial challenge for many of our students,” veteran English teacher Bob Brandwood explained. “What is always surprising and gratifying is just how well our students step up to that challenge, producing interesting, thoughtful and compelling statements of their beliefs, experiences or opinions.”

No two speeches were alike, and in the end, Kady Seck ’24 was awarded first place for her narrative detailing how spending her afternoons at her mom’s job in a salon helped shape who she is today. Richard Li ’24 and Eric Ihekwaba ’24 secured second and third place, respectively, and Mr. Moore commended all speakers for putting their best foot forward.
 

mural painting DOS

Equipped with shovels and paintbrushes, clay and blankets, the Blair community got to work, delivering on one of the seven principles that guide learning on the hilltop. “Real-world engagement and service to others engender meaningful experiences,” and one of the most meaningful during the academic year is the annual Day of Service. Ten years from the inception, the all-School event lent a helping hand to 25 service projects at Blair and in the extended community, showcasing the best of Blair—genuine care for others.

Service is built into the routine of a typical year at Blair, with students volunteering regularly. Clubs like La Conexión regularly tutor Spanish-speaking students in nearby schools and Project Esperanza hosts fundraising events on campus to raise money and awareness for ​​underprivileged children in China. On Day of Service, however, the entire hilltop puts aside their busy schedules to make a difference in the lives of others.

To kick off the day and motivate the community for the important work ahead, everyone gathered in the Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts’ DuBois Theatre to hear from Margaret Schiller P’12 ’13, president of the Ridge and Valley Conservancy. Ms. Schiller shared her work with the Conservancy, promoting the preservation of natural areas in our area. During the day, one group of students joined the organization, removing invasive plants on a hiking trail. Ms. Schiller encouraged students to find a volunteer organization they are passionate about and help make a difference by volunteering, using today as a launching pad.

“Volunteers are our lifeblood,” Ms. Schiller explained. “Nonprofits can’t survive without volunteers, and that’s where you come in.”

Along with trail maintenance, students served lunches and stocked shelves at a local food pantry, translated brochures from local non-profits into Spanish, crafted blankets for victims of domestic violence and so much more. For the first time, Day of Service partnered with Habitat for Humanity to stock merchandise and build a relationship for further service in the school year ahead. Blair’s Project Ally provided social-emotional lessons for local children in kindergarten through second grade, another added program to this year’s list of projects.

In anticipation of another successful Tag Sale next year, students worked to collect and organize items from around campus that students have donated as they prepare to depart for the summer. Last year’s sale raised $6,000 for local food pantries and the independent nonprofit Blair in Kenya. With the help of Day of Service volunteers, the Tag Sale team is on track for next year’s event. Also supporting Blair in Kenya, ceramics students crafted nearly 80 bowls for the Empty Bowls project.

“Everyone can make service a part of their lives,” Day of Service coordinator and history teacher Joanne Brandwood said. “On the Day of Service, the Blair community builds on its tradition of giving back, empowering others while engaging in rewarding work.”

To view more pictures of the day, visit Blair Academy on Photoshelter.
 

2024 Bogle Brothers Luncheon

Former Board of Trustee Chair John C. “Jack” Bogle ’47 loved engaging with the recipients of The Bogle Brothers Scholarship at Blair Academy. He and his wife, Eve, pored over hundreds of letters from students at Blair sharing their academic pursuits and daily life on the hilltop. Their dreams and aspirations resonated with him, and he committed himself wholeheartedly to both their success and the School’s.

Jack Bogle established this scholarship in 1968 in honor of his brothers, the late David C. Bogle ’47 and William Y. “Bud” Bogle III ’45. His mission was to give students the same opportunity afforded to the three brothers to attend Blair. The scholarship has been given to students “of special promise to obtain necessary funding for their Blair education,” after demonstrating financial need, academic ability, character and determination.

Jack Bogle enjoyed returning to his alma mater regularly, but no visit more so than the Bogle Brothers Luncheon, when he dined with current students and former scholars to get a pulse on their lives on the hilltop and beyond at the end of each school year. After Jack’s passing in 2019, his brother Bud took the helm, continuing the tradition of connection and celebration with those impacted by his brother’s generosity.

