Throughout the COVID era, the arts at St. Mark's have continued to thrive curricularly. Arts Department head Chris Kent is teaching theater arts remotely, while Director of Music James Wallace has been working diligently with St. Mark's students, producing music for regular chapel services, the uniquely virtual 2020 Lessons & Carols service, and some wonderful a capella vocal productions. The visual arts, taught by faculty veterans Barbara Putnam and Aggie Belt, have been particularly impressive. Ms. Belt's sculptors have created "cultural unity vessels" in which students combine pottery styles from different cultures to produce unique objects. There was also an extraordinarily creative output from Ms. Putnam's studio artists this fall and leading up to the Christmas break. The vast majority of these artistic endeavors have taken place remotely, so it is exciting to realize that the arts at St. Mark's are thriving despite all challenges.
Around the Quad
Beining (Cathy) Zhou, a VI Former from China and Australia, has been named a top 300 scholar in the 80th Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS)—the nation's oldest and most prestigious science and mathematics competition for high school seniors. A total of 1,760 students around the country entered the competition this year, which is held under the auspices of the Society for Science.
Between Christmas and New Year's Eve, St. Mark's two a capella groups released their virtually recorded version of Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal." Arranged by James Wallace—the School's director of music—it was recorded remotely by individual members of the Royal Blues (St. Mark's female acapella group) and the Marksmen (its male acapella group) and then blended together to celebrate the winter and welcome in 2021.
To celebrate the season, the Students for Sustainability (S4S) at St. Mark's created a holiday challenge "to inspire sustainable doing." St. Markers were challenged to take sustainable actions related to the holidays: "including buying, wrapping, making, or reusing." The two most creative entries, declared Dani Ortiz '21 and Lindsay Davis '21—the leaders of S4S this year— would win prizes.
From November 30 through December 4, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) held two of its most significant annual events: the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) and the People of Color Conference (PoCC). This year, of course, both conferences were entirely virtual. Six St. Mark's students attended the 2020 SDLC while six members of the School's adult community took part in the 2020 PoCC.
On Wednesday evening, December 16, St. Mark's presented its annual service of Lessons & Carols: this year online. The service is considered a traditional Christmas event at many (if not all) Episcopal boarding schools, as well as numerous colleges and churches around the world.
Elizabeth Goodhue recently received the 2020 Page Turner Award for non-fiction writing for her book The Truth About Down Syndrome: Lessons Learned from Raising a Son with Trisomy-21. It tells a personal story about her experiences with her first child, William, born 31 years ago with Trisomy-21, better known as Down Syndrome.
While attending St. Mark's remotely in 2020-2021, Zifan (Carl) Guo '22 has been teaching Computer Aided Design (CAD) to IV Formers as part of the School's experiential learning program.
At the weekly virtual all-school meeting on Wednesday, December 2, Dr. Peter Glomset of the St. Mark's English Department announced the election of eight new members to the St. Mark's chapter of the Cum Laude Society.
Time travel and history are often paired themes in novels, and one of the best of them comes from the pen of St. Mark's alumnus William de Rham '75. This past summer, de Rham released The Quest to Unite Us: Book I of the Marcus Santana Time Travel Chronicles. Marketed as a young adult novel, de Rham notes that "it is for anyone seeking a tale of adventure that includes the story of how our founding fathers created the Constitution."
In mid-November, Jiamin (Sunny) Li '22 delivered a TEDx Talk in Suzhou, China. Her topic was "She and Culture," and Sunny addressed issues of cultural confidence and open-mindedness.
St. Mark's V Former Josh Bergers was the top high school runner in the annual U.S. Track and Field (USATF) New England championship cross country race, held at Mine Falls Park in Nashua, New Hampshire on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Bergers, just 17, came in 11th out of 87 runners in the men's event. The top 10 finishers ranged in age from 20 to 28.
The very first St. Mark's School Thanksgiving was celebrated in Southborough, hosted by the School's founder, Joseph Burnett, as two of the earliest students were his sons and it was not possible for their schoolmates to travel home and return during the brief time allotted to the holiday. So a Thanksgiving spread was served for all at the Burnett manse on Main Street: one school family, together giving thanks.
The Royal Blues, St. Mark's female a capella group, entertained the School community on the eve of Thanksgiving break 2020.
The St. Mark's Haiti Partnership Committee has been very busy this November.
