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Deans' Weekly

Meet the Monitors!

Head's Reflection

Last Friday we kicked off the school year with our traditional Convocation ceremony, which consisted of recognition of students' academic excellence, awards for teacher dedication, and a captivating speech from Mr. Warren. Mr. Warren spoke about the phrase "Lives of Consequence"—the tagline for the Campaign for St. Mark's—and how St. Mark's enables students to grow into citizens who not only do well, but who assume a lifelong commitment to do good. You can read Mr. Warren's Convocation speech by viewing the September Head's Reflection on our website.

EEE Update

As many of you know, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) risk to "critical"—the highest risk category—in a number of towns, including Southborough.

As a result, all town-owned properties are currently closed between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. St. Mark's continues to monitor this situation very closely to ensure the safety of our community. This week, all athletic fields and the Athletic Quad were sprayed with a plant-oil-based organic spray. We are also providing shuttle service to West Campus every evening. Some evening events are being moved indoors, while others are being cancelled or rescheduled. We will continue to keep the community posted on any updates, including schedule adjustments.

For the latest information from the Town of Southborough, please visit:

For the latest information from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, please visit:

Congratulations, Ms. Behnke!

St. Mark's Director of Admission Anne Behnke was honored by the Enrollment Management Association (EMA) on Friday with the prestigious Everett E. Gourley Award. The Gourley Award, named for former Director of Admission and Assistant Headmaster of the Asheville School, Everett Gourley, is given each year to the educator whose interest in students and concern for colleagues is an inspiration to those who serve in admission. Ms. Behnke is in her 16th year with St. Mark's and has worked in independent school admissions and enrollment since 1991. Congratulations!

Essential Dates 2019-2020

As you make plans for the coming academic year, please refer to our Essential Dates Calendar, which provides details of events, holidays, vacations, and more.

Family Weekend Speaker: Dr. David Gleason,
author of At What Cost?

Anxiety, depression, and their dangerous manifestations are increasing student conditions at many competitive high schools. Most of these schools promote themselves as being committed to students' holistic development in academics, athletics, and the arts, and in their personal, social, and emotional growth. So why are so many students struggling?

On Friday, October 11, at 3:00 p.m. in the Class of '45 Hall in the Putnam Family Arts Center, St. Mark's will present Dr. David Gleason, author of At What Cost? Defending Adolescent Development in Fiercely Competitive Schools. Dr. Gleason is a clinical psychologist who provides counseling and consulting services, as well as neuropsychological assessments, within public, independent and international schools. He presents workshops and seminars at schools, and at conferences around the world. This event is free and open to the public.

Check Us Out on SmugMug

To see the latest photos of life at St. Mark's, visit us on SmugMug! New photos are added each week.

Schedule News

Evening Chapel is coming up this on Tuesday, September 17! Day students should remember to bring Chapel Dress to campus for Tuesday evening's events: Seated Meal, Chapel, and the VI Form-Faculty Dessert.

Academic News

Add/Drop Period
While we have worked very thoroughly all summer to arrive at the correct mix of courses for each student, we recognize that in some cases we will need to make adjustments. Please bear in mind the following process for making course changes:

  • During this first week of classes, September 9-13, we only consider requests for schedule changes initiated by advisors, teachers, and department heads based on course placements (for instance, moving between Spanish I and Spanish II).
  • During the formal Add/Drop period, September 14-21, we will consider requests for changes more broadly. As always, given the complexity associated with building the schedule, we cannot consider requests based on teacher or block preference.
  • Any requests for changes to Fall St. Mark's Saturdays classes should be directed to Mr. Camp, director of experiential learning.
Our hope is that this model encourages students to gain a meaningful experience of a course in order to make an informed decision about any potential schedule changes.

The advisor is the first point of contact for all schedule changes. Students should collect other necessary signatures as articulated on the Add/Drop Form. A member of the College Counseling Office must sign off on all V and VI Form requests. Once all signatures are in place, a member of the Academics Office will take the form under consideration. (Mrs. McBride for III and IV Formers; Mr. Waters for V and VI Formers). As a reminder, we aim to strike the appropriate balance between challenge and performance when considering a student's optimal course load.

All students should follow their current schedules until they are notified by the Academics Office that an add/drop request has been processed.