On May 13, Bud ventured to the hilltop once more—a year shy of his 80th Reunion—to honor his brother’s legacy. A terrific opportunity to network, the luncheon brought students and alumni together to learn more about one another and share their Blair stories. Bud hosted Chloe (Brooke) Holderness ’94, Kristen Bogart Salmon ’01, Emmanuel Bello ’04, Sam Tilney ’08 and Corey Downey ’20 alongside current scholarship recipients at Sharpe House for an afternoon of memories and delectable bites. Jack would have loved the occasion.
 

Argonautika poster

Bulls. Battles. Blankets of golden fleece? This year’s spring play promises the best of what Blair has to offer in the Robert J. Evans Open Air Theatre for three nights of Argonautika. In Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman’s modern depiction of a timeless Greek myth, the audience ventures on a mythical journey through time alongside Jason—played by Julian Perello ’24—on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Featuring an electric cast riddled with excellent chemistry, you won’t want to miss the outdoor performances May 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s the first story ever told,” said Julia Twomey ’24, who plays Athena, during a break in rehearsals in the Black Box Theatre. Assigned a leading role, all cast members also play a few other supporting characters in the story at different times.

“No one is background,” Stella Baceda ’25 explained. “Everyone has a part and everyone is interacting with one another to make it a truly engaging show.”

The dynamic cast is eager to share this exciting production they have been working on all semester with the Blair community. It’s an impossible feat—much like the quest Jason and the Argonauts embark on—to reach a verdict on what the cast loves most about the monstrous voyage. It could be the mythical creatures, or perhaps the murder, but you can’t forget about the unapologetically catchy songs and strong monologues, too.

One element the cast can definitely agree on: the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece was one they had never heard or seen before. Unlike the winter musical classic Footloose, which had them filling the shoes of Kevin Bacon, they had no muse to follow, allowing their creativity and personalities to help shape the characters they embodied. The experience has been rewarding.

“We had no preconceived notions going into this play, so it was up to us to define the roles,” Micheal Lynch ’26 explained. As Hylas, Michael is excited for his first performance in the outdoor theatre.

“We’re really doing a lot with a little to create this world,” student director Cat Zhang ’26 added, as the cast pulled benches and sticks from stage left to create a makeshift ship. “The props are spectacular.”

As rehearsals resumed, Cat looked up from her computer as Jimmy Gibbons ’26 delivered a monologue that left the chaotic theatre hushed. “That gave me the chills!” Cat exclaimed, before getting back to work.

It’s a mesmerizing performance that will leave the audience delighted. Join the Players for Argonautika in the Robert J. Evans Open Air Theatre May 16, 17 and 18 at 7:30 p.m.
 

Creating a Manuscript of Substance: Blair’s New Advanced Seminar in Literary Writing

Four or five years back, a question began to rattle around in my brain as we began work on the schoolwide Advanced Curriculum initiative. What if, I kept asking, we designed a course for our most interested and ambitious writers, the ones who sat down in the quiet of Timken Library of an evening to write poems about the first snowfall of the year, or who shyly asked, as a student did of me late last fall, if I would take a look at the short story she had written over the weekend? I spoke with local literati, like Arjun Chopra ’21, Emily Wang ’23 and Fiona Han ’23, whose collective response was, effectively, “Dude, why didn’t you offer that class to us?” I consulted with science department member Nadia Abascal, PhD, whose by-application three-semester Integrated Science Research program offered a model that already dovetailed nicely with our existing schedule. I don’t even remember my first conversation about this idea with Assistant Head of School for Academics Nathan Molteni; all I can recall is that the course has taken shape over our many discussions and is now in the catalog of Blair’s academic offerings. It is a real thing, and, as proof, the first cohort—five 10th graders and an equal number of 11th graders—began their work with the new year.

