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Gregory Gourdet ’93 gives the 2023 Commencement address on the Garth.

Acclaimed chef and restauranteur Gregory Gourdet ’93 gave this talk at Commencement 2023

Thank you! Graduates, loved ones, distinguished faculty members, and trustees. It is an honor to be here with you today. I’m so grateful to St. Andrew’s for the privilege of being your Commencement speaker to the Class of 2023! 

You all specifically have had quite the unique and challenging few years to get to where you are today and you should be so proud of all it took to get here! 

My road to today too has been less than linear. 

Exactly 30 years ago this time I was sitting just where you all were with big feels. I sat where you sat—excited, nervous, happy, sad, and hungover from 4 years of self-learning.

It was a day of mixed emotions as I was leaving my best friends, this gorgeous campus, and the place where I learned so much about myself. I was off to NYU, back to New York City, back home.

I grew up in Queens in a very culturally specific upbringing and it's funny because it took me coming to St. Andrew’s—a school of 250, nestled amidst cornfields and great blue herons, in the smallest state in the country, for me to realize a whole big world existed and I could do anything in it. 

My parents migrated to the States in their 20s to pursue education and to start a family. They were scientists, managed hospitals, and had multiple jobs at a time over their entire careers. I had planned to be a doctor my whole life because of this upbringing. I was entering a pre-med program and starting on the road for the career I had always thought I wanted.

The path ahead of me was clear. Or so I thought. 

Studies proved harder than expected and they did not click. I seemed lost in Bio and Chemistry 101, and also somewhat lost in life. I realized the curriculum just wasn't for me. I can imagine how it felt for my parents who sacrificed so much for me to see me struggle in school. 

St Andrew’s had instilled a deep love of nature and the outdoors in me (Art in Bio with Dr. McLean was one of my favorite classes). I quickly realized this living in the city again, With a longing for the outdoors, I enrolled in a wildlife biology program at the University of Montana and planned a big move out West. 

I also felt close human connection was missing in my life after graduating. I was commuting on dark subways and living in a concrete jungle a far cry from Noxontown Pond. Our friends circle felt it too—we called ourselves “the posse.” So as I planned my next chapter, a group of the posse, after going our separate ways and spending our freshmen years in respective colleges around the country, moved to Montana to summer together again.

Who knew we would miss SAS dorm living so much? That alone is truly a testament of how life-changing the experience of St. Andrew’s was for us. Trust, these relationships will be the connections of a lifetime.  

Two years in to the wildlife biology program, one day while studying barbed wire in a class surrounded by cowboys, I again realized maybe this wasn't my calling. But I was unsure of what to do. My parents had made even more sacrifices to send me to yet another school, this one all the way across the country.  

With their continuing support, I took a shot at what would become my enduring passion. But even then, the path to where I am today wasn’t a straight one.

In Montana, I had begun cooking for myself while living on my own for the first time. I quickly realized it brought me joy. I got jobs washing dishes and making sandwiches and just loved the environment of restaurants and the art of cooking, even if I was just making veggie burgers and pasta salads (humble beginnings but a foot in the door). By the end of my fifth year of college, I had a bachelor’s in French (my third major) and an acceptance letter and start date for the Culinary Institute of America—the best culinary school in the country, the other CIA.

Grade-wise I will admit I wasn't the best student here, at NYU, or the University of Montana. But for the first time in my life, I felt passion for what I was doing. I devoured my classes and became an A student. I sliced my onions perfectly, even for French onion soup, I made sure my risotto was al dente and creamy and my consomme was flavorful and crystal-clear. It was pure joy. 

I went back to the city after school and started my formative professional career. I was the first extern from the CIA to work at Jean-Georges, the uptown temple of modern French haute cuisine. 

Jean-Georges lightened and redefined French cooking with juice-based sauces and herbs and spices from around the world. Cooking for one of the world’s best chefs and among some of the best professional cooks in New York, I jumped right into the deep end. I was thrown into the fire for those few months.

It was a sink-or-swim situation and I left after those few months feeling like I held my own. I made it out having only cried once in the kitchen. 

That experience taught me that the same pressure that may try to break you, can inspire you to pick yourself back up and keep moving forward. 

A year later and a few days after graduating from the CIA,  I walked back into Jean-Georges as a full-time employee. I would be starting in Nougatine, the cafe next to the more formal dining room. My station was garde manger, which is a fancy French word for the salad/cold foods station. I was eager to work at this level of detail and precision and work my way up the ladder.  

Year after year I slowly made my way around the kitchen, moving on to the hot line where we got to cook hot food and play with fire. I was learning how to saute, pan fry, and roast, how to blanch, emulsify, and baste. I was on a clear path to success.

Over the next seven years I worked at three of Jean-Georges’ restaurants, becoming a sous chef and even a chef de cuisine and running a big New York City restaurant in my late 20s. 

The sky was the limit. Then I flew too close to the sun. 

After those intense days prepping and high-pressure nights cooking, I’d go out and not come home until the sun was up. I was caught up in New York City nightlife. Balancing my career and after-hours jaunts became more and more impossible. A drug and alcohol habit that took shape when I was younger turned into full-blown addiction. And at the height of my opportunity, it all came crashing down. I became a shell of myself to friends, family, and employers. I finally entered rehab. But my circle didn’t understand the complexities of addiction, nor did I. 

Again, the West called. Looking for an escape and better life, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and after a few more rocky months decided on my footing and chose a healthy career path. I got sober with the help of AA and made amends to friends and family, I changed my diet, completed marathons, and became an ultra runner, started traveling around the world, eating and studying food and culture. I competed on multiple cooking shows, including Top Chef. I channeled all my addictive energy into positive things. I jumped out of bed every day ready to tackle anything that came my way with big eyes and a smile. 

In 2019, after working for others my entire career, I felt ready to do my own thing and open my dream restaurant. I quit my job of ten years, ready for a year of research, travel, and construction in 2020.

But like for all of us—oh, did things change. Just like you, I was home waiting for the world to tell me what to do, all the while making the best of the situation. I asked myself: Will restaurant dining ever come back? Just as you probably asked yourself: Will I ever sit in class again?

And just as you were finally all able to take your masks off and finish your degrees, your dream of dreams, I was able to open Kann Restaurant, my dream of dreams.

I stand in solidarity with you, Class of 2023. Getting here today has been a tremendous feat and I applaud your tenacity. You planned, you organized, you cleaned up after others. You reinstated the traditions that define our spirit and culture. You refused to let Covid define you. As a class, you exemplify servant leadership. And it is a good thing you do, because the world needs you more than ever. 

As a generation, we look to you to help change the world. A world in which books are being banned, women and queer rights are constantly being taken away, a world that increases in temperature every year, and a world where guns are more important than the lives of our dear youth. We stand by you as you head into the world, armed to change it. 

My message to you today: The linear path is a myth, or at least the exception. No journey worth taking is without stops and starts. No one can predict what’s to come. You all already know this. You experienced this truth earlier than I did. You know the secret. Take this knowledge with you as you enter the world, as college students, as professionals, as friends, as citizens of the world, and warriors in the fight for justice.  

If we’re not prepared for these bumps in the road, it’s easy to get discouraged, but recognizing that it’s not the shape of the path but your ability to persist that will get you somewhere worth going. You’ve done so much work already just to graduate in these unique and challenging times.

Today my life is joyous, passionate, and challenging. I am sober and grateful, I keep learning new skills. I have worked with hundreds of inspiring people who have changed me for the better, just as I hope I have changed them.

I've filmed commercials, written a best-selling book, won awards, traveled the world, and have my health. I embrace and study the biology and chemistry of cooking and it feels very full circle to do so. That year at NYU wasn’t wasted, Mom and Dad! I opened what critics call the best new restaurant in the country and I hope you can come visit us one day.

If you had told me this would be my life 30 years ago, when I sat in your shoes, I would have found it all incredible.

And that is the point. Life is incredible. The past four years you have spent together have been incredible. Be prepared for many more. And stay in touch. There is great solace in the comfort of the memories and shared experiences your time together here created, especially during this delicate state of the world. 

So today, Class of 2023, as you enter your next era, I ask you: Please dream big. Know you are allowed to take the space you want in this world. Know that the vision may change and the road will wind but you will find phenomenal things along the way.

Life will change in ways you never expected. You will change in ways you never expected. No matter how much we plan, life will look differently than we think it will. Stay the course and don’t be afraid. 

Everything we do in life prepares us for the next thing. Today you sit ready for your next big thing. And as life’s challenges and opportunities come up, remember, sometimes it takes living in the moment to realize you have been preparing for it for years. You got this!

Class of 2023, stay loving, stay brilliant, stay gritty, stay wise. May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears. Continue to be fueled by passion in all you do. 

Congrats to you all! 

Gregory Gourdet ’93 delivering the 2023 Commencement Address.

St. Andrew's held its 90th annual Commencement ceremony on Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, capping off a week of festivities that honored and celebrated students in the Class of 2023.

Renowned chef and restauranteur Gregory Gourdet ’93 delivered the Commencement keynote. He detailed his winding journey from addiction to eventual James Beard Award-winning author, television personality, and award-winning chef, and shared stories of life-changing connections with friends from St. Andrew's and how he discovered a love for cooking while working odd jobs in restaurants. Gourdet also touched on the tumultuous addiction he navigated while starting his career in New York, moving to Portland, Oregon, becoming sober, and channeling his energy into different, more positive avenues. For Gourdet, life has been all about following his passion: "As much as I love St. Andrew's, I was not the best student here—nor at NYU, or at the University of Montana—but [when I was cooking], for the first time in my life, I felt passion for what I was doing." He left the the Class of 2023 with a simple note: "Stay loving, stay brilliant, stay gritty, stay wise. May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears. Continue to be fueled by passion in all you do." Click here to watch Gourdet’s entire address. 

Student body Co-Presidents Ford Chapman ’23 and Trinity Smith ’23 also gave Commencement remarks. You can listen to their talks here, or read Ford’s talk here and Trinity’s talk here. You can watch Awards Night, Commencement, and other Senior Week events in their entirety on St. Andrew’s YouTube channel here. A gallery of Commencement photos can be viewed here.

The night prior to Commencement, other members of the Class of 2023 gave talks on academics, athletics, arts, student life, and community service at St. Andrew’s. 

During the Commencement ceremony, members of the Class of 2023 and underformers were recognized with the following awards:

Robert T. Jordan ’86 Award - A'Zir Carey ’25, Grace Anne Doyle ’25

Given by his classmates and former teachers at St. Andrew's in memory of Robert T. Jordan, Class of 1986, who died September 11, 2001 in the World Trade Center attack, to the IV Formers who display the qualities that made Robert so memorable and distinctive: a love of humanity, an appreciation of friendship, a willful perseverance and resolve amidst adversity and opportunity, a unique and refreshing perspective on life and all its possibilities.

Christopher Wilson ’99 Award & Scholarship - Lucelia Hale Miller ’23

Given by his parents in memory of Christopher Edward Wilson '99, the award recognizes seniors who best embody Chris' virtues and personal qualities: a love of St. Andrew's, a quiet and authentic appreciation of life, friendship, and community; a devotion to service and to children; and a kind and generous spirit.

Cristin C. Duprey ’04 Diversity & Inclusivity Award - Sarah Rose Odutola ’23, Aina Puri ’23, Yeonwoo (Heidi) Seo ’23

Given in memory of Cristin C. Duprey '04, to the VI Former who has provided exceptional service in the cultivation of a diverse and inclusive St. Andrew's School community.

John McGiff Fine Arts Award - Shania Adams ’23

Awarded to the student who has made the greatest contribution in the fine arts and demonstrated a depth and quality of talent that demands our recognition.

Henry Prize - William Dulaney ’23, Emma Hopkins ’23, Isaac Lawrence ’23

Awarded to the VI Form boys and girls who have been of the greatest service to athletics. It recognizes not only personal athletic skill, but also service to the teams of which the students were members.

Jonathan B. O'Brien Head of School Award - Bridget Schutt ’23, Isaac Lawrence ’23, Josephine Pitt ’23

The Jonathan B. O’Brien Head of School Award celebrates the brilliant and courageous leadership and vision of St. Andrew’s third Headmaster, Jon O’Brien, who led the School from 1977 - 1997. The Award recognizes seniors who contribute to the ethos of the School with integrity, humanity, generosity, and love.

King Prize - Sarah Rose Odutola ’23

Awarded to the leading scholar during the VI Form year.

Founder's Medal - Sarah Rose Odutola ’23

Awarded to the scholar in the graduating class who, during his or her career at St. Andrew's, has achieved the best academic record in the Form.

William H. Cameron Award - Ford Chapman ’23, Trinity Smith ’23

Given to the VI Form boy and girl who have performed outstanding service to the School.

St. Andrew's Cross - Sarah Rose Odutola ’23

Given in honor of the late Bishop Cook of Delaware, who was associated with the founding of the School, in recognition of the student whose contribution to the School has been distinguished for Christian qualities of concern for others, humility, and high principle.

A full list of student awards granted at the close of the 2022-23 school year will be printed in an upcoming issue of the St. Andrew’s Magazine.

Ike Lawrence ’23 gives a talk at Awards Night 2023.

Ike Lawrence ’23 gave this talk on student life at St. Andrew’s during Awards Night 2023

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. After returning from Thanksgiving break this year, I arrived on campus with the primary objective of procuring a Christmas tree for Sherwood Dorm.   

Prior to the break, Mr. O'Connell found somewhere in the woods what he believed to be the perfect Christmas tree and marked it with a small flag. A group of us were determined to find the tree, but we first needed a saw. After asking some faculty and looking through the gardening shed we realized saws weren’t readily available on campus. Luckily, Mr. O'Connell came through, because like any proud minivan owner, he keeps a saw in his trunk. 

We set out toward the New Forest amidst a beautiful Delaware sunset and an endless line of trees with various imperfections; all were either too big, too small, or oddly shaped. Compounding our struggle, we realized that finding a single tree marked by a small flag in a rapidly darkening landscape would be nearly impossible. We needed to find our own tree. So we pushed on, analyzing each we passed until we found the one. Not too big or small. Perfectly symmetrical. Strong and mighty. We took turns sawing a clean cut, tied a rope around the trunk, dragged it to the Organic Garden to hose it down in hopes of avoiding a spider infestation, and then triumphantly returned it to Sherwood. 

Gathered in our cozy common room we laughed, listened to music, and strung our new tree with festive lights.

Moments like these are what make living at St. Andrew’s different. Here, we can be inquisitive students, committed athletes, and creative artists, and perhaps most importantly, we can be kids. While being a kid can mean many things, I would argue that it finds its purest adolescent form here at St. Andrew’s. Circumnavigating the pond, playing in (or DJing) at an electrifying SAISL final, or trekking with friends to find a Christmas tree in the woods, are all moments of connection that build lifelong friendships. At St. Andrew’s, we prioritize genuine human connection by not allowing technology to define our social sphere and by embracing the many possibilities within our diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and experiences. The intentionality of St. Andrew’s student life and culture serves to preserve an ever-more uncommon experience of living and learning in a world we choose to build, away from the unhealthy and unnecessary pressures found beyond campus. Instead, we are privileged to live with our friends in residential communities, deepen school traditions, and spend warm spring days lounging on the Front Lawn. What more can you ask for? 

Underformers, pursue your endeavors with passion and grit, but also take time to be a kid. Live in and love this place, get outside, be creative, embrace this unique experience, and carry it with you in the future. Life doesn’t have to be boring and tedious. Some of it certainly will be, but keep having fun, keep creating, and keep enjoying the life you’re building for yourself here at St. Andrew’s. We still haven't found Mr. O’Connell’s perfect tree in the woods. So go find it.  

Art Is Like Family

Sophie Xu ’23 gave this talk about the arts at St. Andrew’s at Awards 2023

I’m Sophie, and I’m sure you recognize me if you’ve ever been to a Parents Weekend or an Arts Weekend concert. Sure, I was labeled as a pianist and violinist before coming to St.Andrew’s, but I never even dreamed of seeing myself as an a capella singer, a jazz saxophonist, or a rapping nun in a school musical. 

So when I think back on the past four years, being in a school known for its opportunities and support, I am the most grateful for the arts program. 

On a Free Day last spring, I tore my ACL on the front lawn. We all play multiple roles in SAS, and in this moment, the athlete part of me crumbled. It was probably the biggest and saddest obstacle I’ve ever experienced. But when I tell you that it was art that saved me from falling over, I’m not exaggerating. 

My surgery was exactly three days after Arts Weekend 2022. The weekend was successful, as I vaguely recall, but I will never forget standing up to sing "September" for Jazz, with one hand leaning on a crutch and the other holding the mic. For Noxontones, that was probably the only time a stool was seen in our semicircle, but hey, I was still head-bopping. 

But the most heartwarming moment was when I walked onto the stage as concertmaster of the orchestra, alone, as I have done before, but this time with my crutches, a little embarrassed for moving so slowly through the rows of chairs—but the clapping went on. At that moment I knew I could never perform for a more supportive community than St. Andrew’s. 

Perhaps because music was already so interwoven in my life, I seemed to forget the joy it brought me until those four weeks, when making music re-ignited those dim days and made me realize how much space art actually takes up in my heart. I suppose you could compare it to family, where it's always part of your life, but extra-soothing during your hardest times. 

And when I say that making music can alter my emotions, it actually goes both ways. This year, I picked up the saxophone in a class of talented musicians. 

One day Dr. Geiersbach asked us to improv over a piece with insane chord progressions, and ultimately the class ended on my solo, which did not sound very good. So the irritation stuck with me, and for the whole rest of the day, I was thinking about what notes I could have played. 

But hey, only when you feel both the positives and the negatives do you realize how much you care about it.

So take an art class. Maybe through that class you will realize something new, like how I learned that I could sing in my sophomore year vocal studies class. Or maybe you will never pursue that art again—like how I might not ever have the opportunity to play the saxophone again. 

But why not take a try? Because art for me has been a source of sunshine through my highest highs and lowest lows, and perhaps it could be yours too.

Emma Hopkins ’23 prepares to race in a crew shell down Noxontown Pond.

Emma Hopkins ’23 gave this talk on athletics at St. Andrew's during Awards Night 2023

What does it mean to be an athlete? I remember when an old coach labeled me and my teammates with this word, and we just giggled at how serious he was. Duh, we were athletes, we did a sport. Yet, we began to wear the term with pride and found determination when we reminded ourselves of it. However, it took sports at St. Andrew’s for me to understand what the term “athlete” meant.

The three sports I do here, cross-country, swimming, and crew, (pain sports, as some call them) are three of the most “individual” sports you can do at St. Andrew's. I might not be able to aim or catch unless you want me to deeply embarrass myself, but what I have learned in my sports is how to zone in. To shut out nerves and distractions so that I can focus completely on what I’m about to do and embrace whatever excruciating pain I have decided to put myself through. 

This is what I thought was the mark of a good athlete: if I could shut out everything and everyone else, then I would find success.

One of these moments where I zoned in completely was at my final Stotesbury Cup last weekend. You can ask many of my boatmates for photos of me on the ride to the finals with a stony face. Engrossed in hype-up music, I was focused on what I was about to do and the pain I was about to put myself in, blocking out whatever antics were happening at the back of the bus. This was what mattered, right?

However, when my final race ended, all I could do was cry because it was over. I cried because I had taken my final strokes with a boat full of rowers that had become my sisters. I cried because my time competing with St. Andrew's athletes was over.

In this moment, no amount of zoning in was more important than the people around me. It is these people, my beloved teammates, who have had the greatest impact on me as a person and it has been my connection with them that has made me an athlete. 

Locking in might be a skill, but what it really means to be an athlete, and a Saint, is to reach out. The most important things I have accomplished have been because they were bigger than just myself. State Championships and A-finals were done for teams who without question supported me through my lows and celebrated my highs and everything in between, from conversations on long runs to singing Adele in the swimming locker room.

To end this, I would just like to say thank you. Thank you to my coaches who have always been there to push me while striving to know me as a whole person. I could not be more grateful for these teams that I have given my heart and soul to, who have become family, mentors, and friends. Continue to be the best athletes you can be in everything that means.

Helen Heuer ’23 takes notes in AS Bio class.

When people consider culture and community at St. Andrew's, nine out of ten times the Front Lawn or the dorms spring to mind. And while these places are undeniably integral settings for the outstanding culture of uplifting others that we enjoy at this school, the first place that comes to my mind is the classroom.

Each class has presented new challenges (some harder than others) and even newer ways of looking at the world, from freshman-year Biology and our fateful expeditions around the pond, to daunting Research Seminar peer-edit sessions. Cumulatively, they have shaped me into the scholar I am proud to be. But at the heart of the academics here lies a foundational understanding that transcends the transaction of knowledge we come to expect in the classroom. 

Recently, as I read Robert Klam’s short story titled “The Other Party” for Mr. Torrey’s small but mighty tutorial (Get it: tu-TORRY-al?), I found myself pausing on a line that I think describes the SAS academic philosophy at its core. As the narrator reflects on his life and its purpose, he recalls his neighbor’s words: “We are in this moment together, and that’s all there actually is”. This idea is, I think, what drives my classmates and teachers to engage so fully in each class, and what makes St. Andrews academics so profoundly beneficial in the development of exceptional community members as well as scholars. 

The way my peers and teachers throw themselves into their interactions within each class so meaningfully is often baked into the everyday routine. We are too deeply immersed in our collaborations and conversations to realize it. Nonetheless, it was these small moments stretching across countless periods that we spent chipping away together at Mr. Olana’s million-step calculus problems, restating Mr. Daly’s words for each other as we frantically transcribed his chem lessons, and passionately debated Toni Morrison’s Beloved on our way out of English class, that are responsible for our growth as communicators, leaders, and friends who uplift each other in our individual academic pursuits. 

This is an impressive feat that requires passionate learners whose drive for knowledge and academic success is matched by an equally strong dedication to the community they find themselves in. After all, it is one thing to approach a class with the utmost determination to succeed—to put one’s head down and study and sweat until finally, the semester ends and one is (hopefully) awarded one’s good grade. 

But it is quite another thing to do this same hard work with an intentional commitment to the present. To recognize the sanctity in the simple fact “that we are in this moment together”, and treat each class as a time of community gathering just as much as a chance for personal advancement. With this, we lift each other up and make the most of our privileged time in the classroom. 

