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An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12

 

Boarding school life—living in residence with your teachers and your friends—is a unique, thrilling, and challenging experience. St. Andrew's is extra-unique, in that it is a 100% residential boarding school, and 95% of our faculty also live on campus or on dorm. We are one of only three fully residential co-ed boarding schools in the United States.

Our students and alumni often note their most significant learning experiences occurred in informal conversations with friends and teachers on dorm, in the halls, or on the fields. We believe that the best education is one that involves not only learning in the classroom and from books, but also deep and meaningful relationships formed with peers and mentors within the school community. With this principle in mind, living and working at St. Andrew's becomes deeply rewarding, for both students and their teachers.

We ask much of our students, and give much in return to ensure their character development, intellectual growth, and overall well-being. We strive every day to be accepting and kind to one another. We celebrate goodwill, civility, empathy, and our common humanity. We have a sense of responsibility not only for ourselves, but for each other. We live and work together in a community that is genuinely cohesive.

Meet a Saint

Sophie ’25 wins a Gold Key in the Scholastic Art Awards

Sophie Forbes ’25 receives recognition for pen-and-ink drawing and years of dedication to the craft

Journeying through Cheung Chau this past summer, Sophie Forbes ’25 was immediately struck by a particular street lined with clotheslines and the shadows of locals’ balconies. The composition of the street would not only make for an interesting drawing, the artist thought, but would represent the overall experience of taking in the sights of Hong Kong.

The pen-and-ink drawing this V former subsequently created based on this street in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong—titled “Old Street”—recently received a Gold Key in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the highest regional award given by this art and writing recognition program for teens.

“Hong Kong, for me, makes up a big part of my identity,” says Forbes.

Ever since Forbes delved deep into art in middle school, the pen-and-ink medium has stood out because of how the technique can create a variety of strokes in terms of size and shape.

“[I can] pick up a pen and then suddenly it’s all these lines that I make from these pens, which have an image, they have a story,” says Forbes. 
Navanjali Kelsey, visual arts faculty member, says that while Forbes is especially skilled in the pen-and-ink medium, she is consistently impressed with the student’s strong proficiency across media. 

“In Painting I, Sophie was bold in terms of color usage with oil paint,” says Kelsey. “Having been well-versed with pen and ink prior to St. Andrew’s, Sophie wielded sophisticated rendering capabilities in Drawing I, with detailed and sensitively depicted charcoal and pastel images. Sophie has an incredible capacity for presenting detail, and I am so thrilled that the Scholastic Arts Awards have also recognized Sophie’s talents with a Gold Key.”  

Forbes had the opportunity to see the piece on display at the Delaware State University Arts Center/Gallery. The experience of seeing the personal artwork in the gallery wasn’t exactly normal for this artist. 

“It definitely felt a little weird,” says Forbes. “But it felt very [fulfilling], seeing my own work of art and seeing … something that represents me and my identity just displayed on the wall for other people to see.”

This wasn’t this go-getter’s first time submitting work to the Scholastic Art Awards. However, it’s the first time that Forbes’s submitted work has received a Gold Key. It was rewarding to finally have fulfilled this accomplishment, which has been a long-time coming, says the artist. This award is the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. 

“I don’t like using the word ‘talent’ to describe art, because I feel like artistic skill does not come to you naturally,” says Forbes. “It’s something that I feel like you have to spend a lot of time building, and it is not something that you can just … wake up with one day and do. It is just practice and practice and practice. And I felt like all these skills that I’ve been practicing since seventh grade have really shown to pay off.”

“Old Street”


 

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A Perfect Fit

John Plummer ’25 on finding himself through wrestling

When John Plummer ’25 opened his eyes, he saw a trainer checking his pulse. 

“Do you know where you are?” asked the trainer. Yes, Plummer replied, at a varsity wrestling tournament. He had momentarily passed out after giving everything he had to win—which he did. 

He got himself partially up, and extended his hand to shake the trainer’s. 

