An Episcopal, co-educational 100% boarding school in Middletown, Delaware for grades 9 – 12
Meet a Saint
How Talan ’24 transformed an injury into an opportunity to lead
Talan Esposito ’24 vividly remembers the tumble he took last basketball season that he thought might end his athletic career at St. Andrew’s.
“I think it was our second- or third-to-last basketball game. I went up for a routine shot, came down, landed weird, tore my ACL and both [menisci],” says Esposito. “I was devastated at first.”
What followed was a surgery at the end of March, and a summer of recovery for the VI Former from Odessa, Delaware.
He didn’t think he’d get the opportunity to get back on the field for his final season of varsity soccer once the school year rolled around, but Esposito refused to let his injury take him away from his love of the sport and his team. Instead, Esposito took on a new role: he showed up at practice and games, doing what he could to support the team from the sidelines.
“Talan handled all of this in stride and never complained about his situation,” says Matt Carroll, head coach of boys varsity soccer. “He could have taken the easy route and focused solely on his own recovery, but he never missed a practice and always made sure to support his teammates along the way. As a two-year captain, Talan has earned the admiration and respect of his teammates, yet never rested on his laurels—he challenged [his teammates], pushed them to be better versions of themselves, and continuously supported them throughout a difficult season.”
A captain since his junior year who has previously been named to the All-DISC 1st Team, Esposito stepped up to the challenge and took on more of a coaching role within the team. “Being vocal” and “getting the guys together, getting their energy up, getting them on the same page” were his guiding principles as he navigated trying to advise the players as a teammate and peer.
In the second game of the season, Esposito was put to the test—Carroll was not at the game, so Esposito seized the moment to help lead.
“That was probably the most vocal I’d ever been, yelling out to guys, giving them advice,” says Esposito. “And I like to think that they appreciate it. I like to think that they take it all in. I think they do.”
He was a natural fit for such a leadership role as soccer has always been at the center of his life. His father played soccer at the collegiate level, instilling in him a passion for the sport, and he played on travel and school teams growing up.
“He likes to push me and I really do appreciate that,” Esposito says of his father’s mentorship. “I feel like that’s definitely helped me grow as an athlete, as a person, as a young man.”
With his identity so tied to soccer, he took the injury hard, even though he was able to find a new way to fit into the team. That’s why he didn’t wait a moment, or miss an opportunity, to begin the recovery process. He largely credits his recovery from the injury to Assistant Athletic Director Al Wood.
“The beginning of the season, I didn’t think I would be able to play soccer at all,” says Esposito. “But our athletic trainer, Al, did a really great job, and I really appreciate him for helping me get back to shape. I went in there every day, he gave me the workout plan, gave me advice, helped me do drills when I got back out [onto] the field.”
But Wood says that Esposito’s recovery wouldn’t have been possible without his strength of character.
“Talan approached his rehab the same way he approaches everything at St. Andrew’s: [with] a focused determination, toughness, and a will to win,” says Wood. “Returning from an ACL [injury] is a day-to-day grind that can leave even the best athlete frustrated and feeling sorry for themselves. Talan never wavered in his work ethic or attitude and the result is that he was able to return to playing sports months before any of us expected him back.”
Esposito spent any spare moment in the semester following a plan to build back quad muscle and stability—with squats, leg extensions, and deadlifts on repeat. Finally, on Oct. 17, he returned to the field in a game against Sanford.
Adrenaline on high, Esposito and the team celebrated a 3-0 win. This moment stacks up to other highlights in his playing career, which include matching up against Caravel in the 2021 DIAA boys soccer D2 championship and his favorite small moments, like getting advice from Carroll about life on and off the field and staying up at night talking to his two roommates/teammates about soccer.
“I hope to have kids in the future and I hope to coach them … so, getting that experience [to help coach] was definitely cool,” he says. “But obviously I would rather be on the field playing with my teammates more than anything. And getting back on the field, that was the best moment for me all season.”
With his final St. Andrew’s soccer season behind him, Esposito is looking forward to his next challenge: not just returning to the basketball court, but doing so and learning from last season’s injury.
“Looking forward, I will be a bit more cautious because basketball, that’s where I got hurt, and hardwood is a lot different than grass,” he says. “I think I’m going to ease my way back into basketball.”
Greta Vebeliunas ’25 on her transition to Saints field hockey and finding the freedom to experiment on the pitch
Now part of a field hockey team with a more flexible approach to the game than she has encountered before, Greta Vebeliunas ’25 is using her newfound freedom to find out how she wants to play. She’s learning fluidity on the pitch—finding openings, moving and passing the ball up the field, and using strong stick skills to defend when necessary.
A V Form transfer to St. Andrew’s, Vebeliunas came out of the gates as an “immediate impact player,” according to varsity Head Coach Kate Cusick. She quickly emerged as a leader and role model for the team, adds Maggie Harris, assistant field hockey coach.