I am especially grateful for this unique aspect of St. Andrew's academics as my time here comes to a close. When I look back on the countless hours I spent sitting in front of a whiteboard or around a big wooden table, I am confident that I learned far more from my interactions with my classmates than I would have with my independent efforts alone. I feel so lucky to have spent the last four years in such a community-oriented learning space, and I urge all of you returning students to make the very most of it in the coming years. 

School co-president Trinity Smith ’23 gives a talk at Commencement 2023.

School co-president Trinity Smith ’23 gave this talk at Commencement 2023.

Before I start, I wanted to thank all of my family and friends that came to support me this weekend. Especially my mom, dad, and sister for their unconditional love throughout my time at St Andrew’s. I also want to wish my advisor, Mrs. Duprey, a happy birthday—you have truly been my “home away from home” and I am so thankful to have had you by my side by my side. 

As I sat down last week to write, I couldn’t help but return to my first day on campus. It was a chaotic day: after maneuvering through heaps of luggage on dorm, after meeting my (now) roommate of four years for the first time, and after meeting the people I would live with for all of high school, I was encouraged by my senior big sister to introduce myself yet again on the Front Lawn. As she explained: this was an opportunity to get to know even more people beyond the friends I had already made on dorm. But to the ears of freshman-year me, venturing from the newfound comfort of Pell Dorm to an unexplored lawn of students who seemed to already have found their group of friends was not only peculiar but daunting. However, like all of us, I was convinced to approach the Front Lawn and introduce myself to every person I saw, even those I didn’t think I would be close friends with. I joined in games I’ve never played before, like spike ball, and joined students who were completely different from me but would soon and unexpectedly become my biggest supporters and friends. 

While the details of every St Andrew's student’s first day may differ, the lessons from move-in day remain the same. It is here where we first learn to take risks—how to step outside of what you already know and open your most authentic self to new people or experiences. 

Even more, these moments are what set the stage for all the connections we build thereafter. It is this skill that allowed me to turn my roommate double of two years into a roommate triple of two years, and allowed me to find the best lab partners, study buddies, lift partners, and unanticipated friends. It is this skill that allowed me to befriend faculty who have pushed me to explore subjects I now want to pursue in college or who have reminded me that I am capable of excellence. 

From our first day, St. Andrew’s teaches us that the most fruitful opportunities are not always the ones that are most obvious or comfortable to you, but the ones that appear where you least expect. These relationships aren’t always our closest friends and they aren’t always at the center of our St Andrew’s journeys, but these are the people who unexpectedly walk beside you along the way.  

For the underclassmen, do not stall in what is comfortable. Seek discomfort and open yourself up to unanticipated connections. 

Remember what it means to take risks and approach an environment you have never seen before. 

To the Class of ’23, I feel lucky saying that we have done that. We have embraced seasons of new faculty and students year after year. We have built life-changing connections as seniors on freshman, sophomore, or junior dorms. Most of all, we weathered the discomfort of the pandemic and rebuilt a culture that thrives on togetherness and genuineness. Let us carry these Front Lawn skills of openness, authenticity, and courage for years and years to follow. 

School co-president Ford Chapman gives an address at Commencement 2023.

School co-president Ford Chapman ’23 gave this talk at Commencement 2023. 

As I think of the most memorable experiences I’ve had at St. Andrew’s, football naturally comes to mind. Football was the first thing I did on this campus and has permeated every aspect of my life at St. Andrew’s. Once, Coach DiGati told the linebackers to “play for the name on our chests.” Of course, that name was St. Andrew’s. As we graduate, we need to remember the values St. Andrew’s has instilled in us and display them confidently on our chests. I’d like to talk about three values that tie St. Andreans together: accountability, drive, and care. 

Accountability. It is central to every part of life at St. Andrew’s. When we go to breakfast check-in, study hall, or to bed at night, we are expected to hold ourselves accountable to these expectations. We then learn to hold those around us accountable when they fall short, and we can expect our peers to do the same for us. It may come as a shock to many of you, but I love the phone culture here at St. Andrew’s. The strength of that culture relies on every person holding themselves and those around them accountable while being open to others asking more of them—even as the battle against phones is becoming harder to fight. Social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok quickly transform phones from simple conveniences to weapons against attention span, forces that drive invisible space between people. We only have so much time with the people we meet here at St. Andrew’s, so make the most of the time you have with each other by leaving your phone in your room and urging others to do the same.

Next: drive. St. Andreans like you always reach for the next step forward. Especially when things get tough, we carefully mull over our options before making thoughtful and purposeful decisions. I’m not sure anyone exemplifies this more than my roommate Isaac Lawrence, who this past year has dealt with significant adversity. It would have been easy for Isaac to prioritize his comfort over his many responsibilities at school. Instead, he reached far beyond the lofty expectations that people had of him. Isaac’s determination motivates the entire school to be the best they can be. Drive like that will not be forgotten. Isaac is what drive looks like.

Finally: care. At St. Andrew’s, care is figuring out what you love about the community and investing yourself to preserve it. Anyone on Sherwood may have heard my other roommate, Philip, exclaim “I don’t care!” at random times throughout the year. But, actions speak louder than words, and anyone who notices how Philip carries himself knows: Philip cares about building meaningful relationships with those around him. For better or for worse, he is always the first one to disarm a conflict and try to mediate a solution in hopes of cultivating deeper bonds. Philip is what care looks like. 

To finish, thank you to my family for encouraging me to come to St. Andrew’s and encouraging me to be the best person I can be. On behalf of my peers, I’d like to thank all of my classmates' families for motivating all of these wonderful students. Thank you to all of the faculty who have guided me through my time here. A huge thank you to all of my friends. 

I wouldn’t be the man I am without all of you. I would call you my family, but I don’t think even being family could bring us closer than we are now. 

And thank you to the Class of 2023. As we depart from St. Andrew’s, remember to wear the St. Andrew’s name— and the values we have practiced here—proudly on your chest. Thank you.

"Mano"—Respect Your Elders

Zachary Macalintal ’24 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Zachary Macalintal ’24 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.


Stuck Between Two Worlds

Yiru Wang ’25 and Connie Kang ’26 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Yiru Wang ’25 and Connie Kang ’26 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.


"Sophie Cubed"

Sophie Xu ’23, Sophie Mo ’24, and Sophie Forbes ’25 gave this joint chapel talk at a Wednesday night service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Sophie Xu ’23, Sophie Mo ’24, and Sophie Forbes ’25 gave this joint chapel talk at a Wednesday night service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.


The Constant Battle of Confusion & Acceptance

Lauren Hearder ’24 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Lauren Hearder ’24 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service on May 17, hosted by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. 


Being Asian Is Something to Celebrate

Seoyoon Kwon ’23 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service hosted on May 17 by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Seoyoon Kwon ’23 gave this reflection at a Wednesday night chapel service hosted on May 17 by the Asian Student Union in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.


Going Viral

Last night I received an email from Director of Communications Liz Torrey: “Okay, so, Joy, when I saw you earlier this week and I said that the senior prank post ‘went viral,’ I meant that the post was doing well relative to our other content. Well—now it really has gone viral. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.”

No, it was not a joke. A video that Austin Chuang ’23 snapped in my kitchen last week when I came down for my morning tea (at 6:00 a.m.) and discovered the Class of 2023 had snuck into the house at 1:00 a.m. and bedded down for a sleepover-slash-senior-prank, as of this moment has 3.5 million views and 1300 comments across Instagram and Facebook.

Liz continued, “Probably you’re not at all thrilled that a video of you in a bathrobe and Crocs is turning into 15 minutes of fame, but seriously, as the commenters say, your response to the kids make this place look like a dream.”

How can I be upset when this place really is a dream? It’s just funny that in our cell phone-limited and social-media-shunning school that anything we do—much less the most ordinary of moments—could “go viral.” After all, it’s not unusual for students to be all over the first floor of our house. When I first opened the door and saw unknown quantities of people in my kitchen, I was, not surprisingly, shocked. But after a beat, I realized it was Austin I had just seen in the kitchen, and thought: “Of course Austin is here; he is here a lot.” He and his friends, for example, had just spent an entire Saturday in that kitchen wearing my collection of floral aprons and cooking prom dinner for 22 students.

In our digital, remote, post-COVID, and pandemic-inflected world, the idea of “going viral” carries all sorts of valences. We are all going viral all the time around here, without phones, without social media: just with each other. If anything exciting happens anywhere on campus, we know. If someone is feeling down, we find out and rush to their side. If a team is losing their grip on a precarious lead, everyone spontaneously appears to cheer them on. If we need to find someone, we walk outside, check a couple of the usual spots, and easily find them. If there was ever proof that cell phones don’t keep us in touch, but rather push us apart, it’s this school. Thank heavens kids can gather in our homes again, pile on top of each other in common rooms, pick at each other’s dessert after dinner (this probably sounds gross to civilians, but we are used to it)—all the things we have always done at St. Andrew’s. 

Now, St. Andrew’s is about to go viral once again. Our VI Formers will graduate and depart on Sunday, soon followed by the underformers next Saturday. This Sunday is the Sunday of Pentecost, the observance of the appearance of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, sending them, as the scripture says, “to the ends of the earth” to share the message of love and peace with the world. The last Sunday chapel of the year occurred this past weekend at Old St. Anne’s, and in my remarks, I drew parallels to the situation of our students. Energized by an intensive and joyful school year, our students are now called back to their homes, their families, their communities as carriers and vectors of those things of which this divided and uncertain world is very much in need: love, spirit, and inspiration. 

It is my prayer and expectation that they will do so IRL and FTF, without their phones, without social media, and without the technological crutches that inhibit the connections that make us human. Let’s go viral, Saints. May it be so. 

Time to Get Moving

Head of School Joy McGrath ’92 gave these remarks at the final Sunday chapel service of the school year, held at Old St. Anne’s Church in Middletown. 

Good morning! It is hard to believe that we were all here over eight months ago and I was in this pulpit talking to you about lost sheep—how we will all be lost at some point during the year, and how we will all be found by each other through the power of grace and love. 

Just like I found the entire VI Form in my house when I woke up on Friday morning. 

But I digress. We follow a cycle of the lectionary calendar in our services, and this year we have traversed Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, Jesus has died and risen again. Now, next week is Pentecost, and so today’s scriptures tell the story of what happens just before Pentecost, when Jesus is “taken up” into the heavens and the apostles prepare for what comes next. They will be sent out into regions of the Roman Empire to spread the good news of the Gospel. 

You may wonder what Pentecost is. But I think the lessons of Pentecost and in today’s scriptures relate to all of us right now in this moment before we take off for every corner of the globe. Pentecost, which means “the fiftieth day,” refers to a feast of seven weeks known as the Feast of Weeks—in the Old Testament, before Jesus is on the scene. It was an agricultural holiday that related to the harvesting of first fruits. Now, today’s reading is from the New Testament, which uses the same term—Pentecost—to note the fiftieth day after Easter when the Holy Spirit comes to Jesus’ followers shortly after his resurrection and ascension. 

In the reading today from Acts (1:6-14), before Jesus ascends, the last thing he says is, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Right now, we are in that same condition, on the brink of a departure following a transformative year. Especially for our seniors, whose departure date is close at hand. 

In a few short days, your families will retrieve you or you will board airplanes and trains and head “to the ends of the earth,” as St. Luke the Evangelist wrote in Acts. In that reading, these angels, these “men in white robes,” come before the Holy Spirit, and ask the disciples, “Why do you stand here looking up toward heaven?” clearly with the subtext that they should not be doing that. Have you ever seen something so amazing that you felt rooted to the very ground, unable to move your feet? And yet, “Why are you standing around?” the angels asked. 

So, the New Testament writers adopted the name of a much older observance related to the very first crops of early summer, the Feast of Weeks, to describe this moment: Pentecost—time to get moving. This got me thinking about first fruits. Strawberries are in season here in Delaware right now, usually the first literal fruits of the season. I have a lot of memories of picking strawberries on my grandfather’s farm when I was little. Kids are a lot closer to the ground, and as my grandparents aged, it seemed that what we called “stoop labor” like berry-picking, was assigned to the small children. 

Growing up, my family unit included two sets of grandparents. Especially in the summers, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They were hard workers, farm people. They were not people who stood around, and they certainly did not expect their grandchildren to stand around.  In fact, when I read about the “people in white robes” who say to Jesus’ followers, “Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?” I immediately thought of my grandmother. Don’t just stand there, make yourself useful, was her mantra.

“Why are you standing around?”

Like the disciples, we have been living in community here at St. Andrew’s, and now it is time for us to scatter and contribute what we can to our own corners of the world: our families, our hometowns, our community institutions, and places of worship. It’s not a time to be standing around. 

You can take a break from school and still approach your summer with direction and intention. We say at the end of each service that, “the worship has ended, let the service begin”; at the end of each year, we should say the same. 

My summers were not what you would call relaxing. We worked in the steamy weather and the hot kitchen; that was just what we did. After dinner was cooked, eaten, and all the dishes were washed and put away, I read a book before bedtime. I worked at my job, at church, and sometimes I would even have to dress up in a giant foam rubber watermelon suit as the character “Walter Melon” and go to farmers’ markets in sweltering heat with my dad. And yes, there is photographic documentation of this. And no, I will not give it to you. But: There was not a lot of standing around. 

Some of you may spend your summers in a similar fashion. It is good to work, to produce, to learn, to help. It is actually a kind of rest. You learn to organize yourself, complete projects, think about others, contribute to the common good. Face outward and not inward. Maybe you learn to distinguish big from little. Sometimes at school, we get distracted by little things: this test, that game. But we are really here for the big things: friendships, breakthroughs, service, making something new. By focusing on the big things, we build friendships, families, communities. Young people are such an important part of that. 

Believe it or not, when you are at home, your simple presence inspires your older relatives, neighbors, and younger children. You bring energy, creativity, and willing hearts and hands and feet to whatever is going on around you. You can be part of something bigger than yourself. Go and look for that something bigger, as the apostles did.

Pentecost is the time of the sending out of the message of love into the world. This season—strawberry season, the start of the summer—is also the time of sending all of you out into the world. You are the inspiration, you are the new energy, you bring the spirit and the love. So, when you get home, pay attention and chip in. Share your gifts and your loving spirit with those around you. 

We have had a wondrous year at St. Andrew’s this year because of each of you. You have done some pretty hard things, and done them well, together. You have kept it simple, you have asked for help, you have loved each other. You have practiced and practiced and practiced. You have made mistakes, and forgiven each other, and that has made your friendships stronger. You have accomplished things together that you never could have done by yourselves. You have grown and changed and learned so much. You have new questions about the world, and new ways of thinking about how you inhabit it. You have been part of something larger than yourselves. 

I am very proud of you. And, although I will miss you terribly over the summer, I hope you will take this spirit of attention, engagement, and love and bring it home. The angels said, “Why are you standing around?” 

So don’t just stand there, Saints, it’s time to get moving. 

Senior Thesis: "Watching and Waiting" on Singer-Songwriter John Teti ’23

There are two ways to identify a genuine encounter with John Teti ’23 in the wilds of St. Andrew’s: you either see him before you hear him, or you hear him before you see him.
Scenario one calls for Teti to be outfitted in one of his bold, vibrant (and potentially ironic—it’s hard to tell, as Teti has a flair for the impish) looks, which, as the anointed ambassador of Hawaiian shirt culture at St. Andrew’s, is most days. It also helps when spotting him that he’s very, very tall.
Scenario two calls for you to be within any building in St. Andrew’s that houses a single musical instrument. Piano, drum, guitar, bass, melodica, it doesn’t matter: Teti’s all in. It’s a magnetic, urgent pull between human and instrument. And what lovely, thoughtful noise Teti makes.
If you were to query any St. Andrew’s faculty or staff HQ’d in the O’Brien Arts Center, they’d be quick to tell you that the very best thing about that space is the constant sound of genius in progress from student artists and musicians. This year, in particular, Teti’s achingly earnest, honest vocals have bloomed throughout O’Brien as he works through a personal senior thesis of sorts: Watching and Waiting, the burgeoning singer-songwriter’s first full-length album, completely recorded on campus with a little help from his friends.
“John Teti is probably the reason I love music the way I do,” says Jayson Rivera ’23, a founding member of The Freshman Band, which has seen many different names (“My personal favorite was Toads on Parade,” says Teti) and bandmates throughout the years. “He got a group of us together our first year. I was intimidated on bass because everyone was so talented, but what John helped put together for that very first Open Mic Night our III Form year has been one of my favorite things about St. Andrew’s. It’s from John that I learned music is not something you make because a parent or teacher asks you to. Music is something you make out of love alone.”
Like any good bestie-of-the-band, Rivera already has a favorite single from Teti’s soon-to-be released album. “I play on ‘Here and Now,’ and the song is so good,” he says. “John has the potential and the talent to absolutely go crazy with music. I’ve watched him mold the clay and become more confident in his playing and mature in his writing. The cool thing is John’s always known what he wants to do with music, but he also happens to be smart enough to pursue anything else in the world he wants.”
Teti is peak-Teti the morning we meet: Humming one of his originals, Hawaiian shirt poppin’, dropping the kind of dope and sage wisdom that makes you wonder if this kid is, in fact, actually a high-schooler. He’s considering the lyrics of one of his songs, which he characterizes as “simple.” “But I find it’s the most simple experiences, moments, and truths that really connect us as humans exploring the human condition,” he says. “That’s so beautiful to me.” (Dope, sage. I told you.)
While today Teti has resisted the siren lure of the Dining Hall piano that we sit dangerously close to in the Main Common Room, he gestures toward it. “That’s where this started for me here,” he says. “I was known by the seniors as the annoying freshman kid who always woke them up because I would come for breakfast check-in and just start playing.”
Teti contends he wasn’t brave enough as a III Former to make the sartorial choices he makes now, but it was never a question of being audacious enough to jump on the keys.
“The music wasn’t for them,” Teti says of his peers in the Dining Hall (and the seniors, who eventually came around). “I was playing for me. I was playing because there was an instrument handy and I had a few minutes.”
Soon, Teti’s breakfast interludes started to gain traction. “Soon people took the stance of, ‘This is really nice,’” Teti says. “That's one of the things that I think is thematically true of my relationship with music, which is I use music as a builder of community. I'm very grateful that everyone else in the St. Andrew’s community seems to be as grateful as they are for me simply just doing something I love to do.”
That love of music stems from a musician dad; early fandom of Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, and the Pauls (Simon and McCartney, naturally); and a few years spent singing at The American Boychoir School in New Jersey, a choir boarding school for middle-graders.

“I learned a lot about singing, music, choir, and independent life while I was there,” he says. “I did a lot of country-touring and stayed with a million host families, singing at tiny churches across America. I've seen the interior of 200-odd middle-class American homes, which was pretty cool.”
When the school closed, Teti found himself a seventh-grader at parochial school with a music curriculum that was lacking, to put it kindly. “I was feeling antsy without music in my life in a big way,” says Teti, who, backed with some of the theory knowledge he’d picked up along the way, soon turned to chord sheets and YouTube to teach himself piano. It didn’t take long for him to arrive at a place where, upon approached with any request, he could look up the chord sheet and boom.
“What’s most flourished for me, creatively speaking, with music at St. Andrew’s has been piano,” he says.
Director of Instrumental Music Dr. Fred Geiersbach has had a front row seat to all the flourishing.
“It's been amazing to watch John's already strong talent grow over the last few years,” Geiersbach says. “He's obviously a strong singer-songwriter, but it brings me great joy to also see him developing as an arranger on this album. He's been a fabulous addition to the Jazz Ensemble this semester, and I've been really happy to contribute my playing to his album.”
As for “Doc G’s” contribution? “I'm using a brass quartet made up of Dr. Geiersbach layered over himself,” Teti says with a grin. “I love it. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.”
Other SAS collaborators on the album include Cora Birknes ’23 on oboe, Silas Grasse ’23 on drums, and Sophie Xu ’23 on violin, among others. It makes sense that Teti would cast his friends and fellow Saint musicians as supporting characters on his album. After all, he is telling a story of becoming that happened to unfold on the banks of Noxontown Pond.  
“I think broadly I’m trying to paint a self-portrait of the last couple years of high school,” he says. “A lot of that has to do with the relationships I created here, in these spaces.”

While all the songs are written, the actual recording of Watching and Waiting began after Christmas Break this year. Teti, who has invested a grand total of $20 into his artistic endeavor, has made good use of St. Andrew’s recording studio, with an assist from film and music instructor Peter Hoopes. Outside of the studio and the talent of Teti and his musical squad, Teti’s using Apple’s Logic Pro recording software and voice memos he calls “sound collages.” A trained St. Andrew’s ear will hear the sounds of campus embedded in his music: Oar-meets-water, recorded from his crew boat. The pealing of the bell tower. The din of Dining Hall conversation. Geese taking flight.
“Music for me is a form of therapy, and I went through some rather serious bouts of anxiety and other mental illness over the last couple years. I think I felt kind of stuck,” Teti says. “There’s one song that I wrote last spring where you’ll hear the repetitive sound of the oars clacking. It’s this mechanical pattern. It speaks to my headspace. It’s sort of shocking how much I feel like I’m in it when I close my eyes and listen. It’s almost an audio landscape painting or time capsule. To make myself spend time ruminating and soaking and steeping in this really difficult time was an emotional feat. Ask any student here: sometimes it feels like we’re caught in this endless loop. I guess the song is my version of that.”
Teti has both amused, surprised, and impressed himself when it comes to the songwriting. “Sometimes I’ll look at something I wrote and think, ‘Wow. That’s interesting. I wonder where this is coming from,’” he says. “Other times I’ll write something and sit back and it will occur to me that what I wrote is not something I ever dreamed of writing.”
English faculty Will Torrey—a mentor of Teti’s—knows a thing or two about Teti’s craft.
“From the first day of class, I could see John was an artistic, sensitive young man, someone who felt strong emotions deep down, and someone who knew, intuitively, that studying art and literature might help him make sense of the confusion so endemic to everyday life,” Torrey says. “It wasn't until he enrolled in Creative Writing that I began to fully understand him as a person. Along with the work he did in class—composing thought-provoking poems and pushing his peers to write as honestly and openly as they could—John also began coming by my office for regular visits. During these chats, John opened up about his love of music, as well as his ambition to produce a full-length album before he graduates. Such an undertaking would be a great challenge for anyone, but for a student at a school where one's days are totally scheduled, it seems almost impossible. That is, unless you're John.”
Much like one would submit early drafts of writing to their favorite teacher, Torrey has been treated to early studio sessions of Teti’s songs. “They’re beautiful,” Torrey says. “But what inspires me most about him is his preternaturally mature relationship to the process of making art. He puts in the time, not because it's easy or because it always yields gold, but because the making of the product, and not the product itself, is what fills him up.”
Teti knows the pressures on—in a little over a week, he’ll be graduating, and then off to spend “13th grade” at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. “Yes, another boarding school on another pond,” he says wryly. While he admits he’s battling a sense of imposter syndrome about getting into the choicey arts school to focus solely on his music, Teti is thrilled. “Music will be the sole academic focus,” he says. “Most musicians don’t get that opportunity until post-undergrad.”
There is, of course, Watching and Waiting to contend with first. Of the 10 tracks, two—“Strawberry Moon” and “Here We Are”—are now streaming on Spotify; the eight others are in various stages of completion.
“I don't want to get too in the weeds on what is the existential purpose of recorded music, but I don't want to make something that nobody hears,” Teti says. “I've sunk a lot of time and effort into this project and it would be incredibly disappointing for it not to be finished before I leave.” (Yes, of course, there will be a listening party.)
As he considers his musical growth, the friends and faculty who helped along the way, and finding his voice, Teti is almost surprised to admit it might not be the people he misses most. “I expected that to be the answer, as it’s the obvious one,” Teti says. “But I think, increasingly enough, I’ve found myself already mourning the loss of the physical spaces. Delaware sunsets in the fall, Noxontown Pond, the grass docks, the recording studio—the sounds of it all.”