With no in-person competition scheduled against outside opponents this fall, St. Mark's teams and St. Mark's athletes have still managed a productive sports season this autumn.
There were no Groton games this fall, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn't stop the St. Mark's chapel program, the 2020-2021 Monitors, and the students on the St. Mark's Athletic Council from celebrating the traditional "Spirit Week" in days before what would have been a weekend of games with longtime rival Groton School.
Thanks to COVID, there have been no outside games on the 2020 calendar for St. Mark's football. Still, the team has not been inactive. Heading into Thanksgiving break, the St. Mark's football players have been collaborating with the Worcester Boys and Girls Club to sponsor a Coat Drive.
This past weekend, Rob Kuklewicz, chief financial and operations officer at St. Mark's, announced the completed installation of four electric vehicle charging stations on campus.
St. Mark's boys cross country has not been able to run any live races during the 2020 season because of the pandemic, but it has enjoyed some "virtual" races, where teams run on their own campus and then compare times.
Two hundred years ago on November 11, 1820, Joseph Burnett, the future founder of St. Mark's School, was born in Southborough, Massachusetts. Almost a century later, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918, the First World War came to an end. Originally Armistice Day, November 11 is now recognized as Veterans Day, while at St. Mark's November 11 has been celebrated for 150 years as Founder's Day.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020, was the first National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing day for high school athletes committing to play at the Division I level for college and university sports programs. Six current St. Markers have signed NLI agreements, and their names were announced virtually by Director of Athletics John Levandowski at the regular all-school meeting on the same day.
On Thursday, November 5, Head of School John C. Warren formally recognized three new members of the St. Mark's adult community for reaching the 20-year milestone for service to the School.
This past weekend, the St. Mark's community celebrated Halloween. Despite Friday's snow, from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday October 31st, the young children of faculty and staff participated in a safely socially distanced trick-or-treat circuit of campus houses. Meanwhile, St. Mark's students held a hybrid Halloween costume competition, including both on-campus and virtual entries.
Gil Stanley, a member of the St. Mark's History Department for 32 years, passed away peacefully on October 27, 2020, in Sarasota, Florida, surrounded by his family. He was 80.
On Tuesday, October 27, St. Mark's alumna Jess Danforth '02 was the speaker for morning chapel. She shared with the school community the story of her best friend, fellow St. Marker Caitlin O'Hara '01 (pictured at left), who died at the age of 33 of complications from cystic fibrosis. Danforth then introduced the work she was doing in East Africa as a memorial to her friend: the Leo Project.
St. Mark's has a long tradition of ice hockey success, with 29 league titles and eight New England championships over 120 years of the sport at the School. There have been many St. Mark's skaters, young men and women, who have gone on to play at colleges and universities. A few have seen action on junior, national, Olympic, and professional teams, and a trio of Lions went on to NHL careers. Now two more St. Mark's hockey veterans will have that chance.
2020-2021 marks the beginning of St. Mark's third year working in partnership with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Cross-Cultural Student Emotional Wellness (CCCSEW), as part of the School's commitment to Global Citizenship and the well-being of its Asian international students.
Anika Sukthankar, a IV Form day student from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, was the recipient of a "Community Hero Award" from Reliant Medical Group this past August.
To facilitate the reopening of its campus and its ongoing curricular and extracurricular programs, St. Mark's has hired a group of qualified people to serve as Leaders for Educational and Operational Support (LEOS).
On Friday morning, October 2, the regular St. Mark's chapel service featured a much-loved annual tradition: the Blessing of the Animals. This year, of course, the service had to be virtual, so instead of pets lining up and being led down the aisle of Belmont Chapel, students, faculty, and staff sent in photos of their beloved pets.
Over the past several months, St. Markers around the country, current students and alumni of all ages have been responding to current events: speaking out and standing up to make a difference in these challenging times. Their voices are varied but their messages uniformly powerful. And St. Mark's has heard their voices and is responding.
This week, St, Mark's is welcoming back boarders and day students who wish to return to campus, while other students will still be taking classes remotely. In a recent letter to the St. Mark's community, Head of School John C. Warren '74 spelled out the preparations undertaken and the changes made in order to prioritize the safety and health of everyone involved:
On Tuesday, September 22, St. Mark's held its traditional installation of new faculty with a virtual chapel service. Twelve new teachers were recognized, and the Rev. Barbara Talcott, the School's head chaplain, delivered a sermon entitled "On Dignity."
