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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

Crossing the finish line together

In her speech at Commencement 2024, Co-President Riya Soni ’24 reflected on growth fueled by failure and the support system of the St. Andrew’s community. 

My dad always says I should not let failure discourage me. I have interpreted his words in two ways: “Failure should not discourage me from being brave enough to try, or strong enough to try again.”

That was a direct quote from my application to St. Andrew’s, which I received last night during the senior wall carving. Upon reading that, I immediately thought to myself, “Why was a 14-year-old version of me kind of smarter than me right now?” 

I go on to say, “Truthfully, whenever presented with a new opportunity to explore an interest, the thought of failing always initially crossed my mind. But now, I know failing is okay and a part of life, and if I don’t fail, how will I learn, grow, or better myself?” 

While this was well said and absolutely resonates with me today, I can’t help but feel that 14-year-old me was simply saying what sounded good in her head, rather than preaching what lived experiences have taught her. 

I can now say with the utmost confidence that during my three years at this school, I’ve reached lofty goals through all adversity by knowing I have an abundance of support through the Class of 2024 and the greater SAS community. 

One moment I felt this immense support was in the winter crew season—if you know you know—where we completed an annual triathlon. 

Now, this triathlon entailed a 4,000-meter erg piece, followed by a two-and-a-half mile run around campus. And if that wasn’t enough, it was met with sprinting up and down 10 flights of stairs in the field house. 

On this particular day, despite going into the triathlon with as strong of a mentality I could muster, I felt defeated in every component of this workout. 4,000 meters felt like 10,000, a typically do-able run had me stopping halfway through, and where I could usually tap into my remaining energy for stair sprints, said energy was nowhere to be found and I ended up stopping immediately after the running portion. 

Now, we’ve all had these moments during which we don’t reach our fullest potential and feel down on ourselves as a byproduct. However, that feeling fueled my motivation in not only wanting to complete the next triathlon, but also shoot for a personal best in each test. 

My teammates on both the Founders and Constellation side saw my determination and wanted to help me reach my goals, so thank you for that. They showed their support by erging next to me, staying with me after practice to supplement the occasional ab workout, and pushing me to load more weight on the bar despite my reluctance to do so. 

In the end, our combined efforts helped me reach the personal best I sought after. 

Judging from my experiences in this community, I find that all of the students here have extremely high expectations of themselves—not just as athletes, but as intellectuals, performers, and role models. What I’ve also learned is that the people in life who have the highest expectations also tend to “fail” the most, especially when being stretched across multiple disciplines in the way we are here. 

That being said, I’ve never considered myself a failure during my time here. Instead, I think St. Andrew’s students, particularly the Class of 2024, are resilient, hardworking, and extremely capable individuals. I urge you all to keep your goals lofty and your expectations high, and to lean into each other’s support when the going gets tough. 

The loyalty we have for one another, as well as the responsibility we feel, is something I truly have never experienced anywhere else, and I want to thank my class specifically for being so willing to accept me as a new sophomore. As we embark in different communities in the fall, I find peace in knowing that over the past three years, I’ve retained little bits and pieces of all of you through our interactions and experiences—such that the person I am today is the person you all have pushed me to be. 

I will always feel close to this class because no matter where I go, I carry a piece of you all with me. And for that, there are no words to express my gratitude.

This day is a celebration of all we’ve accomplished together, and I’m truly honored to be a part of this class. Thank you. 

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Success, the St. Andrew’s Way

Co-President Charlie Lunsford ’24 explored the meaning of success at St. Andrew’s in his speech at Commencement 2024

I feel so much pride and joy to be standing up here today representing the Class of 2024. 

To all the teachers and faculty who have helped me along the way, my advisor, my friends, my family, thank you for pushing me to be the man I’ve grown into today, and most of all for believing in me. 

To my friends, thank you for teaching me how to laugh so hard that I cry, and for the memories we have made here. 

To my siblings, Liza, Will, and Jordan, thank you for making mistakes first, so I did not have to make them. I love you three. 

And finally to my mom and dad, I love you and truly cannot thank you enough for every single thing you have done for me. 

One of my favorite freshman boys, Barack Tillard ’27, comes up to me every single day with a new question. “Hey, Charlie, is my tennis forehand form correct?” “What's for lunch?” “Can you take me fishing?” He drives me insane, but I still love him. 

One day, though, he asked me a peculiar question that I pondered for a while. He asked me, “Charlie, how do I be successful at St. Andrew’s?” At first, I laughed, not really knowing how to answer, but then I realized the importance of his question. 