Cusick's long-standing involvement with USFHA takes another step forward.

Head Field Hockey Coach Kate Cusick recently completed USA Field Hockey's Level 2 Coaching Certification on May 12 at Millersville University.

USFHA's Coaching Education & Learning Program provides coaches at all levels the opportunities and resources of "The USA Way", the framework that guides the philosophy and training exercises of USA Field Hockey. The Coach Education Program, which includes three instructional coaching clinics among other offerings, is aligned with the philosophy of the American Development Model and promotes the best teaching and learning principles for age and stage appropriate development.

“It was an incredible opportunity to learn technical and tactical skills from top-level coaches," says Cusick. "The opportunity to share and collaborate on our coaching philosophies and approaches has been invaluable.”


The training was led by Phil Edwards, Technical Director for the Rutgers University field hockey program and formerly US National Team Coaching Director, along with Victor Brady, Bryn Mawr College’s head field hockey coach. Coach Cusick was joined by nine other high school field hockey coaches from across the US.

“I’m looking forward to implementing what I learned this spring," says Cusick, "and completing the Level 3 training program before the end of the year.”

In addition to her coaching duties at St. Andrew's, Cusick is the head coach in the Region 7 Nexus program, which trains the top players from Delaware and Maryland, including U16 and U19 National Team Members. Her involvement with USFHA dates back to her playing days in the late 1990s and then as a coach for the program at Duke University in 2008. 



The highlight of the weekend was the Girls Freshman 8 bringing home a bronze medal.

St. Andrew’s Boys and Girls Crew teams both had phenomenal performances at the 2023 Stotesbury Cup Regatta this past weekend in Philadelphia, PA. The highlight of the weekend was the Girls Freshman 8 bringing home a bronze medal! Listed below are each boats’ results:

Girls Crew
St. Andrew's Girls Crew had a phenomenal weekend. Only one other program put a boat in the finals of the 1V, 2V and Freshman 8 races: perennial power Mount St. Joseph. 

Senior 8
Emma Hopkins ’23, Josie Pitt ’23, Joye Wingard ’24, Madeleine Lasell ’25, Hannah Gilheany ’24, Bridget Schutt’23, Stella Roffers ’24, Margaret Young ’24 and Adele Auchincloss ’23 (Cox)

This boat was the team to beat after placing 1st out of 27 boats in Friday’s time trail with a 5:09.07 race. In the semi-finals, St. Andrew’s beat Montclair and Whitman to take 1st with a 5:00.63 and advance to the finals. In the finals, the Senior 8 missed out on a medal by 0.66 seconds, finishing 4th behind Mount Saint Joseph, Holy Spirit and Jackson-Reed. An overall fantastic performance from St. Andrew's top boat.

Second 8
Anastasia Wrightson ’25, Caroline Adle ’24, Zoey Honsel ’24, Riya Soni ’24, Elli Baker ’26, Lauren Hearder ’24, Claire Walker ’25, Trinity Smith ’23, Grace Anne Doyle ’25 (Cox)

A strong finish in the time trail (6th overall) placed them comfortably in the semi-finals, where they placed 3rd with a 5:18.86. That advanced them to the final where the team rowed a 5:26.23 and finished 5th overall. The team shaved 20 seconds off their time from Friday into Saturday.

Junior 8
Emma de Ramel ’25, Catherine Foster ’25, Saskia Hood ’25, Sofia Golab ’25, Sarah Fischer ’25, Mary Troy ’24, Yiru Wang ’25, Sophie Forbes ’25, Avery Vaughan ’24 (Cox)

The Junior 8s rowed themselves into a semi-final race, where they finished 6th with a 5:34.54. They finished 17th overall.

Freshman 8
Natasha Hearder ’26, Margaret Gilheany ’26, Ahilya Ellis ’26, Sophie Hansen ’26, Josephine Scott-Barnes ’26, Alexandra Wilkins ’26, Constance Kang ’26, Ceri Phillips ’26, Mary Margaret Hall ’26 (Cox)

The Freshman 8 were the team of the day. They shocked the field by finishing 4th in the time trail (5:40.68) and placing second behind Mount Saint Joseph in the semi-final race to advance to the finals. In the finals, St. Andrew’s finished 3rd with a 5:28.17 time, earning a bronze medal. It is the first time a St. Andrew’s Girls Freshman 8 boat medaled at Stotesbury since 1996!

Boys Crew
Senior 8
Zach Atalay ’23, Will Hagberg ’25, Joe Baker ’24, Finn Waterston ’25, Kyle Share ’23, Luke Rowles ’25, Gibson Hurtt ’24, Cooper Drazek ’24, Kieran Bansal ’24 (Cox)

The Senior 8 pulled a 4:38.16 in the time trail which placed them 7th overall. Up against eventual championship St. Joseph’s Prep and McLean, the Saints narrowly missed making the finals after placing 3rd in the semis with a 4:25.80. They will get a chance to compete in the at USRowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, FL in early June against the top boats in the country.

Second 8
Luke Ketzner ’25, Lucas Ochis ’24, Tyrus Roney ’25, Oscar Ji ’24, Myles Derabertis ’23, Kiezen Ameriks ’24, Peter Bird ’25, Erik Liu ’25, Roland Bridges ’25 (Cox)

The Second 8 rowed well all year, which continued into the weekend. They placed 4th overall in the time trail with a 4:49.14, then placed 3rd in the semi-final race with a 4:36.39 to advance to the finals. Unfortunately, the team was brought down by a crab in the midst of a great finals race. The Second 8 was in bronze medal position with about 90 seconds to go when it happened. The future is bright for this young boat.

Junior 8
Camilo Leon Rosenfield ’25, Charlie Adams ’25, Kevin Tu ’24, Danny Yu ’24, John Plummer ’25, Finn Lorentzen ’25, Kaspian Ruff ’26, Ethan Kim ’25, Prem Patel ’24 (Cox)

The Junior 8 placed 19th overall with a 5:18.67 time. They narrowly missed a spot in the semi-finals.

Freshman 8
Drew Merriman ’26, Burke Donovan ’26, George Lindsay ’26, Will Tower ’26, Evan Messina ’26, Graham Robinson ’26, Hudson Stewart ’26, Lawson Kellner ’26, Peter Adler ’26 (Cox)

The Freshman 8 rowed well on Friday, placing 14th out of 28 boats with a time of 5:09.77. They missed making the semi-final by less than five seconds.

Arts Weekend 2023: Saints Community Shows Up for Student Creativity

Over the weekend of May 12-14, St. Andrew’s welcomed families to campus to celebrate the school’s 53rd annual Arts Weekend. This annual three-day festival of the performing and visual arts showcases student creative work across all artistic disciplines taught at St. Andrew’s—dance, theatre, instrumental and choral music, film studies, creative writing, drawing, painting, ceramics, and photography—while also giving families the chance to convene on campus together in the spring. 

The hub of the weekend's activity was the O’Brien Arts Center, where we kicked off the festivities with a student gallery show opening in the Warner Gallery and an Orchestra performance in Engelhard Hall (watch here), conducted by instrumental music teacher Fred Geiersbach.

On Saturday morning, families were invited to Engelhard Hall to watch a screening of student films, listen to a talk by Head of School Joy McGrath ’92 (listen here, or read her remarks here), and take in a performance by the Andrean Ensemble, the school’s choral music group (watch here). 

Families enjoyed an afternoon of lunch in the Dining Hall and athletics competitions on our fields. Girls lacrosse lost a 10-9 heartbreaker to St. Mark's, girls soccer beat MOT Charter 4-0, and baseball topped Tatnall 10-4. Meanwhile, the Saints boys rowing 1V boat was competing off-campus at the US National Mid-Atlantic Youth Championship, where they made it to the final race and placed 5th out of 6th. Other SAS rowers competed in exhibition races on Noxontown Pond. 

Later in the evening, families and students for a performance by the school’s Jazz Ensemble (watch here), also led by Dr. Geiersbach, and later, the Forbes Theatre, where students put on a production of Perspicacity: An Evening of One-Act Plays. You can view photos and videos from the production process on Instagram @forbestheatre.

On Sunday morning, families gathered in the duPont Memorial Chapel for an Episcopal service and homily delivered by senior parent Tracy Ehrlich P’23,’26. Following Chapel, we closed out the weekend with performances by the Noxontones—the school’s a capella group—and dance students back in Engelhard Hall (watch both performances here).

A gallery of photos from Arts Weekend 2022 is available below. Follow the arts at St. Andrew’s throughout the school year on Instagram


Board of Trustees Welcomes New Leadership & Members

Following their spring 2023 board meeting on campus, the trustees of St. Andrew’s School have shared their plans for board leadership in the coming years. 

At the end of the 2023-24 academic year, the current chair of the board of trustees, Scott Sipprelle ’81 P’08, has expressed his intention to end his board service after 23 years, and after eight years as chair. Scott has been elected by the board as its chair for the 2023-24 year. In view of Scott’s plan to step down at the conclusion of that year, the board has decided to appoint Richard Vaughan ’88 P’24,’27 as vice-chair and chair-elect for the 2023-24 year, indicating that the board intends to select Richard as its chair to succeed Scott for the 2024-25 year. 

Kellie Doucette ’88, P’18,’18,’21 is vice-chair elect for the 2023-24 year, signaling the board’s intention to appoint her as vice-chair in 2024-25. Kellie will continue to serve as chair of the board’s Advancement Committee in the 2023-24 year. 

In practice and by precedent, the board has selected new chairs who have leadership experience on the board and who also have the trust and confidence of their fellow board members. Richard fulfills these requirements, and his appointment will maintain leadership continuity in the school’s governance. Richard is also perfectly positioned to work closely, supportively, and collaboratively with Head of School Joy McGrath ’92, who is still relatively early in her headship. Kellie and Richard are the most experienced members of the board’s leadership team, having served for years as committee chairs and in other crucial roles.
Other officers selected at the spring meeting are Monica Matouk ’84, P’18,’21,’23 as board secretary for 2023-24 and Kate Simpson ’96 as treasurer for 2023-24. In addition, Michael Atalay ’84, P’17,’19,’23 will serve as chair of the Education Committee and Kate Simpson ’96 will serve as Finance and Audit Committee chair in the 2023-24 year. 

Chair Scott Sipprelle said of the transition, “St. Andrew’s board has been characterized over the years by steady leadership and predictable transitions in leadership, and this transition bears those hallmarks by design. Richard Vaughan, as board treasurer, as chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, as a member of our Head of School Search Committee, and in multiple other key roles, has become deeply involved in the governance of the school and has shown his commitment and dedication to St. Andrew’s. No one understands the school’s finances, its endowment, and its governance better. The success of the school and its wellbeing in the future are very close to his heart and I am thrilled that he will succeed me in serving the school as board chair. The school is in a wonderful position at this time, and its future could not be in better hands.” 

Richard Vaughan expressed his enthusiasm for this new role, saying, “I am honored to continue my service to St. Andrew’s as the board’s intended chair after Scott steps down. His work as chair has set the pattern for board and alumni leadership for the rest of us to follow. I love the school, which has made such a difference in my life and in my children’s lives. I look forward to working with Kellie Doucette as vice-chair and the rest of the board officers and chairs to help Joy and the faculty to create the St. Andrew’s that will serve the students of the future as well as it has served all of us.”

Head of School Joy McGrath ’92 offered her whole-hearted support for the board transitions, saying, “I have been so fortunate to benefit from Scott’s mentorship and leadership of the board during the early years of my headship. I will always be grateful to him for his vision and support during this time. I could not be more delighted with the board’s choice of Richard to lead us into the future. His passion for the school, his wisdom, and his deep knowledge of the school’s finances, facilities, and people make him the perfect partner in the important work before us.”

Departing the board at the end of this school year will be L. Heather Mitchell ’92, Henry Ridgely ’67, Laurisa Schutt P’18,’23, and Andrea Sin P’16, ’17. “The school is all the better and stronger because of the dedicated service of these trustees, and their wise presence will be missed,” noted Scott. At the spring meeting, the trustees provided each departing trustee with a citation to commemorate their contributions to St. Andrew’s, as well as pens made from trees that stood guard on the Main Drive for the entirety of the school's history. 

During the spring 2023 meeting, the board also elected the following four new trustees, all of whom will join the board in the fall of 2023:

Commander Sarah Abbott ’99 is a 2003 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where she received a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering. Following commissioning, she attended Stanford University, where she worked as a research assistant in the Global Positioning System Laboratory and earned a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics in 2005. CDR Abbott was designated a naval aviator in August of 2007 and selected to fly F/A-18s. After flight school, she received orders to the “Flying Eagles” of VFA-122 at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California for F/A-18E/F Superhornet training.  

CDR Abbott has over 1900 hours in 31 different aircraft over 300 arrested landings. Her personal awards include a Meritorious Service Medal, two Strike/Flight Air Medals, two Navy Commendation Medals, and various campaign and unit awards. 
CDR Abbott resides in St Mary’s County, Maryland, with her husband, CDR Bryce “Pawnshop” Abbott, and their two children. She currently serves as a F/A-18E/F deputy program manager for the Naval Air Systems Command. 

Anne W. Hance ’94 is senior vice president and general counsel for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, a company of more than 6,000 employees serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and across the country. In this role, she provides legal counsel to the company’s executive team and board of directors. She also leads the legal division, overseeing teams responsible for legal affairs, privacy, subrogation, and corporate governance.

Anne is a member of the board of directors of the American Health Law Association (AHLA). She previously contributed to and held leadership positions in AHLA’s Plans, Payors, and Managed Care Practice Group. She has frequently presented and authored articles on managed care, health care reform, and legislative and regulatory developments affecting the health care industry.

She received her Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University and her Juris Doctorate from Wake Forest University School of Law.

Anne comes from a family of St. Andreans, including her father, Charles (“Sandy”) Hance ’61, uncle Bob Hance ’60, sister Elizabeth (“Beccy”) Hance Iossa ’91, and brother Charles (“Whitt”) Hance ’99. Anne’s mother, Nancy Hance, served as a parent representative to the board of trustees while Anne was enrolled at St. Andrew’s.  

“I’m so glad to have the opportunity to serve St. Andrew’s and its students and to support and contribute to the school’s mission of ‘Faith and Learning,’” Anne said.

Henry McVey P’25 is the head of the Global Macro, Balance Sheet and Risk Team at the investment firm KKR. Henry also serves as chief investment officer for the firm’s balance sheet and oversees firmwide market risk and derivatives & liability management. As part of his role, he sits on KKR’s Balance Sheet Committee. Prior to joining KKR, Henry was a managing director, lead portfolio manager, and head of global macro and asset allocation at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Earlier in his career he was a portfolio manager at Fortress Investment Group and chief U.S. investment strategist for Morgan Stanley. 

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Henry is a long-time supporter of the TEAK Fellowship—a non-profit program that provides connects talented students from low-income families in New York City with educational opportunities—and has served as co-head of its board of trustees for five years. He also heads GBR Gives Back within KKR, an organization set up to provide pro-bono macro and asset allocation assistance to small to medium size non-profits. 

Henry is also a member of the Pritzker Foundation Investment Committee, a board member of the University of Virginia Investment Management Company, a member of the national advisory board for the Jefferson Scholarship at the University of Virginia as well as a member of the Jefferson Scholars Fellows Selection Committee, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Henry also serves as a member of the Financial Sector Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Henry and his wife Laura are parents to Hank and Nelle ’25.  

Christian Wilson ’01 is currently an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and assistant attending physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Prior to joining Columbia in 2021, Dr. Wilson worked as a hospitalist for Apogee Physicians, a private hospitalist group. Dr. Wilson also worked in management consulting for The Boston Consulting Group after residency. Prior to medical school, Dr. Wilson worked in finance, first in investment banking for Bank of America and then at Konanda Pharma Partners, a pharma-focused start-up private equity fund.

Dr. Wilson completed residency at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Campus after earning his MD at Columbia Medical School and his MBA at Columbia Business School, where he served as a peer advisor and mentor. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer science and mathematics from Amherst College.

Dr. Wilson is one of three siblings who graduated from St. Andrew’s, along with his sister Morgan ’02 and brother Damon ’04. He also serves on the board of the John F. Kennedy Behavioral Health Center. He currently resides in New York, New York.


Since Joe Baker ’24 arrived on St. Andrew’s campus last August, he’s quietly become one of the best athletes in the country. This past winter, he broke the school’s 2,000-meter erg record (6:15.2), previously held by Chris Carey ’04, and followed up in late March by beating that mark, pulling a 6:09.9. Of the thousands of high-school rowers in the country, only a handful of them have erged a sub-6:10 2k. 

“One of the college recruiters who visited said there are probably only three kids his age who are as fast as him in the country,” says Boys Head Crew Coach Will Porter ’96.

Even more incredible is the little amount of time Baker has spent as a rower. After hurting his shoulder badly pitching his freshman year at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nasvhille, Baker decided to pursue another sport to preserve his arm’s health. His father, who rowed as a novice in a lightweight boat in college, had an erg at home for his personal use, and Baker gravitated toward it. His goal was to play a sport in college, so that summer, while he erged, he researched what it would take to pursue rowing at the next level and settled on the 6:10 mark.

That’s right: Baker, new to the sport, never having actually rowed in a boat, made his goal one of the most difficult benchmarks in the sport to achieve. He hit the water for the first time his sophomore spring and decided he wanted a more focused athletic and academic experience at a boarding school. He transferred to St. Andrew’s, along with his sister, Elli Baker ’25, and worked hard all fall and winter to beat the mark. In less than two years after he found the sport, Baker accomplished his goal.

“I was stoked,” says Baker. “That’s a number I’ve had in mind since I started rowing. I didn’t know much about the sport and that [number] was advertised as something you need to break to pursue rowing in college. It’s been a long-term goal and getting it done is exciting because it means I get to set new goals and move forward.”


Founders Varsity boat, from left to right: Luke Rowles ’25, Kyle Share ’23, Isaac Lawrence ’23, Joe Baker ’24 and Will Hagberg ’25.

That competitive drive and intellectual nature makes rowing the perfect sport for Baker. Before he found the erg, he was way too competitive about board games, especially Monopoly. Now, Baker flushes that competitiveness out on the erg and can have “much more peaceful nights doing puzzles or something.” That appetite for activity and feedback is also found in rowing, especially on the erg.

“There is no subjective aspect to the sport in that regard,” says Baker. “You are on the machine, it tells you how hard you’re pulling, how fast you’re pulling, how long you’re pulling for … there is no other sport in which you have that much of a controlled environment.”

Baker takes every measure to ensure control over the things he can control. He trains twice a day to maximize fitness, waking up at 5:50 to erg or lift, then hitting the water during crew practice. He fuels his body properly, shoveling back three bagels with cream cheese, two bananas and a protein shake at breakfast. When he does erg tests, he selects certain songs to play during his workout and has a coach or friend switch the songs at specific times so he can dial in. He is an avid consumer of the sport, listening to podcasts about training, the recruiting process, what it’s like to win seat races in a college boat.

All of this, in addition to an academically demanding school, is a lot to handle. Baker quickly learned he could not do this alone. During his first week completing two-a-days at St. Andrew’s, he called his dad, unsure if he could keep up the pace. But then he met Will Hagberg ’25 and Ike Lawrence ’23.

“I think that’s been the biggest difference for me,” says Baker. “The first week I was on campus, Hagberg came up to me and asked if I wanted to row with him in the mornings and start training. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t think I could have done this.”


The three best friends that anyone could have: Ike Lawrence, Will Hagberg and Joe Baker.

As for Lawrence, he’s a big reason why Baker is here. A stud rower headed to Dartmouth College next year, Lawrence matches Baker’s competitive fire and love for rowing. In the boat, Lawrence sits five while Baker sits six, and, according to Porter, there was “an immediate connection between the two.” During his junior year, Lawrence came close to Carey’s mark–who, coincidentally, rowed at Dartmouth–missing the school record by four-10ths of a second. In fact, between the two of them, Lawrence and Baker own six of the 10 fastest 2k times in school history.

Porter knows two guys alone don’t move a boat, that his job is to fit the pieces together. Initially, he was worried Baker might get burnt out considering he rows behind the pin–meaning he’s more of a backend rower likely to generate force deep into his stroke–while Lawrence and other members of the boat are front-of-the-pin rowers, generating power early in their stroke. Porter implemented drills that emphasized front-end work like the catch and getting the blades in the water at the same time. Baker was receptive and the transition was “seamless” according to Porter. His coachability stems from his love of being on teams, and his presence has infected the program.

“It’s like the chance to be in a boat with him has made everybody step up,” says Porter. “I have more people on the team now under a 7-minute 2k than at any time in school history. Six people in the 2V are under 7, and three or four people in the 3V are under, 7 too. All these kids are seeing what’s possible. Obviously, Baker is very physically gifted, but it’s no secret how hard he works.”

Porter contends he’ll have to work even harder when he gets to college, a challenge Baker is up for. “He’s really special now,” Porter says. “And I think he knows once he gets to college, he has to make another big jump, which speaks to how competitive recruiting is. Joe is a generational talent for us. He’s becoming the expectation for Division 1 rowing–Ike and Joe are what that looks like.”

