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

Life at SAS

 

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

Meet a Saint: Charlie Lunsford ’24

Catching up with Charlie Lunsford ’24 can be difficult, what with his classes, sports, community service, chapel, clubs… the list goes on. Despite his myriad commitments,the multisport athlete is focused as he heads into his junior year. While it is only fall and he is playing varsity soccer, one can often find Charlie on the squash courts or getting a tennis workout in.

“Tennis is my number-one sport and I plan to play in college, so even though it isn’t tennis season, I am always working on my game,” Charlie says. 

Last year, Charlie was seeded in the top spot for St. Andrew’s, and competed hard during the state tournament, which was held on campus. He finished the season among the top 10 boys in the state.

“I was focused on the match and I remember looking up and seeing my entire class there to support me,” he says. “You wouldn’t get that anywhere else except at St. Andrew’s.”

The school’s culture is what initially attracted the multi-sport athlete to St. Andrew’s.

“Just walking around, everyone is friendly and welcoming. They don’t have to be that way—no one tells them to be that way—they just are. It’s just the way of life here,” he says.

Charlie, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina, never planned to go to a boarding school. “I always thought kids were sent to boarding schools; not that they chose to go,” he says. That all changed when he visited St. Andrew’s to see his cousins. 

During his visit, the energy of the students and life on campus resonated with him. He met with Director of Admission & Financial Aid Matt Wolinski and started the application process.

Since becoming a student, Charlie has continued to revel in the connections that first impressed him so much. “Some of my best memories are getting to know my dorm parents and teachers. Everyone here wants to be here, which is what really drew me to St. Andrew’s,” he says. “You get to have deeper relationships with students and adults—it is unique to this school.”

It was at St. Andrew’s that Charlie first played squash. His winter sport had been basketball for several years, but at SAS, he decided to try something new—and after all, squash aligned with his passion for tennis. 

“I loved it right away,” he recalls. “It’s incredible and intense.”

In the current season, Charlie and the soccer team are working hard to get to the state finals again. “I love athletics here. We are really competitive, but even if you didn’t play [a sport] before coming here, you can work hard and get a spot [on a team],” he says. “There’s no limit to where you can go.”

In the classroom, Charlie loves the lively discussions and advanced topics his classes tackle. “St. Andrew’s does a great job of increasing the academic challenge as you go, in terms of workload and difficulty,” he says. “I really notice how much more organized I am and how much I have learned when it comes to balancing my workload and managing my time.”

As a junior, he looks back on the past two “pandemic years” and notes that even though students were not always on campus, the bonds they created are deep.

“Whenever I get stuck on work or something, I can just walk next door and ask someone. There’s always someone around who can help,” he says. “That’s one thing I love about living in a dorm. I love dorm functions and spending time with everyone.”

As Charlie looks ahead to the rest of his junior year, he hopes to continue to build on the solid foundation of friendship, academics, and athletics.

“Every single person here is special and everyone gets to explore their passions and talents,” he says. “As soon as I met my friends here, I instantly knew that they would be my friends for life. The connections you build here will last.”

Learn more about athletics at St. Andrew’s.

Read More about Meet a Saint: Charlie Lunsford ’24
Daniel Kye ’23 is Building Math Culture

All-school "Math Monday" challenge makes math fun for all students

St. Andrew’s senior Daniel Kye ’23 loves math. In fact, he loves it so much, he’s on a personal mission to help all St. Andrew’s students fall in love with math, too. 

This fall Daniel and his classmate Sarah Rose Odutola ’23 launched “Math Mondays”—a weekly math challenge open to the entire school community.

Each Monday, students pick up a new math puzzle—chosen by Daniel and Sarah Rose—from a bin in the Main Common Room. The puzzles are not necessarily complex equations, but rather are often patterns or games that require the application of logic and analysis. “I try to select a variety of types of problems to keep it interesting,” he says. Students work on the problems throughout the week and turn their answers in by Sunday. Problem sets are graded then tallied by dorm; at the end of the competition, the winning dorm will receive a pizza party. With only a few weeks left to go in the competition, the leading dorm changes each week. 

“I’ve heard students talking about [Math Monday problems] on the way to lunch,” Daniel says. “I’ve heard others discussing it between classes. It’s great to hear it!” Daniel notes his hope for the weekly competition is that it makes math more accessible and fun for all.