It’s customary at a wrestling tournament to shake the hand of the other wrestler’s coach, and Plummer, without a clue what had just happened to him, managed to remember that he didn’t shake anyone’s hand yet. Even as he was regaining consciousness, Plummer had one thing on his mind: good sportsmanship. In a haze, he settled for the hand nearest to him. 

Plummer’s qualities add up to everything that makes for an ideal wrestler: his strength, his determination, and of course, the spirit of sportsmanship that marks every great athlete, regardless of the athletic arena. 

“John always gives 110%,” says wrestling Head Coach Phil Davis, who calls Plummer a “true team player in an individual sport.” 

Plummer has always played different sports, but the pieces didn’t come together for him until his IV Form year when he found himself in the wrestling room. 

He grew up playing ice hockey and sailing competitively. Ice hockey ran in the family, as his father was a semi-professional hockey player. 

“I was always expected to be good at hockey,” says Plummer. “I’m an incredible skater, but I really struggled with puck skills.”

As a III Former, he tried his hand at swimming and rowing, but he didn’t get the rush of adrenaline he was looking for from the pool or the pond. (It didn’t help that the shoe literally didn’t fit—rowing shoes were particularly uncomfortable for Plummer to wear.) 

But something clicked when he found wrestling. 

“The first thing I noticed about the team is it was very warm,” says Plummer. “It was like a family.” 

That family feeling didn’t lessen the anxiety he felt about starting the sport, particularly after witnessing the strength of the other wrestlers on the team. But Plummer put his doubts away, and went all-in.

He dedicated himself to the challenge, especially with the help of coach Davis and coach Donald Duffy. Plummer says that he has ADHD, and that the coaching staff on the wrestling team individualizes a coaching approach to suit his needs. 

“They know exactly how to coach me,” says Plummer. “I’ve never had a coaching experience like that where they know how to get my attention, how to keep my focus.”

The coaching staff takes the extra step each practice by not just telling, but showing. Plummer says they’ll put themselves fully into it, demonstrating how to do a move, which fits his preference for a more physical style of instruction.

Plummer and the coaching staff’s diligence paid off last season. He remembers his first win at a tournament at Polytech High School. 

“I wasn’t expecting to win at all that day because I had this mindset of, ‘I’m a beginner so what can I do?’” says Plummer. “I went out, and I don’t know what I did, but I came out on top.”

He has continued to come out on top: Plummer said he went 7-3 last year and this season, as of Jan. 26, he is 22-1, including JV, varsity, and exhibition matches. Even with such a great record, he sets the standard high for winning graciously and staying humble. 

“Because I’m so new to [wrestling], it’s easier for me to have a good mindset. I know that I will win some and I will lose some,” says Plummer. “Humility is important in this sport because there are people who have been wrestling since they were three.” 

But his success has given him a sense of accomplishment and confidence that he never really knew before.

“As soon as I started doing well, I immediately got a confidence boost and it has tremendously helped me,” says Plummer. “The person I am now because of wrestling is completely unrecognizable from the person I was before.”

Plummer’s love for the sport has become so deep that even in the off-season, he goes out of his way to develop his skills and get more practice at tournaments he finds on his own. 

“On the school’s first long break John didn’t just sit around, he attended a large wrestling tournament in Pennsylvania with over 1,500 wrestlers,” says Davis, who adds that Plummer also attended wrestling camp over the summer to better his skillset. “John represented himself and the school very well. This was not just a wrestling tournament, this was a test of John’s will to win.”

After taking the time to truly find himself in the sport, Plummer says showing up at wrestling meets and tournaments feels completely natural to him. 

“I think that it’s really easy to give it your best effort in wrestling, more so than in other sports,” says Plummer. “The adrenaline you get from what your body thinks is a fight takes care of any lack of effort.”

Davis sees no lack of effort when it comes to Plummer. “I can teach anyone to wrestle, but I can’t teach heart,” Davis says.  “John has plenty of that.” 
 