“I think now that I’m out on the water with Ike and Hagberg and everyone else, it’s a special connection,” says Baker. “You basically struggle and work, everyday, with all your best friends, doing stuff that absolutely is hard. A lot of the stuff you do in rowing, it’s not the most fun.”


Joe and Elli have several things in common: including their shades style.

Baker not only has his buddies, but his sister, Elli, rowing alongside him. She decided to join the morning workouts with her brother and Hagberg in late January, and she already has the fastest 2k time on the girls team. Baker is thrilled about her growth, yet he’s more enamored by the time he’s gotten to spend with his sister and friends as a result of their shared passion. For him, the best part of his day is after his morning workout, sitting in the dining hall with Elli and Hagberg, chowing down on bagels with cream cheese and talking about rowing, about anything.

“There is nothing more rewarding,” says Baker.


Hosted at Delaware State University, the BMI Conference was a place for Onyx members to learn, connect, and as a result, become inspired.

When A’Zir Carey ’25, Abraham Perry ’26, and Kim Murrell ’24 were asked about their experience at the Black Male Initiative Conference, their eyes light up, they smile, and they speak with passion about their day spent with 300 other young Black men from across the state. 

“There were a bunch of other kids there that were just like me,” says Murrell, “with the same childhood sense of humor. It was loads of fun.”

“Loads of fun” isn’t the standard takeaway from most conferences, yet it’s easy to see why the 12 St. Andrew’s students in attendance were enthralled. Hosted on February 24, the Delaware State University Black Male Initiative Conference is designed to “empower the ‘total’ man of color by putting him on the path of wholeness and academic success in the nation and beyond.” Breakout sessions ranged from professional-development planning to developing social and emotional competence to managing personal identity and perception. 

“We got a lot of advice from Black professionals,” says Carey. “We learned about networking and how to go about college and life after college—just a lot of life advice. It was really enlightening and good to see so many successful Black males in one room.”

Initially, however, the St. Andrew’s students were apprehensive about what they were walking into. Associate Dean of Students and Head Basketball Coach Terrell Myers, who chaperoned the group alongside Associate Director of Admission Jordan Poarch, felt their nerves on the van ride down to Dover. The students—all members of Onyx, the school’s affinity group for Black students who identify as male—ranged in grade level and varying degrees of friendship with one another. Leaving the St. Andrew’s bubble added another layer of nerves, and upon arrival, the students kept to themselves. But as the morning proceeded, Myers saw their reserved manner fade as they witnessed other high schoolers expressing themselves more fully.

“​​I think that was refreshing for them,” says Myers. “They felt like they could exhale and not be judged by their hair, by their language, by their style. I think that was pretty cool for them, seeing other kids that looked like them.”

Finding similarities in appearance and experience among peers and mentors are crucial for students navigating the ups and downs of life. Research overwhelmingly suggests that positive social relationships, support, and acceptance help shape the development of self-esteem. Delaware State University is one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), and that environment can be a perfect place for Black students to nurture their identities and self-worth. Dr. Danica Tisdale-Fisher, St. Andrew’s Dean of Inclusion and Belonging, experienced this firsthand—her father worked at DSU for many years, and she grew up frequenting the campus. When a colleague’s wife sent her the conference details, she knew it would be a great opportunity for the members of Onyx.

“I think it makes a difference seeing a sea of Black boys and feeling like you are a part of this larger collective of engaging and thoughtful boys and men,” says Fisher. “Sometimes, the statistics don’t reflect that these high-achieving students exist.”

Navigating an environment like St. Andrew’s—that is, predominantly white and academically rigorous—comes with a lot of challenges for a freshman like Perry. The breakout session he sat in on at the conference, “The Winner’s Mindset,” explored strategies to thrive in competitive environments and surpass familial or social expectations. Perry says it helped strengthen his resiliency.

“Especially at St. Andrew’s, it can be rough sometimes,” says Perry. “Like ‘Dang, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to on a test.’ That’s why I think [the mindset] is very important, because there are a lot of times when I doubt myself and I have to remember, ‘You got this, bounce back, you are here for a reason.’”

The day peaked during lunch, when the conference participants collided with DSU students in the cafeteria. There were steppers welcoming the students, fraternities and sororities engaging with each other, and delicious soul food that created, for Perry, an “electrified” environment. That vibe carried over to the van ride back: conversation was flowing, filled with the ideas the students had just learned. As the vans got closer to campus, Murrell, usually more reserved, pleaded with Myers to keep driving around town so they could keep the good times rolling.

“I think sometimes the social events are more important than the formal programming [affinity groups] do,” says Fisher. “It gives them a chance to build relationships. It can be hard [at St. Andrew’s]. The students are so busy … the more they can be together socially, the better their work in the community will be.”

Perry certainly grew closer with his Onyx peers as a result. 

“Before the conference, I didn't really find myself talking to everyone [in the affinity group],” says Perry. “Now, sometimes I just go to their dorm rooms and hang out. My bubble expanded more after the conference.”

When asked what they wanted to bring back from the conference, each student mentioned branching out and sharing more about themselves with their peers at St. Andrew’s. Carey returned thinking about how he could insert himself in new communities of people on campus. The conference advice that stuck with him was “be confident in what you’re trying to show the world,” even when it might be uncomfortable. It’s an admirable—and wise—reminder from Carey: There is strength in vulnerability. Extending beyond a known group of friends and stepping outside of your comfort zone can seem like scary endeavors. Yet as springtime ushers students to the Front Lawn to play spike ball and socialize, Perry suggests starting there.

“You just go up to someone and say, ‘Hey, how are you?’ Or just sit at a different lunch or dinner table and be like ‘What’s up, how’s your day going?’ Simple things like that,” he says. “Then, eventually, having bigger, better conversations with that person.”

To get to the real conversations, Myers thinks the key is embracing differences and meeting people where they are.

“I say this all the time,” says Myers. “If you look at St. Andrew’s, it’s an island and everyone’s coming from their own island to this big one. When they are coming, they’re dumping all their stuff here. There’s so much to try and unpack, but nobody’s talking about where this stuff came from. It’s just there! We should just try to unpack it. Let’s talk about it, let’s have real conversations and not bring judgment to them.”

Myers, who also attended boarding school, reminisced about unpacking differences in hairstyles between him and his roommate. Those conversations, he mentions, happened back in his dorm room during unstructured downtime. 

“It’s really hard to schedule time to be genuine,” says Myers. “It just happens authentically. We have to be authentic for those magic moments to happen.”

A School Filled With Hope

Joy gave these remarks to parents on the Saturday morning of Arts Weekend 2023. 


If we did not sense it before – it is at Arts Weekend that we begin to feel the culmination of the year. 

It has been an absolutely spectacular year in every regard—a classic year at the school, with all of our normal routines and traditions. Your children should be very proud of themselves for all they have accomplished—and you of them! 

The faculty have been absolutely amazing, and I am so grateful to them. 

The campus looks fantastic, thanks to our staff members, and we are so fortunate to be able to gather here this weekend in this setting.

I am looking forward to celebrating the seniors, the Class of 2023, at Commencement in two weeks. I am so grateful to them for their leadership.

Last year, as I considered all the work we needed to do to stick the landing on our post-COVID reset, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine we would have come this far. 

That is down to these seniors, who truly are a historic class in the school. 

We have begun the process of handing off the leadership of the school to the Class of 2024 and I am so excited to work with them as we continue to build community and connection and live into our high standards for intellectual, artistic, and athletic life as well as personal integrity and growth. 

The future of the school is in capable and energetic hands. 

What does that future hold? 

As I consider our goals for next year, I am thinking about three main areas of work: 

1) How to secure the future of financial aid, which is the cornerstone of our school and community. Robust financial aid policies are a crucial part of the education of every single student, because it is the community we are able to gather from every corner of society that creates the conditions for the creativity, teamwork, and growth you will witness this weekend—and witness throughout your child’s career here. 

2) How we can begin to understand the school’s carbon footprint? Any institution should have a clear path to carbon reduction, and SAS is no exception. I am looking forward to engaging in some serious study of our carbon consumption and development of tools for us to understand, measure, and reduce our carbon footprint—in service of developing a plan to zero carbon. 

3) The continued strengthening of our school culture—dorm life, student leadership, the chapel—including how and when and why we use technology including cell phones and artificial intelligence. For now, we are not using ChatGPT or other AI for academics, and the academic committee is reading and considering carefully the path forward. 

We are taking this period of discernment because we know that the human relationships at the school—between students and between students and faculty—are the timeless essence of a St. Andrew’s education. 

It is our belief in young people—in what their brains can do, their bodies, their spirits—in community with each other, moving within this beautiful ecosystem, that drives this place. 

What is genuine—not what is artificial—is what animates this place. So, we move forward deliberately.

I can say for sure that what we do here will continue to be about the people, about those human spirits and human brains and human relationships—so let me give you some updates on those fronts. 

New Students: Admissions

We are thrilled to welcome 87 new students and families to the school next fall. We searched the world to find families who understand and appreciate what we do here, and we can't wait for so many of you to meet them in the days ahead. 

I am grateful to so many of you who have helped us in this process. 

I know Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Will Robinson and the admission team are planning to recruit many of you to the cause—Will is already planning for the Class of 2028. 

Word of mouth continues to be our most effective tool for finding St. Andrew's families, so please continue to share St. Andrew's with families who you believe would thrive in this community. 

New Faculty: Hiring

As I said before, I am so grateful to our faculty, who have fully immersed themselves in your kids’ whole education: across the classroom, the sports facilities, the stages and studios and in the dormitories. 

Their work is about lighting fires, not filling buckets. 

St. Andrew’s teachers are in the business of throwing open windows and doors, helping students really to see, to observe carefully, to listen carefully, to hypothesize, test and revise, and over time to analyze, critique, solve, create, and investigate important questions.

We have had to find more of these special teachers, because at the end of the year, we will say farewell to Victor Cuicahua, Erin Hanson, Jay Hutchinson, Harvey Johnson, Bertie Miller, Deriba Olana, Neemu Reddy, Liz Torrey, and Will Torrey. 

Although they will be missed, we have hired some spectacular new faculty for next year, and we are in the final stages of our search for a new chaplain after Jay Hutchinson’s more than two decades of service to St. Andrew’s. 

I will share with you more details about our new faculty later in the spring, but here are a few: 

Amelia Browne, a veteran of Yale University’s legendary women’s volleyball team, will join the English Department in the fall and will serve as head coach of the team next year. 

Ben Kang ’13 will join the Math Department and coach football and lacrosse. 

James Garrett will join the English and Art Departments, and coach football and baseball. 

You may not know this, but we include your children in our faculty searches. Every candidate is met by a panel of students, and they also observe at least one class and teach a demo class. The feedback from our students is an important part of our discernment as I consider candidates. 

In many ways, that process is a hallmark of St. Andrew’s, where fundamental to our approach is trusting students, believing in students. 

And why would we not? 

In every experience and opportunity, your students are “all in.” The education we offer our students demands a great deal of them in every dimension—athletics, arts, academics, community life. 

Knowing that we are practicing, knowing perfection is not the goal, your children grow each day in their independence. They are capable of original thought, changing their minds, and persuading others as well. 

Practice and growth require not only curiosity and intelligence, but also ambition, discipline, persistence, and empathy. 

Young people need not only to be ABLE to do hard things, but they must WANT to do hard things. There are so many impossible challenges facing us, and it will be up to these young people to resolve them. 

In this, our arts and sports programs are critical. How do we locate that intrinsic motivation to try hard things? How do we engage others, motivate the team that can accomplish something together that we cannot even attempt on our own? 

Let me tell you a story: The weekend before last, I offered to take a van of students to the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, which is one of my favorite art museums. So many students signed up (for a 10:00 a.m. departure on a rainy Sunday!) that Mr. Joshua Meier had to help, and he brought a second van. 

As I perused the collection, our students darted in and out of rooms. They had out their notebooks, and were reading about the details of each work of art. Some were wandering through in silent contemplation, others were in pairs and trios, discussing everything they saw.

Watching them, I saw wonder, awe, and curiosity. 

No one required them to go, no one required them to do anything in particular once we got to the museum. But they were ignited by beauty, by wonder; they were drawn in with curiosity and awe. 

I said earlier that what we do here is light fires, not fill buckets. And that is what art does. It inspires, it lights fires, it captures our attention and says “look, really look.” And when we look, really look, we understand, and we want to look more, understand more, question more. 

On this Arts Weekend, you will see that your children have looked—and they have seen, experienced, and read many things at St. Andrew’s. Taking all of that, they have made NEW things.

Whether it is through painting, singing, playing, acting, drawing, dancing, or making prints or films, our students have an incredible opportunity in the arts to bring themselves and their ideas into the world. 

Their art draws us into a future that is far from derivative, or repetitive, or expected, but rather exciting, thought-provoking, and inspiring.

Creation in all its forms brings with it a sense of accomplishment and—for the audience, the viewers—a sense of progress. That sense of progress quickly yields to hope. 

We are a school filled with hope, because of our students, your children. It is their work, their ambition, their aspirations that show us the future they will envision, practice, and create; a future that is more human, more harmonious, and more beautiful. 

In so doing, they make the world new again. 

Thank you.

We Are Entitled to Love

Lily Murphy ’23 gave this chapel talk at the annual student vestry chapel on April 26.

I've had the rare privilege of presenting two chapel talks during my time as a student. During my sophomore year, I composed a speech so forgettable it required a detour through my Google Docs archives to resurface the probably empty wisdom my fifteen-year-old self endorsed. Upon re-reading my past insights, the extent of how much I've changed aggressively revealed itself. In that first chapel talk, I discussed the essential role of hobbies as devotional practices that infuse our lives with purpose, structure, and meaning. In a predictable fashion, I centered my experience around running. I emphasized how intensifying my discipline or building my tolerance for physical discomfort were necessary strategies to grasp a coveted feeling of "satisfaction" or "accomplishment." In essence, I stated that gratification and/or happiness must be earned through some strenuous process.
However, after two years of life experience and my newfound initiation into adulthood, I'm advising this community to reject every word I said. What I intentionally excluded from that first speech were my countless appointments with cardiologists, nutritionists, and pediatricians addressing health concerns fueled by my flawed mentality. I disregarded that a number on the scale determined my return to St. Andrew's that fall and failed to mention that my glorified discipline or drive had evolved into an unhealthy obsession with perfectionism.

Striving to enhance my athleticism, I developed rigid dietary habits, inflexible routines, and disordered behaviors. My distorted perception of productivity created a harmful triad of compulsive exercise, food anxiety, and a complex of shame, which lasted for roughly 18 months. In earlier stages, changes in my physical appearance and attitude were noticed by friends and family. I had multiple opportunities to confess my mental unrest and receive treatment for the physical damages my decisions had inflicted. However, whenever others confronted me about this subject, I immediately disputed their accusations in a defensive manner. I fabricated lies as a pretense for my visibly disordered habits, simply to preserve a false sense of control.

When I returned to St. Andrew's, my increased freedom allowed me to respond to these disordered thoughts without the supervision I had at home. In what seemed like a heartbeat, the health concerns that "I was told to be conscious of" had transformed into the symptoms my doctors had intimidated me into avoiding. My heartbeat reached dangerously low levels, my hair and nails fell off, my bones lost density, and I was constantly battling injuries because my body failed to function adequately. Apart from physical effects, my unsustainable lifestyle also strained my interpersonal relationships. My secrecy around exercise and eating distanced me from loved ones while encouraging me to resent those who intervened to try to stop my alarming regimens. Ultimately, the only method to alleviate my mental unrest was through engaging in compulsive habits. I understood relaxation and pleasure as entities earned by completely exhausting my body. However, as I continued to push my body's physical limits, the standard of an "adequate workout" grew to immoderate levels. At its most destructive stage, I ran over 100 miles a week, exercised 5-6 hours a day, and barely ate enough to sustain myself. Clearly, I was strong enough to push my depleted body through strenuous conditions, but I was too weak to ask for help.

One afternoon that spring, I was confronted by a faculty member whom I greatly respect. I anticipated a familiar exchange, in which someone attempted to level with me, explain the harmful consequences of my habits, and get me to grasp a sense of self-respect. Unfortunately, these endeavors never worked—because I stubbornly believed I was an exception to the biological law that all bodies are susceptible to burnout and overuse. 

To my surprise, this wasn't one of those conversations. Instead, I was warned that my involvement in the St. Andrew's athletics program and community was in jeopardy if I continued to engage in disordered behaviors. This decision was made with my personal well-being in mind, but also an awareness of the pernicious message my actions would project onto impressionable underclassmen. I was told my leadership would harm them by presenting an unrealistic definition of what it takes to be a successful athlete. And while my athletic contributions might be beneficial, it was not worth subjecting others to my dangerous mentality. 

Removing myself from a position of victimization and recognizing the harm I inadvertently caused put into perspective how much I had sacrificed to maintain an unsustainable lifestyle. Retrospectively, realizing how I was sanctioning behaviors of self-punishment and deprecation to younger people, is what propelled me to resolve my internal conflict. With the support of friendships founded upon loyalty, coaches who prioritized my health over my performance, and a brother who affectionately labeled my medical order to gain weight as a "bulking season", running transformed from a form of punishment into a source of empowerment. The relationships, opportunities, memories, and state championships I've accumulated after detaching from a problematic mindset all affirm that I made the right choice.

When Hutch asked me to give another chapel talk, I struggled to locate a topic invested with both personal significance and spirituality. To be completely transparent, I would not identify myself as the paradigm of a religious student at St. Andrew's. My affiliation with the student vestry stems from an appreciation for community outreach and a love for the people behind me. However, I am an example of someone who made a sequence of consequence-bearing mistakes and recovered herself from them. And from that experience, I developed a perspective I'd consider valuable for all stances on the religious or nonreligious spectrum.

I've learned we are entitled to rest, relaxation, and love, regardless of our productivity or accomplishments. Especially at St. Andrew's, it's easy to define our self-worth based on quantifiable factors, like numbers, grades, times, etc. However, building a relationship with God, oneself, or others based on a foundation of "works" holds dangerous implications. Because gratification, happiness, and love aren’t things to be earned, but things we are inherently empowered to experience.

After the events of this past year, I've received a lot of praise commending my dedication and effort. Yet, I can't avoid feeling a sense of guilt, knowing the destructive entity my discipline once manifested itself as. My old body is a testament to the indomitable nature of the human spirit and how far we can exert ourselves. To this day, how I endured so much physical exertion on such little sustenance remains an enigma I've yet to understand. That being said, the most formative practice of my running career was not forcing my body through 100-mile training weeks, adhering to restrictive diets, or eliminating forms of daily pleasure. It was, instead, permitting myself to enjoy life's pleasures unconditionally. I run the risk of sounding egotistical, but I think my current body testifies to how we can still achieve personal improvement through methodologies of balance, flexibility, and failure. 

My senior spring has been incredibly conducive to self-reflection, especially surrounding my moments of fault and misdirection. When I reflect on the version of myself standing here two years ago, I envision a conflicted girl, who subjected herself to unattainable standards and rigorous treatment, to locate external love that she didn't realize she was already entitled to. So for my second shot at a chapel talk, I hope to cultivate a sentiment towards productivity that addresses the continuity of God's love and self-love, even when we fall short. 

Jewish Affinity Group Hosts Myriad Events This Year

If you’re looking for a testament to the impact and transformative power of being a student in St. Andrew’s Jewish Affinity Group (JAG), sit down with senior co-leader Bridget Schutt ’23. (Or, if you want, just call up her grandmother.)
Schutt invited her nona, Carmen, and papu, Stephen, to campus in April to attend the school’s Passover Sedar meal. At one point, Schutt remembers, she looked over at her grandmother’s face during dinner.
“She was sitting there doing this cry-laugh thing,” Schutt says. “I was like, ‘What is happening?’ Later she told me, ‘I was laughing because I was thinking, ‘I’ve really seen it all now—look at all these Episcopalians celebrating Passover! And I was crying because for the first time, you are connected to me in a different way.’”
The daughter of a Jewish mother and Episcopalian father, Schutt admits she was never really determined to stand in the power of her Jewish identity. But when she arrived at St. Andrew’s (sister Ryann ’18 preceded her), things began to change.
“It wasn’t until I came to this school that I started becoming interested in navigating my Judaism,” she says.
Schutt remembers Activities Fair her freshman year. She arrived at the Jewish Affinity Group table and was greeted by a very enthusiastic—and very blonde—senior boy.
“He said, ‘Hi! I’m the co-head of this group. Are you Jewish?” Schutt recalls, laughing. “I answered, ‘Um … are you?’”
That’s kind of the beauty of JAG, Schutt reflects now. “I am only part Jewish, but that doesn’t matter—this is a way to gather students with any connection to Judaism.”
Schutt joined JAG; however, COVID-19 soon splintered the group in 2020, as it did all things. That’s why Schutt, along with senior co-leader Kyle Share ’23, made it her mission to turn JAG into a truly inclusive destination at SAS for students who identified as Jewish, with no consideration of “how Jewish.”
They were one puzzle-piece short, though: French teacher and VI Form Dean Dr. Max Shrem, who joined SAS in the fall of 2021.
“Dr. Shrem has been so instrumental in the change the Jewish Affinity Group has undergone,” Schutt says. “The amount of doors he opened for Kyle and myself as co-heads, and for the entire group, purely because of his passion and pride, his allyship, and his commitment to us and the entire school community, was the thing that made the biggest difference and that propelled all of our work over the last two years. I feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with him to cultivate a long-lasting space of love, belonging, and inclusion. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I feel my personal Jewish experience really began the same time as he got here.”
This year, St. Andrew’s played host to a series of programming that amplified Jewish perspectives and voices on campus.
In October, noted author and director of the Yale Journalism Initiative Dr. Mark Oppenheimer (who, inspired by our student body and their lack of digital distractions, wrote this after his visit) came to campus to speak about the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which was the site of a antisemetic terrorist attack in 2018 that left 11 dead and six wounded.

"His speech was really uplifting and powerful in terms of [speaking to] the power of community," Shrem notes. "The thing I thought was missing was that he had come to talk about one of the most horrific hate crimes in the United States, but he never used the word hate crime, and he never used the word antisemitism [in his talk]."