Daniel, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, but spent parts of his youth in California, discovered his love of math in middle school. “I always enjoyed math, but in middle school my passion really grew,” he says.

His family moved to California during his freshman year of high school, and Daniel found he enjoyed engaging discussions during his classes. Prior to his junior year, Daniel began to consider changing schools, both in an effort to find himself, and to feel more engaged with his peers. “I heard that boarding schools often lead when it comes to discussion-based learning, so I started investigating them,” he says. 

He soon found St. Andrew’s and, during the pandemic, did a virtual tour. “I had looked at some other boarding schools, but I felt a connection with St. Andrew’s,” he says. 

He landed on campus for his junior year and hasn’t looked back. “Everyone was warm and inviting. There is a sense of family here,” he says.

During his first year at SAS, Daniel had heard from peers that some of the spark of community St. Andrew’s is known for—and specifically the collaborative, exploratory math culture at the school— had faded a bit during the pandemic, under the pressure of all its health protocols.

“Coming into my senior year, I wanted to bring math culture back and really make it something accessible to everyone on campus—even people who do not love math,” Daniel says. 

“It makes me proud to know that I have worked hard to give this to students,” he says.  “I hope to give back to our school community in other ways during my last year here."

Here’s an example of one of the recent Math Monday puzzles:

Sample Math Monday puzzle
Read More about Daniel Kye ’23 is Building Math Culture
Meet the 2022-2023 Co-Presidents

Meet the new school co-presidents.

Trinity Smith
Hometown:
Born in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Rockville, Maryland in fifth grade.

“I wanted a different high school experience and wanted to go to a place where I could explore myself. I chose St. Andrew’s because of the warm, small and close-knit community we have here.”

 

Trinity Smith ’23 came to St. Andrew’s as a III Former because she wanted to explore multiple tracks at once. She wanted to excel in her core classes, but also sought to discover if she had a passion for other disciplines, like art, sports, or music.

“I felt like I would be pinned into one thing if I stayed at my normal school,” she says. “Here, I could explore a wide variety of classes and activities. It’s more accessible and you are not defined as one type of person.”

Additionally, Trinity notes that St. Andrew’s students and faculty support self-exploration. “It’s just the culture,” she says.

As she moves into the role of co-president for the school year, Trinity considers some lessons she has learned over her years at St. Andrew’s.

“One big lesson has been the power of listening,” she says. “Being on Form Council for three years, I had to learn the attitudes of each grade and I had to anticipate what they needed.”

In addition, she points to engaging with students and faculty and being observant as two other big lessons that will serve her co-presidency well.

She plans to focus on rebuilding the community among the classes and engaging with faculty to increase trust and respect among everyone on campus.

“I want to help build a closer relationship between faculty and students,” she says. “For seniors, I want a circle of respect and trust where we all listen and understand each other.”

She says the return to family-style meals will support her mission. “I hope we all bridge the gaps that may have started because of the pandemic. I want us to redefine what St. Andrew’s culture means and in this first year coming back from COVID, I want us all to work to bridge gaps and share resources.”

 

Ford Chapman

Hometown: Born in Hoboken, New Jersey; spent several years living in Hong Kong; then moved to Charlottesville, Virginia in third grade.

“St. Andrew’s gives students the opportunity to do more. You can broaden your horizons here so much more than at other schools.”

 

Ford Chapman ’23 was born in New Jersey but just a few months later, his family moved to Hong Kong. 

“One of the things I remember from my time in Hong Kong was the diversity in the schools,” Ford says. “My school had people from all backgrounds.”

As he was about to enter third grade, his family moved again, this time to Charlottesville, Virginia. The school experience in Charlottesville was vastly different from his experience in Hong Kong, which is why when it came to looking at high schools, Ford knew he wanted to find a diverse and accepting community culture.

Ford first learned about St. Andrew’s when his sister, Amrit ’21, was considering high schools. 

“She decided to come to St. Andrew’s, so I visited and really liked the campus and the community,” Ford says. “It reminded me a lot of my school in Hong Kong because we have so many students and faculty from many different backgrounds.”