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Singer, Songwriter, Student, Self-Starter: Musician Richard Zhu ’26

Richard Zhu ’26 on forging his own melodies and announcing them to the world

For Richard Zhu ’26, while music may be something he creates, it is also something with a mind of its own that has molded him into the singer, songwriter, and student he is today. To him, music is a living, breathing being.

Zhu first started singing at the age of three, and has played piano since five. “I found myself so interested that I kept on diving into it,” says Zhu of developing his love of music, which goes so deep he considers music to be a “best friend” that has accompanied him for as long as he can remember. 

From the moment he stepped on the St. Andrew’s campus, Zhu deeply immersed himself in the school music scene—from the music classrooms as a member of both the Noxontones and the Jazz Ensemble, to the stage of Forbes Theater where he shined in the winter musical performance of Sister Act, to his dorm room where he can be heard humming original melodies. Now a IV Former, he continues to pursue his passion for music in just about every corner of campus. 

As he technically improved as a musician over the years, he also developed a complementary passion: one for songwriting and music production. 

Before coming to St. Andrew’s, then-14-year-old Zhu released his first original album, Village of Dream (Journey), on Spotify. During his admission interview, Richard met Quinn Kerrane, director of the choral music program, and at her encouragement, he sang one of his original songs to her. Enterprising, talented, and bold, he already had all the characteristics of a Saint. 

“I think [it’s] definitely not a coincidence,” says Zhu of this fortuitous moment with Kerrane and his admission into St. Andrew’s. He was destined to pursue his passion here. 

During the fall of his freshman year, Zhu launched his second album, Village of Dream (Youth). He bravely decided to tell the world about his music, announcing to the school his release of the album during lunch announcements. 

“I am not the most confident person in the world, I do doubt myself a lot of the time,” says Zhu. “It’s definitely a huge step for me to tell others that I have music.” But each time he shares his work, it gets easier to spread the word and to be his authentic self, he says. 

The support he has received from the Saints community has helped strengthen his confidence. It is this encouragement and feedback that he says is one of his main motivations for further pursuing songwriting. 

Hailing from China, Zhu calls music a “worldwide” language, noting it as the constant in his life when moving from one country to another. To him,  music is universal, and therefore, one aspect of adapting to a new culture that feels natural. “But you can also keep that part of yourself of where you came from and employ that into the music,” Zhu says of blending several cultures into one song. 

Though Zhu is a self-starter, he acknowledges just how grateful he is for the music opportunities at St. Andrew’s, and he hopes to give back to the Saints arts community as he becomes an upperclassmen by stepping into student leadership positions. 

While many know Zhu as the student who is all-things-music, and he is proud to be known for this passion, he also hopes people see the other sides of him. 

“Music is definitely one of my most important things here, but … coming to boarding school, I also want people to realize that I am more than just a person who loves music,” says Zhu. “Besides being on stage, being in the studio, I also want to be a friend, a classmate, a good person, a good player on the soccer field ... [I want people] to really know me as just me, every aspect of me.”

See Zhu live on Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 as Snoopy in the upcoming winter musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, and check out his Spotify page and YouTube account.

Richard Zhu ’26 at Fall Family Weekend
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Injury-turned-opportunity

How Talan ’24 transformed an injury into an opportunity to lead 

Talan Esposito ’24 vividly remembers the tumble he took last basketball season that he thought might end his athletic career at St. Andrew’s.

“I think it was our second- or third-to-last basketball game. I went up for a routine shot, came down, landed weird, tore my ACL and both [menisci],” says Esposito. “I was devastated at first.”

What followed was a surgery at the end of March, and a summer of recovery for the VI Former from Odessa, Delaware. 

He didn’t think he’d get the opportunity to get back on the field for his final season of varsity soccer once the school year rolled around, but Esposito refused to let his injury take him away from his love of the sport and his team. Instead, Esposito took on a new role: he showed up at practice and games, doing what he could to support the team from the sidelines.