“Her energy, poise on and off the field, and her work ethic are consistent at both practice and games, and her teammates look to her for her quiet leadership on the field,” says Harris. “While she may be one of the top goal-scorers on the team, Greta is such a humble and selfless player and her presence has helped the team become more dynamic and more cohesive.”
We sat down with the student-athlete to understand her experiences this season with Saints field hockey, and what inspires her to keep up the daily grind.
Were you nervous to join a new field hockey team?
“It was definitely a switch [coming here]. I noticed [how different it was to play with the team] in our first scrimmage … I was kind of nervous. I didn’t know if there was a structure, if they already knew how to play with each other and I didn’t. But everyone was very welcoming and open, and by our second scrimmage, I already felt like I fit in and that I was able to play with them. It just felt natural.”
How is Saints field hockey different from the teams you’ve played with before?
“On this team, I feel like I'm given the opportunity to just go on the field and do my best, try new things. I’m able to shine more just because of the team itself and how everyone’s really uplifting.”
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered this season?
“I find that after a long day, a challenging day, mentally, it can be hard to play when you’re thinking about your assignments or your other commitments. And sometimes mentally it can be hard to push those things aside and focus on field hockey. But I find that when I just push everything aside and have fun, that’s the most rewarding experience.”
What have been the most rewarding moments for you?
“It may be cliché, but anytime we score a goal in a game. Everyone jumps up, hugs each other, everyone is cheering for us. And I feel like [these are the best moments] because sometimes practice can be difficult and it can be like, ‘Why am I doing all of this? My body hurts, my brain hurts.’ But then moments like that, when we’re celebrating each other and hugging, it’s just so heartwarming.”
How has working with the coaching staff been?
“They’ve been very supportive. They’re always there to hear my concerns or my insights. It’s obvious that they’re there because they want to be.”
How have you branched out in other ways since coming to St. Andrew’s?
“Here I’ve noticed everyone does whatever they want to. You can be an athlete and a performer without anyone thinking twice about it. I really like that. Right now, I’m in [the Andrean Ensemble] and I’m really enjoying it. And I like how I’m able to do field hockey and sing without having to have a label.”
What’s your ‘why’ behind athletics?
“I’ve always loved to try new things. I started field hockey in seventh grade, which was a new thing [for me]. And I loved it. I feel like trying new things is often a way to find what you’re passionate about. This year, I’m trying track for the first time in the winter.”
Anything else you’d like to share?
“This field hockey team is probably my favorite that I’ve played on. Every day when I go to practice, it just feels like a treat. Everyone’s so welcoming and it’s just a really fun time.”
Vivian Snow ’27 on finding home and stability at boarding school
“The people make the place.”
That sentiment strikes a particular chord with Vivian Snow ’27. A self-described “Army brat” who has lived in nine different states over the course of her life, she has always considered her family as her home, rather than any house and picket fence.
When she visited St. Andrew’s for the first time, she got the sense that the people were what made the school special, too.
“Everyone smiled and said hello to each other,” says Snow. “It felt like everyone wanted to be here, and everyone chose to be here.”
Boarding school wasn’t on the radar for Snow until two years ago, when her brother received funding to attend boarding school in Colorado from Orion Military Scholarships, an organization which provides merit scholarships and financial aid to the children of military families. Snow’s eyes opened: she saw an opportunity to find stability in education and to, for once, take a deep breath and stay a while.
Snow applied to 10 schools, and eventually narrowed her choices down to St. Andrew’s and another boarding school. The close-knit culture of St. Andrew’s and the connections she formed on Visit Back Day were the deciding factors for her.
Her impression of the school has lived up to her experience so far.
“It’s not even like you [just] get really close with your group of friends, you get close to everyone,” says Snow. “No matter who’s outside after dinner, or who you’re sitting with, you’re friendly with them.”
From the Front Lawn to the field hockey pitch, Snow has stepped out of her comfort zone to forge new friendships and make St. Andrew’s home. This is her first year playing field hockey, because her frequent seasonal moves growing up made it difficult for her to join a fall sports team.
“It was daunting at first, but within the first 20 minutes of the first practice, everyone was just excited that you’re trying,” says Snow.
Though Snow is used to hopping around from state to state, she does miss the integral people in her life that followed her no matter where she went: her family. However, she says her whole life has felt like “training” for boarding school, in terms of learning to keep up with long-distance friendships and travel on her own.
“When someone is in their best place, [that’s] when you are closest to them,” Snow says of how being at her happiest has strengthened her relationships with her parents and siblings, despite living far from home. Her siblings are already buzzing to attend St. Andrew’s when the time comes.
Though she acknowledges the challenges that come with having parents in the military, she says she would not trade her childhood for anything. “It’s a part of me that has made me who I am and it has prepared me for my future,” she says.