The final product of Advanced Seminar in Literary Writing will be a manuscript of substance: a collection of stories, a novel, a piece of literary criticism, a screenplay, a book of poems or some other literary product of the student’s design. Before the student commences that work, however, they must complete the Foundations of Literary Writing course, in which students experiment with writing fiction, poetry, scripts and criticism, guided by the instructor and such Blair-affiliated experts as former faculty member Pedro Hurtado Ortiz, who teaches Comparative Literature and English at the University of California at Berkeley and poet Dan Kraines ’06. The final assignment of the Foundations course is a proposal for that “manuscript of substance,” a stake in the ground, as it were, that asserts a student’s literary intentions—including the prospect of publication—for the next two semesters. 

While the year of writing in ALW will enable the members of the cohort to explore and develop their interest in the literary, it will also introduce and reinforce project management skills that they will be able to apply to any endeavor in the future: developing checkpoints, making progress in the context of incomplete information, tapping experts for advice, and changing course while staying on track. 

Ultimately, we’d like to create a designated space for the ALW, a slightly messy but well-lighted place with big windows, a desk for every writer, a coffee machine in the corner and plenty of electrical outlets. But while that’s something to dream about, right now we’ve got what really counts: our first group of young writers, busily finding their voices.

A student poses for a photo with her parents during Family Weekend 2022.

The Blair fine arts department is thrilled to announce that the Advanced Placement (AP) Spring Student Art Exhibition is up and running! After a months-long journey spent working on their sustained investigations, Blair’s AP art students unveiled highlights from their portfolios of work in either two-dimensional media, three-dimensional media, or drawing and mark-making. This exhibit represents the culmination of investigative thinking, creative problem-solving, and technical talent that our advanced students have worked so hard to practice and perfect. On May 2, members of the community gathered to honor the artists in the exhibit and admire their artistic endeavors.

The exhibit is open for everyone to enjoy from now until May 24. On May 10, the exhibit will expand to encompass even more students’ work from the fine arts department. Through the exploration of a uniquely wide range of media and concepts, Blair’s young artists showcase their voices and perspectives along with the technical skills they have worked so hard to hone during the final semester. In this end-of-year exhibit, the success and growth of Blair’s talented art students is on full display. A reception will be held Friday, May 10, at 7 p.m., and all are welcome to attend.  

Below, please enjoy a collage from the art opening on May 2, courtesy of Blair’s Director of School Photography Tyson Trish.

outside romano gallery
female artists at spring art opening
 
students and faculty admire ap student art exhibit
student participates in art opening
ap art show male artists
 
trish student art exhibit
sykes and student ap art show
eli student art exhibit
 
hanging art ap art show

For more photos of happenings across campus and beyond, please check out Blair Academy on Photoshelter, where we regularly post images.

speech contest Arturo

The ten students selected by their classmates and English teachers to compete in the Sophomore Public-Speaking Contest on April 29 had a difficult task at hand. Standing in front of a crowded DuBois Theatre in Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, they were asked to reflect upon and share the significance of a piece of media in their lives with the Blair community. It is a tall order, but as English department chair and contest coordinator Jim Moore, Hon. ’93, points out, others in the room had an equally difficult assignment—the judges.

mayans quote

As one of five distinguished Blair faculty selected for the role, college counselor and former sophomore English teacher Molly Hoyer focused on three criteria throughout the three- to five-minute speeches: a strong presence in the performance, deep insight into the question at hand in the writing and a sense of authenticity throughout.

“It's a hard balance to strike, but it makes for a truly meaningful speech,” Ms. Hoyer explained.

As the judges took notes, the orators shared books, songs, videos and other media that struck a chord with them to a captivated audience. Mr. Moore noted an abundance of creative license the speakers utilized with the prompt and the thoughtfulness they gave to the assignment.

“As we have come to expect from the sophomores, it was a fine lineup of speeches and each speech was met with rousing, enthusiastic and well-deserved applause,” Mr. Moore shared.

After a week of anticipation, Mr. Moore took to the stage at Friday School Meeting to announce Arturo Lopez ’26, James Gibbons ’26 and Gray Beall ’26 as this year’s first, second and third place winners, respectively.