In February, filmmaker Amanda Kinsey (wife of Alex Kinsey ’99) gave a chapel talk that spoke to the importance of allyship with the Jewish community to fight antisemitism; students also screened her award-winning documentary Jews In The Wild West.
“This film really changes the whole narrative of what we think of as ‘the Wild West’ or even American history,” Shrem says. “It was a nuanced and critical look through the perspective of Jewish immigrants coming to this country in the 19th century.”
Also that month, in collaboration with Dean of Inclusion and Belonging Dr. Danica-Tisdale Fisher, St. Andrew’s hosted Ben Freeman, the groundbreaking author of Reclaiming our Story: The Pursuit of Jewish Pride, for a Q&A and book signing in Forbes Theater.
“Ben, who identifies as gay, really started this whole Jewish Pride movement in the past five years, against the rising tide of antisemitism,” Shrem says. “The Q&A with Ben was student-led and deeply empowering for students. I particularly remember noticing members of other affinity groups in attendance, and I think they, too, felt really seen and heard. Ben being gay and Jewish really spoke to the intersectionality of all the different identities we have on campus. The conversation ran the gamut from homophobia to politics to claiming your space to Israel.”
Zach Atalay ’23 was floored by Freeman’s visit. “The Q&A was amazing,” he says. “He was such a powerful, unfiltered speaker. I think [his words] were the wake-up call that a lot of people needed.”
Atalay asked Freeman to speak to rapper Kanye West’s antisemitic rhetoric, which made headlines last year.
“He responded that Kanye's actions were not justifiable under any guise, yet finished with something along the lines of, ‘But the saddest thing is that the next album he releases will skyrocket to No. 1 and everyone will forget about the whole thing,’” Atalay says. “Ben really hit hard that a lot of people shrug things like this off. Antisemitism is a seriously terrifying issue for the Jewish community, but it is often severely illegitimized.”
So powerful was the evening, Atalay says, that it should have been a required event. “Many Jewish Affinity events, especially those hosted on Friday nights, are not mandatory, which was the case with the Ben Freeman Q&A,” he says. “While it was awesome to see [non-members] show up, it was disheartening that the school didn’t make the event mandatory, particularly considering the things we discussed.”
After the Passover Sedar in April—of which Shrem says St. Andrew’s takes a very inclusive approach—the JAG wrapped up its programming with a trip to Philadelphia, where students shared a meal at K’Far, an Israeli bakery and cafe, before spending the day at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History. “The museum is such a gorgeous, interesting, and incredible space,” Shrem says. “We learned a lot about the first group of Jews who came to America fleeing religious persecution in Brazil.”
While Schutt says the day in Philadelphia was a wonderful capstone to her last year of JAG work, it wasn’t the wonderful food she’ll look back on, or the museum’s emotional storylines and artifacts.
“What will most stick with me is that this was a designated and intentional time and space for us to connect over our shared identity,” Schutt says. “If I can be transparent, I encountered some antisemetic notions as a student and Dr. Shrem helped me navigate that. But the large part of my experience here, and definitely with Jewish Affinity, has been carried by St. Andrew’s core values like respect, mutual support, love, and allyship.”
Adds Atalay, “Though I often don't entirely feel in my element in terms of the religious aspects of the school, St. Andrew's has an incredibly open and embracing community. The Jewish Affinity Group is often invited to host services and give talks to the entire school, and this really makes it feel like we have a prominent voice. People listen when we have things to say, and that is all we can ask for. On more personal level, just the idea of having an affinity group centered around our ethnic or religious background gives me an even safer space to fall back on whenever I feel I need to.”
As Schutt, Atalay, Share and other senior leadership prepares to leave, Schutt hopes the underformers stay the course to continue to give JAG life.
“I want people to just stay active, stay curious, stay committed,” she says. “Not only committed to furthering your own Jewish identity, but to remaining involved with the school community and remaining a part of creating that space of openness. I don’t want it to be forgotten.”
Schutt hopes JAG isn’t forgotten because it’s important, but also because her eyes have been opened to how what she and her fellow students do on campus reverberates in the world beyond.
“My grandparents couldn’t stop raving about the Seder and how well done it was, and how proud she was of me and all our activities on campus,” Schutt says. “Not only did I see how much it impacted her, I also realized how much deeper invested I am in knowing her story and her heritage. Sometimes it’s hard on campus amid all the chaos to take a step back and just see what’s going on, but I will never forget that perspective of how what we do goes out into the world.”

Lia Miller presents her presentation on Biotechnology during the Science Lecture on March 24th

In its fifth year, the McLean Science Lecture Competition continues to inspire students to boldly go down the rabbit hole and report on what they find.

Balancing the demands of academics, athletics, club meetings, and all the other miscellaneous responsibilities at boarding school can be a difficult load to carry for a teenager. It was one of the main concerns from colleagues when Science Department Chair Dr. Ashley Hyde first proposed a lecture competition that would require students researching topics outside of class.

“There was a big question if students were going to have the time and give the effort to do a big project like this,” says Hyde. “I just said, ‘Trust me, the students will blow you away if you let them run with it.’”

Five years later, the science lecture continues to blow people away. Hyde, who directs the project with the help of the entire science department, reviewed a number of topics this year from students that included the science behind faith, fusion energy, and its engineering, and technology and cognitive functions in adolescents. After hearing numerous auditions, the science faculty selected four finalists to present in front of the school on March 24. Those finalists and their topics were:

  • Lia Miller ’23 - Biotechnology and the Deep Ocean Genome
  • Zachary Macalintal ’24 - Oncolytic Virotherapy [OV]
  • Angela Osaigbovo ’24 - Bioremediation
  • Sarah Rose Odutola ’23 - Xenotransplantation

By virtue of their titles, these aren’t breezy subjects to present to peers, let alone engagingly discuss. Hyde likens the presentations to TED Talks: students not only have to master the scientific understanding of their subject, but also communicate the research in an engaging way. It’s no accident that this year’s winner, Odutola, has a background in musical theater.

“[Acting] helps you think outside the box,” says Odutola. “Reading the textbook is important, but there has to be an element of creativity to your thinking. You can’t just be formulaic with everything.”

Odutola’s inspiration for the project started while reading about blood and organ shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was stunned when she heard about xenotransplantation–the use of non-human animal parts (cells, tissues and organs) to replace human parts–and was equally amazed to find out it’s been going on since the 17th Century. In January 2022, surgeons at the University of Maryland School of Medicine performed the first transplant of a pig heart to a human. The surgery captured Odutola’s interest in the subject.

“My mother is a doctor, and I've always been in fun conversations about immunology and the future of transplants,” Odutola explains. “What I'm most excited about is I got an opportunity to share what I learned with my classmates. Then, I got really excited about how excited my classmates got about it.”

Like Odutola, the three other finalists were passionate about their topics. Macalintal researched OV because his brother, Austin, was diagnosed with cancer in 2017. He explains how using viruses to attack cancer cells is a valuable form of target therapy that helps other therapies work their magic. 

Osaigbovo’s topic also hit close to home–she grew up near both the polluted Hudson River and a Superfund site (an area plagued by hazardous materials) in New Jersey. Watching cloudy water stream out of her facet led to her interest in bioremediation and how microbes can be used to break down pollutants in different elements like air, groundwater, water, and soil. 

Miller’s interest in nature led her to an internship with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod last summer. One day, she found a research paper in the lab about deep ocean genomes that detailed the fragility and strength of life in high-pressure, under-resourced parts of the ocean. That passion led to extensive research outside the classroom. 

For the students presenting to the department in the hopes their lecture would be green-lit, free days and weekends were spent reading and watching videos to find relative material. Then, the fine-tuning aspects kicked in as the students prepared for their auditions. Science faculty were available to answer questions about particular material and give presentation tips, but the onus of communicating their research was solely on the students.

“It’s not only that they are passionate about science and understand it, it’s that communication piece, which is so important in science,” says Hyde. “How many times in a high school science class do you get to exercise that muscle? Not often. And it’s really important. The ability for scientists to explain complex ideas to the public is critical.”

Odutola’s topic is a bit unsettling, yet she started with humor. Her final presentation was titled “Xenotransplantation: Coming to a farm near you!” and she started with a trigger-warning slide, telling her audience the next picture “is not for the faint of heart, so close your eyes if you are squeamish." She then flashed a picture of surgeons performing open heart surgery on a patient. The audience gasped, and Odutola, recognizing the moment, chimed in with an “I told you so!”, which prompted laughter. With the crowd at ease, she let her natural stage presence take over. The presentation explained the importance of xenotransplantation in solving organ shortages, its history in medicine, how it works on a cellular level, and the moral and future implications of the research. Throughout the presentation, she interacted with the audience and offered comedic relief to the topic, ending the presentation about pig-to-human heart transplants with the Looney Tunes closing sequence from Porky Pig: “That all folks!”

“That combination of really mastering the material, the confidence of teaching her audience, and the ability to bring joy and fun into a topic that others might have found squeamish. … She made it so no one wanted to check out,” says Hyde.

Indeed, Odutola was approached by some classmates who were enthralled by her presentation and looking to learn more about it.

“That made me so happy,” says Odutola. “It made all the work I spent, all the hours I spent, more than worth it.”

After the competition, Hyde and the finalist celebrated and reflected at Playa Bowls. Hyde asked how much time each student spent on their projects, and was amazed at the answer: “We don’t know.” Turns out, to them, it didn’t feel like work at all.

“Giving them the time and freedom to go down rabbit holes, a lot of them will have a dead end; but the ones that don’t, they will surprise us,” says Hyde. “The most important thing is that they can surprise themselves. What all four finalists said was how much fun it was. They got that experience out of it and realized they could do this.”

“I really loved my science classes [at St. Andrew's],” says Odutola, who graduates this spring. “Learning about science has always been eye-opening since I was a little kid. You don't even think about something, and then you learn about it and it changes the way you see the entire world. That's what I love about science class.”

Watch the entire 2023 McLean Science Lecture Competition here.

Ema Appenteng stands in net during the 2021 DIAA Soccer State Championship game

Ema Appenteng’s soccer journey from Ghana to Middletown and beyond.

There’s an inherent irony in the notion that St. Andrew’s dazzling soccer goalie Emmanuel Appenteng ’23—the guy charged with keeping things out—made the decision to come to Middletown for one very specific reason: to let other people in.
Appenteng, who quietly goes about the business of being a high-caliber student-athlete at St. Andrew’s, is a product of the highly selective international soccer academy Right to Dream, which identifies and trains soccer stars in the making. Not only does it invest in its students on the pitch, the organization helps prepare its students for a life after soccer by providing pathways to high school education, college athletics, and, just maybe, the pros.
Warm, endearing, quick with a smile and equipped with a disposition that feels both wise and youthful at the same time, Appenteng’s the kind of guy who makes it a point to stop and make faculty and staff children feel seen and heard; the kind of guy who changes the feel of a room simply by stepping into it.
The two-time First Team All Conference selection (2021 and 2022) and Second Team All-State (2022) Appenteng hails from a small village in Accra, Ghana, and contends he was “playing soccer in the womb.” Right to Dream was so taken with an 11-year-old Appenteng that they recruited him for the program. “They train you, they make you go to school, but they also work on building your character,” he says.

Yes, Ema is a stud goalie - but when called upon, St. Andrew's would deploy him as a striker to terrorize back lines.

Becoming a Right to Dream kid is a pretty big deal. “Many Right to Dream kids play in college, some get drafted,” he says. “They scout from all over Ghana, so that is thousands and thousands of people.”
So big a deal, he admits sheepishly, that when he goes home to Ghana, he has to keep a low-profile so his friends and neighbors don’t mob him with questions about soccer and his life in America. It’s not yet at the point where he’s slinking around wearing a hat and sunglasses, but he tries to fly under the radar when his family travels around the country.
“It’s funny to me,” Appenteng says, laughing. “I have to hide myself a little bit.”
One thing he can’t hide? His sick acumen in net.
“Everyone in the state knows that it does not matter how great or poorly St. Andrew’s [soccer team] would play, you still had to get the ball past Ema Appenteng probably more than once in a game—and that was nearly impossible,” says Dean of Students and Head Soccer Coach Matt Carroll.
Appenteng was accepted at other schools with more robust, foundational soccer teams, yet he choose St. Andrew’s. Why? To open the door.
“I had friends telling me to go to school in Connecticut, where there is a higher level of play; I could have gone to school in Europe, but there has never been a Right to Dream student at St. Andrew’s,” he says. “There were places where I could step onto a field and everything was built for me. But if I said ‘no’ to St. Andrew’s, I’d be shutting the door for the next Right to Dream kid, maybe a kid from my own home. I had the opportunity to help build something here.”
“Ema’s greatest superpower is that he walks around here just like any other normal kid, but his journey and story is so vastly different than that of his classmates,” says Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Will Robinson ’97 P’26, who has been Appenteng’s advisor the past two years. “For all his talents, he's so incredibly humble. He's constantly working on his craft when no one's watching. Here’s a kid who hasn’t seen his family in about three years, but you’ll never hear him complain. He stays positive despite facing tremendous challenges."

Appenteng makes a spot in goal

Positive, happy and hopeful, still, in fact, as we talk through the worst-case scenario for a graduating senior with an athletic scholarship to play soccer at Ohio Wesleyan: a complete ACL tear.
In the third quarter of a lacrosse game in early April, Appenteng lost balance going for the ball, landed awkwardly, and heard that soft “pop” that athletes dread.
“I knew immediately,” he says. “I couldn’t get up. I was absolutely heartbroken.”
If such a thing is going to happen, Appenteng muses, at least it happened here, at St. Andrew’s, where his community has rallied around him.
“I have had so many people there for me,” he says. “My roommates, friends, coach, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, my Right to Dream friends and advisors, and of course my host family, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter and Billy [Hunter ’23], Emma [Hunter ’25], and Chris [Hunter ’26].”
Prior to the ACL tear, which has him carefully maneuvering St. Andrew’s campus on crutches as he awaits his April 21 surgery date, the soccer savant said he expected to arrive on Ohio’s campus and compete as a freshman for starting goalkeeper.
After? The record stands.
“I still think I will be able to prove that I can compete for starting goalkeeper,” Appenteng says. “Nothing changes.”
If you asked him what was worse—the ACL tear that will likely strip him of his first full year of college athletic play, or losing the state soccer championship his V Form year in 2021—it’d be a toss-up.
“When I decided to come to St. Andrew’s, I told [former Head of School] Mr. [Tad] Roach, ‘Sir, I am coming to St. Andrew’s, and don’t worry, we are going to win the state championship,’” Appenteng says. “That was my biggest ambition for my time here. Losing in the final … I will never stop wondering, ‘Should I have done something different?’ I was so distraught after that. Couldn’t think, couldn’t concentrate. It took a while to get past it.”
Appenteng, like his coach, contends that the SAS 2020 boys soccer team, which saw their season cancelled due to Covid-19, was a state-title lock. “We were stacked with an unbelievable blend of toughness, skill, and experience that year,” Carroll says. “Yet it was Ema’s V Form year where the boys came together and enjoyed a remarkable run. Had Ema not performed like he did that season, we would have never made the finals. Every game during that postseason run, as well as the majority of games he’s played in, Ema prevented a goal due to a tremendous save or clearance. He only knows one speed: 100 percent.”
Ike Lawrence ’23 knows a thing or two about that 100 percent. Appenteng and Lawrence play the coveted role of hype-man to each other. “We really bonded over our love of soccer,” says Lawrence. Fast friends, Appenteng spent a few weeks with Lawrence’s family in Baltimore the summer before their V Form year.
“We spent those weeks getting in shape for preseason,” Lawrence says. “Sometimes I’d have trouble getting going in the morning, and Ema would be knocking on my door, like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go!’ He really pushed me to be a better athlete, but also a better person.”
He didn’t just push Lawrence—Appenteng pushed the whole team. “Ema does a lot of … ‘yelling’ we’ll say,” Lawrence says, laughing. “He’s really vocal. He outworks everybody, and his level of leadership over the past few years has unlocked a bond on our team that’s not like anything else.”
Lawrence, himself committed to college athletics—he’ll row at Dartmouth next year—says he’s been impressed with how Appenteng has handled his injury.
“It breaks my heart,” Lawrence says. “He’s such a compassionate, thoughtful person. It feels so unfair he’s been dealt this card, but I’ve seen his work ethic when he gets in the zone, and playing in college is the ultimate zone for him right now.”

Ema Appenteng and Ike Lawrence pose together on Signing Day.

As for his scholarship, it's safe and sound. “What Ohio has said is, ‘Injuries happen, and we know you will come back even stronger than before—we are so committed to you, and excited to have you join us,’” Appenteng says.
Appenteng is a few months removed from doing, yet again, what he has continued to do: step into a new world without the safety net of his family close by.
Coming to St. Andrew’s from Accra was a shock for Appenteng. “In Ghana, it’s very hard, economically,” he says. “People must work very, very hard. The culture there is very different from here.”
So different, in fact, it took Appenteng a while to get used to the St. Andrew’s drive-by smile.
“People just walk by you and say, ‘Hi! How are you?’ and smile,” he says. “That is so cool. St. Andrew’s was scary at first, to come so far to a place where not only did I not know anyone, but also, Right to Dream didn’t have a relationship here, either. I'm the first person in my extended family to ever travel outside of our country. But once I got the opportunity, you just feel like, ‘I'm going to do something great.’ And in the future, I will help my parents.”
It was in those early scary times that people just started showing up for Appenteng; four years later, they haven’t left, and likely never will. “I get a lot of invitations,” he says, laughing.
His loss will be felt on the pitch, says Carroll. “Simply watching him play the game with pure joy and skill is something that I’ll miss dearly,” he says. “When we would have shooting drills, I would tell the boys that in four minutes we need to score six goals or else we would run. Ema would give me a look, like, ‘Coach, are you kidding me? You think they will score on me?’ As you can imagine, the boys would often have to run. We’ll miss his energy, enthusiasm, huge smile, infectious personality, love of life, his leadership, and the belief that we could win any game because Ema was in net.”
What will Appenteng miss about St. Andrew’s? “Everything and everyone,” he says. “The things I’ll take with me are the importance of building relationships, of being nice, of taking time to do the little things like simply say ‘Hello.’ The school is such a part of me now, and will be forever.”

Will Robinson's advisory gets together on a Sunday for a fun day!

To that end, he hopes to stay engaged with his squad by aiding in recruiting other Right to Dream kids to come to St. Andrew’s.
Injury or no injury, Appenteng isn’t banking everything on soccer. It tracks that the guy who took a wild chance on St. Andrew’s just to open the door for the person behind him, an athlete who came to a team with the mindset to build something, hopes to become an architect.
“I have to come to the reality about me being the height I am. For modern goalkeepers [who play professionally], they look for height, especially in the US,” he says. “I’m not putting everything on soccer. I want to go to Ohio, I want to compete and make a difference for my team, and I want to get the education I need to fulfill my ultimate ambition to be an architect.”
Like so many who know him, Robinson is grappling with Appenteng’s impending departure.
“I am so proud of this kid,” he says. “The growth I’ve seen in him over his time here, and the challenges he’s faced … he’s figuring it all out. He’s just a few years removed from being fully wings-spread, and this place believed in him. More importantly, he believed in it. Here’s somebody who came here and didn’t waste a single minute. That’s why we’re here, for kids like Ema. Kids who make the most of their time here, and go out into the world and make it a better place—that’s what he’s going to do.”

Work Hard for Balance

Elli Baker ’25 gave this chapel talk on the impact alcohol has had on her life and her family’s life

Elli Baker ’25 gave this chapel talk on the impact alcohol has had on her life and her family’s life.


June 5, 2020

Rhaki Lum ’25 shares the story of the 24 hours that has dramatically impacted every day since then.

Rhaki Lum ’25 shares the story of the 24 hours that has dramatically impacted every day since then.


Practice Makes Purpose

One of my mantras at the school is to remind us that we are all works in progress, practicing. Practice takes so many forms here: homework is practice, class discussion is practice, dorm life is practice; we go to theater practice, sports practice, choir practice, and orchestra practice. We practice kindness, humility, service, and love. Every day is an opportunity to improve in these areas with the certain knowledge that we never will be perfect in any of them. Practice does not, and cannot, make perfect—but it does and can make a life of meaning and purpose.

Nowhere is our obsession with practice more evident than in our religious and spiritual life. As an Episcopal school, we observe the Christian liturgical year. We begin the year in Ordinary Time, the linens in the chapel all green; they are changed to white for the feasts at Christmas and Easter and are purple for Lent. As these colors change, we cycle through the lectionary each year, following the lessons and the gospels, hearing something new within the stories many of us have heard countless times. 

This moment in the year, this time of spring and change—where here in Delaware our campus bursts back to life with explosions of greenery, flowers, and birdsong—is the time in that annual cycle of spiritual practice that may mean the most. What is within us, what surrounds us, and what occurs in our religious practice all seem to align. We observed Passover with a seder in the Dining Hall for our Wednesday chapel service, students have been observing Ramadan and Lent with fasting and reflection, and of course, we have just completed the Christian Holy Week. Today we celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of love and colors that marks the arrival of spring, with a chapel service in the morning hosted by the South Asian Affinity Group, and next week, with a color-toss on the Front Lawn. Many of these holy times begin with periods of sacrifice and self-reflection and self-examination, and they conclude with celebrations of family and community and the joy of renewal and rebirth. 

Some may find the repetition and structure of these practices confining, but I find it differently. The routine, the scaffolding, provided by our religious observance—whatever our faith may be—or for that matter by our syllabus, our daily schedule, or the routines associated with our sports at St. Andrew’s—this scaffolding provides us the structures within which we progress and ultimately flourish as human beings. What we practice in our faith will ultimately be reflected in our lives: growth, renewal, resurrection. After all, what is practice for but to teach us that when we fall or fail, we get up and try again? What is practice for but to learn to take that next step, to do that next thing, successfully?

The opportunity to reset and renew our spiritual lives each year is a blessing we share with each other on this campus, whether we are people of faith or people with no formal religious affiliation. We are all human, and we therefore all flourish when we are able to find happiness—and yes, holiness—within our very human imperfections, limitations that we push and stretch through practice to accommodate our growing and better selves, which we then share with the world. 

Are the shrieks of joy, the shouts of friendship, the peals of laughter, and the racket of games rolling across the Front Lawn each evening after dinner evidence of my thesis? They are certainly evidence of the beauty and flourishing of your children—their capacity for love, their boundless energy, and their desire to invest in each other—within the structure and practice of our days at school. Perhaps I was wrong, and practice does make perfect after all. 