How do we define success at St. Andrew’s? Now, I think this may differ for many people, but I will tell you why I’ve found myself to have actually had much success at St. Andrew’s. Being here, we tend to obsess over the numbers or the letters, whether it is ACT SAT scores, quarter grades, passing or failing, As or Bs, or 12% acceptance rates. We might obsess over the numbers and letters that initially we believe define us. I’m guilty of this, as well, as I have found myself many times stressing over these numbers that I think are miniature reflections of myself. 

But when I ask myself, why did I come to St. Andrew’s, I remember it was never for the numbers or the letters. I came to St. Andrew’s to build connections, to find another home, to foster relationships between friends that would last a lifetime. I came to St. Andrew’s to figure out how to be a better man and to take steps to better myself. Numbers never contributed to this. 

I have 78 people who I love with my whole heart, an advisor who is like another father to me, teachers who I think would take a bullet for me, teammates and coaches that have pushed me towards my limits ever since my first practices here, roommates that will be best friends for life and one who will likely be my best man at my potential wedding. 

To me, this is success. I define success not by letters or numbers that are printed onto a piece of paper every two-and-a-half months, but instead by relationships I built here that will last a lifetime. 

So yes, strive to be the best you can be academically and work hard in class, but ask yourself, what does it mean to be successful at St. Andrew’s? Underclassmen, your time here will fly by, and soon enough you’ll be at your own Commencement like us. I hope you are all able to look back on your four years like I have and say success. Thank you. 
 

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Yiru Wang ’25 recognized at local science fairs for engineering project

How an observation on the basketball courts inspired an award-winning independent research project

Like many budding engineers, Legos and Transformers were the building blocks of a growing passion for STEM within Yiru Wang ’25. The origin, however, of Wang’s engineering project that took him to two regional science fairs wasn’t found within these bins of legos, but on the Sipprelle Field House basketball courts.

Wang has been a presence in the St. Andrew’s basketball program since their III Form year, leading the varsity Constellation basketball team in three-pointers and remaining among the top scorers on the team each year. 

“I’m a basketball player myself, a student-athlete, and I’ve witnessed my teammates and myself and my coaches getting knee injuries really often,” says Wang. “And also my parents, as they get older, they are having trouble getting around, moving around, and being able to exercise their knees every single day.”

He watched as the people in his life utilized different types of knee braces to rehabilitate from their injuries, devices he classifies into two types: a cloth brace, “which is focused more on decreasing swelling in your knee and limiting blood flow,” and a “heavier, bulkier metal brace,” which he says “is mostly targeted on immobilization after surgeries to limit any kind of movement in your leg and knee.” 

Wang began to notice what he felt was a gap in these devices: What about a flexible, assistive rehabilitation device that helps an injured person facilitate gradual movements? 

Wang started to breathe life into their idea by talking to their St. Andrew’s community about it toward the end of their IV Form year. They discussed their concept with their friends on the crew team, their basketball coach, the athletic trainers, science faculty, and anyone else at St. Andrew’s with an ear to listen. 

“What definitely was the most helpful for me was their motivation and also their acknowledgement of how useful a device like this could be if I did carry out the research and manufacturing of this device,” says Wang. 

Emboldened by the community’s encouragement, Wang combed through research on pre-existing devices and materials. The summer after his IV Form year, he crafted his “pneumatic knee exoskeleton,” which consists of three sections of “airbag structures” which inflate and deflate to help the user bend and extend their knee. 

“I worked for around a month over the summer, and I worked really hard,” says Wang. “It was 10 hours per day, so that was a lot of work for me. But I really enjoyed the process. It was just a very independent research process.”

Wang learned by doing. They explored different two-dimensional and three-dimensional design software, and they learned how to sew to develop “a breathable outside layer” for the device. 

“I was able to gain so much knowledge about the medical and orthopedic rehabilitation field in general and also just learn random skills that I know will be helpful for me in the future, too,” says Wang. 

Upon his return home to China for Winter Break, Wang spent all his free time fine-tuning his project for the upcoming New Castle County Science Fair, in which he would be competing in the engineering category. 

As the science fair approached, Wang had to overcome a logistical hurdle, one that only a student attending boarding school would likely confront: How do you showcase a project that was developed on the other side of the globe? 

Wang calls the lead-up to the science fair a “chaotic“ time, as their disassembled project was shipped to St. Andrew’s from China, and they had to reassemble it on top of classwork, homework, afternoon activities, and all of the other responsibilities that come along with the St. Andrew’s experience. 

“It was really hard for me to find the time to put everything together and organize everything before the science fair,” says Wang. “I did have to stay up really late and wake up really early. It was a little bit hectic for me, but it was a really rewarding experience, finally seeing everything.”

Wang also credits his St. Andrew’s community with helping him with the little things as he prepped for the science fair, like running around campus trying to print all the materials for his poster. 