At St. Andrew’s, Ford takes Mandarin, another reminder of his time in Hong Kong. He is also a member of the South Asian Affinity Group. 

This year, Ford hopes he and his classmates focus on togetherness by sharing in old traditions like the Carol Shout and the trip to Frightland.

“We have had a weird high school career with only like six months of regular high school [before COVID],” he says. “I want to make memories and cherish our time together.”

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Yoyo Cao: Stay True; Stay Down to Earth

To be honest with you, I am not a big fan of socializing. To me, it seems like I’m packaging and selling myself to a group of buyers. A few times when I caught myself faking my laughs or throwing random jokes just to create a sense of humor, I hated myself. I warned myself; I need to stay true, stay down to earth. 

Text is from Senior Week ’22 by Yoyo Cao

Believe it or not, I only spent 13 months on this beautiful campus. I still remember my virtual learning session over Zoom my sophomore spring and my entire junior year, and all I could recall is how suffocated I felt behind my computer screen, hoping I could scream in the middle of an all-school meeting, wishing someone would still remember me, the girl who joined Class of 2022 a little while ago. 

Perhaps I never enjoyed this place as much as I wanted three years ago. I had to squeeze into different friend groups, introducing myself to people over and over again, struggling to find my friends, my group who would understand me. To be honest with you, I am not a big fan of socializing. To me, it seems like I’m packaging and selling myself to a group of buyers. A few times when I caught myself faking my laughs or throwing random jokes just to create a sense of humor, I hated myself. I warned myself; I need to stay true, stay down to earth. 

Now, I’ve met different people over my years as a student. Some like to report to faculties with things I’ve never done, others like to gossip in big circles just to spread a fake rumor. I’ve never shared this with anyone, but I used to be a member of the toxic friend groups. In fifth grade, I told a group of kids to stand around me in between classes just because my class teacher asked me to “supervise” the class. I threw my friends’ stationery from the top of our class building just for fun. I even hand-picked my exclusive guest list for my 10-year-old birthday party, and when the news spread to the entire class, some kids begged me to join my waitlist, I felt awesome. I could feel my ego growing bigger and more ambitious each day… These are all things that I regret, but all too late. 

Countless times in my dreams I compared the two sides of myself. Myself when I’m at St. Andrews, and my old self when I could easily play the leading role of Mean Girls 3. I know, I can see the concerns in your eyes. But I promise you, I was bad. I was not only bad, but also didn’t realize the consequences of the series of things I’ve done. So what changed me after attending boarding school after boarding school since 12? Easy, because I have no family in the States at all. I learned how lucky it is to grow up in the company of your parents, not worrying about packing your entire childhood into two suitcases, flying between countries and driving between states. I realized how I hated parents weekend when I have to wait in front of each classroom by myself while listening to other families plan for the weekend. I quickly found out, I can’t even afford to be sick or have any mental breakdowns since I don’t have the privilege to go home, or have my parents by my side to support me. And guess what, I even have to congratulate myself on my graduation in four days. For me, I am all I have. So I can’t be a stupid annoying girl anymore, I have to be responsible for myself, my actions, but most importantly, I am in desperate need of finding a new family. 

I started my mission by seeking a role as a big sister on dorm. Being an only child, I’ve always wanted to have an older brother who would protect me from everything. Although it is quite hard for my parents to create an older sibling now, I am still able to find younger sisters. I remember the first night on duty, when I entered different rooms and put the girls to bed, I felt a sense of responsibility, something I always wanted to feel at home. When I was a part of the Cross Country team, I felt the same while watching my teammates crossing the finishing line one after another. I felt proud, and I enjoyed listening. I have become a good listener and now find myself absorbing different opinions and ambivalent emotions every day. I can feel myself turning into a Sponge Bob since the first day of my senior year, and don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but here is the problem — I am missing my Patrick. 