Snow spends her free time writing for Bloom, an online resource where military teens can connect with and empower each other. She heard about the group through Orion Military Scholarships, and jumped at the opportunity to use her interest in writing to share her story about attending boarding school as a military teen.
Beyond classes, athletics, extracurriculars, and the blog, Snow is also trying to focus on being present in her friendships, because she knows that for the first time, she’ll have the opportunity to connect with classmates for longer than a couple of years.
“I feel like I have … a time bomb in my brain, where I want to get all my memories in, all my pictures in, because I know I don’t have forever with these people,” she says. “I kind of have to slow myself down, [because now] I have a long time with these people. It’s the most amazing feeling.”
Meet two of the school’s newest Saints: Coco Holden ’27 and Reese Holden ’27
Coco Holden ’27 and Reese Holden ’27 came halfway across the world for their first year of high school. But just over a month into the school year, St. Andrew’s already feels like home for these twins from Australia.
Coco and Reese have a typical sibling banter, poking fun at each other often. “She’s a bit more nerdy than I am,” quips Reese. Coco responds that she “embraces” her nerdiness.
But the sisters value their relationship and sticking together, which is why they took the leap and decided to attend St. Andrew’s as a duo. Coco, never having been to St. Andrew’s before she arrived for International Orientation, even trusted Reese’s impression of the school enough to apply and commit.
“We came for International Orientation, so we were just driving in, and it didn’t feel real,” says Coco. They remember their first day on campus, when all the faculty already knew their names and the seniors kindly moved all their belongings into their dorms.
Reese had made that drive down the main road once before. About a year ago, she joined her mother on a work trip to America. Her mother, who grew up in Arlington, Va., remembered a school that came up again and again amongst her childhood friends: St. Andrew’s. Reese, who knew she wanted something different than her current school, called St. Andrew’s to schedule a tour—a tour with Dean of Admission & Financial Aid Will Robinson ’97 that ended up being three hours long.
Reese returned to Australia and shared a glowing review of St. Andrew’s with her sister. After thinking it over—and receiving more than a few emails from Robinson—Coco and Reese carefully crafted their applications and sent them in.
They both found out they were accepted in the middle of watching Hamilton in the theater. The moment the show was over, they bolted out of the doors to celebrate—these two weren’t throwing away their shot.
The pair complements each other well: Coco considers herself to be STEM-oriented while Reese is interested in creative writing and the arts. However, both share a love of field hockey (which, they note, is just referred to as “hockey” in Australia).
They made the JV field hockey team, though Reese is unfortunately unable to play due to a concussion. She still savors going to the games and vibing with the team’s energy.
They have also already fallen in love with the community service opportunities that St. Andrew’s offers. The sisters value getting to know Middletown and its people through this program: Reese volunteers at the MOT Senior Center, and Coco has been involved with Adaptive Aquatics, a St. Andrew’s program that offers swimming lessons to local special-needs students.
Reese says that fitting all these activities into her packed schedule has been a wonderful antidote to missing home. “I thought I’d be more homesick than I am,” she says. “I’ve been keeping myself really busy over here, so I don’t think I’ve had very much time to think about it.”
The sisters say that they do think of home when they see classmates making plans for long weekends, or when they hear them on the phone with their families—something that the time difference makes challenging for Coco and Reese. When they start to miss home, they’ve found comfort in the different support systems at St. Andrew’s.
The duo says the international community has been essential to their transition to the States. They gave particular kudos to Ruth Hilton ’24 for helping them adjust to their new lives.
Coco and Reese can be found on campus doing some of their favorite pastimes: soaking in the sun on the Front Lawn and dreaming about pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce as they count down the days until their first Thanksgiving.
William Lin ’24 on the spark behind the essay that made its way to The Concord Review
From the moment his parents bestowed on him a hand-me-down iPhone 4 when he was younger, capturing beauty with a camera has fascinated William Lin ’24.
But his first year at St. Andrew’s was a turning point for his hobby. He honed his photography skills and deepened his passion for the art form as he traveled around China taking pictures of “different scenes, different people, [and] different cultures.”
Lin spent his first year at St. Andrew’s in an atypical fashion: abroad in his home city of Beijing, China, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to forgo a normal year of school.
A year later, he was finally on campus and in Dean of Studies Melinda Tower’s history classroom, taking “A World at War,” an advanced study course that explores 20th-Century wars and why they started, the way they were fought, and why they ended.
The gears started to turn for Lin. In the classroom, with conversations centered on photo censorship during World War II, he found himself at the intersection of his love of history and his passion for photography.
This brewing interest in censorship followed him into his V Form year. While taking “Research Seminar,” an advanced study history course that immerses students in scholarly research and challenges them to write a thoughtful research paper, he decided to explore the topic that piqued his curiosity in “A World at War.”
When Victor Cuicahua, a former St. Andrew’s faculty member and then-instructor of the seminar, read Lin’s paper, “Whitewashing the War: U.S. Censorship of Photography during World War II,” he was impressed.