Rekindling the Spirit: UNITED and Hooper Conference Make Space for Connection and Conversation

Like all close-knit communities, St. Andrew’s has its share of language and catchphrases specific to its people and its culture. If you hang out long enough on campus, you’re likely to hear a school favorite: “hold space.” To “hold space” can mean a great many things; to our students, it mostly means to be consciously empathetic to another person’s journey, particularly when that journey might be starkly different than our own, and to truly listen and not only consider someone else’s voice, but find ways in which we can lend ours to it.

From March 29 through April 1, 2023, St. Andrew’s took the time to hold space with two back-to-back events, UNITED and the Thomas Hooper III ’71 Conference on Equity & Justice. The events sought to foster connections between current students, parents, alumni, and faculty of color; tell transparent stories; amplify marginalized voices; and enhance education and awareness about diversity and inclusion initiatives.


UNITED, a St. Andrew’s event originally launched in 2015, was revived this year, thanks to the efforts of Dean of Inclusion and Belonging Dr. Danica Tisdale-Fisher. “The point of UNITED is to provide a safe space for family, students, and alumni of color,” Tisdale-Fisher told the crowd at the UNITED dinner on Thursday, March 30. “It’s time for us to rekindle an essential event like this, in which we tell and hear stories that only further connect our community.”

UNITED 2023 officially kicked off the evening before, at Wednesday chapel, which featured a talk by alumnae Dr. Ali Antoine ’11, who spoke about her journey as a Black woman in medicine and her path to eventual self-acceptance. 

A current OBGYN resident in New York, Antoine shared a vulnerable self-reflection in the form of a patient history about herself.

"Chief complaint: fear," said Antoine. "AA is a 26-year-old female with a history of insecurity, beauty, personal loss, personal triumph, who presented to the Icahn School of Medicine with a life-long fear of inadequacy."

Raised by a single Haitian mother battling MS, Antoine's family was plagued by a bout of homelessness and the horrific earthquake in Haiti in 2010. After her mother's passing in 2016, she applied to medical school "despite being certain she wouldn't get in."

Antoine shared her complex relationship with resilience. Overcoming the obstacles of medical school and graduating with honors led to the trials and tribulations of residency. So she put her head down and worked harder, which resulted in a panic attack.

"What I've learned is that the goal isn't to be resilient," said Antoine. "The goal is to invest in me and my happiness, and the resilience and strength will naturally arrive.”

Her parting message was that happiness is an act of choice. "Of course, sometimes it will be more difficult than others. We all experience so many emotions on a minute-to-minute basis, and I don't mean to undermine those emotions, but I want you to make those choices that increase your baseline level of happiness every day."

The next evening, the Warner Gallery hosted an intimate UNITED dinner that included alumni, parents, students, and faculty of color. Multiple faculty leaders of student affinity groups, including Dr. Phillip Walsh, Neemu Reddy, and Stacey Duprey ’85, gave testimony to what it’s like to helm these affinity groups—smaller communities made up of students connected by a salient social identity—at St. Andrew’s. Walsh noted he was more emboldened to “tell his own story” about his mixed-race heritage thanks to the spirited SAS students in the Mixed Race Affinity Group. Reddy, who works with the Southeast Asian Student Group, tearfully recounted the first time two students of South Asian descent singled her out on campus to say, “You look like me.” And Duprey, who has worked with affinity groups for women of color in various iterations over the years, said those relationships have been one of the greatest joys of her tenure at St. Andrew’s. “Being able to watch these young women find their voices and bloom … I feel like I’m a farmer, and I get to plant these seeds and watch them grow,” she said. “It’s incredible to witness.”

Student performers dazzled throughout the dinner hour. Sarah Rose Odutola ’23 kicked the evening off with a beautiful reflection on her identity, story, and culture; Kaden Murrell ’26 and Shawn Li ’24 brought the fire with spoken-word poetry that chronicled their narratives; Daisy Wang ’25 and faculty member Angelica Huang-Murphy teamed up to offer a classical musical selection; and the newly formed Saints Steppers—Masai Matale ’23, Shania Adams ’23, Tamia Ferguson ’24, Madison Rodriguez ’26, Gloria Oladejo ’25, Jayda Badoo ’25, and Ashley McIntosh ’25—transformed the room with their boldness, message, and spirit.

Following the dinner was a frank conversation about St. Andrew’s and identity. An alumni panel of Rob Thomas ’84, Kellie Doucette ’88, Ari Ellis ’89, Jessica Woolford ’08, and Ann “Barbara” Satine ’12 fielded intelligent, intimate questions from student moderators Zach Macalintal ’24, Heidi Forbes ’23, and Juelz Clark ’25. About 50 students gathered in Engelhard Hall to take part in the conversation. Each panelist offered thoughtful and transparent answers; most echoed sentiments of not feeling like they had a space to call their own on campus, and if it weren’t for the communities they formed with other students of color, they might not have made it through the first year.

There were moments of levity, like when Woolford, a “proud Dominicana” and Bronx native, told the crowd she was “really confused” when she arrived on the scene of St. Andrew’s traditional Square Dance. “Do y’all still do that?” she asked the crowd. “I had no idea what was happening.”

There were moments of pain, too, like when a choked-up Thomas relayed returning to his room one evening after dinner to find race-based profanity etched into his furniture. “I didn’t feel safe,” he said. “I didn’t feel loved. How was I supposed to navigate that as a kid? Luckily, I was blessed to have others near who saved me.”

While such truths were hard to talk through, Woolford and Satine both noted how wonderful it was to look out into the crowd of the students of today and see so much diversity. “I used to have to count to find people who looked like me, that’s how low the number was,” Satine said. “Looking out at you all, I am so happy to see that you have each other.” Woolford’s similar observation drew snaps from the crowd: “Look at all these melanated people!”

The last words of the night galvanized the students present: “Don’t just open the doors for the kids that come behind you, kick them down,” Woolford advised. “It’s not only what we do, it’s what we have to do.”


Thomas Hooper ’71 broke barriers at St. Andrew’s. Hooper, who passed in 2020, was the school’s first Black president; later, so committed to the cause of St. Andrew’s, he became the first Black trustee and trustee emeritus. Hooper’s relationship with St. Andrew’s was steadfast as he worked to recruit and develop students to be the next generation of compassionate leaders and advocates for diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice.

Thanks to Hooper’s pioneering spirit, his compassion, and his deep commitment to equity and justice, St. Andrew’s annual on-campus student-led equity conference is now known as the Hooper Conference.

Hooper’s granddaughter, Lauren Hooper Rogers, a successful performer and vocalist, opened the conference Friday, March 31 with a chapel talk in which she reflected on her father. Rogers noted she had three homes: Winston-Salem, where she was born; New Jersey, where she was raised; and St. Andrew’s.

“He poured into this place,” said Rogers. “This was his home, and it is mine, too.”

She noted all the things she took from her father, like the “ability to move forward with grace, with passion and understanding—that I got from him. And the hugs. My dad knew how to hug somebody.”

From her father, she said she also learned what was most important in life. “Life, for him, was about those things that feed your soul,” she told students. “Money was not my father’s priority for his time on earth. It was the work, the mission, and the people he surrounded himself with.”

The thesis statement for Roger’s talk was simple: love.

“If there’s any message I can take from my father to share with you all, it’s that love gets passed down from one generation to the next and to the next in ways that you understand and are aware of, and in ways that you aren’t,” she said. “Many of you have never once met my father. Yet his ideals, his passions, and his touch on the school reverberates through St. Andrew’s in ways that you might not ever know. But the love is there. The space he held is there. All of us has the opportunity to love another, to hold space for one another, even for those who we find it hard to love just yet. These are the lessons we should pass on.”

On Friday evening, the whole school gathered to make space for a conversation rooted in the intersection of mass incarceration, race, injustice, and the transformative power of education.

Students, faculty, and staff gathered in Engelhard Hall for a viewing of the first hour of College Behind Bars, a deeply human docuseries that chronicles the lives of men and women in prison for serious crimes as they struggle to earn college degrees while incarcerated via the Bard College Prison Initiative. The viewing was immediately followed by breakout sessions for all students to share their ideas and talk through the intersectionality that the documentary presented.

Students in one such group, co-moderated by Miguel Borja ’23 and Nick Osbourne ’23, were fixated on two specific points: One, echoed by each student in the session, is that the key to reform and change in terms of America’s rate of incarceration starts with equitable public education. The second—and much more divisive point—was the question of education as a human right, or a citizen’s right.

On Saturday, April 1, students then attended a panel discussion of College Behind Bars with two of the former inmates whose stories were featured in the docuseries: Tamika Graham and Giovannie Hernandez, both who now work in social justice. The two shared the stage with SAS student moderators Ashley McIntosh ’25, Miguel Borja ’23, Heidi Forbes ’23, Zach Macalintal ’24, and Ethan Williams ’26. Graham and Hernandez spoke on what they feel are the two most pressing, systemic issues facing the formerly incarcerated: housing and mental health initiatives.

Graham noted it was nearly impossible to get housing as a former inmate, even for someone like her, a U.S. Army Veteran. Hernandez recalled feeling “paralyzed” simply trying to cross a street after being released. “This is something I haven’t done in 12 years,” he told the crowd. “And I didn’t know how to work through it.” The panelists touched on many things—how they felt they were portrayed on screen; the divisive national narrative on prison reform; the difficulty of securing a job; rebuilding a presence in their communities. The overreaching theme, though, was how education empowers.

“I gained scholarly eyes,” Graham told an engaged student body. “Not only did I learn for the first time how smart I actually was, I saw the world with different eyes. Getting your college degree in prison is not for the weak. You have these people out here wishing you ill will; you’re trying to study and write a paper and you have to wonder if you’re going to come up on a razor, or a guard who’s mad because she thinks she’s smarter than you. I had to put up a wall around myself because this was too important.”

“The most profound impact for me was I saw all the missing pieces,” Hernandez said. “I never saw the art, the history, the physics, the language; having an education gave me power and control over my life, and over my emotions. I was behind bars, but I was free.”

Before the students dispersed to a meet and greet with the panelists, one student stood up asked the essential St. Andrew’s question: “What can we do?”

“Vote,” Graham said. “Have conversations. But the most important thing is to stay here, where you are, and get this education. You gotta change yourself before you can change the world.”

Ali Antoine’s Medical Chart, Then and Now

Alumnae Ali Antoine ’11 returned to St. Andrew’s to speak at Wednesday chapel on the opening night of this year’s UNITED event. She spoke about her journey from med student to resident, from self-doubt to self-acceptance. 


The Independent Approach to the Senior Exhibition

In the early afternoon light, Trinity Smith ’23 stands cross-legged against the hallway wall in Founders. She taps her No. 2 pencil against the back of her hand and peeks into Mrs. Reddy’s classroom a few times, waiting for her turn to enter. In a few minutes, Smith will embark on her capstone English assignment as a St. Andrew’s student: the senior exhibition.

“It’s a big deal,” says Smith. “I’ve seen students walk out of their exhibition and start dancing on the Dining Hall tables.”

Although it has evolved many times since its inception in the early 1990s, the senior exhibition has always consisted of a student meeting with English faculty members to discuss an eight- to ten-page analytical paper on a text they write independently over the course of the winter of their senior year. The goal of these discussions is to give students the opportunity to self-evaluate and re-evaluate their writing process and thesis.

“Somebody described it to me as the difference between practice and game day,” explains English faculty member and alum Will Porter ’96. “An exhibition is a game day for papers. It raises the stakes of a regular paper in a great way.”

Porter is one of those rare people to experience an exhibition as both a student and a teacher. As a student, he remembers sitting across from the entire English department at a large, round table, fielding a variety of questions about his paper on The Brothers Karamazov, an 800-page, drama and theology-filled mammoth of a Russian novel.

“It was pretty intimidating,” says Porter.

Smith feels similarly as she enters the classroom. Opposite her are Neemu Reddy, the English Department’s chair, and Dr. Martha Pitts, her teacher. She’s still fidgeting with her pencil when Pitts opens the exhibition by expressing how grateful she is to have taught Smith. Reddy, who taught Smith freshman year, quickly follows suit by complimenting the confidence and conviction in Smith’s writing. Suddenly, Smith is smiling and laughing, free of any tension she entered with.

“All they know is that it’s the biggest moment for them,” says Reddy. “We, as the classroom teachers, take the opportunity to tell the student everything we appreciate about what they’ve given to the classroom and the school during their time here. We speak to specific moments or examples of their lovely scholarship and it’s really special.”

Every member of the English Department sits in on exhibitions, but it’s especially rewarding for Reddy. In addition to her duties as department chair, Reddy teaches freshman English. From laying the groundwork to helping her colleagues implement the curriculum, Reddy has a wide perspective on the full English experience at St. Andrew’s.

“From freshman year to junior year, we’ve taught students how to read a book, build an argument, write their argument, refine it, discuss it, and then go back and revise it,” says Reddy. “By senior year, they're doing that intensive work in the first half with Toni Morrison's Beloved, a really difficult book. In many moments during that first half, teachers start to loosen the reins. The students are continuing to do oral exhibitions, and they're really investigating the work independently.

“The senior exhibition is the final, overarching project. We are saying to students, ‘We've shown you all the moves. We've taught you how to read a book. Now, try to do it yourself.’”

The project starts with students selecting a book from an array of texts curated by the department. After reading it and formulating topics they’d like to write about, students meet with teachers to refine the central question their papers will argue. Students write a first draft, review it with their teacher, and then submit their final paper. After that, they await their oral exhibition. 

“They are showing up with their own agenda and their own plan for this,” Reddy explains. “If they haven't seen what's missing in their paper, then we are there to ask questions.”

Typically, as St. Andrew’s English classes progress through books, teachers facilitate round-table discussions where students interpret passages and offer ideas. The big change for this final paper is the absence of class discussion. Suddenly, students are forced to develop and articulate their own ideas without communal feedback. 

“Figuring out what I wanted to say was actually really hard because unlike past classes, I had to interpret everything on my own,” says Smith. “I never had discussion-based classes before I arrived at St. Andrew’s, but I really loved it. It didn’t feel like an English class sometimes; it just felt like you were talking about a book.”

This summer, the department revamped the project with the idea of having students read the texts multiple times. As a result, they chose five novellas, ranging from James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room to Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams.

Smith chose Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, a novella based in the 1920s that chronicles the life of Helga Crane, a mixed-raced woman who struggles to find her identity while moving from the Deep South to Harlem and eventually to Copenhagen. Smith’s paper, “A Lifestyle Driven by Nonconformity to Societal Expectations,” argues that Crane’s nonconformity to societal constraints derived from gender expectations ultimately led her to submit to those burdens that Black women often face alone. 

“On a big project like this, where you're doing everything by yourself, it can be daunting,” says Smith. “You are unsure if you're interpreting a passage correctly.”

Her writing, however, is assured. She explores the symbolism of Crane’s stylish fashion, the patronizing messages from men in power, her objectifying experience living as a Black woman in Copenhagen, her failed search for love, and her submission to motherhood. It’s a forceful paper that wrestles with a book whose themes extend beyond its time.

“I think that the list of books we have is really extraordinary,” Porter says. “They are real gems with a wide range of topics and voices.”

Porter has methodically sculled the project forward over the last 13 years. He’s helped change and tweak it with the idea of scholarship in mind. He spearheaded the transition to novellas; the genre's shorter page counts allows for a deeper investment in the material on multiple readings–a far different approach from his days as a student when he had to make sense of 800 pages. This year, most of Porter’s students were able to read their book twice, which he says made a big difference in the drafting process, which was crucial for Smith.

“After I got Dr. Pitts' comments on my rough draft, I was really able to pull it together,” says Smith. “I have a habit of over-complicating things and Dr. Pitts' main comment on my rough draft was ‘go smaller and be more specific.’ I ended up cutting so many passages, but I was able to write a really good paper as a result.”

Smith’s copy of Quicksand brims with notes, underlined phrases, and starred passages. Smith opens the exhibition by talking about Crane’s parents–a white Danish mother and an absent Black West Indian father–and how she reclaimed some individual autonomy in Copenhagen. Smith wanted to write about this, but was unable to fit it in her paper, she explains. Reddy and Pitts listen attentively, and Pitts comments on Smith’s excellent analysis of the male presence in her paper. Then, graciously, she asks Smith to consider what female characters might have been models for Crane. Like a scholarly reader, Smith offers her thoughts and dives straight into the text for supporting evidence.

The conversation ebbs and flows with Pitts and Reddy gracefully landing Smith at pivotal parts of the text while asking open-ended questions. Smith offers a few more of her ideas that didn’t make it into her paper but were scribbled in the margins. They discuss Crane denying parts of her mixed-race identity in different environments, her desires in relation to her reality, and who is really to blame for Crane’s situation at the end of the book. It becomes apparent they are enjoying themselves.

“We were talking very professionally about my work,” says Smith, “but it felt accessible and easy to talk about my ideas casually. When I was confused, I felt like I could be honest.”

“The goal with these exhibitions,” says Reddy, “is that you're never done writing. There's always another draft that can be done. So after submitting it, now we're going to revise it and rethink it.”

“Pretty much every exhibition, if everybody's really bought in, yields a breakthrough,” says Porter. “That's such an incredible experience. That's why we love teaching.”

Smith’s exhibition doesn’t end poetically; rather, someone notices they’ve conversed well past the allotted time. No one is ready for it to end. There are more ideas to discuss, more scenes to unpack, more connections to be made. Really though, they just want to spend more time together.

“Having both of them there, together, was surreal,” says Smith. “It felt so good having two people who have seen my trajectory and journey from where I started and then where I'm ending. I built pretty meaningful relationships with them over my four years. To be there, talking about this culmination of what I've learned at the end of my senior year, it felt really reassuring and made me feel like I can handle college.”

The Room Where It Happens

Five St. Andrew’s girl wrestlers help lead the charge for change in Delaware

Ask any athlete why they suit up and they’re likely to tell you, “To win, duh.” Sure, there’s the camaraderie in athletics, the personal growth, the lessons learned, the friendships, the character-building, but man, the winning. It just feels so darn good.

But there is a group of five young women athletes on this campus who willingly—happily, even—show up, more often than not, to lose.

Not because they’re not good. Not because they’re not all in. Not because they lack tenacity, grit, or mental and physical strength. Not because they don’t each possess the strong staccato heartbeat of an inspired athlete who wants to win, who fights to win.

Rather, they’re female athletes who’ve crossed the threshold into the majority-male world of wrestling at St. Andrew’s. Unless they find themselves at a women’s tournament (where, by the way, they dominate), the competition they encounter on the mat more often than not does not provide for an even playing field.

“Ninety percent of the time, we’re wrestling guys because there is a dearth of women wrestlers in this state,” says Seoyoon Kwon ’23, the defacto leader of the “Fab Five.” “So 90 percent of the time, we’re expected to lose.”

So why do the Fab Five—Kwon, Rylie Reid ’24, Mary Troy ’24, Juliet Klecan ’25 and Grace King ’25—keep coming back?

“Because we have the opportunity to grow this sport for the girls here who come next,” Kwon says. “We’re a part of this big moment right now: organizations like Wrestle Like a Girl are doing good work; D1 women’s wrestling is growing, and it trickles down to high school programs. The hope is soon, Delaware will have fully sanctioned girls’ teams—we get to be a part of that growth. Plus, the only shameful thing about wrestling is giving up. Not getting pinned, not losing—those things don’t matter. Giving up on the mat matters.”

Chatting with the Fab Five is akin to being invited to a really warm, funny, therapeutic hang with old pals. This particular hang was powered by a robust assortment of takeout food post-wrestling practice. Conversation shifts from classes to friends to inside jokes, but it always comes back to “the room”—that is, the wrestling room in the ground floor of the Cameron Gymnasium. The tight fivesome uses the phrase “the room” with much reverence because, according to them, the four walls that house their mats demand such respect.

Their chemistry around the dinner table is palpable, although, as Troy notes, “We’re such a random group of girls. Like everyone at St. Andrew’s, we knew each other, but I don’t think this group would have formed outside of wrestling.”

The group is anchored by Kwon, the only one of the five who had a year of wrestling experience under her belt before going into this school year.