Each day, I find it harder to share my problems, the things I dislike, and even about the milestones I made in class. I just simply listened. It felt fine throughout the first half of my senior year, until one night in March, I finally crashed. Perhaps I felt lost not knowing where I’m heading for college, perhaps I saw too many parents driving to campus that week but none of the cars are going to pick me up, perhaps I am still finding my Patrick, perhaps… Perhaps I’m tired of finding myself a family, perhaps I spent too much time wandering around this country by myself, perhaps this is my time to pick up the microphone and share my problems with all of you. That night I got lost, I forgot why I chose this place three years ago. Bumping into people in the hallway until I finally made it to Mrs. Berl’s apartment, I wanted answers. We sat there for hours, until white tissue balls buried my trembling hands. I wanted to see my old self from Mrs. Berl’s eyes when she first met me in the admission office three years ago, when I had dreams and ambitions, when I knew what I wanted, when I thought I had everything under control… 

That night was my lowest low throughout my entire St. Andrew’s career, but I finally found myself an audience who I felt comfortable sharing my problems with, who liked to listen to my problems, and who is able to give me the most honest advice no matter how brutal it is. The following week I felt so much better, and all I did was simply talk. It was the first time in my entire life when I felt safe to open my heart and just talk without worrying about people’s feelings, boundaries, or sensitive topics. I just talked. The following month I simply enjoyed myself with people around me. I talked with anyone I saw at the table, on the front lawn, in classrooms. I never felt so free in my entire life. 

Recently I finished watching the Dead Poet’s Society for the first time. When the English teacher Mr. Keating asked the boys, “If the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse, what will your verse be?” I asked myself the same question. Frankly, I think my entire senior year is the answer. Perhaps in less than three years none of the student body would remember me, perhaps in five years faculties would have a hard time matching my face with my name, perhaps Moss will become a new building and Founders won’t be the same… There are so many uncertainties in the near future, but I’m absolutely sure about this: that my little sister will greet her little sister the same way I met her on the first day of school; my girls on Moss will become awesome residents on M, L, K, and soon turn into seniors who could make a homesick kid smile again; and most importantly, my advisor, Mrs. Berl, will forever be my American mom. Friends, I think I found it. After all these years, I found myself a place where I can call home, I found myself a family who would teach me how to play blackjack no matter how much work they have, I found myself people who I could trust and rely on. 

Now I want to ask all of you the same question, “If you are about to leave St. Andrews and you may contribute a verse, what will your verse be?” Carry that answer in your heart, and let’s SEIZE THE DAY!

- Yoyo Cao ’22

 

Read More about Yoyo Cao: Stay True; Stay Down to Earth
Sunny Trivits: Volunteering is the Reward

We at St. Andrew’s School have ample privileges and resources that we need to give back to the larger community that we are a part of. We volunteer not because of a reward, but because volunteering itself is a reward.

Text from Senior Week ’22 by Sunny Trivits

Good evening.

Every week, I look forward to my favorite day - Wednesday.

Not because it’s Hump day or because I am counting down the days until the weekend, but because that is when St. Andrews goes out into the middletown community to volunteer and help people.  

Wednesdays for me meant singing ‘Let it go’ to a little girl who wouldn’t stop crying in the pool(and helping her blow her nose), Wednesdays meant teaching people how to swim butterfly and dive into the pool who have never attempted that skill before, Wednesdays meant I would help people learn the essential life saving skill of swimming, and Wednesdays meant smelling like bromine for the rest of the day.

I love Wednesdays because we fulfill our mission as a school which states “We urge students to be actively involved in community service with the understanding that all members of the community share responsibility for improving the world in which we live.” 

Volunteering is optional, meaning we do not get ‘hours to graduate’, but we do it out of grace. We at St. Andrew’s School have ample privileges and resources that we need to give back to the larger community that we are a part of. We volunteer not because of a reward, but because volunteering itself is a reward. Service is essential to me and the whole community because when we commit to others, we develop accountability. We form true connections, friendships, and mentorship  when we come alongside others. When we celebrate each other we become one and that forms love and appreciation. When we are with each other we seek to understand, find unity, and empathy.

I’d like to say thank you to Mr. Hutchinson and Ms. Lazar for helping inspire us students to give back to something larger than ourselves. Thank you to El Richards and Edmund Cayley for running the large community service programs, thank you to Adelaide Dixon and William Wrightson for leading mentoring, thank you to Adele Auchincloss and Aunyae Romeo for leading adaptive Dance, thank you to all of the faculty, staff and especially, A special thanks to Karen Wright and Steve Gue for transporting us every Wednesday to our designated locations. Thank you to all the student body for volunteering your time throughout the year.