Lin remembers that Cuicahua pointed out the exceptional nature of the paper, and urged Lin to submit it to The Concord Review, a highly selective quarterly academic journal, the only such journal that exists that offers secondary students the opportunity to submit academic history papers. Emboldened by his instructor’s feedback, he pushed “submit.” And then the waiting game began.
“I got the news during senior orientation on my watch,” Lin recalls of the beginning of this school year. “My watch is one of those where you get the text but it doesn’t show the entire text, so I was looking at it, and it was like, ‘Dear William, I’m writing to tell you that your paper has been’ and it just cuts off there.”
The anticipation was almost unbearable for the next several hours as Lin sat through orientation, waiting to read the remainder of that email. He exercised one of the many virtues of Saints: patience.
It paid off: his paper had been accepted for publication. His essay was one of 11 featured in the fall issue of The Concord Review, written by student scholars around the world. It was published in early September.
In the paper, Lin argues that the U.S. government instituted a “carefully managed censorship regime” during the second World War for a two-fold purpose: to minimize racial tensions and conflict in the United States by hiding racism in the military, and to conceal the degree to which racial integration was present in the military to avoid angering prejudiced Americans.
Reflecting on the thought-provoking classroom conversations that shaped his paper, Lin remembers a particular conversation with Tower regarding a Dorothea Lange photo—the unmistakable “Migrant Mother” photo from the Great Depression. Lin discovered through this conversation that the photographer had taken that photo without permission, and that the woman in the image disputed the photo as she refused to be seen as a symbol of the Depression.
Conversations like this one with Tower—as well as with Cuicahua and Dean of Students Matthew Carroll, the other faculty member heading the seminar—illuminated for Lin that there are complex depths behind a simple photo: layers of interpretation, censorship, intent, and more.
Through a historical and artistic lens, Lin brought these layers into dialogue with one another in his research. Beyond what he discusses in the paper, Lin also recognizes implications of historical censorship on contemporary issues.
“I think [censorship of photography] is going to be a relevant topic, even though censorship is not necessarily a main thing that is happening right now because there’s so many avenues with the internet and social media [for images to spread],” Lin says. “But with generative [artificial intelligence] and generative imaging, it’s more of an issue of deep fakes and misinformation. I’m certainly looking forward to looking deeper into this in college and finding a new direction.”
An inside look at the two newest leaders of the student body
Classes, homework, college applications, clubs, varsity sports: Charlie Lunsford ’24 and Riya Soni ’24 have a lot on their plates in their final year at St. Andrew’s before they head off to college. But this duo has another weighty responsibility to balance, too—serving as school co-presidents. But as any SAS student knows, St. Andrew’s is not just a “school.”
“The line between school and home here is so incredibly blurred that we not only have to create a good school experience for students, but a good home life, or as close to home as we can get,” says Soni.
Stepping into the shoes of former co-presidents Trinity Smith ’23 and Ford Chapman ’23 is no easy task for Lunsford and Soni, but the two are eager to tackle their new roles, as their past experiences have led up to this moment.
Soni came to St. Andrew’s as a new IV Form student after completing her freshman year in her home state of New Jersey. Soon into her time here, she founded the Social Justice Club with a few of her fellow students.
“Through organizing projects and coordinating with teachers, I got a really tangible taste for what leadership meant,” Soni says of her experience founding the club.
Lunsford, a three-sport athlete from North Carolina, took one of his first forays into leadership in his IV Form year as captain of the squash team. He also feels that in his three years at St. Andrew’s, he has become an informal leader of his class.
“When the opportunity to be [co-president] came up I kind of just jumped at it because of the love I have for everyone in my class and these connections we’ve built,” says Lunsford. “I feel like there’s nothing that I care about more than my class.”
As co-presidents, Soni and Lunsford’s responsibilities include heading Form Council, giving daily announcements, working with faculty to serve as a voice for the students, and sitting on the Honor Committee and Discipline Committee.
“Our priorities include having a really solid and communicative Form Council so that planning events like Casino Night and the Haunted Trail go smoothly,” Soni says. The duo would also like to plan more weekend social events, like movies on the Front Lawn, or bonfire and s’mores nights. “[We want to do this] so students feel more encouraged to take breaks from their work, opt-in, and socialize,” she says.
With SAS culture restored to its former glory after the pandemic, Soni and Lunsford would like to explore bringing some old-school traditions back, like the schoolwide Olympics or assigning students to Hogwarts houses.
As much fun as that all sounds, the co-presidents consider one job to be more paramount.
“The biggest goal of the co-presidents is to protect the school’s culture,” says Lunsford.
The students serve as role models for others, and step up when they see something going on that does not align with the school’s values.
“It is all about culture. That’s the one thing that differentiates us from [other schools],” says Soni.