“This experience helped me complete a goal of mine,” Gray said. “As a ninth-grader, I made a goal to speak onstage before I graduated, but I always thought it would be a small announcement. Going onstage and reading my speech really proved how I’ve grown in confidence.”

naomis quote

Gray’s experience is one of the many reasons why the annual public-speaking contest has remained a fixture in Blair’s longstanding school-wide initiative to teach students the art of effective communication. Along with newfound confidence, English 2 teacher Amira Shokr explains that the public-speaking unit teaches students the components of a well-crafted speech and encourages them to connect with and understand the audience as they articulate their thoughts and ideas. 

“Students are excited to share their stories and to use the platform of the competition to express those stories with a larger audience and connect with the rest of their peers,” Ms. Shokr said. “From my perspective, it’s always nice to see how students try a new medium of expression and use the literary skills we’ve been learning to emphasize importance in their stories.”
 

Wrestling article 5/1

This past weekend, Blair wrestlers traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, and competed in national wrestling events, resulting in top-place finishes and dominant performances by the Buccaneers.

Several members of the girls’ wrestling team competed in the 2024 National High School Showcase. In an impressive showing, Victoria Carbonaro ’27 (125 lbs.), Corynne McNulty ’27 (140 lbs.) and Sarah Henckel ’26 (155 lbs.) placed third in their brackets, and Morgan Edwards ’24 (135 lbs.) placed fifth against tough competition.

Billy Dekraker ’25 and Will Henckel ’25 traveled to Vegas as well to represent the boys’ team. Both wrestlers placed third at the 2024 U.S. Open in the U20 division. After such a performance, they are looking forward to competing in the U20 World Team Trials later this summer.

“The wrestlers this weekend battled really hard against some top high school and college competition,” said Ross Gitomer ’05, Blair’s head wrestling coach. “In the placing round, it was special to go perfect in both groups. All the credit goes to the work our wrestlers put in on the mat.”

Earlier this spring, the dedication of Blair wrestlers to their sport has been seen in competitions across the country.. Victoria won the U15 Pan-Am Trials in Spokane, Washington, earlier in April and will represent the United States at the Pan-Am Games. Logan Rozynski ’24, along with Morgan, competed in and won the 2024 Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. Will, Sarah, Eric Bocanegra ’27Barry Norman ’26Cael Mielnik ’27 and Peter Snyder ’26 all competed in the 2024 Journeyman World Classic and had strong showings. Will led the way, going undefeated at 4-0.

peter, maria & rob break ground wide angle
peter, maria & rob break ground vertical shot

Blair Trustees, faculty and staff came together this weekend to break ground on the School’s Center for Health and Well-Being. The new facility, set to open in January 2026, will serve as a community hub where students can access health resources, learn, study and socialize. With a crowd of almost 50 looking on, Chair of Blair’s Buildings and Grounds Committee Rob Sigety ’75, P’16 ’18 ’20 ’21 did the honors, hoisting the first shovel-full of dirt as the School celebrated the official launch of the 14-to-16-month construction project adjacent to Hardwick Hall.
 
Board of Trustees Chair Maria Vinci Savettiere, Esq., P’17 thanked the Board for its support of the Center, which will allow Blair’s health services, counseling and athletic training teams to occupy the same space for the first time in School history.
 
“The combination of the quality and rigor of Blair’s academics, its student-centered environment, and the teaching and nurturing of health and well-being tools, will ensure that every Blair student reaches their full academic and life potential,” she said. “As we bring this new Center to life, we deliver on this mission as we invest in developing kind, good people, who leave Blair understanding the value of balance and well-being and how they impact academic and professional success.”
 
Supporting and advancing the well-being of individual students and the Blair community as a whole is critical to the School’s mission, added Head of School Peter G. Curran P’27 ’27. “Conceptualizing this state-of-the-art facility that will further enhance the student experience visibly shows current and prospective families how much of a priority health and well-being are at Blair,” he said.
 
To date, the School has raised more than $19 million in gifts and pledges in support of the project, for which construction will begin in earnest in early June 2024. To see how the Center will transform the area of campus surrounding the Bowl, as well as to see architectural renderings of its interior spaces, please click here.
 

singers fall concert

The power of music is stronger than meets the eye…or ear! Research from Johns Hopkins Medicine reveals the profound impact of music on our well-being. Both listening to and playing music has the ability to not only reduce anxiety, blood pressure and pain but also promote better sleep and improved mood, alertness and memory. With a focus on mental health and well-being, the Blair community has multiple avenues to access cocurricular music—including the end-of-year Spring Concert. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the benefits of an enchanting night of music, featuring performances by Blair’s instrumental and vocal ensembles, at the Spring Concert on Friday, April 26 at 8 p.m. in the Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, DuBois Theatre.