Finally, thank you to Madison Macalintal for being my partner and helping me lead adaptive athletics. I was so sad when I heard we wouldn't be in the pool this year, but thank you for telling me to not quit Adaptive aquatics freshman year, because I wanted to. You have inspired me to do more with my time and I am going to miss our Wednesday pool adventures with Cody and Emily! To peers, adults and especially the underclassmen, Volunteer this summer, Volunteer when you return in the fall, start something new, ask questions, ask for help, and opt-in.

You are left in great hands. Thank you all again!

- Sunny Trivits ’22

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Aunyae Romeo: I am the First

I am the first Aunyae Romeo to walk the halls, to learn in these classrooms, and speak and eat in the dining hall. You are the first, you add to the history of this community in ways as small as the little actions you do in founders to the big moments you make to transform this school.

Text from Senior Week Talks ’22 by Aunyae Romeo

I can’t remember everything, as I look back to my first day on this campus. But the things I remember the clearest are what greeted me as I entered my dorm room on Pell: my first ever roommate, Emily Murphy, and a box placed on my desk by my advisor, Mrs. Duprey. This box contained essential items often forgotten during the process of packing for school; snacks, disinfectant wipes, a journal, and a pack of blank cards with Thank You written across the front. 

For the next three years, I received similar boxes. Interestingly enough, the thing that went unused every year were these Thank You cards. Before the end of my fourth and final year here, I’d like to break this pattern. This speech is a short accumulation of gratitude to the place and people that have transformed me as a student, friend, leader, daughter, and overall person. This is my Thank You letter to St. Andrew’s.

Reflecting on my time here, I've come to realize that one of the main reasons why I’ve been able to grow so much is because of the people that I have surrounded myself with. I’ve made beautiful connections with so many people here. To the people in my grade, thank you for being the first to comfort me when I cry and the first to join me in laughter. As a grade, we weren’t perfect, but we were us, and I thank you for that. I also say thank you to all of my upperclassmen and underclassmen who took the time to get to know me and in turn, love me. To the friends continuing their journeys here, thank you for spending time with me during our free periods, dinners, and weekends. And Thank you to my most unexpected friendships, the adults here. Thank you for getting to know me and my peers as more than students or kids but as people you challenge and truly respect. The accumulation of friendships that I have made here has helped me become a more empathetic and caring person. My St. Andrew’s relationships have taught me how to be truly compassionate. 

Everyone always says that your time here flies by so quickly, and I somewhat agree with that. When I think of all the things I didn't get to do, my time here seems too short. One thing I wish I would’ve done is taken more time to build relationships with people outside of my close circle of faculty and students. However, my time does feel longer when I recognize all of the opportunities I did take to build unexpected relationships. I am thankful for the relationships I began to build all the way back to my freshman year. People like Mr. Stanley in the dining hall have always given me guidance and checked up on me. Fun fact: he even helped me practice public speaking for my co-president speech my junior year! Then there are the women who I’ve seen everyday of the week: Ms. Tammy, Ms. Faith, and Ms. Dolly. You may know them as the women who clean our dorms, but to me, they kind of feel like aunties. They’ve watched my performances and rooted on all of my successes. In my freshman year, I would’ve never expected to build these relationships, but I’m so grateful I did. These are just some of the people that have done more than their job to support me and my classmates. 

But, I wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate this place without appreciating the parents who made the choice four years ago to send their children off to this beautiful school, and a special thank you to my own Mom and Dad for trusting me and believing in my success. I say thank you to all of the parents here today. So many of you have taken us under your wings and loved and supported us when our parents couldn't. You, parents, are the real saints, and on behalf of my class, we thank you for putting so much faith and pride into us as we head into the next chapter of our lives. 

This wouldn’t be a complete thank you letter to Saint Andrew's without thanking the literal structures that make living, learning, and laughing here possible. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to create memories in every building on this campus. I can tell you a story for every building here. For example, one of my favorite memories in the field house took place this year when a small group of seniors were bored on a Saturday night that we decided to play a childish game of tag. The longer we played the more people joined and soon our silly little game turned into a heart-rushing battle to avoid the tagger. 