She adds that practicing what she preaches is not always easy, especially because she is still learning and growing at a place where progress is the mission, not perfection. However, she says that taking accountability for her own actions is what matters, and that’s what she expects from her fellow students as well.
The seniors plan to stay on top of their responsibilities while taking care of themselves by relying on each other, students in Form Council, and faculty, and by giving themselves grace.
But the two say that it isn’t hard to juggle their responsibilities when they feel so passionate about their roles.
“People don’t remember what you say to them, or what you do for them, they remember how you make them feel,” says Soni. “And if we can, amidst all the stress and all the jam-packed schedules … if we can make people stop and experience pure happiness … that just means the world to me.”
Senior Thesis: "Watching and Waiting" on Singer-Songwriter John Teti ’23
There are two ways to identify a genuine encounter with John Teti ’23 in the wilds of St. Andrew’s: you either see him before you hear him, or you hear him before you see him.
Scenario one calls for Teti to be outfitted in one of his bold, vibrant (and potentially ironic—it’s hard to tell, as Teti has a flair for the impish) looks, which, as the anointed ambassador of Hawaiian shirt culture at St. Andrew’s, is most days. It also helps when spotting him that he’s very, very tall.
Scenario two calls for you to be within any building in St. Andrew’s that houses a single musical instrument. Piano, drum, guitar, bass, melodica, it doesn’t matter: Teti’s all in. It’s a magnetic, urgent pull between human and instrument. And what lovely, thoughtful noise Teti makes.
If you were to query any St. Andrew’s faculty or staff HQ’d in the O’Brien Arts Center, they’d be quick to tell you that the very best thing about that space is the constant sound of genius in progress from student artists and musicians. This year, in particular, Teti’s achingly earnest, honest vocals have bloomed throughout O’Brien as he works through a personal senior thesis of sorts: Watching and Waiting, the burgeoning singer-songwriter’s first full-length album, completely recorded on campus with a little help from his friends.
“John Teti is probably the reason I love music the way I do,” says Jayson Rivera ’23, a founding member of The Freshman Band, which has seen many different names (“My personal favorite was Toads on Parade,” says Teti) and bandmates throughout the years. “He got a group of us together our first year. I was intimidated on bass because everyone was so talented, but what John helped put together for that very first Open Mic Night our III Form year has been one of my favorite things about St. Andrew’s. It’s from John that I learned music is not something you make because a parent or teacher asks you to. Music is something you make out of love alone.”
Like any good bestie-of-the-band, Rivera already has a favorite single from Teti’s soon-to-be released album. “I play on ‘Here and Now,’ and the song is so good,” he says. “John has the potential and the talent to absolutely go crazy with music. I’ve watched him mold the clay and become more confident in his playing and mature in his writing. The cool thing is John’s always known what he wants to do with music, but he also happens to be smart enough to pursue anything else in the world he wants.”
Teti is peak-Teti the morning we meet: Humming one of his originals, Hawaiian shirt poppin’, dropping the kind of dope and sage wisdom that makes you wonder if this kid is, in fact, actually a high-schooler. He’s considering the lyrics of one of his songs, which he characterizes as “simple.” “But I find it’s the most simple experiences, moments, and truths that really connect us as humans exploring the human condition,” he says. “That’s so beautiful to me.” (Dope, sage. I told you.)
While today Teti has resisted the siren lure of the Dining Hall piano that we sit dangerously close to in the Main Common Room, he gestures toward it. “That’s where this started for me here,” he says. “I was known by the seniors as the annoying freshman kid who always woke them up because I would come for breakfast check-in and just start playing.”
Teti contends he wasn’t brave enough as a III Former to make the sartorial choices he makes now, but it was never a question of being audacious enough to jump on the keys.
“The music wasn’t for them,” Teti says of his peers in the Dining Hall (and the seniors, who eventually came around). “I was playing for me. I was playing because there was an instrument handy and I had a few minutes.”
Soon, Teti’s breakfast interludes started to gain traction. “Soon people took the stance of, ‘This is really nice,’” Teti says. “That's one of the things that I think is thematically true of my relationship with music, which is I use music as a builder of community. I'm very grateful that everyone else in the St. Andrew’s community seems to be as grateful as they are for me simply just doing something I love to do.”
That love of music stems from a musician dad; early fandom of Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, and the Pauls (Simon and McCartney, naturally); and a few years spent singing at The American Boychoir School in New Jersey, a choir boarding school for middle-graders.
“I learned a lot about singing, music, choir, and independent life while I was there,” he says. “I did a lot of country-touring and stayed with a million host families, singing at tiny churches across America. I've seen the interior of 200-odd middle-class American homes, which was pretty cool.”
When the school closed, Teti found himself a seventh-grader at parochial school with a music curriculum that was lacking, to put it kindly. “I was feeling antsy without music in my life in a big way,” says Teti, who, backed with some of the theory knowledge he’d picked up along the way, soon turned to chord sheets and YouTube to teach himself piano. It didn’t take long for him to arrive at a place where, upon approached with any request, he could look up the chord sheet and boom.