“I couldn’t have done anything without [the faculty who helped me],” says Wang. “Even though it’s an independent project, at the end of the day, it’s all those small things that other people around me helped me with that were really meaningful.”

In late March, Wang traveled to the Staton Campus of the Delaware Technical Community College for the fair, meeting other students from across the region and receiving helpful feedback from the judges. 

“It’s more than just a competition … but more of a socializing event and just being able to form those connections with like-minded people that are genuinely interested in STEM,” says Wang. 

Wang placed first in the engineering category, won the Agilent Special Award for Most Likely to Improve the Human Condition, and the FUJIFILM Special Award for Best in Show, advancing to the April 2-4 Delaware Valley Science Fairs. 

At this fair, Wang won the Office of Naval Research Naval Science Award and the West Pharmaceutical Services Engineering Award. Though this is the final fair that Wang will compete in this year, he says that this is not the end of the road for his research. 

“I still want to learn more about this area from different angles,” says Wang. “For example, maybe the biomedical angle to learn more about what can be done on the nanotechnology or micro-level. And then also more on the medicine, health side of things, like the anatomy of the knee. Knowledge in different areas can definitely help me create a more in-depth research project on top of what I already have. This is something that is going to be an ongoing process for me.”
 

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Amanda Meng ’25 awarded for nanomedicine research project

Amanda Meng ’25 dove into biochemistry and nanomedicine in a Johns Hopkins summer internship and science fair research project 

Amanda Meng ’25 is not afraid to send a cold email. It was one she sent to a researcher that landed her a summer internship working in Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Center for Nanomedicine. 

“You don’t know what life will give you,” she says. “Sometimes [someone will] say, ‘Yeah, of course, come in.’”

She worked under scientists researching Acriflavine—a drug that is used to control Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a cause of blindness and vision impairment in older adults—and how loading the drug into microparticles (MPs) may allow for sustained release of the drug. 

Hours spent in the lab with the researchers sparked questions for Meng about how to improve the efficacy of the microparticles, and those questions informed what would become an award-winning science project at two local science fairs. 

Though she knows that her project, titled “Effect of triethylamine (TEA), homogenization speed, and extended release of acriflavine poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles,” is a mouthful and might elicit a few head-scratches, she says that the project is simple in concept. 

“I had a really good relationship with the project director and I learned a lot about the techniques and the procedure, how they did stuff,” says Meng. “And then one day I was like, ‘Wait, I think we could do better than this. I think we could take this a step further,’ because they were really limited in the drug loading, which means how much drug the particle contains. And I read up on previous literature and asked around the different researchers, and [the research says that] basically adding this substance called triethylamine is able to allow for the [microparticles] to be bigger and contain more of the drug inside.”

Additionally, she considered how homogenization speed in the preparation of the microparticles may affect the size and drug loading of the microparticles. 

Meng collected data on how adjustments in homogenization speed and the addition of TEA may affect the Acriflavine microparticles in her time at the lab. Months later in her St. Andrew’s dorm, she analyzed the data, wrote her research paper, and constructed her trifold poster for the science fair. 

“MP size is found to increase with TEA amount increase,” writes Meng in her research paper. “[However,] MP size and drug loading decreases with an increase in homogenization speed.”

At the New Castle County Science Fair, she says the judges were curious about her project and asked her questions that challenged her. She remembers a particular conversation with one of the judges that touched on a niche interest in science she wishes to pursue. 

“[The judge] majored in chemistry and philosophy, and we had a great conversation about how those different disciplines interact,” Meng says. “That’s what I’m looking to study—biology, philosophy, and chemistry.”

At this fair, she won second place in the Biochemistry Category, and at the following Delaware Valley Science Fair, she received an Honorable Mention in the Biochemistry Category and the Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association - Greater Philadelphia Song Li Award.

Aside from the research team she worked with over the summer, Meng extends huge thanks to her St. Andrew’s community and, particularly, biology teacher Adam Toltin-Bitzer, for the hours they spent together in the Mein Common Room and Dining Hall discussing the project. 

“The mountain of love and effort that he gives this community is awesome,” says Meng. 

Ever since her III Form year, Meng has been eager to dive head-first into research. The Curiosity Quest, an ecology project she remembers from that year, ignited her desire for hands-on experimentation. 

“You could pick your own field of study or a question to pursue that has any interest in the environment,” she says. “How do animals interact with the environment? How do plants interact with the environment? I did my study on plants, leaves, and how the cells duplicate … That really got me excited about doing research. I love problem solving.”

Meng says a genuine love of learning, a love that is not just confined to the science laboratories but to all the different disciplines she studies at St. Andrew’s and beyond, motivates her to get her hands dirty with research and learning outside of the classroom. 