St. Mark's Saturdays
Please note an updated schedule for this year on days when St. Mark's Saturdays courses meet, with school meeting opening the day at 8:40am. Class sessions will follow from 9:00- 11:30 a.m. Please be sure you have reviewed the program's attendance and grading policies, which are articulated in the Student Handbook. Check out the St. Mark's Saturdays website for more information about the program, including descriptions of the exciting Core and Elective courses that will be enriching the student experience this Fall, and throughout the year.

Dean of Students Office News

Boardingware Update: Not Yet!
We will be downloading all of the data from the submitted Family Information Forms and making sure that all forms are in. Until we can complete this process (just received the last two FIF submissions), Boardingware will not be available, For now, all permissions to leave campus should go through the Dean's Office and the Front Desk sign-out sheet. Boardingware is our management tool for smooth communication between Parents/Guardians, students and Faculty regarding student whereabouts. This app based system allows real time communication about St. Markers who are at school or signed out with permission.

A primary benefit of the system is that Parents/Guardians can request and approve overnights and special permissions electronically. In addition, families are able to view their children's sign out activity allowing for conversations regarding use of time.

New families will receive an email invitation to the address provided via the Family Information form. These invitations come from "Boardingware," not "St. Mark's School," and will be sent starting on Monday, September 16. We use paper-based systems for the opening of school to facilitate face time with students and we also use this as a grace period for families still working to complete the Family Information Form. Many thanks to the hundreds of you who returned that form prior to the start of school!

Returning families and students will continue to use login information from previous years. If you have a new student at St. Mark's, your new St. Marker will be able to select your contact information and connect you to their Boardingwar account.

If you have changed email address from what is listed on the Family Information Form please email to update your information. For any technical help with use of Boardingware at any time please contact:

Peer Discussion Groups Started for III Form
On Friday, September 13, all III formers were introduced to the Peer Discussion Group program run through the Dean of Students' Office and Counseling Services Office. Peer Discussion Groups are for III Formers only and is an opportunity for students to meet in small groups throughout the year with V Form student leaders called Peer Discussion Leaders (PDLs). Overseen by Jennifer Taylor, director of Counseling Services, the PDLs work with Mrs. Taylor to help our III Formers successfully transition to St. Mark's. Twice a month, students will have the opportunity to discuss a variety of topics that are relevant to developing adolescents. Some topics that will be introduced to III Formers include healthy friendships and relationships, gender issues, communication skills, stereotypes, attitudes toward alcohol, and social media. Please feel free to talk to your III Former about their Peer Discussion Groups and Peer Discussion Leaders. Any questions can be directed to Mrs. Taylor or the Dean's Office.

NRS (Nutrition, Relationships, and Substances) Class for IV Formers
The first NRS class of the 2019-2020 calendar year was held on Friday. It was a review of the major school rules regarding substance use. The presence of at-risk behaviors can have a negative impact on the community as a whole. Our students and the St. Mark's community have to understand the rules in order that we can live in an atmosphere that embraces respect, understanding, safety, and honesty.

Wellness News

There have been more than 450 mysterious vaping related illnesses in 14 different states recently. I thought this would be a good time for a reminder of what these devices are and what to look for as far as signs and symptoms of someone suffering from these illnesses.

Initially, electronic cigarettes were constructed to be a smoking cessation device. The first successful commercially sold electronic cigarette was designed in China by Hon Lik, after his father died of lung cancer, thinking there must be a safer way to stop smoking.

Every vaping product have the same components regardless of the company. Each has a battery, a wick, a coil, and some sort of e-liquid. The e-liquid is drawn onto the coil by the wick. The battery pushes electricity through the coil, heating the e-liquid until it vaporizes. In most pods, there are a few key ingredients, propylene glycol, glycerine, benzoic acid, nicotine, and flavor. The products have not been around long enough to know the lasting effects of the chemicals found in the pods, but what is well known is that nicotine is highly addictive.

Juul is the most popular cigarette. Their product is the easiest to conceal because it looks so much like a flash drive. But beyond that, because the e-liquid heats up at lower temperature in Juul that means it creates a smaller bloom of smoke, which means students can take a puff in a classroom or dorm room and go unnoticed. Juul was also the first to use salt-based nicotine which is not as harsh on a first time user, it has a smoother feel that makes it more comfortable for new users. Juul used to have a lot of flavors, but they have stopped selling flavored pods in stores and you need social security access online to buy flavored pods.