“What’s most flourished for me, creatively speaking, with music at St. Andrew’s has been piano,” he says.
Director of Instrumental Music Dr. Fred Geiersbach has had a front row seat to all the flourishing.
“It's been amazing to watch John's already strong talent grow over the last few years,” Geiersbach says. “He's obviously a strong singer-songwriter, but it brings me great joy to also see him developing as an arranger on this album. He's been a fabulous addition to the Jazz Ensemble this semester, and I've been really happy to contribute my playing to his album.”
As for “Doc G’s” contribution? “I'm using a brass quartet made up of Dr. Geiersbach layered over himself,” Teti says with a grin. “I love it. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.”
Other SAS collaborators on the album include Cora Birknes ’23 on oboe, Silas Grasse ’23 on drums, and Sophie Xu ’23 on violin, among others. It makes sense that Teti would cast his friends and fellow Saint musicians as supporting characters on his album. After all, he is telling a story of becoming that happened to unfold on the banks of Noxontown Pond.
“I think broadly I’m trying to paint a self-portrait of the last couple years of high school,” he says. “A lot of that has to do with the relationships I created here, in these spaces.”
While all the songs are written, the actual recording of Watching and Waiting began after Christmas Break this year. Teti, who has invested a grand total of $20 into his artistic endeavor, has made good use of St. Andrew’s recording studio, with an assist from film and music instructor Peter Hoopes. Outside of the studio and the talent of Teti and his musical squad, Teti’s using Apple’s Logic Pro recording software and voice memos he calls “sound collages.” A trained St. Andrew’s ear will hear the sounds of campus embedded in his music: Oar-meets-water, recorded from his crew boat. The pealing of the bell tower. The din of Dining Hall conversation. Geese taking flight.
“Music for me is a form of therapy, and I went through some rather serious bouts of anxiety and other mental illness over the last couple years. I think I felt kind of stuck,” Teti says. “There’s one song that I wrote last spring where you’ll hear the repetitive sound of the oars clacking. It’s this mechanical pattern. It speaks to my headspace. It’s sort of shocking how much I feel like I’m in it when I close my eyes and listen. It’s almost an audio landscape painting or time capsule. To make myself spend time ruminating and soaking and steeping in this really difficult time was an emotional feat. Ask any student here: sometimes it feels like we’re caught in this endless loop. I guess the song is my version of that.”
Teti has both amused, surprised, and impressed himself when it comes to the songwriting. “Sometimes I’ll look at something I wrote and think, ‘Wow. That’s interesting. I wonder where this is coming from,’” he says. “Other times I’ll write something and sit back and it will occur to me that what I wrote is not something I ever dreamed of writing.”
English faculty Will Torrey—a mentor of Teti’s—knows a thing or two about Teti’s craft.
“From the first day of class, I could see John was an artistic, sensitive young man, someone who felt strong emotions deep down, and someone who knew, intuitively, that studying art and literature might help him make sense of the confusion so endemic to everyday life,” Torrey says. “It wasn't until he enrolled in Creative Writing that I began to fully understand him as a person. Along with the work he did in class—composing thought-provoking poems and pushing his peers to write as honestly and openly as they could—John also began coming by my office for regular visits. During these chats, John opened up about his love of music, as well as his ambition to produce a full-length album before he graduates. Such an undertaking would be a great challenge for anyone, but for a student at a school where one's days are totally scheduled, it seems almost impossible. That is, unless you're John.”
Much like one would submit early drafts of writing to their favorite teacher, Torrey has been treated to early studio sessions of Teti’s songs. “They’re beautiful,” Torrey says. “But what inspires me most about him is his preternaturally mature relationship to the process of making art. He puts in the time, not because it's easy or because it always yields gold, but because the making of the product, and not the product itself, is what fills him up.”
Teti knows the pressures on—in a little over a week, he’ll be graduating, and then off to spend “13th grade” at Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan. “Yes, another boarding school on another pond,” he says wryly. While he admits he’s battling a sense of imposter syndrome about getting into the choicey arts school to focus solely on his music, Teti is thrilled. “Music will be the sole academic focus,” he says. “Most musicians don’t get that opportunity until post-undergrad.”
There is, of course, Watching and Waiting to contend with first. Of the 10 tracks, two—“Strawberry Moon” and “Here We Are”—are now streaming on Spotify; the eight others are in various stages of completion.
“I don't want to get too in the weeds on what is the existential purpose of recorded music, but I don't want to make something that nobody hears,” Teti says. “I've sunk a lot of time and effort into this project and it would be incredibly disappointing for it not to be finished before I leave.” (Yes, of course, there will be a listening party.)