“Talan handled all of this in stride and never complained about his situation,” says Matt Carroll, head coach of boys varsity soccer. “He could have taken the easy route and focused solely on his own recovery, but he never missed a practice and always made sure to support his teammates along the way. As a two-year captain, Talan has earned the admiration and respect of his teammates, yet never rested on his laurels—he challenged [his teammates], pushed them to be better versions of themselves, and continuously supported them throughout a difficult season.”

A captain since his junior year who has previously been named to the All-DISC 1st Team, Esposito stepped up to the challenge and took on more of a coaching role within the team. “Being vocal” and “getting the guys together, getting their energy up, getting them on the same page” were his guiding principles as he navigated trying to advise the players as a teammate and peer. 

In the second game of the season, Esposito was put to the test—Carroll was not at the game, so Esposito seized the moment to help lead.

“That was probably the most vocal I’d ever been, yelling out to guys, giving them advice,” says Esposito. “And I like to think that they appreciate it. I like to think that they take it all in. I think they do.”

He was a natural fit for such a leadership role as soccer has always been at the center of his life. His father played soccer at the collegiate level, instilling in him a passion for the sport, and he played on travel and school teams growing up. 

“He likes to push me and I really do appreciate that,” Esposito says of his father’s mentorship. “I feel like that’s definitely helped me grow as an athlete, as a person, as a young man.”

With his identity so tied to soccer, he took the injury hard, even though he was able to find a new way to fit into the team. That’s why he didn’t wait a moment, or miss an opportunity, to begin the recovery process. He largely credits his recovery from the injury to Assistant Athletic Director Al Wood. 

“The beginning of the season, I didn’t think I would be able to play soccer at all,” says Esposito. “But our athletic trainer, Al, did a really great job, and I really appreciate him for helping me get back to shape. I went in there every day, he gave me the workout plan, gave me advice, helped me do drills when I got back out [onto] the field.”

But Wood says that Esposito’s recovery wouldn’t have been possible without his strength of character.

“Talan approached his rehab the same way he approaches everything at St. Andrew’s: [with] a focused determination, toughness, and a will to win,” says Wood. “Returning from an ACL [injury] is a day-to-day grind that can leave even the best athlete frustrated and feeling sorry for themselves. Talan never wavered in his work ethic or attitude and the result is that he was able to return to playing sports months before any of us expected him back.”

Esposito spent any spare moment in the semester following a plan to build back quad muscle and stability—with squats, leg extensions, and deadlifts on repeat. Finally, on Oct. 17, he returned to the field in a game against Sanford. 

Adrenaline on high, Esposito and the team celebrated a 3-0 win. This moment stacks up to other highlights in his playing career, which include matching up against Caravel in the 2021 DIAA boys soccer D2 championship and his favorite small moments, like getting advice from Carroll about life on and off the field and staying up at night talking to his two roommates/teammates about soccer. 

“I hope to have kids in the future and I hope to coach them … so, getting that experience [to help coach] was definitely cool,” he says. “But obviously I would rather be on the field playing with my teammates more than anything. And getting back on the field, that was the best moment for me all season.”

With his final St. Andrew’s soccer season behind him, Esposito is looking forward to his next challenge: not just returning to the basketball court, but doing so and learning from last season’s injury. 

“Looking forward, I will be a bit more cautious because basketball, that’s where I got hurt, and hardwood is a lot different than grass,” he says. “I think I’m going to ease my way back into basketball.”

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Shining Bright on New Terrain

Greta Vebeliunas ’25 on her transition to Saints field hockey and finding the freedom to experiment on the pitch

Now part of a field hockey team with a more flexible approach to the game than she has encountered before, Greta Vebeliunas ’25 is using her newfound freedom to find out how she wants to play. She’s learning fluidity on the pitch—finding openings, moving and passing the ball up the field, and using strong stick skills to defend when necessary. 

A V Form transfer to St. Andrew’s, Vebeliunas came out of the gates as an “immediate impact player,” according to varsity Head Coach Kate Cusick. She quickly emerged as a leader and role model for the team, adds Maggie Harris, assistant field hockey coach. 