In any given Juul pod, there is more nicotine than in one pack of cigarettes. For competitors Phix and Suorin they have the equivalent nicotine of two and three packs of cigarettes, respectively. In the Juul pods, there are roughly 200 puffs. This is just anecdotal to speaking with students here, but a student may finish a pod in a day or a week. If the students are smoking at the least one pod a week, during that time period they are smoking the equivalent of over 100 cigarettes.

Recent Mysterious Illnesses:
Recently, six people died as a result of vaping related illnesses. All used e-cigarettes, and most used a pod containing THC. In New York, each person that showed signs of vaping related illnesses had the chemical Vitamin E Acetate in it.

The signs and symptoms of these illnesses are shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. Some patients have reported fever, cough, and vomiting. If you recognize any of these signs in one of our students they should seek out a health care professional right away.

Thank you to our faculty for their continued vigilance and your help in addressing this problem.

Weekend Activities

We are very excited for our second Community Weekend. David Hall with his interactive comedy hypnosis show will headline the activities schedule this weekend. His show on Saturday evening, Cards Against Hypnosis is sure to be entertaining and fun—a must see!. Bingo for gift cards and we have two "Dean-sponsored" trip to Uhlman's Ice Cream and Chipotle and numerous Target trip opportunities. Next week is the annual Neon Dance and a trip to the BIG E state fair! To view all Weekend Activities, select this link.

Chapel News

Chapel News Confirmation and Baptism at St. Mark's School
Christian confirmation (and baptism) preparation is held on campus beginning in late February. This preparation leads up to a service in our own Belmont Chapel in late April. Students from all grades and denominations are welcome to participate, and it's usually a pretty diverse group in both respects. If you and your child are interested in this program, contact the school's Chaplain at (but there is no big rush, given the start date, and I will remind you again a few times via the newsletter).

Roman Catholic-specific preparation is held at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church, walking distance from campus, beginning in September. It leads up to a service in Worcester, Massachusetts, in late spring. If you and your child are interested in this program, learn more at or you can contact Monica Shay at or (508) 485-0141. Students will be excused from school commitments to attend these classes as necessary.

Bookstore News - The Pride

The Pride is up and running! Check it out: (also found on the website under Campus Life). Also follow the bookstore on Facebook by selecting this link.

Parents Association

Save the Date - Family Weekend & V Form College Weekend
Friday, October 11-Saturday, October 12
Parents and guardians of current St. Markers, please join us for our annual Family Weekend & V Form College Weekend! This year we're integrating schedules for an enhanced parent experience.

You'll be able to attend advisor conferences, meet faculty, learn about Chapel, join informational sessions relevant to your student, socialize with fellow parents, hear Head of School John C. Warren '74 speak, cheer on our teams, and do so much more. See the preliminary schedule here.

The weekend kicks off Friday at 1:30 p.m. Families of Color and Asian/Asian-American Families, please join us at noon Friday for affinity luncheons.

Advanced registration begins Sept. 30 and is required. Detailed registration instructions will be emailed in the coming weeks.

For more information about Family Weekend email the Advancement Office at Email Maria Galvin at about the V Form College Weekend program.

Parents, Faculty and Staff Book Group
Our first book group meeting will be Wednesday, October 2, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 248/Center Conference Room in the Main Building. No RSVP or pre-registration is required. The meeting format is drop-in. This is a social and informal meeting, with the next month's book title selection determined at the close of each meeting by group consensus. Meetings occur on the first Wednesday of each month (subject to change). Please join us for good discourse and camaraderie with others in the St. Mark's community.

Book selections for this summer/early fall, which will be discussed at the first meeting, are:

You don't have to have read all of the above books to attend! Email Joanne Flathers P'15, '19, '21, '21 at or Laurie Kalapinski, Admission Coordinator, at with questions or comments, or if you want to be added to the group's email distribution list.

Form Potlucks
Each year, the Parents' Association coordinates potluck gatherings for each Form in the fall and spring. We are seeking III, V, and VI Form parents who would be willing to host a fall potluck gathering at their home. If you enjoy connecting with other parents and live relatively close to Southborough, please consider hosting a future gathering of 'your' Form. Please contact Michelle Davis at with questions or to volunteer.

IV Form Parents, please save the date! The IV Form fall potluck will be held on Friday, November 22 at the home of Gwen and Larry Bloch P'22. An invitation with link to RSVP will be sent via eVite in the coming weeks.