“I really, really enjoy the process of getting to learn about something new, getting to just dive into an area I know nothing about and try to piece things together myself,” says Meng. “I’ve had very long conversations with a lot of teachers about how education is not only an end, but it’s also a means to an end. You’re not just learning for the grade, you’re learning for the content. You’re learning for your curiosity. And that’s something that has brought so much meaning to the work I do.”
 

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Daisy Wang ’25 wins sixth annual McLean Science Lecture Competition

Students presented independent research on astrophysics, AI, alternative medicine, and sustainable farming at this science communication competition. 

As a student in Science Department Chair Dr. Ashley Hyde’s astronomy class, Daisy Wang ’25 first became interested in gravitational lensing to detect distant exoplanets. 

“I found that really interesting so I always wanted to learn more about it,” said Wang.

The McLean Science Lecture Competition exists so students can do precisely that: learn more about the science that inspires them. Wang, along with a handful of other budding scientists at St. Andrew’s, entered this year’s competition to explore a complex topic at length and present it in the fashion of a TED Talk. Out of the students who auditioned in the first round of the competition, four students—Wang, Amanda Meng ’25, Ashley McIntosh ’25, and Lindy Black ’25—were selected for the final round of the competition which took place on Friday, March 22 in Engelhard. There, they presented their findings to students and faculty in attendance. 

A panel of science faculty, as well as 2023 finalist Zachary Macalintal ’24, served as this year’s judging panel, which selected one of the students as the overall winner of the competition. Hyde announced at a March 28 school meeting that Wang won this year’s competition. Read about the finalists’ selected topics below:

Daisy Wang ’25, “Einstein Ring: Gravitational Lensing of Distant Celestial Objects”

Daisy Wang ’25

In her presentation, Wang explained how gravity can distort and magnify light. She focused on how this distortion of light can form an Einstein Ring, a phenomenon in which a ring of light can be observed when a light source passes by a massive object en route to Earth. To fully break down the Einstein Ring, Wang explored Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the history of the Einstein Ring, and the different types of gravitational lensing. 

She asserted that the Einstein Ring and other types of gravitational lensing are more than just an interesting observation—they allow scientists to discover more about the universe. She explained that gravitational lensing helps scientists detect distant exoplanets, understand the early universe and the structure and distribution of dark matter, and learn more about the light sources themselves. 

“Because of the magnification effect [of gravitational lensing, it] can help us detect things that we cannot otherwise detect using the technology we have right now,” said Wang. 

Wang says she was honored to be selected as this year’s winner because of just how strong all of the finalists’ talks were. 

“Before the actual talk I was really nervous, but when I actually got on stage, it felt natural,” says Wang. “Going into the competition, I wasn’t really thinking about winning. I just wanted to do my best to present [my research].”

Amanda Meng ’25, “Hey Siri, When Will I Die?: Using Live Events and Machine Learning to Predict Mortality and Extraversion”

Amanda Meng ’25

Do you find AI scary? Do you have a basic understanding of AI?

Meng posed these questions to the student body as she delivered her science lecture.

“I think a lot of our fear comes from our misunderstanding of this technology,” said Meng. “I hope my talk today serves as an interesting way for us to know and interact with the fundamentals of computer science and machine learning. And through this, we’re able to better recognize and reexamine our relationship with technology and machine learning around us.”

Then, Meng ripped her index cards in half. She said she didn’t fully write the introduction herself, but she did with the assistance of ChatGPT, a generative AI chatbot. 

“That just [goes] to show how powerful machine learning models today have become,” she said. “And that this is a topic [that is] more relevant than ever.”

In Meng’s lecture, she went beyond a surface-level discussion of AI and dove deep into applications of AI that can help us learn more about ourselves. 

Meng broke down the definitions of AI, machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing. She used these concepts as the building blocks to discuss the focus of her presentation: Life2Vec, an AI model that attempts to predict human mortality. Meng explained how scientists collected millions of “life sequences” in order to identify the factors that influence mortality and to make predictions about when people might die. She extended the conversation about Life2Vec into other applications of the model, which includes predicting the sociability of a person based on the same life sequences. 

“Now, can we actually predict when we die?” asked Meng. “Technically, no. Because each of our lives are so unique that we encounter so many individual circumstances, we don’t really know what happens to us tomorrow or the day after. And as a result of our uniqueness, the machine is actually not able to produce an estimate on one certain individual. However, because of the good and vast amount of data the machine has been trained on, we’re actually really good at predicting data and mortality on a bunch of people.”