As he considers his musical growth, the friends and faculty who helped along the way, and finding his voice, Teti is almost surprised to admit it might not be the people he misses most. “I expected that to be the answer, as it’s the obvious one,” Teti says. “But I think, increasingly enough, I’ve found myself already mourning the loss of the physical spaces. Delaware sunsets in the fall, Noxontown Pond, the grass docks, the recording studio—the sounds of it all.”
Ema Appenteng’s soccer journey from Ghana to Middletown and beyond.
There’s an inherent irony in the notion that St. Andrew’s dazzling soccer goalie Emmanuel Appenteng ’23—the guy charged with keeping things out—made the decision to come to Middletown for one very specific reason: to let other people in.
Appenteng, who quietly goes about the business of being a high-caliber student-athlete at St. Andrew’s, is a product of the highly selective international soccer academy Right to Dream, which identifies and trains soccer stars in the making. Not only does it invest in its students on the pitch, the organization helps prepare its students for a life after soccer by providing pathways to high school education, college athletics, and, just maybe, the pros.
Warm, endearing, quick with a smile and equipped with a disposition that feels both wise and youthful at the same time, Appenteng’s the kind of guy who makes it a point to stop and make faculty and staff children feel seen and heard; the kind of guy who changes the feel of a room simply by stepping into it.
The two-time First Team All Conference selection (2021 and 2022) and Second Team All-State (2022) Appenteng hails from a small village in Accra, Ghana, and contends he was “playing soccer in the womb.” Right to Dream was so taken with an 11-year-old Appenteng that they recruited him for the program. “They train you, they make you go to school, but they also work on building your character,” he says.
Becoming a Right to Dream kid is a pretty big deal. “Many Right to Dream kids play in college, some get drafted,” he says. “They scout from all over Ghana, so that is thousands and thousands of people.”
So big a deal, he admits sheepishly, that when he goes home to Ghana, he has to keep a low-profile so his friends and neighbors don’t mob him with questions about soccer and his life in America. It’s not yet at the point where he’s slinking around wearing a hat and sunglasses, but he tries to fly under the radar when his family travels around the country.
“It’s funny to me,” Appenteng says, laughing. “I have to hide myself a little bit.”
One thing he can’t hide? His sick acumen in net.
“Everyone in the state knows that it does not matter how great or poorly St. Andrew’s [soccer team] would play, you still had to get the ball past Ema Appenteng probably more than once in a game—and that was nearly impossible,” says Dean of Students and Head Soccer Coach Matt Carroll.
Appenteng was accepted at other schools with more robust, foundational soccer teams, yet he choose St. Andrew’s. Why? To open the door.
“I had friends telling me to go to school in Connecticut, where there is a higher level of play; I could have gone to school in Europe, but there has never been a Right to Dream student at St. Andrew’s,” he says. “There were places where I could step onto a field and everything was built for me. But if I said ‘no’ to St. Andrew’s, I’d be shutting the door for the next Right to Dream kid, maybe a kid from my own home. I had the opportunity to help build something here.”
“Ema’s greatest superpower is that he walks around here just like any other normal kid, but his journey and story is so vastly different than that of his classmates,” says Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Will Robinson ’97 P’26, who has been Appenteng’s advisor the past two years. “For all his talents, he's so incredibly humble. He's constantly working on his craft when no one's watching. Here’s a kid who hasn’t seen his family in about three years, but you’ll never hear him complain. He stays positive despite facing tremendous challenges."
Positive, happy and hopeful, still, in fact, as we talk through the worst-case scenario for a graduating senior with an athletic scholarship to play soccer at Ohio Wesleyan: a complete ACL tear.
In the third quarter of a lacrosse game in early April, Appenteng lost balance going for the ball, landed awkwardly, and heard that soft “pop” that athletes dread.
“I knew immediately,” he says. “I couldn’t get up. I was absolutely heartbroken.”
If such a thing is going to happen, Appenteng muses, at least it happened here, at St. Andrew’s, where his community has rallied around him.
“I have had so many people there for me,” he says. “My roommates, friends, coach, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, my Right to Dream friends and advisors, and of course my host family, Mr. and Mrs. Hunter and Billy [Hunter ’23], Emma [Hunter ’25], and Chris [Hunter ’26].”
Prior to the ACL tear, which has him carefully maneuvering St. Andrew’s campus on crutches as he awaits his April 21 surgery date, the soccer savant said he expected to arrive on Ohio’s campus and compete as a freshman for starting goalkeeper.
After? The record stands.
“I still think I will be able to prove that I can compete for starting goalkeeper,” Appenteng says. “Nothing changes.”
If you asked him what was worse—the ACL tear that will likely strip him of his first full year of college athletic play, or losing the state soccer championship his V Form year in 2021—it’d be a toss-up.
“When I decided to come to St. Andrew’s, I told [former Head of School] Mr. [Tad] Roach, ‘Sir, I am coming to St. Andrew’s, and don’t worry, we are going to win the state championship,’” Appenteng says. “That was my biggest ambition for my time here. Losing in the final … I will never stop wondering, ‘Should I have done something different?’ I was so distraught after that. Couldn’t think, couldn’t concentrate. It took a while to get past it.”
