Some Blair traditions, such as School Meeting, Chapel, Society of Skeptics lectures or ringing the victory bell after an athletic win, are routine parts of the weekly Blair schedule, while others, like Peddie Day and Headmasters’ Societies Games, happen just once a year.
These beloved annual events unite the Blair community in celebration of the School’s history and spirit, giving students the chance to get to know peers and teachers who they might not encounter in their daily routines. What results is a strong sense of camaraderie that leads to lasting friendships and cherished Blair memories.
The entire Blair community comes together three times a week to celebrate individual and collective accomplishments at School Meeting and Chapel, where students practice their public speaking skills in front of an audience of more than 500.
On Monday mornings, Associate Head of School Ryan Pagotto ’97 helps the community kick off the week at School Meeting, inviting students of all class years to make announcements about their courses, clubs, activities, artistic pursuits and athletic teams. Mixed into the usual line-up of routine community updates are skits and performances, and the Senior Class Council takes charge on Fridays, making the last meeting before the weekend fun and spirited.
Each week is also punctuated by a community meeting with a more spiritual focus: Thursday Chapels, at which students and faculty members share poignant life experiences and lessons that deepen relationships across our campus and community.
Blair’s 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, ask questions and debate points of view. View a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs.
Twice a week, students and faculty families share a meal and lively conversation at family-style dinners in the Romano Dining Hall, an experience that fosters a strong sense of community and gives students the opportunity to get to know peers and teachers with whom they might not normally interact during classes and other Blair activities.
Student leaders assist the faculty members at the head of their table by serving, clearing and engaging with their classmates during these meals. Throughout the year, the dining hall organizes a number of themed dinners that have become student favorites, including meals celebrating Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Throughout the academic year, Blair designates a certain number of “community weekends,” during which boarders are required and day students are encouraged to remain on campus to spend time with their classmates and teachers. Two early-in-the-year community favorites are Super Sunday and Soccerfest.
During Super Sunday, students enjoy a carnival on Marcial Field that includes a grease slide, Kon-Tiki boat races, dunk tank, volleyball matches, an inflatable obstacle course, ultimate Frisbee, bocci, badminton, ladderball and cornhole. The day ends with a sunset school-wide barbecue at which students enjoy popcorn, cotton candy and burgers.Later in the fall, the community gathers at Soccerfest, a two-day event ruled by the Blue Crew, which leads the School in cheering on the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams as they take on crosstown rival North Warren Regional High School. Spirited spectators paint their faces and board buses to Lambert Road, a few miles from campus, where they storm the bleachers, cheer the Bucs to victory and rush the field when Blair wins. The community comes together again for a “grill and chill” after returning to campus, toasting the athletes’ successes with hot dogs, hamburgers and a variety of backyard games.
- Orientation & Convocation
- Peddie Week & Peddie Day
- Christmas Vespers
- The Game
- Headmasters' Societies Games
- Baccalaureate & Commencement
Blair’s 460 students and 90 faculty members enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and welcome many new faces to the community during the School’s two-day orientation, held at the start of each new academic year. Informative seminars, fun activities, and a variety of team-building challenges help new and veteran students and teachers get to know one another before the school year officially opens with Convocation the day before classes begin.
Convocation, a ceremony that dates back to Blair’s founding in 1848, starts when students organize by class year at various points across campus carrying the flags of each country represented by the student body. They then process down the front hill and back up to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, where assembled faculty members applaud their arrival. The Convocation program has a spiritual element as members of the community reflect on the path that brought them to Blair and new beginnings as they embark on a new academic year.
Each November, students and faculty prepare for a day of athletic competition against rival Peddie School with a week of themed dress-down days, banner-making, good-natured student pranks, and a pep rally and bonfire that have become rites of passage for Blair seniors.
During the week leading up to the big competition, Blair students, faculty, parents and alumni come together at a variety of events to celebrate their school spirit and energize the Bucs as they prepare to go head-to-head with the Falcons. The “Peddie Eve” pep rally, torch parade and bonfire—annual traditions dating back to the late 1800s—are highlights of the year.On Peddie Day, which officially concludes the fall athletic season, the Bucs take on the Falcons in a wide range of sports contests and the school that wins the most games takes home the Kelley-Potter Cup—and earns bragging rights—until the next year’s competition.
As the Blair community prepares to leave campus for winter break, students and faculty come together one last time in mid-December at Christmas Vespers. The traditional candle-lit service, which takes place at the First Presbyterian Church on Main Street in Blairstown, includes readings of Hebrew and Judeo-Christian texts and a selection of musical pieces performed by the Blair Academy String Orchestra and Singers.
This annual school-wide game of tag is a highlight of the winter months on campus. In recent years, the Game has taken on a different name annually, and recent monikers include “The Purge,” “Battle Royale” and “Bounty Hunters.” During the weeks-long competition, students and faculty are assigned specific targets to eliminate or capture, and the winner is hailed by all at School Meeting.
The winter semester concludes with a week of energetic and spirited games during which students and faculty members are sorted onto one of four teams named after Blair headmasters: Sharpe, Kelley, Howard and Breed. School pride is on full display throughout the conventional and nontraditional contests that make up Blair’s Headmasters’ Societies Games.The fun and festive week includes quiz bowl, tug of war, ping pong, mural painting and cup-stacking, just to name a few of the many competitions, and it concludes with an all-school talent show. The team with the most points wins the overall competition. Since the Games began in 2003, Team Breed has emerged victorious more times than any other.
The senior class gathers at a number of events leading up to graduation, and Baccalaureate has become one of the most-beloved Blair rites of passage. The traditional program begins with a bagpipe-led procession and the spiritual ceremony gives graduates a chance to reflect on their accomplishments as Blair students as they anticipate the next chapter of their lives as soon-to-be college freshmen.