On Friday evening, September 11, St. Mark's officially opened the 2020-2021 academic year with the traditional Convocation ceremony, this year shared virtually via Zoom.
This fall, veteran art teacher Barbara Putnam—entering her 42nd year on the St. Mark's faculty—assumes the mantle of Senior Teacher. This is an historic transition for the School, as Ms. Putnam will be the first woman to hold that title in the 150-plus-year history of St. Mark's.
1920 was a watershed year for St. Mark's School in many ways. For the first time, a process for financial aid support was introduced: meager perhaps by today's standards, but clearly a step in the right direction. That year also saw a significant renovation of Belmont Chapel, expanding it to accommodate increased enrollment and dedicating it as a memorial to those St. Markers who had served in the Great War. Another memorial to the fallen would have an even more substantial impact on the School and its philosophy. Today, St. Mark's proudly asserts in its mission statement that it "educates young people for lives of leadership and service." It was in 1920 that St. Mark's introduced its very first formal program of community service and outside leadership opportunity, when it began a collaborative relationship with Brantwood Camp in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
It has been a virtual summer, but that hasn't stopped St. Mark's alumnus Junseok Jason Hwang '19 from singing. Below is a link to his virtual prize recital after he earned second place in the International Korea-China vocal competition.
Special Olympics Massachusetts announced this month that St. Mark's has earned National Banner recognition for its efforts to provide inclusive sports and activities for students with and without disabilities. St. Mark's has been active in facilitating and hosting Special Olympics events on campus for the better part of two decades, and is currently recognized as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School. St. Mark's is receiving this National Banner honor as a result of meeting national standards of excellence in the areas of inclusion, advocacy and respect. An award presentation will take place at a later date, to be determined.
The summer of 2020 has been anything but ordinary, but at St. Mark's the faculty remain committed to professional development during their time away from the classroom. Throughout July, St. Mark's faculty members were deeply immersed in a special course entitled "Designing & Building for Student-Centered Hybrid Learning at St. Mark's." The faculty is now well-prepared to present the curriculum in both a fully-remote format and, when practical and safe, a hybrid model for 2020-2021.
John Mauro, who worked as a member of the St. Mark's staff for a record 58 years, passed away peacefully on Saturday, August 8, 2020 at his home, surrounded by his family. He was 88.
Despite the loss of this year's varsity sports season, Sophie Student '20 was recently named a Senior High School Lacrosse All-American for 2020.
St. Mark's alumnus Allan Maca '83 is hosting a new National Geographic television series, Ancient China from Above, which makes its U.S. debut on Tuesday, August 11, at 10:00 p.m. EDT, 7:00 p.m. PDT.
On Saturday, July 18, the fourth annual Do Do's Garden Callender Avenue Mini Faux Folk Festival (DDGCAmFFF) was held. Over four-plus hours via Zoom, some 22 acts (28 individual artists) shared 46 songs. A number of the performers had St. Mark's connections.
In October of 2011, the St. Mark's Board of Trustees presented a Strategic Plan for the future. It focused on three major goals—increasing STEM opportunities, advancing global education, and creating a Center for innovation in teaching and learning—resolving to achieve these goals within a decade. The plan was called St. Mark's 2020.
When its 156th academic year gets underway this autumn, St. Mark's will welcome 11 new faculty members to the school community. Five will be teaching STEM subjects, four will be joining the Modern Languages Department, one will become part of the admission team, while another will be assuming the administrative responsibilities of directing the School's Community and Equity program.
The challenges of the virtual era have not impacted the production or the quality of student publications at St. Mark's. Earlier this month, the final editions of the Vindex, the St. Marker, and LEO appeared.
Former faculty member Mervyn Stewart Menzies Weedon, known as "Rob" to everyone, died peacefully at his home in Cary, North Carolina, on May 31, 2020. He was 95. Mr. Weedon taught English at St. Mark's for 32 years (1961-1993).
St. Mark's School's 155th Prize Day graduation ceremony took place on the morning of Saturday, June 6, via an online platform. Eighty-three VI Formers officially graduated from the School. An in-person ceremony will take place on campus next June.
On the morning of Friday, June 6, the traditional St. Mark's Baccalaureate Service was delivered non-traditionally to the St. Mark's community. Loris Adams, outgoing director of Community & Equity Affairs at the School delivered the Baccalaureate address.