Vocal Performances

Vocalist Cheyenne Joachim ’25 hopes that the audience will bask in the beauty of the Blair Academy Singers’ sound. “I hope the audience can fully sit in our sound and listen to the message of our songs and feel as though it had a positive effect on them,” Cheyenne Joachim ’25 said. “As a choir, we have evolved so much from the beginning of the year, and, as this is our last concert, I hope the audience can fully appreciate that.”

During the concert, the Singers, Blairitones, Sopralti and Chamber Choir will perform a repertoire exclusively composed by women and about women, according to Vocal Music Director Ryan Manni. As a testament to the theme, the vocal concert is aptly titled “Warrior” as an homage to the Sopralti’s final piece by the same name. 

“Singing music by women about women adds an extra layer of empowerment to the lyrics and meaning of the songs,” Cheyenne explained. “When you sit and truly think about the words in ‘Warrior,’ it’s women talking about women’s struggles and then overcoming them with age. For us as young women, to sing this powerful message amplifies the song’s message.”

Both Cheyenne and Mr. Manni are eager to perform John Lennon’s iconic “Imagine” with the full choir, conducted by fourth-year senior Singer Emma Clavel ’23. Mr. Manni is also excited for the highly-anticipated premiere of Kendra Payne ’20’s newest composition, “Homecoming,” created specifically for this event.

Instrumental Performances

For longtime performing artists like Emma and clarinetist Amy Kim ’24, the power of music at Blair will continue to be felt long after graduation in May. The Spring Concert represents more than a capstone to the semester; it is a tribute to their years of dedication to their art.

“Blair Orchestra has meant so much to me, in a way that it helped me find the joy of making music with my peers,” Amy shared. “It never felt like a class. It was more of an outlet from my busy day. I’ve enjoyed every moment of Blair Orchestra, and going into my last concert at Blair, I feel quite emotional but also thankful for Mrs. Pagotto and this crew for an amazing experience.”

The emotion and connection behind each note will be felt throughout the instrumental repertoire from a well-rounded slate of composers and pieces performed by the Jazz Ensemble, Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, from the standard repertoire to the contemporary. Audience members will recognize the familiar notes of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” and sweeping melodies of Jurassic Park’s theme song, honoring the film’s 30th anniversary.

“Our smaller ensembles are preparing for an amazing opportunity to perform yet another concert next week at the Kaufman Music Center in New York City, where they will play a diverse repertoire of pieces by female, Black and historic composers,” Director of Instrumental Music Jen Pagotto shared. “It has been a busy semester, and I am immensely proud of the hardwork and dedication from our students to achieve such success.”
 

Blair Buccaneer
Blair Buccaneer

At the 2024 Masters Indoor Track National Championships, Blair’s assistant track coach Mark Willams took home the national title in the 400-meter event with a time of 55.31 seconds. 

“The success which I have seen on the track has deep meaning to me,” Mr. Williams said. “It shows that with dedication and consistent hard work, you can reach heights you thought were not possible.”

As a young runner, Mr. Williams earned All-Area first-team honors in the 800-meter event during the 1991 track season while attending Sussex County Technical School in Sparta, New Jersey. He had the fastest 800-meter time in the county that year at 2:02.3, which was also his high school personal record (PR). Mr. Williams then went on to attend Rutgers University, where he competed in Division I track and field. During his junior and senior years, he was a member of the indoor 4x800 team that earned all-east honors in the IC4A conference. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. 

“The passion I have for track is similar to what I have in life. Work hard, share the knowledge and try to raise everybody with you,” Mr. Williams explained. “As with life, it takes a village to do almost everything meaningful, and sports, especially track and field, is no different.” 

Beyond Rutgers, Williams has become no stranger to winning championships. He is consistently ranked as one of the top middle-distance runners in the United States and the world in his age group. Below is a list of feats he has accomplished.