According to her, the room is a place so sacred and intimidating (at first) that it took her three days to get up the nerve to finally walk in in 2021.
“The first Monday that winter sports started, I came to the room, saw all the guys, left and ran three laps to try to work up the nerve to come in,” she says. “Tuesday, I did the same. Wednesday, I did the same three laps, but went in after. And it was completely fine. It's an incredible environment. Once you do that first practice, you know if wrestling is for you.”
Before wrestling, Reid says she wasn’t “sporty.” “I am not an athletic-associated person,” she says, laughing. But when wrestling captain Nick Osborune ’23 overheard Reid deliberating over picking a winter sport, he told her she should wrestle.
“I said, ‘Okay, no.’ And Nick said, ‘Fine, be a wuss about it,’” Reid remembers. “At that point, it became a challenge, so I thought, ‘Let me see what it’s about.’”
“Philly D,” as the girls call head wrestling coach Phil Davis, told Reid she could take a week to decide if wrestling was for her. ““A low-stakes, free trial,” Reid says. “The first week I was like, am I really this out of shape? This is crazy.”
At one point, though, Reid paused, looked around and saw four other girls who were clawing away. “I’m in pain, they’re in pain; we’re working, grunting, sweating … I knew then I couldn’t leave.”
Klecan came to wrestling because she likes to depend on herself. “The individual aspect is what does it for me,” she says. “The first day, I was like, hold on, I can't do 15 pushups. But then I came back the next day and everybody was still there, I was like, okay, this time maybe I'll get two [on-toes] pushups in.” Now she cranks out her 15 and then some. “The build-up to that full encompassing feeling of ‘I belong here’ was like nothing else,” she says.
King, a new sophomore this year, needed a winter sport. She knew Kwon and her love for wrestling. There’s also this about the impish King, which nudged her toward the room: “I like doing things that people wouldn’t expect me to do,” she says. “I knew I loved wrestling almost immediately because there's just something about the environment of the room, the community and support—it was the first time I’d felt that since I came to St. Andrew’s.”
Troy puts it most succinctly: “What made me stay was the room, period,” she says. “They say in crew that the best feeling is when you sync up with your boat and you're flying. But when you're in the wrestling room and you have people screaming at you to try harder and you're going, ‘I don't think I can try harder,’ but you look around and everyone is trying just as hard? How dare I give up on this team? This is my St. Andrew’s family more than anything else.”
“When these girls started, they didn’t know the difference between a wrestling mat and a bathmat,” says head coach Phil Davis. “That’s what’s so cool about the Fab Five. They came to this sport with nothing but guts and grit. Seoyoon had a year of wrestling, but the other four, when they first walked into the room, they were starting from scratch.”
To Davis’ knowledge, there were four other girl wrestlers in the program before the Fab Five formed; notably, Amanda Sin '16 was the last girl in the room before Kwon helped usher in the new class. 
“This is historically a male-dominated sport,” Davis says. “Unfortunately for girls in wrestling who wrestle predominantly against boys, there's a greater chance of an injury because biologically speaking, men have the advantage. And no guy wants to lose to a girl on the mat. There’s no chivalry or politeness.”
During this year’s wrestling season, in which the team posted a 1-6 record, the Fab Five attended two all-girl tourneys, The Queen of the Jungle in Maryland and the Smyrna Girls Wrestling Tournament in Delaware. In both tourneys, every eligible girl podiumed: Kwon posted two second-place finishes; Klecan picked up a second and third place; King walked away with a first-place finish in Smyrna and third at Queen; Troy notched a third and a fourth; and Reid, who was injured for Smyrna, won fourth at Queen. Team-wise, the SAS girls placed sixth out of 18 at Queen and first at Smyrna.
“When you know you're about to wrestle a guy, you want to wrestle a girl,” says King. “But when you're wrestling a girl, you actually get even ten times more nervous because it's like this is my chance to prove myself. I’ve faced the four-year male wrestler that will be ranked No. 4 in the state; it doesn’t feel the same when it’s your time to finally have a one-on-one fair fight.”
Davis hopes to see much more fight from King and the others next season, even though, unless no new girls come out, it’ll be the Fab Four after Kwon graduates.
“Seoyoon is the ember that started this forest fire that has just taken over our room,” Davis says. “After her first season, she sought further instruction after the winter,  came back and made a statement, and recruited. Some of my guys … I think they were a little jealous. She put in the extra work, she got really good, and now they’re having to play catch up. As a community, we should be pouring gas on this fire, this passion that these girls have, because it's only going to fuel their self-confidence as educated, independent and strong women.”
There’s more to the story here than five gritty girls who walked into a room and stayed: little St. Andrew’s has become a leader in the state for girls wrestling. Recently, at the state tournament in which co-captain Osbourne won a seventh-place finish in his 165-pound weight class and represented the first Saint to stand on the state wrestling podium since 2009, Davis found himself a bit of a celebrity. But not because of Osbourne’s good work.
“All I kept hearing was, ‘What about them girls you got there, coach? Tell me more about them,’” Davis says, laughing. “Nick was like, ‘Coach, I don’t even think they know I wrestled.’”
Of 64 girl wrestlers in the state, St. Andrew’s is second only to powerhouse Smyrna High School when it comes to the number of girls on its team—Smyrna has eight.
“That’s saying something about this program,” says Davis, who hopes that when girls wrestling goes in front of the DIAA board this year, that it will be sanctioned and thus become a varsity sport in the state.
Osbourne is saying something, too. (Actually, Osbourne is saying a lot.)
“I can’t tell you how often I brag about the Fab Five,” he says. When he found himself in the spotlight being interviewed at the state tournament in March, he made that moment about the girls. “As corny as it is, as their captain, I needed them to know I see them, I appreciate them, and if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have been on that podium,” he says. “That wasn’t just about me. We are a family before we’re a team. And those five girls have more heart and drive in them than anyone I’ve ever seen on this campus. The disadvantages they face are enormous, yet they keep fighting.”
Osbourne appreciates the way Troy and King pop up off the mat with a smile after a pin and say, ‘Again;’ how Klecan is “scarier than most guys;” how dedicated Kwon is; and the rebirth he saw in Reid after her first win. “She had this confidence I never saw before,” he says.
(Reid’s reaction to that same victory: “Oh, it was a glorious moment. I was so beat up,” she says. “There is no other feeling like having your hand raised in the air.”)
Osbourne thinks the SAS girls have the potential to move the needle in Delaware. “These huge schools with hundreds and hundreds of kids can’t pull one girl on their team, and we have five,” he says. “That should be celebrated and emulated.”
Davis concedes that wrestling has a bad rep in certain circles. “It’s toxic, wrestlers and their fans are Neanderthals, that kind of thing,” he says. “But I’ll tell you what, I’m seeing older generations of these ‘Neanderthal’ fans saying, ‘Dude, I’m pulling for the girl. She’s out here fighting.’”
Yet the girls scoff at the idea of wrestling being toxic. In fact, as our conversation turns to the more vulnerable side of things, each echoes that wrestling, in some ways, has offered healing.
“I’ve never been comfortable in my body,” says Troy. “And while a lot of people think wrestling is deep with toxic masculinity, it has helped me, more than anything else, become so much more comfortable with my body.”
“You find your strength,” adds King.
“You redefine strength,” offers Reid.
“All of those things,” Troy says. “But also, your body isn’t your body. I know that sounds strange, but your body is a tool.”
Your body is also clad in a skimpy singlet so thin that even the most confident among us might take a second wary glance in the mirror. “But you’ve got such bigger problems than how you look, and if that’s what you’re thinking about, you’re already a step behind your opponent,” says Kwon.
Troy, who has battled with eating issues in the past and still struggles now and then, says that it’s the room, and the room only, that has helped her see that weight is a number and nothing else.
“It’s been freeing in a way that I didn’t know before,” she says.
The girls also say their mental health is better, too. “I just feel like I’m a lot happier in the winter,” Klecan says. “When I’m not having a great day, I just think, ‘It’ll be okay once I get to the room later.’”
The thing most pressing for the girls is Kwon’s impending departure, which has each of them near tears. The Fab Five will lose their senior leader, but Kwon is not here for a single one of her teammates considering leaving the room.
“You all better go back and fight,” she says. “This is what we do.”
In their hasty packing up and departure to make study hall on time, the girls leave five unopened fortune cookies in their wake—perhaps no better sentiment for a group of young women determined to make their own way.

Dr. Johnson reps the Math Team at the annual Activities Fair.

On the first day of math class, I write an equation on the board:

love = attention

Each school year, I work to create a classroom culture that helps the students in the room feel safe and loved. I tell the students that I love them, and I ask that they love one another. We set the ground rules of listening to each other. We are polite. We ask questions. We work together. And, I remind them, whenever our attention is divided—whenever we are distracted—we miss an opportunity to love.

I believe our work as humans is to wake up to our lives. As we practice waking up together, we cultivate the ability to focus our attention and, therefore, our love. By writing this equation on the board, I call on students to sow the seeds of mindfulness and love for each other. When we become aware of the intrinsic relationship between attention and love, it is an opportunity—as Sharon Salzberg says—to do something different with our lives.

Though my SAS nametag states I am a teacher, I am a student, too. As students, we are seekers. As seekers, we wonder about the nature of ourselves, our world, and our lives. I have many teachers, including Dipa Ma, a Buddhist adept, who was once asked whether she recommends mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness meditation to students. Her response was that for her, there is no difference between the two: “Meditation is love. Enlightenment is great love.” So Dipa Ma is also the first mathematician that the students meet in my class; she is the author of the equation above.

Another of my teachers was Dave DeSalvo, legendary SAS math teacher and chaplain. In his last year of teaching, I overheard Dave end some of his classes with the goodbye, “I love you; God loves you.” As a secular Buddhist, I usually think “universe” when I hear “God.” By virtue of the very fact of our existence, the universe, itself, quite literally, is “aware” of us. You could say that we are being loved into existence in each moment. I think Dipa Ma and Dave are sharing two perspectives on the same truth. It is this truth that I want my students to glimpse. I believe The Beatles were right when they harmonized: “All you need is love.” Our lives consist of waking up, over and over, to the truth that love is all there is. 

Does this mean that there is no hate, sorrow, war, or division in the world? Of course not. I would argue that these rise in proportion to our collective mindlessness. In Buddhism, there is the concept of bodhicitta, the aspiration “to wake up with wisdom and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings.” In our age of distraction, I have found this to be both a skillful and timely prayer. Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice about meditation puts this idea another way:

“Happiness is available. Please help yourself to it.”

The Art of Looking Inward: St. Andrew’s New Creative Nonfiction Unit

Like most teenagers, Sasha DeCosta ’24 has some “stuff.” Stuff to process, deal with, reflect on, and work through. DeCosta also has the St. Andrew’s English Department, which, this year, offered its V Form students a new way to muck through all that stuff: Put it on the page.
English Department faculty members Will Torrey and Will Porter collaborated to create “Stranger in a Strange Dynamic,” a new creative nonfiction writing unit within the English 3 course for juniors that included work by stars of the genre like James Baldwin, David Sedaris, Roxanne Gay, and more.
“Even though it's so fun and important to read and talk about fiction and literature, we also want to keep things fresh and interesting for our students,” says Torrey. “Sometimes from their perspective, and even from ours, it just feels like, ‘Okay, now it's another book. Now it's another paper. Now it's another book. Now it's another paper.’ So much of what this course is about is to understand who you are and your identity through your own experiences.”
Adds Porter, “We noticed over the years that at [V Form/junior year] grade level, that age, the students have lots of questions. Looking to literature for answers is valuable, but so too is looking inward to have them think about how to tell their own story.”
For DeCosta, that story was one in which they weren’t the hero—and that’s precisely the point. “It’s hard to admit you've done wrong,” DeCosta says. “I think for a good essay, you can't paint yourself as a one-sided hero. In our class, we read a lot of personal essays where people weren't the hero or this perfect character, which made it easier for me to write about those times when I'm not perfect.”
While the culmination of the unit resulted in each student writing a 1500- to 2000-word essay, with additional writing and journaling exercises throughout the unit, there was also the non-rubric requirement to opt in.
“I think these kids naturally feel a little bit of reticence when there's this opportunity to write about their own truths or in some cases, their own families,” Torrey says. “But they really came to not only embrace that vulnerability through the writing process, but to also be present and listen to their classmates, who are talking about the mistakes they’ve made. It felt like something that was very useful, and powerful, and in some ways therapeutic, for them to participate in.”
DeCosta’s essay—which chronicled their failed attempt to eschew the “screenager” life and instead truly live in the moment at a concert they finally got permission to attend—used humor as a venue for deep self-reflection. “From the actual experience of missing an entire concert because I was trying to record it, I learned obviously living in the moment stuff. I was devastated for missing it, but was just going to move on and not think about it anymore,” DeCosta says. “But going through the writing process, I was forced to relive what happened, and to understand why I did what I did. I’ve never really reflected like that through writing.”
For her essay, Angela Osaigbovo ’24, the head of the school’s Creative Writing Club, wrote about a time she was in the spotlight at a national Scrabble tournament. Losing, her team rallied to win on the strength of some “crazy” words; the lesson there, Osaigbovo says, was not to give up.
“Since this was a recorded competition, it’s online, so I went back and watched myself and the decisions I made,” she says. “It is so weird watching yourself like that, but through the watching, and then the writing, I got to really relive the past in an interesting way.”
Osaigbovo, who took the course with Dr. Martha Pitts, says she wasn’t writing about “a big, emotional moment,” which is a notion Porter wanted to impart to all students in the unit.
“The main thing that matters is we're just looking for honesty,” Porter says. “We're looking for specificity. We're not looking for the sort of revelation where you have a day that changed your life, but look for a day where something small happened to you that made you approach an element of your life in a different manner.”
Osaigbovo appreciated the craft notes she received from Pitts, on elements like tone, narrative structure, tension, and mood.
“This is a completely new style of writing for me, and figuring out how to get your emotions and surroundings structured on a page in a way that makes sense, and that the reader can feel, was really helpful,” she says, “particularly right now as we are all juniors and have to think about college essays.”
Both Osaigbovo and DeCosta say they hope “Stranger in a Strange Dynamic” is on the curriculum to stay. “As we become seniors and leaders of the school, what we do in this class is really impactful,” Osaigbovo says.
“I just felt all of the best of St. Andrew's was encapsulated in the essays I read from my students,” Torrey says. “I felt so honored that the students believed me when I said that they could write about anything, and they could be vulnerable, and seeing that they trusted me enough with that—it was a joy. It was the highlight of my time with my juniors so far.”

John Landay '97

Wesleyan University Athletics recently inducted St. Andrew's alum John Landay ’97 into their Hall of Fame for his standout collegiate lacrosse career. At Wesleyan, Landay became the all-time leading scorer in the history of men's lacrosse, posting 306 points while scoring a program record 186 goals. In his final season at Wesleyan, Landay led the nation with 121 points (73 goals, 48 assists) which earned him NESCAC Player of the Year and Third Team All-American honors. His 121 points still stands as Wesleyan's single-season points record.

Landay's college dominance started at St. Andrew's as a three-sport varsity athlete in football, basketball, and lacrosse. During his junior and senior seasons, he led the lacrosse team to back-to-back appearances in the state championship semifinals and also set the single-season records for goals (65) and points (93) during his junior campaign. Landay still holds records for the most points (173) and goals (116) in his career despite only playing two seasons for the Saints.

John's fellow co-captain Will Robinson ’97 remembered John fondly: "John landing at St. Andrew's was a gift from the gods. We were a good team with a strong history and culture, but John's arrival took us to a completely different level. He carried us and made us all better. He had so many memorable acrobatic goals on the crease, but could also fire a shot from anywhere above the goal line. Everyone we played put everything they had against him in a feeble effort to stop him. You couldn't stop him. You couldn't even contain him."

Saints in France!

Students in various levels of St. Andrew’s French courses are traveling in France over this year’s Spring Break. The group flew into France on March 1 (the first day of the recess) and arrived in Montpellier in the south of France, where they will spend a little over a week staying with local families and exploring the history and culture of the south of France. On March 10, the group will head to Paris to spend the weekend visiting museums and historical sites. You can follow along with their adventures day by day on our “SAS in France” blog—written entirely by students!—here.

Bill Brakeley ’86 Elected to DE Baseball Hall of Fame

Former professional baseball player Bill Brakeley ’86 was elected into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted at Frawley Stadium on June 14 before that day’s Blue Rocks game.

Brakeley is considered one of the most accomplished baseball players in St. Andrew’s program history. He was a three-time All-State selection and amassed 20 career wins and 287 strikeouts. The left-handed flame-thrower struck out 18 batters in a game on two separate occasions and remains the only Saints pitcher to strike out 10 consecutive batters in a game. In addition to his baseball accolades, Brakeley was named the St. Andrew's basketball team MVP his senior year and won the Henry Prize for outstanding contribution in athletics. 

“Simply put, I loved playing baseball at St. Andrew’s,” says Brakeley, “and that is entirely due to Coach Colburn.”

Brakeley continued his career at the University of Delaware, where he earned All-East Coast Conference honors in 1989 after recording a 3.09 ERA with 91 strikeouts in 64 innings. That summer, he was selected in the 4th Round of the MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, opting to forgo his senior year and begin his professional career.

For the next three seasons, Brakeley pitched for the Helena Brewers of the Pioneer League in Montana and for the Beloit Brewers in the Midwest League. With Beloit, Brakeley put up solid numbers, posting a 3.78 ERA over 123.2 innings. He was one of 18 pitchers to notch 10 wins, while his 116 strikeouts were top-20 in the league. 

One of the highlights of Brakeley’s career came during the summer after his senior year at St. Andrew’s. A committee of high school baseball coaches from the tri-state region decided to hold a tournament at Veterans Stadium called the Carpenter Cup, a single-elimination tournament composed of the best players in the area. As the ace of the Delaware team, Brakeley started and won two games, helping the team win the first-ever cup over South Jersey. He faced future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza and got him to ground out.

To this day, Brakeley praises his high school coach, Bob Coburn, for his mentorship.

“Coach has been my biggest fan and supporter,” says Brakeley. “He motivated me and has provided guidance and advice from my time at St. Andrew’s up to this very day. He and the coaching staff at St. Andrew’s maximized the potential out of each player they coached. I was blessed to have played with a number of players that loved the game.”

He now resides in Danbury, Connecticut and has two children, Paige (20) and Reid (22). He works at New Canaan School as a teaching assistant and also coaches basketball and baseball.

The Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1994 and is operated by the Delaware High School Baseball Coaches Association.

Thomas White ’26 Shines at Apex350 Goalie Showcase

Thomas White ’26 put his skills to the test during one of the top high-school lacrosse showcases in the country this past weekend on February 11 and 12. 

The showcase is run by the top two goalies in the world, Kyle Bernlohr and Blaze Riordan, and features an aggressive, fast-paced, flow style format of goalie drills.

Bernlohr - an All-American at the University of Maryland and current goalie for the Whipsnakes of the Premier Lacrosse League - put the goalies through live shooting drills and more technical work, like hand-eye coordination drills, on Saturday.

"I felt good about Saturday," said White. "I was getting my rhythm back after a couple of months focusing on wrestling for St. Andrew's. It felt good to stop shots and hear a lot of 'good saves' from the coaches."

On Sunday, White and the other goalies competed for the Golden Apex 350 Helmet as the camp's top goalie. Structured in a World Cup-styled tournament, White went undefeated over four rounds in pool play and earned a spot in the eliminate round. 

"The absolute highlight of the pool play for me was saving 9 out of 10 shots against a former PLL MVP, Blaze Riorden," said White.

A former All-American at Albany, Riorden is widely regarded as one of the greatest lacrosse goalies of all time. As the goalie for Chaos Lacrosse Club in the PLL, Riorden has won three-straight Oren Lyons Goalie of the Year awards and won the Jim Brown MVP in 2021. In the offseason, Riorden plays as a forward for the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League.

After staring down Riorden, White lost in the semi-finals of the competition. Nonetheless, it was an incredible experience for a young freshman goalie competing with some of the best talent in the country.

"I hope to have the opportunity again," said Thomas. "In the meantime, I'm looking forward to this spring with the Saints."

Fail Hard & Fail Up: Astrophysicist Ronald Gamble Visits Campus

It’s not every day a nationally renowned NASA theoretical astrophysicist who can pontificate for hours on supermassive black-hole rotations stops by your high school to hang out. It’s an even rarer occasion when that same pedigreed scientist judges a longest-curly-fry-at-lunch competition or commiserates with art students about how frustrating it can be to work with liquid gold leaf in paintings.
But St. Andrew’s is not an everyday kind of place, and theoretical astrophysicist Dr. Ronald Gamble isn’t your everyday kind of scientist.
In his own parlance, Gamble is “an anomaly.” When Gamble finished his Ph.D in 2017, there were only four doctoral graduates that year in STEM from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). “By that I mean, all of STEM,” Gamble told students at this year’s William A. Crump Jr. Annual Physics Lecture on February 10. Gamble, the cofounder of Black in Astro—a nonprofit that celebrates and amplifies Black experiences in space-related fields—noted he was often on the receiving end of comments like, “Yeah … theoretical physics isn’t really for ‘our’ people.”
The representation Gamble brings to the field—and which he brought to the stage in Englehard Hall—spoke to Brandon Blake ’25. “Dr. Gamble had a lot of firsts as a Black man in this field, and that really impacted me, and I’m sure others in our school community,” he says. “And the inclusivity wasn’t only that he was Black, but that he also has ADHD, which I think resonated. I liked how honest he was in talking about his challenges.”
Like, for example, failing.
“I failed calculus three times in college,” Gamble told students. “But am I an actual expert in general relativity and differential geometry right now? Yes, I am. How? Because if you’re gonna fail, fail hard, and fail up.”
That notion appealed to Mary Troy ’24. “I really loved that,” Troy says. “I whipped out my notes, and I was like, ‘Yes!’ One of my goals for this semester has been to focus less on my grades and more on the actual learning aspect of St. Andrew’s, and immerse myself fully in that experience. I don’t think I was given permission to fail, but it was nice to see someone at his level acknowledge that failing happens, and that it can propel you in an interesting way.”
The title of Gamble’s lecture could be a mouthful for the un-space-savvy: “The Nature of Cosmic Geometry: The Intricacies of Black Holes, Spacetime, and the Motion of Matter.” Yet Gamble kept things simple, fun, and human.
“I kept forgetting I was at a lecture,” Blake says. “He came across not only as a really smart physicist, but as a regular person that I can talk to.”
(Speaking of “regular people” stuff, much to the delight of students like Troy, Blake, and Sarah-Rose Odutola ’23, Gamble had dinner with a small group the night before his lecture in which he ruminated on the science in Marvel Cinematic Universe films. “It’s getting better,” Gamble told them with a smile.)
Troy says Gamble broke down complicated concepts in a way that made sense. “At one point he was talking about how if you got stuck in a black hole, you’d eventually see the back of your own head,” Troy says. “That’s so crazy, but he didn’t make it feel hard to understand.”
One of the reasons Gamble was selected as speaker, notes Science Department Chair Dr. Ashley Hyde, was because of how specifically he fit the SAS culture: not only is Gamble an astrophysicist, he’s an accomplished painter, too.
“One of the great things about St. Andrew’s is that we really don't have any students that just do science and nothing else,” Hyde says. “Students who love science, also love art. They love music, they love playing sports, they love history. I think it's really important that the people that we bring in show scientists not as these one-dimensional characters.”
Hyde is also cognizant of science’s problem with diversity. “It’s certainly no secret,” she says. “In some fields of science, it is incredibly difficult to find a Black or Hispanic person, which is terrible. We want to challenge the messaging that our students see when they look at the professional sphere of scientists. They typically see older white men who tend to win the Nobel Prize. They tend to be the ones who everything is named after. They get bombarded with that messaging. We want to give students access to people who look like them, that have the same background as them, that have the same kind of stories, in the hopes that student who's like, ‘This doesn't seem like it's something for me, maybe I shouldn't pursue it’ instead thinks ‘Wow, maybe there is space for me.’"
Blake, who this year was named to the Delaware All-State Jazz ensemble for his sweetness on the sax and who also hopes to enter a STEM field in the long term, was inspired to see the completeness of Gamble’s path. “I’m a person who likes visual arts, theater, and dance, but who also has a passion for STEM. I think Dr. Gamble further demonstrates how the arts can play a critical role in the sciences,” he says. “Seeing how he was able to bring the two things together is cool because you don’t have to choose.”
Odutola was particularly taken by Gamble’s closing remarks. “First, I have to say just seeing such Black excellence brought to campus meant a lot to me,” she says. “But also, he tapped into something that I, too, struggle with. He told us to always ask, ‘What if?’ Like, what if he had listened to the people who told him he’d never get to NASA? Or who told him he was ‘a minority?’ That really meant a lot to me because so often I think, ‘I’m not good enough.’ But what if I just try? What if I just believe in myself? That’s a really powerful message.”
The annual Crump Lecture in Physics is an endowment from Bill Crump ’44, who came to St. Andrew’s from a one-room school house in rural Maryland and graduated at the top of his class. Crump established this lecture series so St. Andrew’s students could meet and learn from most exciting physicists in the field today.