“Her energy, poise on and off the field, and her work ethic are consistent at both practice and games, and her teammates look to her for her quiet leadership on the field,” says Harris. “While she may be one of the top goal-scorers on the team, Greta is such a humble and selfless player and her presence has helped the team become more dynamic and more cohesive.”

We sat down with the student-athlete to understand her experiences this season with Saints field hockey, and what inspires her to keep up the daily grind. 

Greta Vebeliunas ’25

Were you nervous to join a new field hockey team?

“It was definitely a switch [coming here]. I noticed [how different it was to play with the team] in our first scrimmage … I was kind of nervous. I didn’t know if there was a structure, if they already knew how to play with each other and I didn’t. But everyone was very welcoming and open, and by our second scrimmage, I already felt like I fit in and that I was able to play with them. It just felt natural.”

How is Saints field hockey different from the teams you’ve played with before? 

“On this team, I feel like I'm given the opportunity to just go on the field and do my best, try new things. I’m able to shine more just because of the team itself and how everyone’s really uplifting.”

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered this season? 

“I find that after a long day, a challenging day, mentally, it can be hard to play when you’re thinking about your assignments or your other commitments. And sometimes mentally it can be hard to push those things aside and focus on field hockey. But I find that when I just push everything aside and have fun, that’s the most rewarding experience.”

What have been the most rewarding moments for you? 

“It may be cliché, but anytime we score a goal in a game. Everyone jumps up, hugs each other, everyone is cheering for us. And I feel like [these are the best moments] because sometimes practice can be difficult and it can be like, ‘Why am I doing all of this? My body hurts, my brain hurts.’ But then moments like that, when we’re celebrating each other and hugging, it’s just so heartwarming.”

How has working with the coaching staff been? 

“They’ve been very supportive. They’re always there to hear my concerns or my insights. It’s obvious that they’re there because they want to be.”

How have you branched out in other ways since coming to St. Andrew’s? 

“Here I’ve noticed everyone does whatever they want to. You can be an athlete and a performer without anyone thinking twice about it. I really like that. Right now, I’m in [the Andrean Ensemble] and I’m really enjoying it. And I like how I’m able to do field hockey and sing without having to have a label.”

What’s your ‘why’ behind athletics? 

“I’ve always loved to try new things. I started field hockey in seventh grade, which was a new thing [for me]. And I loved it. I feel like trying new things is often a way to find what you’re passionate about. This year, I’m trying track for the first time in the winter.”

Anything else you’d like to share? 

“This field hockey team is probably my favorite that I’ve played on. Every day when I go to practice, it just feels like a treat. Everyone’s so welcoming and it’s just a really fun time.” 

Greta Vebeliunas ’25


 

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Fully Unpacking her Life

Vivian Snow ’27 on finding home and stability at boarding school 

“The people make the place.”

That sentiment strikes a particular chord with Vivian Snow ’27. A self-described “Army brat” who has lived in nine different states over the course of her life, she has always considered her family as her home, rather than any house and picket fence.

When she visited St. Andrew’s for the first time, she got the sense that the people were what made the school special, too.

“Everyone smiled and said hello to each other,” says Snow. “It felt like everyone wanted to be here, and everyone chose to be here.”

Boarding school wasn’t on the radar for Snow until two years ago, when her brother received funding to attend boarding school in Colorado from Orion Military Scholarships, an organization which provides merit scholarships and financial aid to the children of military families. Snow’s eyes opened: she saw an opportunity to find stability in education and to, for once, take a deep breath and stay a while. 

Snow applied to 10 schools, and eventually narrowed her choices down to St. Andrew’s and another boarding school. The close-knit culture of St. Andrew’s and the connections she formed on Visit Back Day were the deciding factors for her. 

Vivian Snow getting her school photos taken

Her impression of the school has lived up to her experience so far. 

“It’s not even like you [just] get really close with your group of friends, you get close to everyone,” says Snow. “No matter who’s outside after dinner, or who you’re sitting with, you’re friendly with them.”