Ashley McIntosh ’25, “Alternative Medicine: How Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) Can Mitigate the Use of Opioids”

Ashley McIntosh ’25

Like Meng, fellow presenter McIntosh did not shy away from serious topics, with McIntosh’s presentation exploring a potential treatment for those addicted to opioids. 

“Coming from the inner cities of New York, it is not uncommon to see pill bottles and needles and other remnants of addictive medicines lying on the sides of the road,” said McIntosh.

In her presentation, McIntosh defined what opioids are, how they work in the brain, and their addictive nature. She then introduced TENS, a medical device which generates electrical currents to nerve pathways in order to alleviate pain. 

She thoroughly discussed the neurobiological mechanisms behind TENS, yet also focused on the clinical practice and application of TENS and the future and viability of it as a potential long-term solution to opioid addiction. 

“[TENS] is still subject to ongoing research, clinical implementation, and healthcare policy considerations,” said McIntosh. 

Lindy Black ’25, “Mother Nature’s Solution to Climate Change: The Key to Reversing Post Industrial Revolution Burning of Fossil Fuels”

Lindy Black ’25

In the final presentation of the night, Black tackled what she called “Mother Nature’s solution to climate change”: cover crops. But before she got there, she helped the audience understand the science behind climate change and the dilemma of Taylor Swift superfans: loving her music, but not the massive amounts of carbon emissions caused by the star’s travel. 

Black’s upbringing growing up on a tree farm inspired her to research this topic. 

“The topic of plants and trees and the innovation and the experimentation that’s happening in that field … [comes up] at the dinner table every night,” said Black. 

She defined the greenhouse effect and its impact on the planet and how that relates to the carbon cycle. Cover crops, she explained, help offset carbon emissions by increasing the percentage of soil organic matter in soil, which stores carbon in the ground. These crops are planted in the offseason of cash crops. Black notes that they do not only store carbon in their roots, the soil, and their stems and leaves, but they replenish the soil with nutrients and help to prevent wind and water erosion. 

Black argued that we can all play a part in mitigating the effects of climate change by planting cover crops in our own backyards and educating people about and advocating for this type of sustainable farming.

“All you have to do is look up the word ‘cover crops' and all of the sudden, you’ll have products popping up for you to buy and for you to plant in your backyard so you can take part in the reversal of the warming of the planet,” said Black. 

Watch the full video of the McLean Science Lecture Competition here.
 

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Access For All

This year’s Hooper Conference highlighted the fight for disability rights

In developing the theme of this year’s Thomas H. Hooper III ’71 Conference on Equity & Justice, a few things came together for Dean of Inclusion & Belonging Dr. Danica Tisdale Fisher. She remembered watching the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, a 2020 documentary that explores the history of the disability rights movement, and feeling touched by the sense of interconnectedness that exists between various campaigns for civil and human rights. She also reflected on conversations she had with Grace Anne Doyle ’25, a consistent voice on campus who educates the school community about issues of access and disability.

“I was inspired to use the Hooper Conference to lift up this topic for our community to consider,” Fisher says.

Titled “Access, Advocacy, and the Fight for Disability Rights,” the conference was held March 1-3 and organized by Fisher, the Student Diversity Committee (SDC), and Doyle.

At the conference, disability rights advocates Beth Halsted ’77, Jenny Kern ’83, and Athletics Aide Mike Rivera P’23,’26 told their personal stories of resilience and the work they’ve done in the struggle for equal access. 

Halsted opened up the conference in a Friday morning chapel talk speaking to her athletic experiences at St. Andrew’s. One of the first girls to attend the school, she played field hockey until a knee injury took her out of play. However, this injury presented her with a new opportunity: to assist close friend Tripper Showell ’75 in the training room, which she ended up doing every following fall and winter of her time at SAS. She recovered from the injury enough to forge what would become a lifelong passion for rowing. The same knee injury sidelined her in her VI Form year, leading her to take on a coaching position for the second boat. 

It was her days in the training room, however, that proved more useful than she could have ever imagined. 

“I found myself a decade later, trapped in a wrecked car on a dark country road, needing every bit of that accumulated knowledge, composure, and skill to stay alive for the six hours it took to be found,” Halsted told students. She knew that her neck was broken, and she also knew that falling asleep would put her in danger. “Tripper’s instruction about spinal injury, concussion, shock, and its treatment revisited me that night as I tasked myself to remain alert through the many hours before sunrise.” 

In the months following the accident, she had to relearn everything she knew about her body, and re-negotiate her relationship with crew. She loved the sport so much that she couldn’t bear the idea of getting back in the boat in a modified way. But her St. Andrew’s community, who remained in her corner, knew to challenge her. 

“I would have never gotten back in a crew shell had I not been contacted by the very same handful of boys who encouraged me to get on the water in the spring of 1974,” she said. 