Appenteng, like his coach, contends that the SAS 2020 boys soccer team, which saw their season cancelled due to Covid-19, was a state-title lock. “We were stacked with an unbelievable blend of toughness, skill, and experience that year,” Carroll says. “Yet it was Ema’s V Form year where the boys came together and enjoyed a remarkable run. Had Ema not performed like he did that season, we would have never made the finals. Every game during that postseason run, as well as the majority of games he’s played in, Ema prevented a goal due to a tremendous save or clearance. He only knows one speed: 100 percent.”
Ike Lawrence ’23 knows a thing or two about that 100 percent. Appenteng and Lawrence play the coveted role of hype-man to each other. “We really bonded over our love of soccer,” says Lawrence. Fast friends, Appenteng spent a few weeks with Lawrence’s family in Baltimore the summer before their V Form year.
“We spent those weeks getting in shape for preseason,” Lawrence says. “Sometimes I’d have trouble getting going in the morning, and Ema would be knocking on my door, like, ‘Let’s go, let’s go!’ He really pushed me to be a better athlete, but also a better person.”
He didn’t just push Lawrence—Appenteng pushed the whole team. “Ema does a lot of … ‘yelling’ we’ll say,” Lawrence says, laughing. “He’s really vocal. He outworks everybody, and his level of leadership over the past few years has unlocked a bond on our team that’s not like anything else.”
Lawrence, himself committed to college athletics—he’ll row at Dartmouth next year—says he’s been impressed with how Appenteng has handled his injury.
“It breaks my heart,” Lawrence says. “He’s such a compassionate, thoughtful person. It feels so unfair he’s been dealt this card, but I’ve seen his work ethic when he gets in the zone, and playing in college is the ultimate zone for him right now.”
As for his scholarship, it's safe and sound. “What Ohio has said is, ‘Injuries happen, and we know you will come back even stronger than before—we are so committed to you, and excited to have you join us,’” Appenteng says.
Appenteng is a few months removed from doing, yet again, what he has continued to do: step into a new world without the safety net of his family close by.
Coming to St. Andrew’s from Accra was a shock for Appenteng. “In Ghana, it’s very hard, economically,” he says. “People must work very, very hard. The culture there is very different from here.”
So different, in fact, it took Appenteng a while to get used to the St. Andrew’s drive-by smile.
“People just walk by you and say, ‘Hi! How are you?’ and smile,” he says. “That is so cool. St. Andrew’s was scary at first, to come so far to a place where not only did I not know anyone, but also, Right to Dream didn’t have a relationship here, either. I'm the first person in my extended family to ever travel outside of our country. But once I got the opportunity, you just feel like, ‘I'm going to do something great.’ And in the future, I will help my parents.”
It was in those early scary times that people just started showing up for Appenteng; four years later, they haven’t left, and likely never will. “I get a lot of invitations,” he says, laughing.
His loss will be felt on the pitch, says Carroll. “Simply watching him play the game with pure joy and skill is something that I’ll miss dearly,” he says. “When we would have shooting drills, I would tell the boys that in four minutes we need to score six goals or else we would run. Ema would give me a look, like, ‘Coach, are you kidding me? You think they will score on me?’ As you can imagine, the boys would often have to run. We’ll miss his energy, enthusiasm, huge smile, infectious personality, love of life, his leadership, and the belief that we could win any game because Ema was in net.”
What will Appenteng miss about St. Andrew’s? “Everything and everyone,” he says. “The things I’ll take with me are the importance of building relationships, of being nice, of taking time to do the little things like simply say ‘Hello.’ The school is such a part of me now, and will be forever.”
To that end, he hopes to stay engaged with his squad by aiding in recruiting other Right to Dream kids to come to St. Andrew’s.
Injury or no injury, Appenteng isn’t banking everything on soccer. It tracks that the guy who took a wild chance on St. Andrew’s just to open the door for the person behind him, an athlete who came to a team with the mindset to build something, hopes to become an architect.
“I have to come to the reality about me being the height I am. For modern goalkeepers [who play professionally], they look for height, especially in the US,” he says. “I’m not putting everything on soccer. I want to go to Ohio, I want to compete and make a difference for my team, and I want to get the education I need to fulfill my ultimate ambition to be an architect.”
Like so many who know him, Robinson is grappling with Appenteng’s impending departure.
“I am so proud of this kid,” he says. “The growth I’ve seen in him over his time here, and the challenges he’s faced … he’s figuring it all out. He’s just a few years removed from being fully wings-spread, and this place believed in him. More importantly, he believed in it. Here’s somebody who came here and didn’t waste a single minute. That’s why we’re here, for kids like Ema. Kids who make the most of their time here, and go out into the world and make it a better place—that’s what he’s going to do.”
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.”