From the Front Lawn to the field hockey pitch, Snow has stepped out of her comfort zone to forge new friendships and make St. Andrew’s home. This is her first year playing field hockey, because her frequent seasonal moves growing up made it difficult for her to join a fall sports team. 

“It was daunting at first, but within the first 20 minutes of the first practice, everyone was just excited that you’re trying,” says Snow. 

Though Snow is used to hopping around from state to state, she does miss the integral people in her life that followed her no matter where she went: her family. However, she says her whole life has felt like “training” for boarding school, in terms of learning to keep up with long-distance friendships and travel on her own. 

“When someone is in their best place, [that’s] when you are closest to them,” Snow says of how being at her happiest has strengthened her relationships with her parents and siblings, despite living far from home. Her siblings are already buzzing to attend St. Andrew’s when the time comes. 

Vivian Snow at Frosty Run

Though she acknowledges the challenges that come with having parents in the military, she says she would not trade her childhood for anything. “It’s a part of me that has made me who I am and it has prepared me for my future,” she says. 

Snow spends her free time writing for Bloom, an online resource where military teens can connect with and empower each other. She heard about the group through Orion Military Scholarships, and jumped at the opportunity to use her interest in writing to share her story about attending boarding school as a military teen. 

“I found a home after so many years of houses,” writes Snow in her latest blog post about her first week at St. Andrew’s. 

Beyond classes, athletics, extracurriculars, and the blog, Snow is also trying to focus on being present in her friendships, because she knows that for the first time, she’ll have the opportunity to connect with classmates for longer than a couple of years. 

“I feel like I have … a time bomb in my brain, where I want to get all my memories in, all my pictures in, because I know I don’t have forever with these people,” she says. “I kind of have to slow myself down, [because now] I have a long time with these people. It’s the most amazing feeling.”
 

Vivian Snow at football game
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From Australia to Delaware

Meet two of the school’s newest Saints: Coco Holden ’27 and Reese Holden ’27

Coco Holden ’27 and Reese Holden ’27 came halfway across the world for their first year of high school. But just over a month into the school year, St. Andrew’s already feels like home for these twins from Australia. 

Coco and Reese have a typical sibling banter, poking fun at each other often. “She’s a bit more nerdy than I am,” quips Reese. Coco responds that she “embraces” her nerdiness. 

But the sisters value their relationship and sticking together, which is why they took the leap and decided to attend St. Andrew’s as a duo. Coco, never having been to St. Andrew’s before she arrived for International Orientation, even trusted Reese’s impression of the school enough to apply and commit. 

“We came for International Orientation, so we were just driving in, and it didn’t feel real,” says Coco. They remember their first day on campus, when all the faculty already knew their names and the seniors kindly moved all their belongings into their dorms. 

Reese had made that drive down the main road once before. About a year ago, she joined her mother on a work trip to America. Her mother, who grew up in Arlington, Va., remembered a school that came up again and again amongst her childhood friends: St. Andrew’s. Reese, who knew she wanted something different than her current school, called St. Andrew’s to schedule a tour—a tour with Dean of Admission & Financial Aid Will Robinson ’97 that ended up being three hours long. 

Reese returned to Australia and shared a glowing review of St. Andrew’s with her sister. After thinking it over—and receiving more than a few emails from Robinson—Coco and Reese carefully crafted their applications and sent them in. 

They both found out they were accepted in the middle of watching Hamilton in the theater. The moment the show was over, they bolted out of the doors to celebrate—these two weren’t throwing away their shot.

The pair complements each other well: Coco considers herself to be STEM-oriented while Reese is interested in creative writing and the arts. However, both share a love of field hockey (which, they note, is just referred to as “hockey” in Australia). 

They made the JV field hockey team, though Reese is unfortunately unable to play due to a concussion. She still savors going to the games and vibing with the team’s energy. 