With her former classmates, they built a rowing club of alumni oarsmen in Wilmington, Delaware, with her in the cox seat. 

“As challenges presented themselves, they would be conquered,” she said. “Every practice, once they put the boat in the water, one of them would scoop me up and put me in the boat … Being back on the water with those guys and finding a way I could be involved with a sport I loved felt like freedom, and I will be forever grateful. They just knew what I needed and they refused to allow any barriers to that experience.” 

Beth Halstead presentation

The discussion about overcoming barriers to access continued that evening, with an all-school screening of the documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. The documentary tells the story of Camp Jened, a camp where teenagers with disabilities explored a future not marked by isolation, discrimination, and institutionalization, but by full inclusion and liberation. The documentary follows the activists who migrated from Camp Jened to Berkeley, California, and fought for disability justice. 

Doyle, along with the SDC, spearheaded group discussions following the documentary screening in Engelhard. The V former says that watching the documentary was an eye-opening experience for her and her peers. 

“Last year and this year, I’ve given speeches at School Meeting to explain my experience with disability and what I ask from people around me,” she says. “But I think with this conference … I wanted people to understand that sharing my experience is my experience. And every single person with a disability has different things that they can and can’t do, and their experience and feelings toward their disability are going to be different.”

Doyle says the documentary showed numerous perspectives and identities of people who live with all types of disabilities. 

“That was really good, because there’s a small number of people at St. Andrew’s that live with physical or cognitive disabilities, whether they’re visible or invisible,” Doyle says. “The documentary was an opportunity for people to hear a lot of different perspectives.”

Kern is an expert on the history of the Disability Rights Movement that Crip Camp documents because she was part of making that history happen. In a live virtual talk and Q&A with Kern the following morning, the school community furthered the conversation about the evolution of disability rights. 

Kern’s journey with disability began in the mid ’80s when she sustained a spinal cord injury in a car accident soon after she entered college. 

“That May day, I entered a new world about which I knew practically nothing,” she said. “But I knew myself and that despite the many losses, I was intact in the most fundamental of ways.” Like Halsted, she cited the love and support of her friends and family, including her St. Andrew’s community, who sustained her during a difficult time. 

Kern’s experience with disability led her to advocacy. After transferring to Barnard College after the injury, she joined a school committee aimed at increasing access for students with disabilities. She learned how to be creative, how to ask friends for help, and she integrated her experience of being a person who uses a wheelchair into her identity. 

Since, Kern has done and seen it all. She briefly returned to St. Andrew’s to coach crew and teach before traveling to Berkeley to volunteer and campaign for disability rights. She went to law school and practiced public interest law, before founding Inclusive Cycling International to increase access to adaptive cycling. Internationally, she also advocates for access to wheelchairs and organizes conferences on disability.

“What events or places or causes will be your Camp Jened?” Kern asked students. “What in your life will bring together the parts of yourself that you love, and maybe you’ve been taught to be ashamed of? Where is the place and who are the people that you risk turning toward to be your truest self and to perhaps create something bigger than yourself?”

Jenny Kern presentation

The story of Kern’s extensive career elicited numerous questions from the student moderators—Doyle, Zachary Macalintal ’24, and Ashley McIntosh ’25—and the audience. Among questions about her perspective on Crip Camp and her experiences with adaptive sports, Saints looked to Kern for advice on what they can do to identify the “new frontier” for disability activism and be activists and allies themselves.

The conference concluded Sunday evening with a presentation from Rivera. Rivera, who is deaf, had two goals: to educate students on the fight for deaf rights today and on 1988’s Deaf President Now student protest at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., as well as to expand the community’s understanding of Deaf culture. 

“As I interact with students daily in the athletics department, it was a great opportunity to share some basic tips for engaging and communicating with deaf people,” Rivera writes. 

He shared his background, including the barriers and language deprivation he experienced as a child, and his experience going to boarding school. When he learned American Sign Language (ASL), his “world opened.”

Fast forward to his time at Gallaudet, a university designed to educate deaf and hard-of-hearing students. Rivera and fellow students at Gallaudet came together with a shared cause: to demand that the school’s board of trustees appoint a deaf president instead of the hearing candidate they chose to lead the university. Students shut the doors of their buildings, they marched, and they campaigned under the banner of “Deaf President Now” until the leaders of the university took notice, finally appointing a deaf president instead.

Rivera asserted that the battle for deaf rights is not over, citing a need for open-captioned movies at theaters among other challenges.

He also provided tips for the community to communicate better with him and other deaf and hard-of-hearing people: make eye-contact when speaking, write or text to communicate, and learn basic phrases in ASL. 