I'm also grateful to add to each building's history. Founders is the one of the most historical buildings on this campus. The archives, alums, and passed-down tales tell this history of thousands of saints and their presence here. I am a part of the history of this building and school. I am the first Aunyae Romeo to walk the halls, to learn in these classrooms, and speak and eat in the dining hall. You are the first, you add to the history of this community in ways as small as the little actions you do in founders to the big moments you make to transform this school. This ground also has an unspoken soul that goes way beyond the year 1929, it goes back to the people who were here before this land was bought by Felix Dupont. It holds the history of Thomas Noxon and the Native people here before. Although I can never know the full history, I appreciate the parts I do know, good and bad. I am grateful for the chance to feel the beauty and heart of the land we’re on. 

To end my letter, I’d lastly like to thank the spontaneity that I’ve experienced at school. The unexpected here has led me to so many people and places that I would’ve never imagined. My favorite thing is waking up on a Saturday morning having no idea what I’m going to do for the day. By the time Saturday night reaches and I lie in my bed, I know that I had a great day because it was filled with unexpected, spontaneous fun which was fueled by people simply enjoying each other’s company. 

So, this is my Thank You letter to St. Andrew’s. 

To the class of 2022, I encourage you all to think back over your time here and appreciate the moments that made you a Saint and who you are today. As we head off to a new world outside of this beautiful little bubble, appreciate the moments as they come and I promise you, you’ll be able to savor the time you have in that moment. 

To the classes of 2023, ‘24, and ‘25, our class knows how quickly the opportunity passes to show your thanks. We want to tell you to practice your gratitude here and now. Get to know the people you wouldn't expect to befriend. Roam the buildings and make them your own. Know the history of this place and know that you are part of the history of this school. Gratitude makes you a saint, and it’s never too late to learn this lesson. 

The scared, little girl who started this journey had no idea that this place would transform her so much. St. Andrew’s has pushed me to not only challenge my perception of myself and those around me but also to better myself for others. By reflecting on all of my reasons to be grateful, I see the power that I’ve gained because of this school. 

Thank you, Mrs. Duprey, for planting that seed of gratitude in my life four years ago, and thank you St. Andrew’s for giving me so many things to be grateful for.

- Aunyae Romeo ’22

Read More about Aunyae Romeo: I am the First
Zhenia Khalabadzhakh ’22 Fights for Ukraine, All the Way from Delaware

The full-scale invasion of Ukraine began on Thursday, February 24, and in the month since then, St. Andrew’s senior and Kyiv resident Zhenia Khalabadzhakh ’22 has been working both on campus and off to fight for her country.

Unable to go home for Spring Break, Zhenia spent the recess at the home of her advisor, Senior Associate Director of Admission Kristin Honsel P’24. She kept busy by speaking with middle school students at local schools—MOT Charter and St. Anne’s Episcopal School—where she shared Ukrainian history and her perspective on the war as a Ukrainian citizen. She has also organized, with the help of her classmate April Seo ’22, a t-shirt fundraiser for Nova Ukraine, an organization that provides humanitarian aid to Ukrainians. They’ve raised more than $1,500 for Nova Ukraine and the fundraiser is still going; you can purchase a t-shirt or sweatshirt here

“I think the main problem for Ukrainians [living] internationally is this feeling of survivor guilt that we have,” Zhenia said. “It’s the idea of: ‘I'm not there, hence, I'm not helping.’ You feel bad for feeling safe. That’s the hard part of it, and that’s why a lot of Ukrainians abroad are so proactive—that’s a way for us to help Ukraine, but also it’s a way for us to sort of escape that feeling of guilt and feel like we’re making change, even if it’s on a very small scale. It’s just important for us as individuals, and it’s important for us as a nation, to be united and do whatever we can.”

She reflected on her feelings immediately following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “I think the first couple of days everyone was in shock. And then it kind of ‘clicked’ and you realize, ‘Okay, me crying here [in the United States] is not really helpful, so I should do something. Anything.”