 8x 1500m National Outdoor Champion
 6x 800m National Outdoor Champion 
 4x 800m National Indoor Champion
 2x Mile National Indoor Champion (2019, 2024)
 1500m National Indoor Champion (2023)
 400m National Indoor Champion (2024)
 World Record Indoor M40-44 4x800 team in 7:49.90 with 1:55.75 split
 Winner of the 2016 and 2018 Hartshorne Masters Mile
 Winner of the 2016 5th Ave Masters Mile
 800m and 1500m NCCWMA World Regional Champion in Toronto   (2017, 2019)
 Member of the M45 World Champion 4x400m team at 2022   Tampere  Finland Outdoor World Championships

Currently, he serves as the assistant coach for Blair’s track and field team.

“My official coaching title career started here with Blair, where I have been able to share my knowledge and experience with the staff and students to help enhance the track and field program,” Mr. Williams said.

Congratulations again to Mr. Williams for his accomplishments on and off the track. 

A student poses for a photo with her parents during Family Weekend 2022.

As Blair opened its doors yesterday to families from near and for the School’s annual Grandparents’ Day event, students seized the chance to make memories with their grandparents, offering them a peek into their daily lives. From attending classes and sharing lunchtime conversations to enjoying concert performances and cheering on athletes, Grandparents' Day provided a joyful opportunity for everyone to reconnect.

"Grandparents’ Day is a very special day and one of our favorite events on campus," shared Advancement Associate Diane Kowalick. "Grandparents have an opportunity to experience the hospitality of the Blair community and meet their grandchild's teachers, friends and mentors. It is heartwarming to see the cheerfulness of the students and grandparents throughout this beautiful day."

Below, please enjoy a collage with just a few of the highlights of the day.

 

 

 

Grandparents Day
 
 
Grandparents Day
 

For more photos of happenings across campus and beyond, please check out Blair Academy on Photoshelter, where we regularly post images.

society of skeptics logo

For events as profoundly impactful as the Holocaust, it’s important that the world remembers. Beyond acknowledging the causes and striving to prevent their recurrence, it is critical to honor the heroism and courage shown by its survivors and their helpers. On Thursday, April 18, Blair Academy is most excited to welcome the Holocaust Council’s Keeping the Stories Alive program to help the Blair community remember the stories of the survivors and their allies. 

A program created by the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Keeping the Stories Alive project has made a tremendous impact on thousands of individuals. The program consists of either a Holocaust survivor, or second or third generation survivor (children or grandchildren of survivors), along with a moderator, and together, they tell their stories in an interactive performance. 

All are welcome to join the daughter of Holocaust survivors, Betty Schwartz, in a conversation moderated by Lisa Friedman in the forum of the Chiang-Elghanayan Center for Innovation and Collaboration this Thursday at 7 p.m.

This event, graciously sponsored by the Alex “ARob” Roberts Forum on Holocaust Education, is part of an ongoing commitment to bringing impactful speakers to Blair on the subject of the Holocaust and is inspired by the legacy of Alexander Roberts ’18


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

The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.


 

 

Blair’s Musicians Grace Manhattan

Amid the towering skyscrapers and bustling streets of Manhattan, a group of Blair high school students will find themselves gracing the stage of one of the city's most prestigious concert halls. 

Opening its doors on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in 1978, the Kaufman Music Center has for nearly half a century made its mission providing access to music at the highest level. On April 30, the musicians in Blair’s Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra and Jazz Combo took center stage of the Kaufman Center’s Merkin Hall to perform a variety of classical and contemporary works, including compositions by Black and female artists alongside pieces from Blair’s standard repertoire.  

Director of Instrumental Music and performing arts chair Jennifer Pagotto was delighted when the opportunity to perform at this renowned venue–with exceptional acoustics–fell into her lap. Serendipitously, Blair alum Jonathan Slawson ’05 reached out and invited her to a concert at Merkin this past fall. That connection led to the present invitation, which, Mrs. Pagotto says, will offer our musicians the joy of bringing their music off campus and sharing it with a larger audience. 