They have also already fallen in love with the community service opportunities that St. Andrew’s offers. The sisters value getting to know Middletown and its people through this program: Reese volunteers at the MOT Senior Center, and Coco has been involved with Adaptive Aquatics, a St. Andrew’s program that offers swimming lessons to local special-needs students.

Reese says that fitting all these activities into her packed schedule has been a wonderful antidote to missing home. “I thought I’d be more homesick than I am,” she says. “I’ve been keeping myself really busy over here, so I don’t think I’ve had very much time to think about it.” 

The sisters say that they do think of home when they see classmates making plans for long weekends, or when they hear them on the phone with their families—something that the time difference makes challenging for Coco and Reese. When they start to miss home, they’ve found comfort in the different support systems at St. Andrew’s.

The duo says the international community has been essential to their transition to the States. They gave particular kudos to Ruth Hilton ’24 for helping them adjust to their new lives. 

Coco and Reese can be found on campus doing some of their favorite pastimes: soaking in the sun on the Front Lawn and dreaming about pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce as they count down the days until their first Thanksgiving.
 

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The Crossroad of Passion and Scholarship

William Lin ’24 on the spark behind the essay that made its way to The Concord Review

From the moment his parents bestowed on him a hand-me-down iPhone 4 when he was younger, capturing beauty with a camera has fascinated William Lin ’24. 

But his first year at St. Andrew’s was a turning point for his hobby. He honed his photography skills and deepened his passion for the art form as he traveled around China taking pictures of “different scenes, different people, [and] different cultures.”

Lin spent his first year at St. Andrew’s in an atypical fashion: abroad in his home city of Beijing, China, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to forgo a normal year of school. 

A year later, he was finally on campus and in Dean of Studies Melinda Tower’s history classroom, taking “A World at War,” an advanced study course that explores 20th-Century wars and why they started, the way they were fought, and why they ended.

The gears started to turn for Lin. In the classroom, with conversations centered on photo censorship during World War II, he found himself at the intersection of his love of history and his passion for photography.

This brewing interest in censorship followed him into his V Form year. While taking “Research Seminar,” an advanced study history course that immerses students in scholarly research and challenges them to write a thoughtful research paper, he decided to explore the topic that piqued his curiosity in “A World at War.” 

When Victor Cuicahua, a former St. Andrew’s faculty member and then-instructor of the seminar, read Lin’s paper, “Whitewashing the War: U.S. Censorship of Photography during World War II,” he was impressed.
 
Lin remembers that Cuicahua pointed out the exceptional nature of the paper, and urged Lin to submit it to The Concord Review, a highly selective quarterly academic journal, the only such journal that exists that offers secondary students the opportunity to submit academic history papers. Emboldened by his instructor’s feedback, he pushed “submit.” And then the waiting game began.

“I got the news during senior orientation on my watch,” Lin recalls of the beginning of this school year. “My watch is one of those where you get the text but it doesn’t show the entire text, so I was looking at it, and it was like, ‘Dear William, I’m writing to tell you that your paper has been’ and it just cuts off there.”

The anticipation was almost unbearable for the next several hours as Lin sat through orientation, waiting to read the remainder of that email. He exercised one of the many virtues of Saints: patience. 

It paid off: his paper had been accepted for publication. His essay was one of 11 featured in the fall issue of The Concord Review, written by student scholars around the world. It was published in early September.

In the paper, Lin argues that the U.S. government instituted a “carefully managed censorship regime” during the second World War for a two-fold purpose: to minimize racial tensions and conflict in the United States by hiding racism in the military, and to conceal the degree to which racial integration was present in the military to avoid angering prejudiced Americans. 

Reflecting on the thought-provoking classroom conversations that shaped his paper, Lin remembers a particular conversation with Tower regarding a Dorothea Lange photo—the unmistakable “Migrant Mother” photo from the Great Depression. Lin discovered through this conversation that the photographer had taken that photo without permission, and that the woman in the image disputed the photo as she refused to be seen as a symbol of the Depression. 