With her classmates back on campus following the Spring Recess, Zhenia then set about organizing campus vigil for Ukraine. First, she worked with SAGE Dining Services to organize a Wednesday lunch of traditional Ukrainian dishes using recipes from her family, including borshch (a beet soup); varenyky (a type of pierogi that her family makes together by hand); and yabluchnyk (Ukrainian apple cake). Then, for that evening’s chapel service, the school community dressed in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, and gathered in the chapel to sing Ukrainian hymns and folksongs, and Zhenia shared a moving talk on the unity and bravery of Ukranians not just in this moment, but throughout the history of her country. Although offerings are not typically collected at Wednesday night chapel, baskets were passed during the vigil with all proceeds going to Razom, a Ukrainian NGO that is providing relief inside the country; the school community raised more than $1,000 for Razom through the offering.

“The Ukrainian coat of arms has a word encrypted in it,” Zhenia said in her chapel talk. “The word is volia. Interestingly, it can be translated in two ways: ‘freedom’ and ‘will.’ Ukrainians as a nation know that there is no freedom without the will and no will without freedom. We know that we need to fight for our freedom. And if history wants us to show how brave and united we are once again, we will do it.”

You can listen to Zhenia’s chapel talk in full here.

Zhenia came to St. Andrew’s through the Ukraine Global Scholars program, an almost entirely volunteer-run organization that connects Ukrainian students “of modest means” with scholarship opportunities at top colleges and high schools around the world. In turn, UGS students commit to returning to Ukraine after the completion of their education abroad to help lead—and now, rebuild—the country. 

“In light of everything that’s going on, we understand more than ever that the kids who are 15 in Ukraine right now are the people who are going to be rebuilding Ukraine once the war is over,” Zhenia says. “That’s the long-term vision of UGS, and that’s how I see myself. Someone will need to do that, and the UGS kids are exactly the people who will be qualified to do that.” Like all UGS students and alumni, Zhenia volunteers for the organization and mentors upcoming students who are currently in the scholarship application pipeline. 

Zhenia is the second UGS student to attend St. Andrew’s; preceding her was Robert Shyroian ’21, who currently attends the Illinois Institute of Technology. You can support families of UGS students who have been displaced by the war via this UGS fundraiser. 

Even before the invasion, Zhenia was working to share the story of her country with the St. Andrew’s community. At a School Meeting in early February, she read an excerpt of the English translation of “Europe was silent”, a poem written by Oleksandr Oles in 1931, just before the Holodomor, an artificial famine and genocide of the Ukrainian nation designed to suppress Ukrainian resistance to Soviet collectivization. 

“What I personally love about this poem is that it reminds me how much responsibility there is, not only in the person who is committing the crime, but in the person who fails to speak up,” she explained on the Engelhard stage. “Russian aggression uses a lot of information and misinformation, and information is a weapon in the 21st century. By educating yourself, you support me, and you support my country.” The following weekend, she organized a Friday night viewing and discussion of the 2014 film “The Guide,” set in 1930s Soviet Ukraine, and collaborated with school librarians to put up a display of books on Ukrainian history and culture. She has been working in the library throughout the school year to refresh the school’s collection of Ukrainian and Eastern European history texts. “There was a ton about Russian history [in the library collection], but not enough about the history of smaller countries that were formed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,” she says. “But they all have history before that—Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, all of these Baltic and Eastern European countries have a longer history than Russia wants us to have. Most people think that Ukraine was formed 30 years ago! I really hope there will be Ukrainian students after me [at St. Andrew’s] who can come to the library and say, “Oh my God, this is such a great collection about Ukrainian history.”

Zhenia recommends https://www.standwithukraine.how/ as an excellent resource for ways to help and support Ukraine and its citizens—organizations that need donations, letter-writing templates, information on rallies and marches, and so forth. “When you want to donate somewhere, it’s very important to seek out what Ukrainians might want you to donate to, rather than just donating somewhere and feeling good about yourself,” Zhenia notes. “We are asking you to donate to Ukraine, and to the army, not because we want to go and conquer Moscow, but because we want our land back. If Russia stops fighting, there will be peace. But if Ukraine stops fighting—there will be no Ukraine.”
 

Read More about Zhenia Khalabadzhakh ’22 Fights for Ukraine, All the Way from Delaware
Saints Spotlight: Angela Osaigbovo ’24

Years ago, while her peers in Lagos, Nigeria were still learning to read, Angela Osaigbovo ‘24 was embarking on a competitive Scrabble career that would take her around the world—and eventually to Middletown, Delaware and St. Andrew's.