In the Treetops

Yesterday, spring came to St. Andrew’s early, for one day, with warm temperatures, bright sunshine, and the Front Lawn busy all afternoon with the comings and goings of students, some of whom lingered for a game or a chat. I observed all of this from the windows of our house because I came down with COVID last weekend. I am used to being among the students and my colleagues all the time—at meals, chapel, School Meeting, sports, and the hallways—and in between Zoom meetings I tried to gather as much intelligence about campus life as I could by looking through the windows of our house that face Founders and the Front Lawn.

There was much to inform and entertain me in observing the arborist who is working on the grand sycamores that flank the entrance to Founders Hall, which welcome every person who visits our school, and have for over 90 years. The trees are enormous, as you may recall from your visits to campus, and the long, horizontal branches must occasionally be relieved of weight and dead wood. This work will help us preserve these trees for as long as we can before they must make way for new ones. This week, the arborist’s inspection revealed substantial rot in one sycamore on the northwest corner of the building. Tucked near the school’s business office, it will need to be removed during the spring recess. 

I can’t help but feel this event is a milestone, as the trees were planted around the time the old wing of Founders was completed, as you can see in the photograph shared here. They are nearly a century old, as is the school, and so of course we should expect to have to replace them. Knowing this does not make it any easier to see one of these elders go; they have watched over us all, firmly planted on the windward side of the building, facing down the weather and the prevailing winds year after year. Indeed, they have watched over me intermittently since I was 16 years old, a new V Former arriving at St. Andrew’s for the first time. 

Each time I walk into Founders or pass by its western façade, I scrutinize the two giants that flank the entrance—which fortunately we hope to preserve for a while longer—examining the roots, peering into their crowns, admiring their gigantic leaves. I hope our students have also acquired this habit, as it inspires me, and it may inspire them, to reflect on those things more important and more durable than ourselves and our sublunary pursuits. The grandeur of the trees humbles us, and the act of looking both literally and figuratively raises our sights, reminding us of what is divine in nature, and how our intersection with the natural world elevates and inspires human flourishing. This daily reminder is particularly important in a school, where young people grow into adults and in the process form their character. I am grateful that our campus and all the living things on it create an ideal landscape for this precious education, in all seasons, and especially so in the spring.

Competition, Camaraderie, and Championships

Nick Osbourne ’23 sits across from me in casual sneakers, worn blue jeans, a blue hoodie, and a ’90s throwback Lakers graphic t-shirt. It’s a free day and Osbourne is relaxed as can be, yet his tone is resolute when he answers a call from his roommate.

“Ibrahim,” Osbourne says, the words punctuated by his trademark sly smile. “You are late.”

The parental-like use of his first name is enough to hustle Ibrahim Kazi ’23 to my office. He arrives in the doorway with a glistening brow above his glasses. He acts surprised, as though we didn’t run into each other mere hours earlier confirming the time and place of this interview. “Make sure you get on top of Nick because if you don’t, he is going to be late or miss it,” Kazi advised at the time.

Now Kazi grabs a chair, parks himself in it, brushes the long hair out of his face and lightly taps Osbourne’s knee with the back of his hand, a gesture that encapsulates a deep friendship in one second. The two have an easy way about them when they aren’t attempting to provoke one another for amusement. 

“They are goofballs,” says Head Football Coach Pat Moffitt, who has doubled as advisor to both boys for the last four years. “I was surprised when they said they were going to room together senior year. They are similar in their sports interests, but also two very different people.”

The differences are apparent. Osbourne is a Residential Leader majoring in film who wants to pursue communications with a focus on digital media. Kazi is a science major who wants to take the pre-med route in college. Osbourne listens to Rod Wave. Kazi likes The Weekend. Osbourne loved rooming together freshman year. Kazi very much did not (if you ask Osbourne, he’ll tell you a different story). Osbourne turns the lights on at 10:30 when Kazi is already in bed. Kazi snores.

Yet the differences are an afterthought to their similarities. They are both New York Giants fans, a product of their parents immigrating to New York City years ago–Osbourne’s from Jamaica and Kazi’s from Pakistan. They both love Rick and Morty. Above all, they love playing sports, and their friendship is inextricably tied to their shared athletic experiences. For almost four years, Osbourne and Kazi competed together in football, wrestling and lacrosse, spending countless hours practicing, lifting weights, competing and mentoring younger athletes. They worked through adversity in many shapes and sizes–bad ankles, quad sprains, washed-away pandemic seasons–which only strengthened their desire to compete at a high level.

“They are two of our bigger competitors on campus and two of the bigger competitors I've had in my eight years here,” says Moffitt. “When things aren't going his way, Nick’s fierce competitor comes out of him visibly and vocally. Kazi is definitely more quiet with it, but you can tell by his body language when he's off."

It started during freshman year football. Osbourne arrived after preseason and was a back-up wide receiver and cornerback playing on the scout team. He saw an opportunity to fill-in as the scout team running back, and his hard-working and tenacious attitude soon paid off.

“He was the scout team running back the week we were playing Tower Hill,” recalls Moffitt. “He was just crushing our starting defense and it was like, we need to find a way to get him on the field. It cemented the fact that he was going to be our running back going forward once the other guy graduated. We actually tell that story to our scout team guys every year.”

Kazi, on the other hand, made an immediate impact as a starter on the offensive line. Moffitt also tells a story about Kazi from freshman year, but it’s starkly different:

“One game, Kazi was complaining he couldn’t breathe all game,” says Moffitt with a chuckle. “Turned out his shoulder pads were backwards. The pads were driving into his windpipe.”

Gradually, Osbourne’s determination rubbed off on Kazi, especially when challenged. After the pandemic wiped out three straight sports seasons, Kazi confronted immensely talented attackmen in his first high school lacrosse experience. It was a steep learning curve that pushed him to train hard in his own time. A year later as a junior, after an All-Conference football performance and championing the DISC heavyweight division, Kazi was a part of a defensive unit that locked down legit rivals down the stretch to qualify for the state tournament.

Alternatively, Osbourne adopted Kazi’s people skills as he developed as a leader. As an athlete, he raked up two All-Conference football selections as he routinely led the offensive and defensive charge for the Saints. In wrestling, he qualified for the state tournament as a freshman but was forced to drop-out after falling ill. The pandemic canceled his sophomore year, but he bounced back his junior season by qualifying for states again at 152 lbs, one of the toughest weight classes in the state. He placed 11th overall. Yet these days, Osbourne shares his knowledge and talent by coaching new wrestlers. His passion is evident in the praise he sings for his teammates.

“People are seeing us lose matches, but they aren’t seeing how our wrestlers are fighting,” Osbourne says. “Juliet Klecan, Riley Reid, Will Porter: they are all new to the sport and facing really tough opponents. They are working their butts off and are now holding their own in every match. I wish people saw more of that.”

That attitude was cultivated during football season. Both Osbourne and Kazi served as captains for a very young team with few experienced upperclassmen. Moffitt mentions they “took on a bigger role as an extension of the coaching staff”, but it goes further than that. As Osbourne describes it, they were trying to instill a lasting culture.

“We emphasized picking each other back up, sometimes even physically as well as mentally,” Osbourne explains. “We had to make sure that when our team got down, we were able to pick them back up. That was a big part about being captains.”

Creating a lasting culture requires a balance between hard work and enjoyment, the latter of which comes easily for Osbourne and Kazi. Their fondest memories are wrestling team dinners, like the one at Buffalo Wild Wings after winning the DISC Tournament, or the one at the fancy Italian restaurant when they walked in unshowered and sweaty. They also have fun with each other. The moment they arise, one of them says, in a high-pitched, squeaky tone, “Oh, what’s happening, dog.” They jam out to “How To Love” by Lil Wayne. They talk smack while playing Madden at Moffitt’s advisory hangouts. They pull practical jokes, like when Kazi convinced the manager at the Green Turtle it was Osbourne’s birthday. They brought over a cake and sang happy birthday to him.

“I think that they know what they want to accomplish,” says Moffit. “They have goals and ideas about where they want to go. At the same time, they don't take themselves too seriously. They have fun with it.”

The reminiscing is a symptom of their athletic careers coming to a close. They are both eyeing the podium for the Independent Conference Championships and the DIAA State Tournament. Kazi has one final lacrosse season on the horizon. Their daily mentorship and support is a constant reminder of their efforts to give back to something that’s enriched their lives. It’s a pillar of the St. Andrew’s experience. For someone like Kazi, it’s made all the difference in the world.

“Honestly,” says Kazi, “[sports] helped me become more disciplined, manage my time better, and make better choices. In wrestling, having another person kick your butt, it's awful. There's no worse feeling. But the hard work of getting back up, waking up the next day, doing the same thing over again … it teaches you a lot.”

Chaplain Jay Hutchinson Attends U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Mid-Atlantic Summit

While most of the St. Andrew's community was enjoying a well-deserved “Free Day” on February 6, Chaplain Jay Hutchinson engaged in plenary sessions at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition's Mid-Atlantic Summit held at the Hotel duPont in Wilmington, Delaware. The summit brought together senior national security and foreign policy experts, faith-based and community leaders, and public servants from around the world. 

President William Ruto of Kenya joined virtually in the morning session to discuss U.S.-Africa relations and the future of the African continent with Sen. Chris Coons; Judd Devermont, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council; and Dr. Donna Patterson, chair of the Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy at Delaware State University.

Other sessions focused on global health and climate change, and meeting the moment of rising global crises. Panelists included Sen. Dan Sullivan; former Sen. Rob Portman; State Department Deputy Secretary Wendy Sherman; Teresa Christopher, Head of Climate, Sustainability, and Environmental Policy at Amazon; and Dr. Atul Gawande, who is currently serving as Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID.

For Chaplain Hutchinson, who was a classmate of Sen. Coons at Amherst College, it was an opportunity to think globally about our impact and opportunity here at St. Andrew's. "I am so grateful for the opportunity to sit in a room with so many global thought-leaders all considering the best way forward on some of the most pressing issues of our time—climate change, global health, and economic prosperity for all,” he said. “These are issues we discuss every day at St. Andrew's in classes, at School Meeting, and of course through Chapel services. I”m looking forward to continuing these conversations with the broader context and implications in mind."

Chaplain Hutchinson was invited to the summit as a faith leader in Delaware. He has served as Chaplain at St. Andrew's since 2000 while teaching in the Religious Studies department and coaching soccer, wrestling, and lacrosse. 

A St. Andrew's That Will Not Let Them Go in Vain

On January 30, I attended the vigil for Tyre Nichols and the mass shooting victims in California along with many other members of our community. It started with a lighting of candles, followed by an introduction by Dr. Fisher and Rev. Preysner. They shared a few words on how in times like these it is both important and powerful to hold space and support each other within our community. Rev. Preysner read an excerpt from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Michael Curry. He stated,

While we grieve, we cannot give in or give up. Just throwing up our hands in despair is not an option lest we leave a brother, a sister, a sibling on the side of the road again. No, let more Good Samaritans arise so that Tyre Nichols' death will not be in vain.

All members in attendance entered into a state of prayer, meditation, and silence as the chapel’s open doors welcomed in the sounds from the Dining Hall. The world continued just as it did any other Monday night at St. Andrew’s. In my meditation, feelings of frustration and hopelessness to questions of how can I do something about this? arose. The violence Tyre Nichols suffered was not, and will never be, an isolated incident in the story of America. The people who were welcoming and celebrating the Lunar New Year were murdered at the hands of a person armed with a gun. The moments channeled my fear of injustice and overwhelming feelings of helplessness. I held back on verbally sharing these feelings, however, to give space and silence to those who came to sit in thought. We sat in silence, and the weight was shared amongst us.

People began to leave, one by one. You could hear the steps as they walked up the chapel’s stairs back into the St. Andrew’s community. How do people continue with their lives? I started to wonder. My mind, as I imagine many others’ minds, could not help but feel the weight of Tyre Nichols’ family and community, the victims in California’s families and communities. The privilege of living at a place like St. Andrew’s, the group noted, was that we will not have to worry about walking to and from dorm at night, that we can have moments to pause and hold space.

I see the St. Andrew’s community thrive all the time. Whenever I walk into the Dining Hall I hear the lively conversations and laughter. During family-style meals, when someone drops a tray, there will always be a person leaping to the opportunity to bring them napkins to clean up and shielding them from embarrassment. To me, our St. Andrew’s community has mastered and continues to strive to be the “good samaritans” Bishop Michael Curry refers to in his message after the death of Tyre Nichols.

“Let Good Samaritans arise so that Tyre Nichols’ death will not be in vain.” We, the saints of St. Andrew’s School, know that we are Good Samaritans, willing to be the hype buddy, the shoulder to cry on, the person willing to embrace you when you need it. The second and arguably the most important part of Bishop Michael Curry’s message is rising to the occasion. We know that we have both the ability and responsibility to help those around us, but will we answer the call? Will we make sure that the death of Tyre Nichols and the massacre of the victims in California were not in vain? 

Tonight our chapel speaker, Amanda Kinsey, talked about her allyship with the Jewish community to fight antisemitism as it exists in our world. The chapel included a poem called “First They Came” by Martin Niemöller, which ends with the line, “Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.” Kinsey broke down her interpretation of the message in the context of both antisemitism as well as allyship with any community. We excuse ourselves from the injustices in the world because we feel as if that injustice is not targeted toward us, thus we do nothing. Bishop Michael Curry, Niemöller, and Kinsey all seem to be advocating for the same message: we, as a community and as individuals, all have the obligation to fight injustice wherever it exists.

I believe in a St. Andrew’s that knows its obligation to the national and global community. St. Andrew’s is a place where we forge students to be people and leaders. I believe that we need to be informed in order to demonstrate the traits we have that cannot be taught. We need to channel traits like kindness, humility, and a craving to do justice, to put more good in the world.

Start. The work that needs to be done, as I am sure most of you are aware, starts with being informed. You could, in fact, start by reading this article (and click on the links at the bottom), or this article. What we choose to do with this information is the vital part. To some, it means attending a vigil to show solidarity and support for all the members of our community who are affected by these events and the communities outside of our own community that are affected by these events. To others, this may look like writing letters to local representatives to pass important legislation targeting gun safety or voting for new officials when our current ones fail to meet our expectations of them. Activism starts with staying informed.

Taking action is the next step. Most may wonder, What can I do to start? When we find ourselves like we have no power, we must remind ourselves of the power of democracy. In addition to the articles, here and here are resources to enter your state or zip code to find your senator or congressman, respectively. Writing to these legislators will pressure them to pass legislation that works to end police brutality against Black citizens and the violence against the AAPI community, and install safer gun laws so no one falls victim to gun violence. Since most of us in the community are currently ineligible to vote, it is important to be aware that high school students will soon rise to the responsibility of voting and it is extremely important for politicians to listen to our voices.

Thank you to those who took the time to read this. My hope is that this message will be contagious, and let us embody it as a community! Keep yourself informed, keep others informed, and take action!

—Zachary Macalintal and the Social Justice Club

Holding Space for Social Justice Work on Campus... and Off

Marie Dillard ’24 implicitly trusts Dean of Inclusion and Belonging Dr. Danica Tisdale-Fisher. Yet when she saw that Tisdale-Fisher had planned DEI programming around Rosa Parks, Dillard couldn’t fight the urge to sigh. Rosa Parks, she thought to herself. Figures. The same old narrative about Rosa Parks … again.
“But I was so wrong,” says Dillard, practically gleeful about the fact that she arrived at the wrong conclusion. “In really only five minutes of understanding what Dr. Fisher was planning, the entire conversation I had been hearing for so long shifted. ‘Rosa Parks was a sweet old lady who woke up one day and was tired and wouldn’t stand up on a bus.’ No: Rosa Parks spent her life as an activist who galvanized the entire Black community with a purposeful and considered choice.”
That was a truth Dillard could get behind.
Metaphorically speaking, it makes sense that Dillard and Zach Macalintal ’24 meet me in the Dining Hall for our conversation about Parks, the world outside St. Andrew’s gates, and activism—the two are ravenous for social justice and change. You might as well set out a fork and knife for Heidi Forbes ’23 and Riya Soni ’24, too, as they’re just as hungry: the foursome joined forces to co-found St. Andrew’s Social Justice Club a little over a year ago after the absence of such an entity loomed too large for them to ignore.
“Our work is grounded in understanding history,” says Macalintal. “We have to understand the truth. We have to understand how we are the products of a long line of activism, which is true since the founding of America. People like Rosa Parks get lost in someone else’s story, and we want to bring light to truth.”
For Dillard and Macalintal, working in tandem with Tisdale-Fisher to bring light to the life of Rosa Parks was a perfect Social Justice Club initiative in a moment when the club is identifying who it is and what it does.
“We get such a flat, one-dimensional image of who Rosa Parks was, but she was so much more complex and dynamic,” says Tisdale-Fisher. “And even though she presented as quiet, she was very deep in her work and very committed. She is one of the women we can really lift up and say, ‘They were radical for the work that they did at that time.’”
Tisdale-Fisher was particularly taken with The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, renowned scholar Dr. Jeanne Theoharis’ 2014 biography. Not only is Rebellious the first biography devoted explicitly to Parks, it also does what other texts have not: it challenges the narrative that on one happenstance day, Parks launched herself into history as an accidental footnote to the civil rights movement. The book inspired a documentary of the same name, which first aired on Peacock in 2022.
“I met with my History Department colleagues Emily Pressman and Matt Edmonds to talk about the idea of gathering to watch the documentary, then bringing Dr. Theoharis to campus virtually for a conversation,” Tisdale-Fisher says. “We all agreed not only was it a great idea, but a great time to really lift Mrs. Parks.”
Dillard and Macalintal helped get about 15 students and various faculty members together for a viewing of the documentary in Tisdale-Fisher’s home, which took place January 8.
“It was a wonderful documentary,” Dillard says. “I was moved by learning about Rosa Parks in this way. It also opened up a great starting point for a conversation about performative activism, like how we talk about a person like Rosa but not what she actually did. Some cities ‘save a seat’ on buses during Black History Month, but what is that actually doing aside from taking a seat away from someone who needs it?”
The second part of the programming included an intimate virtual conversation with Theoharis on January 12.
“I was blown away by how thoughtful the members of the Social Justice Club were in the questions they crafted before meeting Dr. Theoharis,” Tisdale-Fisher says. “I think she was very impressed. It was a true conversation, not just her talking at us. Not only did Dr. Theoharis answer our students’ intellectual questions with thoughtful intellectual answers, but the gathering gave us a unique opportunity to connect and talk about civil rights and a hero of the movement.”
Dillard walked away marked by the experience. “I’m so grateful we were able to talk to [Theoharis],” she says. “She’s a genius. There was such a nice vibe in the room—people came together by choice to hold space for these types of conversations. Even if they weren’t asking questions, they were able to take something away from the conversation.”
“Holding space.” That’s a phrase Dillard and Macalintal refer to often.
“Our main goal as a club is to hold space to engage on campus about those unjust things that are happening in the world,” Dillard says. “I don’t like the idea that tragedies are happening out in the world, and the world is talking about it, yet here on campus we have our heads down and we’re not focusing on it. We need a space for people to gather around these conversations.”  
One way the Social Justice Club does this is by sending long-form emails to the entire St. Andrew’s community about those events beyond our gates that the founders think should carry weight in our campus spaces. Recent subjects have included mass shooting victims; Tyre Nichols, a Black Memphis man who died after a brutal beating at the hands of Memphis police; and projected legislation in Florida to censor A.P. African American studies and curriculums. In one such email, Macalintal wrote:
I believe in a St. Andrew’s that knows its obligation to the national and global community. St. Andrew’s is a place where we forge students to be people and leaders. I believe that we need to be informed in order to demonstrate the traits we have that cannot be taught. We need to channel traits like kindness, humility, and a craving to do justice, to put more good in the world. … The work that needs to be done starts with being informed.
“We want adults to see these messages to know that we, as students, really care about these things,” says Dillard, who is quick to shout out Tisdale-Fisher as an integral voice and support system for the culture she and her peers want to build.
Of course, the duo admits, it’s a pretty daunting feat to inspire social change from within the four walls of your high school. “The hard part is we’re constantly thinking, ‘We should be doing more. We should be going bigger.’ But we are giving ourselves grace,” says Dillard. “We’re using this, our junior year, as a base year so that our senior year, we can hit the ground running.”
Dillard’s action plan for this year is to curate a more-informed community. Judging by the number of students who ask about Social Justice Club, show up for conversations, and have opted in, their mission is hitting.
There’s also an important timing element at hand here: every American St. Andrew’s student is, at most, four years away from being able to push a button that has the potential to transform lives and systems. The fear Dillard and Macalintal share is that young people will simply slip behind a curtain and press “VOTE” without being armed with discourse and information.

“We cannot ignore the fact that in a year, members of our class will be voting,” Dillard says. “And when that time comes, it’s not a general. This is our presidency.”
Macalintal notes the first conversation the Social Justice Club held, albeit informally, was on the heels of the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade. Next, the Club is planning a conversation centered on the death of Tyre Nichols and the lack of legislation and reform in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. “We’re approaching three years since [Floyd] was killed, and conversations about the proposed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act [2021] seem to have just … stopped,” Macalintal says.
The duo, along with Forbes and Soni, will take time this year to plan out action items for next year. Ideas so far include collaborating with other clubs to do work on intersectionality issues–for example, joining forces with the Environmental Stewards to find a path to activism on topics like environmental and climate justice. Dillard also hopes there are avenues to explore working with local state agencies on their social justice initiatives.
“This school has the potential and the people to bring all of these moments in history into sharp focus, and to pause and think about those things before we try to move on,” Macalintal says. “My biggest fear would be for this not to spread, and the club loses traction when we graduate.”
Dillard and Macalintal already have their eyes on a few underformers whom they think are leaders in the making and well-equipped to not only carry the torch but grow the fire. (In fact, Dillard notes slyly, if you’re right now reading this and thinking, ‘I think she means me,’ then you’re likely right.)
“We’re not just trying to create something for now, we are looking to create a pillar of St. Andrew’s, a culture shift,” Dillard says. “When you sign that paper that says you’re coming to this school, this is the kind of community you’re signing up for.”