“I want students to be aware of the Deaf community, American Sign Language, and our fight against isolation and the need for access everyday,” Rivera shares. 

He adds that he was touched to see how many students attended his presentation and engaged with him with excitement, energy, and thoughtful questions. 

“You can see the importance of the event by the way the students interacted with me before the weekend and again after the conference,” Rivera notes. “Everyone internalized my message and are much more willing to engage with me and ask questions about my culture, my language, and my experience.”

Mike Rivera presentation

Fisher says that she was thoroughly impressed by the “intellectual curiosity” of both the student organizers of the conference and the student body as they explored disability rights history and these personal experiences during the conference. 

“For some, this was the first time that they had thought critically about disability issues or even considered the history of the disability rights movement, so in many ways this conference provided a new lens through which to think about equity and inclusion that some had not imagined before,” says Fisher. 

While the conference may be over, Fisher says the campus conversation about access and ability is just getting started. 

“From what we’ve learned about our community through our guest presenters, SAS has come a long way in terms of its physical accessibility for all of us who live and learn on this campus, and in terms of ensuring accommodations are met in our classrooms,” she says. “While we applaud where we’ve progressed, it is always important to think about ways that we can strive to be more inclusive and accessible. I think the conference sparked some of those conversations and encouraged our students to take inventory of our spaces and our culture to find new ways to advance belongingness and equity at St. Andrew’s.”

Students at Mike Rivera presentation


 

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Musical Breakthroughs with the Neave Trio

The Neave Trio’s Haroldson Masterclass Concert opens new ways of playing for students

On Feb. 9, Engelhard Hall was brimming with the rich sounds of the piano, violin, and cello, as the musicians of the Neave Trio moved in sync with the ups and downs of their arrangements. Pianist Eri Nakamura’s fingers danced on top of the piano as she played fast and light, and violinist Anna William perked up in rhythm with the staccato notes she played. 

The passion and skill of the Neave Trio, a piano trio which champions the new and old of classical music, were on clear display at St. Andrew’s annual Haroldson Masterclass Concert. In addition to the all-school concert in Engelhard on a Friday evening, the trio conducted masterclasses with many of our talented music students on campus that afternoon. 

Director of Instrumental Music Dr. Fred Geiersbach said he has been following the “buzz” around this trio for a while—the trio’s 2022 album Musical Remembrances was nominated for a GRAMMY, and the musicians have given notable performances at Harvard University, Kaatsbaan, the Rockport Celtic Festival, and at other venues across the world. 

Geiersbach was particularly impressed with just how well the trio was able to impart their musical expertise to students in the masterclasses.

“They got right to the heart of each student’s technical limitations and helped them unlock better sound production,” Geiersbach said. 

Violinist Gabe Day-O’Connell ’24 took a masterclass with Williams, the Neave Trio’s violinist. 

“I was able to work with her for about 45 minutes on Bach’s ‘Chaconne’ in D minor,” said Day-O’Connell. “Working with her was a really illuminating experience; but at the same time, she was also one of the most easy-going musicians I’ve had a masterclass with. We mostly focused on the technical challenge of the piece, like bow control and chord voicings.”

Violin Masterclass

Josephine Xie ’27, who also worked with Williams, remembers a particular piece of feedback from the instrumentalist: play like you’re singing opera. 

“I worked on Mozart’s ‘Violin Concerto No. 3’ with her, a piece with a lot of rhythmic and phrasing work,” said Xie. “She helped me solidify my playing of a certain piece of music like this by thinking of it as an opera, and after each measure is when I should ‘breathe.’”

Xie said she had a breakthrough during the session: Williams taught her not just to play, but to think like a “true musician.” She said that Williams helped her realize that classical music is not just about playing the notes, but adding her own take to the history and tradition of the genre. 

Celina Bao ’24 had a similar experience playing Fauré’s “Sicilienne” in a cello masterclass with Misha Veselov.

“I played a few lines and he was already able to help me with so many techniques like shifting on the fingerboard and vibratos,” said Bao. 

The trio’s technical prowess and dynamic command of classical music shone through during their evening performance. 

“I was able to see how Mr. Veselov played and how he applied techniques he taught us in his own playing,” said Bao. “This is probably the first time I’ve heard a piano trio performing live. The harmony and dissonance created by the violin, the piano, and the cello are just so powerful and the color of their tones can create so many interesting combinations.”

Bao, Geiersbach, and Xie were particularly taken by the trio’s rendition of Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” and what Geiersbach called the “relentless attention” of the musicians to each other no matter how challenging the repertoire might be. 

“As someone who also plays a bit of chamber music, I loved to see how they communicate through body language and cues in the music,” said Xie. “I was really impressed by the arranged version of ‘La Mer,’ a piece which I thought only the orchestra could demonstrate the musical dialogues within, but they did it with only three people, which is truly spectacular.”