At the age of five, Angela began playing Scrabble as an extracurricular activity at her school in Lagos, and her talent quickly attracted attention from coaches nationwide. Just one year after she began playing, Angela competed at the World Youth Championships in Dubai, where she placed second in the eight-and-under age category. She has since competed for the US youth Scrabble team and the Nigerian national youth team, qualifying for Scrabble world championships in Australia, France, and Malaysia, while remaining a fixture at Nigerian national competitions. 

The world of competitive Scrabble is much more than a word game in which one makes points by piecing together tiles. Developing an ever-expanding word bank, learning the strategy behind playing words of different lengths, understanding board layout, and calculating scores under the pressure of a timer are just some of the skills Angela has refined over the past decade. She also works with a coach to hone physical and psychological tools, learning to use body language and communication to throw off her opponents. 

Angela notes that her young age usually works to her advantage. It’s easy to take older players by surprise, she says, and when she beats them, they are often excited to share their knowledge and experience to help her develop further in her game. In reflecting on her swift rise to the top, she credits the mentorship of these more experienced players. 

Angela’s favorite aspects of Scrabble are the academic challenge and the game's community, and in choosing to attend boarding school, she sought the same from her high school experience. Scrabble has unsurprisingly has helped her excel in school; she credits mental math skills, the ability to pull ideas together quickly, and knowledge of linguistics from Scrabble with assisting in all of her classes. At St. Andrew’s Angela has become passionate about reading and writing poetry and playing in the Jazz Ensemble, and she hopes to eventually start a Scrabble club on campus.

Angela’s long term Scrabble aspiration is to remain competitive on the national and international stage, but this year she is most proud of how she has continued to play a strong game, despite the interruptions of starting at a new school, being away from her coach, and devoting most of her time to the demands of a rigorous boarding school schedule.

And her favorite word? (She gets asked that question a lot.) "My favorite word is 'zapping,'" she says, "because of how rare [in Scrabble] it is. I was playing in a tournament in which I was well below the age limit—you had to be in high school to play, but I was eight—and in my last game, my first word was 'zapping.' It was 111 [points], and the person I was playing against couldn't get up to that score throughout the entire game. I was just really proud of that."

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Saints Spotlight: Liz Hall ’21

 

While at home in the Bahamas during our winter virtual term, Liz Hall ’21 has been teaching underprivileged kids to row at her local rowing club. At St. Andrew's, Liz leads V Form girls on Mein Dorm, serves a Head Admission Ambassador, and has been a dedicated member of St. Andrew's girls rowing team for her three years at the school. 

I'm teaching through a program called Learn to Row set up by my home rowing club, Nassau Rowing Club, which is the only rowing club on the island of New Providence, and one of only two clubs in the entire country. We're a small, fully outdoor club on the only rowable (brackish) lake on the island. Our coach has done a great job of working with the government and through advertising [to spread word of mouth about the program]. This winter six-week block of sessions has had our highest participation level yet.

All of the kids I've been working with had never been in a boat before, so we've started with having kids on the ERGs [rowing machines], then moved into tubby rowing shells on a tether, and then into double scull boats with me coaching from behind, and eventually into boats by themselves, with me in a launch boat coaching from the water. We also do some fun core and cardio circuits when capacity is too much on the water.

I think the kids who are participating are really getting a lot out of this. Two weeks ago, the mother of a young boy who I've been working a lot one-on-one came to me and said that she's noticed a shift in his demeanor, mood, and sociability since he began rowing. It's been amazing to see kids like him come out of their shells. A lot of the kids are hoping to working toward trying out for the junior team, which would allow them to row more frequently, and then later, work towards rowing in regattas in the United States.

I started rowing when I arrived [at St. Andrew's] as a new sophomore in 2018, and it's helped me in so many aspects of my life—which is why I decided to start the [college] recruitment process after my novice season. I'll be rowing NCAA Division 2 this fall! I've had the same experiences through rowing as it did for the boy I've been working with—it was a sport that gave me a team, and allowed me to focus and refine both my mental and physical skills, whether I'm rowing alone in a single, double, or in an eight on Noxontown Pond.

Read More about Saints Spotlight: Liz Hall ’21