Conversations like this one with Tower—as well as with Cuicahua and Dean of Students Matthew Carroll, the other faculty member heading the seminar—illuminated for Lin that there are complex depths behind a simple photo: layers of interpretation, censorship, intent, and more. 

Through a historical and artistic lens, Lin brought these layers into dialogue with one another in his research. Beyond what he discusses in the paper, Lin also recognizes implications of historical censorship on contemporary issues. 

“I think [censorship of photography] is going to be a relevant topic, even though censorship is not necessarily a main thing that is happening right now because there’s so many avenues with the internet and social media [for images to spread],” Lin says. “But with generative [artificial intelligence] and generative imaging, it’s more of an issue of deep fakes and misinformation. I’m certainly looking forward to looking deeper into this in college and finding a new direction.” 
 

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Meet the 2023-2024 Co-Presidents

An inside look at the two newest leaders of the student body

Classes, homework, college applications, clubs, varsity sports: Charlie Lunsford ’24 and Riya Soni ’24 have a lot on their plates in their final year at St. Andrew’s before they head off to college. But this duo has another weighty responsibility to balance, too—serving as school co-presidents. But as any SAS student knows, St. Andrew’s is not just a “school.” 

“The line between school and home here is so incredibly blurred that we not only have to create a good school experience for students, but a good home life, or as close to home as we can get,” says Soni.

Stepping into the shoes of former co-presidents Trinity Smith ’23 and Ford Chapman ’23 is no easy task for Lunsford and Soni, but the two are eager to tackle their new roles, as their past experiences have led up to this moment. 

Soni came to St. Andrew’s as a new IV Form student after completing her freshman year in her home state of New Jersey. Soon into her time here, she founded the Social Justice Club with a few of her fellow students. 

“Through organizing projects and coordinating with teachers, I got a really tangible taste for what leadership meant,” Soni says of her experience founding the club. 

Lunsford, a three-sport athlete from North Carolina, took one of his first forays into leadership in his IV Form year as captain of the squash team. He also feels that in his three years at St. Andrew’s, he has become an informal leader of his class.

“When the opportunity to be [co-president] came up I kind of just jumped at it because of the love I have for everyone in my class and these connections we’ve built,” says Lunsford. “I feel like there’s nothing that I care about more than my class.”

As co-presidents, Soni and Lunsford’s responsibilities include heading Form Council, giving daily announcements, working with faculty to serve as a voice for the students, and sitting on the Honor Committee and Discipline Committee. 

“Our priorities include having a really solid and communicative Form Council so that planning events like Casino Night and the Haunted Trail go smoothly,” Soni says. The duo would also like to plan more weekend social events, like movies on the Front Lawn, or bonfire and s’mores nights. “[We want to do this] so students feel more encouraged to take breaks from their work, opt-in, and socialize,” she says.

With SAS culture restored to its former glory after the pandemic, Soni and Lunsford would like to explore bringing some old-school traditions back, like the schoolwide Olympics or assigning students to Hogwarts houses.

As much fun as that all sounds, the co-presidents consider one job to be more paramount.

“The biggest goal of the co-presidents is to protect the school’s culture,” says Lunsford.  

The students serve as role models for others, and step up when they see something going on that does not align with the school’s values. 

“It is all about culture. That’s the one thing that differentiates us from [other schools],” says Soni. 

She adds that practicing what she preaches is not always easy, especially because she is still learning and growing at a place where progress is the mission, not perfection. However, she says that taking accountability for her own actions is what matters, and that’s what she expects from her fellow students as well. 

The seniors plan to stay on top of their responsibilities while taking care of themselves by relying on each other, students in Form Council, and faculty, and by giving themselves grace. 

But the two say that it isn’t hard to juggle their responsibilities when they feel so passionate about their roles. 

“People don’t remember what you say to them, or what you do for them, they remember how you make them feel,” says Soni. “And if we can, amidst all the stress and all the jam-packed schedules … if we can make people stop and experience pure happiness … that just means the world to me.”

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