Day-O’Connell said that this performance was his favorite of the three Haroldson Concerts he has attended at St. Andrew’s. He particularly appreciated the “accessible” manner in which the musicians discussed their craft during the question-and-answer portion of the concert. 

During this session, students asked the musicians how they face difficulties and deal with self-criticism, how they approach rehearsal time and practice routines, among other topics of importance to the blossoming musicians. 

One student’s question, “How do you make the choice to keep playing?” provoked interesting answers from the trio about maintaining the love and passion for music, despite the often mundane and frustrating nature of keeping up with practice. 

They said to find the play in playing. Find something to “fiddle around with” (pun intended, they said), and to experiment with just for fun. Once you do that, they said, you will find the love which allows you to connect with your instrument. Nakamura put her connection with her instrument into words, though her close relationship to the piano was already evident from her passionate performance. 

She said the piano is part of her body. And while it may be challenging at times to be a musician, she can’t stop playing piano, because the piano is how she speaks.

Listen to the concert and the question-and-answer session here. 

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A Seat at the Table

How St. Andrew’s students serve the greater Delaware community through a shared meal

Sharing a meal together: it’s one of the core components of how we operate at St. Andrew’s. The long-standing tradition of gathering every weekday for family-style meals is essential to our school community. 

Saints know the power of dining together, and they’ve incorporated the campus tradition into their service work as a way to get to know and support the wider Delaware community. 

Through a partnership with Friendship House—a Wilmington organization that works to address housing insecurity in the state—students bring meals to one of Friendship House’s transitional homes to share with residents. These residences offer housing and individualized support to people recovering from substance abuse, domestic violence, or incarceration.

Olivia Costrini ’24, co-head of community service at St. Andrew’s, says that engaging in this service has completely changed her worldview. It expanded her understanding of homelessness—which Friendship House defines as a loss of community—as well as how transitional housing works to address this issue. 

“It’s a good, eye-opening experience for us because we go there and we realize different ways homelessness can look,” she says. 

The partnership between the transitional houses and St. Andrew’s has evolved, according to Brooke Estes ’24, who has volunteered for this program for the past few years. As the COVID-19 pandemic surged, St. Andrew’s students would make the meals, but not be able to eat with the residents. However, as restrictions eased, students took the meals, cooked by SAGE Dining Services, to the houses and sat down for food and conversation—which Costrini considers to be the most essential part of the program. 

“I think [the residents] all like it way more, and we like it, when we can sit there and talk to them,” says Costrini. 

“They’re really interested in what we’re interested in,” adds Estes, whose interests span a wide range of everything from leading the Multi-racial Affinity Group to working with the chapel as an acolyte. 

Costrini remembers her first time visiting Epiphany House, the women’s transitional home with which St. Andrew’s partners. “We talked about everything,” says Costrini, and just as she was walking out the door, she got a final piece of wisdom from one of the women. 

“‘Make sure that you really focus on what you want, and you don’t let anyone get in the way of it,’” Costrini remembers the resident saying. 

“I think about that all the time, because coming from her, it was just so touching,” she says. 

It’s often not easy to make volunteering at the transitional houses work, says Costrini, because the time that students are able to be there falls during sports practices and games. However, the challenge has created a dedicated group of student volunteers who aim to surmount it. They visit either the men’s or women’s home ideally once per week. “The people that want to go, really want to go,” says Costrini. 

“I can not tell you the amount of gratitude I have for continued support [and] the meals delivered by St. Andrew’s,” says Shawn Helmick, director of Women’s Housing at Friendship House. “They are always healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals … Also, when the [staff and faculty] and students can stay and join us for dinner, [that] is nice [and] always interesting.”

Often, the relationships formed between the students and the residents live solely in those powerful moments around their shared meal—there is no guarantee SAS students will see the same resident twice as residents rotate out of the homes.

However, Costrini says that the fact that they’ll often only see particular residents once is bittersweet, because a resident leaving the house often means that they’ve found an opportunity. “‘This is my way out,’” she remembers a resident saying when he found a job that would allow him to move out of the transitional house. 

“The next time we go back, I don’t think he’s gonna be there, and that’s really exciting,” says Costrini.  

The VI Formers consider community service opportunities such as this one to be an essential part of their St. Andrew’s experience, and they are determined to continue engaging in service in college. 

“Coming to St. Andrew’s, I heard about community service and that people do it because they want to do it,” says Estes. “Finally, [my] junior year, [in-person community service opportunities] opened up, and I just love helping others and making other people happy. It makes me happy, too.” 
 

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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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