Big City Benefits
One of the advantages of studying music at a school located so close to New York City is the wealth of opportunities it offers Blair’s musicians beyond the classroom. From access to iconic concert halls and professional performances to networking and cultural immersion, Blair’s students benefit from exploring one of the world’s most dynamic music hubs and vibrant cultural centers. The performance at the Kaufman Center promises to be one such occasion, with students sampling the city’s international cuisine before settling in with the hall’s professional recording and lighting crews, who will offer their expertise during sound checks, rehearsals that afternoon and the concert that evening. “Some of the best a cappella groups in the world perform at Merkin Hall regularly,” Mrs. Pagotto emphasizes. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to perform on that stage.”

A Bittersweet Performance

Ethan Anthony

As the performance—and the next chapter of their lives—draws near, emotions run deep for many of Blair’s senior musicians, infusing the upcoming evening with a blend of nostalgia and anticipation. The evening promises to be a meaningful experience for many, offering students the deep joy of making music with some of their closest friends and classmates. For senior and alto saxophone player Ethan Anthony ’24, this performance marks the culmination of years of practicing with his friend and fellow saxophonist, Andrew Antunes ’24. In their earliest days together in the Jazz Band, the pair toted their instruments outside, practicing under the open skies of the Bowl during the pandemic. “We both have certainly come a long way as musicians since then,” Ethan reflects. Today, they have logged countless hours practicing in the DuBois Theatre, studying under the careful tutelage of Mrs. Pagotto, learning to sync their notes and cadences until they move with one voice, creating magical musical performances. Ethan looks forward to taking his seat next to his stand partner once more, uniting to create this repertoire one last time. “I can’t wait to perform what I know will be the best concerts of my time at Blair. It feels like everything has led to these final performances, and it’s going to be special to perform for the last time as a Buc,“ he says. “I’m certainly going to miss the unity that comes with these ensembles. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye to the people sitting next to me.”

Ethan hopes that those in the audience enjoying Blair’s performance in New York will join him and savor one poignant moment he loves. “I’m going to miss the moment between finishing a piece and the audience’s applause, when we all look up to see Mrs. Pagotto’s smile beaming down at us. It’s unforgettable.”

                                                                                                  ___

Blair parents, family, friends and alumni were invited to join Blair’s talented musicians, and their dedicated maestra Mrs. Pagotto, for a reception at Kaufman Music Center prior to the concert.  

Addrain Conyers

What does one do when they’re passionate about multiple fields? Well, if they’re anything like Dr. Addrain Conyers ’96, they find a way to do it all. Joining the hilltop for his first Skeptics appearance on Tuesday, April 16 was none other than current Assistant Provost for Faculty Development and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Marist College in New York, Dr. Conyers.

Addrain Conyers

Dr. Conyers, holding a doctorate degree in sociology from Southern Illinois University, balances his roles as an educator and researcher. He splits his time between teaching and researching interests centered around criminology, deviant behavior, corrections, and race relations and leading his academic peers as assistant provost. Additionally, he finds time to write and publish a variety of pieces in his fields of expertise while also attending Boston College to obtain his Executive Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) degree. 

At Skeptics, Dr. Conyers plans to share anecdotes of his life as a previous student and present on the social problem of mass incarceration and how the phenomenon has a negative impact on human rights, health, families and quality of life.

“It is a tremendous opportunity to speak to our future leaders,” said Dr. Conyers in a pre-event interview. “I remember vividly this period of my life. I was excited and hopeful but still undecided about my future goals. Blair taught me to enjoy the journey. The outcome was still important (i.e., education and career), but the joy is in the process. Higher learning is a goal and process that I strive for because of my Blair experience.”

“I did not know I would pursue a career in higher education, not to mention an administrator. But here I am, a college professor and an assistant provost. Blair challenged me to engage in learning, not to just complete the assignment, but to embrace the challenge.”

Passionate about his work, he wishes to leave his alma mater with one important note: “Policies have unintended consequences. History offers valuable lessons that aid us in analyzing our present problems. As young citizens, it is imperative to develop strategic foresight to anticipate challenges that are on the horizon.”


History of Skeptics
 

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

The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.