The next day, the senior class goes on to become the School’s newest alumni following a commencement ceremony on Sharpe House lawn. The ceremony concludes with a traditional flag presentation as a Blair alumnus or alumna celebrating his or her 50th high school reunion hands a member of the graduating class a class-year pennant. As the Blair Academy Commencement Ensemble plays Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the jubilant graduates process from Sharpe House to the Arch, where they celebrate with dear friends and proud family members.
More than 100 student athletes return to campus at the end of August for preseason, a week of training, practice, competition and preparation for the fall sports season.
Most of Blair’s fall teams—including girls’ tennis, field hockey and volleyball, and girls’ and boys’ cross country and soccer—arrive the week before the rest of the student body returns to Blairstown in early September. The football team gets an even earlier start, registering and beginning practice in August.
The "Blue Crew"—Blair's most enthusiastic student supporters, who show their school pride by painting their faces, donning their best "Blair wear" and cheering for the School's 26 varsity and 19 JV and thirds teams—is a fixture at Blair athletic contests. Headed by a male and female member of the senior class, the group's energy and passion for Blair athletics is contagious, particularly when the Bucs are playing on Blair's all-weather turf field under the lights.
Covered from head to toe in blue and white pride—and face paint!—Buccaneer fans love Soccerfest, a weekend-long fall tradition that pits Blair athletes against crosstown rival North Warren Regional High School. The whole school travels the few miles to North Warren and Blair spectators rush the stands upon arrival. Led by the Blue Crew, students and faculty cheer the Bucs to victory and, when Blair wins, everyone joins the victorious team on the field. The evening concludes with an all-school “grill and chill,” at which faculty members make hot dogs and hamburgers and organize a wide variety of games and activities.
What began in 1903 and is now New Jersey’s oldest prep school football rivalry has evolved into a weeklong celebration of school spirit culminating in a “Peddie Eve” bonfire and pep rally. Peddie Day is a full day of athletic competitions that alternate between Blair’s and Peddie’s campuses in Blairstown and Hightstown. The entire school, as well as many parents and alumni, come out in force to cheer the Buccaneers to victory, and the school that achieves the most wins takes home the Kelley-Potter Cup.
When a Blair athletic team achieves victory, team members ring the School's Victory Bell. This tradition was established in 1999 by the classes of 1949 and 1999, on the occasion of their 50th reunion and graduation, respectively. The Victory Bell is installed at the heart of campus, in front of Hardwick Hall, with this plaque:
With this gift,
the classes of 1949 and 1999,
on the occasion of their
50th reunion and graduation
from Blair respectively,
initiate a new tradition.
"When Blair's athletes are victorious,
ring forth. Always mute but for victory."
Preseason training trips are an annual highlight for Blair’s spring athletes, and the Bucs head to a number of warm-weather destinations during March break. The boys’ and girls’ golf teams recently worked on their games at the Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic; baseball players trained at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; boys’ and girls’ crew traveled to Oak Ridge, Tennessee; the boys’ tennis team practiced at Saddlebrook tennis resort near Tampa; and the track, softball and lacrosse teams trained and scrimmaged at the Disney Sports Complex in Orlando.
- Parents’ Weekend
- International Weekend
- Mid-Winter Semi-Formal
- Relay for Life
- Arts in Kenya
- Blairstock Festival
Parents’ Weekend represents an important opportunity for students to show their parents firsthand what they do each day, inside and outside of class, and Blair puts together a program that gives a comprehensive view of Blair’s academic, athletic, artistic and residential life programs. During the three-day event, parents have the chance to meet their son’s or daughter’s friends and teachers, have dinner in the Romano Dining Hall, and see for themselves the vast array of activities and extracurriculars in which students can become involved.
Blair’s cultural diversity is on full display during International Weekend, as members of the community celebrate their nationalities and ethnicities. The January event includes an ethnic food bazaar, fashion show and karaoke, and students and parents representing more than 15 countries—from Latvia to India, Ireland to Colombia, and Jamaica to Japan, to name a few—invite peers to take a closer look into their cultures. Organized by the Blair International Awareness Club and language department faculty members, International Weekend encourages attendees to connect and relate to others of diverse backgrounds.
At Blair’s bi-annual Relay-for-Life program, students, faculty and staff come together to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who have lost their battle with the disease, and raise money for research and patient care.
During the Saturday-into-Sunday event, 100-plus participants walk around the track at Hampshire Field with the goal of raising money to support individual teams. The program includes a luminaria ceremony and a variety of themed laps, while a DJ keeps the crowd energized, and faculty members grill food, organize games on the turf and oversee a midnight swim in Wallace Pool.
This bi-annual student-created fundraiser is an arts-centric event that raises money for two Kenyan elementary schools sponsored by history teacher Quint Clarke ’87’s independent nonprofit, “Blair in Kenya.”The program, which benefits the Blair Educational Center in Kisumu and the Blair-Serem School in Iten, funds scholarships and supports school supplies, building expansion, medical care, clean water, electricity and farming projects. Attendees enjoy live performances and an art show, at which they can buy faculty and student work. Many donors support specific micro-financing opportunities for the Kenyan school community, while others opt to sponsor a Kenyan child’s school expenses for a year.
As the school year comes to a close, Blair students and faculty relish the opportunity to kick back at the annual “Blairstock” festival, which includes a wide range of student performers. The Sunday-afternoon event brings members of the community together on the lawn in front of Insley Hall to enjoy one another’s company on the last weekend seniors will spend on campus as students.In addition to enjoying music performed by their peers, students play wiffle ball, make tie-dye shirts and enjoy the warm spring weather. The evening concludes with an all-school barbecue on Insley porch.