Offices & Resources

Deans' Weekly

Deans' Weekly - 8.30.19

Happy Labor Day Weekend to You and Your Families!

As we get ready to start the upcoming school year next week, please be sure to check the Getting Ready site and information below about Eastern Equine Encephalitis (commonly known as EEE). Lastly, if you have not submitted your health forms or Family Information Form, please do so as soon as possible.

David R. Vachris
Dean of Students

Elevated EEE Risk in Southborough

On August 16, a resident of Grafton tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (commonly known as EEE). This was the second confirmed case of EEE in Massachusetts this year. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has raised the 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. Aerial spraying for mosquitoes in areas of Middlesex and Worcester Counties began on Sunday, August 25, and will continue over several evenings.

St. Mark's is monitoring this situation very closely to ensure the safety of our community. Some evening events are being moved indoors, while others are being rescheduled for earlier in the day. The School is also implementing the use of a plant-oil-based organic spray on campus. We will keep the community posted on any updates, including schedule adjustments.

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

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 Information Form (FIF) & Health Forms
Please complete the Family Information Form (FIF) and mail in your health forms at your earliest convenience. You should have already received the Family Information Form (from address: sent on July 18 with a deadline for completion of July 31). The form includes personal information which you may have provided in the past, for your review, and will have attached to it the required permission forms that need to be completed in order to begin the year ahead. Please remember that completing the Family Information Form before your arrival of the registration days will make the process smoother for everyone. If you have not filled out the form, please do so before registration.

Working as closely as we do with students, the more we understand about a student's background, expectations, and potential areas of difficulty, the better prepared we can be to work effectively in supporting the student's success at St. Mark's. This information is primarily for the faculty advisor, but will be made available in the Dean's Office to other adults who work closely with the student. We invite you to fill out this form and share whatever information will enable us to better understand and assist both you and your child.

Ride-Share Services
Regarding Uber and other ride-share services, parents may give their child specific riding permission to use these services. Ride-share services do not fall under the Public Transportation (taxi companies, buses, trains, etc) permission category. Parents will need to check the appropriate boxes in the permission section of the Family Information Form (FIF). Note: the use of a ride-sharing services is between the student/family and the related ride-sharing service and the parents/guardians shall hold the School, its employees, agents and successors, harmless and waive the School of any and all claims.

The 2019-2020 Student Handbook is now online at this link or by visiting the St. Mark's website under the "On Campus" section. We continue to ask that every student be familiar with the rules and regulations of the Student Handbook before arriving on campus. For those who would like a printed handbook, please contact Ms. LaFreniere in the Dean's Office, and she will send you a copy, or you may pick one up at Registration Day in September.

Community Weekends
St. Mark's sponsors larger weekend events and necessitate that boarding students may not take a Saturday overnight. We will be sponsoring seven Community Weekends throughout the year. Here is the list of this year's Community Weekends. We ask that you please plan accordingly and do not plan conflicting engagements for these weekends.

  • September 7
  • September 14
  • October 19
  • December 7
  • January 11
  • March 28
  • May 16

When Family Information Forms are completed, new families will receive a Boardingware email invitation to the address provided via the Family Information Form. Once you receive and accept the invitation to use Boardingware, parents and students will be able to sign out, give permissions, and host students through our online check-out system. More detailed information will be made available in September.

CBD (Cannabidiol)
Concerning CBD (Cannabidiol), the clinical indications, benefits and side effects of CBD oil and products are still largely unknown and the potential for abuse among children and young adults is of great concern. Accordingly, we only permit their use by St. Mark's students with a prescription and physician order, and they must be kept in the health center and administered there. Students may not keep any products containing CBD in
their rooms.

No Motorized Vehicles
For safety reasons, do not bring drones, motorized scooters/skateboards, hoverboards, and the like to campus.

Please make note of the following arrival times and refer to the Orientation Program for a detailed schedule. We ask that students come to St. Mark's only on the appropriate arrival days.

  • Monday, September 2, 10:00 a.m.-Noon | Selected student leaders: Monitors, House Prefects, Pathway Leaders, and Peer Discussion Leaders

  • Tuesday, September 3, 8:30-10:00 a.m. | Sports pre-season and selected leaders: O Team, Tech Prefects, Student Discipline Committee, Student Activities Committee, GCI

  • Wednesday, September 4, 8:30-11:00 a.m. | New boarding student registration

  • Wednesday, September 4, 10:00-11:00 a.m. | New day student registration

  • Thursday, September 5, After 5 p.m. | International returning students with Dean's Office permission

  • Friday, September 6, 9:00-10:00 a.m. | Returning student registration

  • Friday, September 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m. | Seated meal followed by Opening Convocation in the Putnam Family Art Center (PFAC). Chapel dress. This event is required for all students.

  • Saturday, September 7 | Classes begin and Parent Speaker Series

Summer Reading
Our 2019-2020 community summer read is Girl in Translation, by Jean Kwok. The goal of a community read is to provide a shared experience for our students, faculty, and families. Classes will start the year with a common text that can enhance curriculum and tie back to our 2019-2020 Gray Colloquium theme of "Civil Discourse." Through this shared experience and our thoughtful work to situate the text in our classroom context, we aim to instill in our students a love of reading that will stay with them throughout their lives.

All Advanced United States History students are required to read Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick.

As you are aware, St. Mark's has required all students to have a computer for our academic program. For additional information and frequently asked questions about our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program, please select this link.

Vacation Dates and Travel Plan
We hope that those of you who live at a distance will take care of travel plans for the year now, if you have not already done so. If you need to book flights or make transportation arrangements, please check carefully the Essential Dates Calendar. In our continuous support of the important work of our academic program, we do not excuse students from classes to accommodate early travel or late returns, and will hold students accountable by assigning detention hours. Plane flights should not be scheduled before mid-afternoon on the days vacations begin. International students who need to take morning flights are welcome to stay on campus overnight to fly the following morning.

We continue to be excited our ID debit card system, Lion Card. Parents are able to manage their students' incidental accounts through the online pre-paid spending features. Returning parents are asked to review their Lion Card account. New families received an email on August 22 with instructions and a pin number to register for the Lion Card. If you did not receive this email, please contact Sue LaFreniere by email at

Students are welcome to take music lessons even if they are not enrolled in music courses. To register for lessons, select this link.

E&R Laundry's brochure and sign-up form is available on the Getting Ready webpage.

College Counseling News
A free SAT or ACT Diagnostic Test is available to all St. Mark's students, regardless of whether they are registering for an Academic Approach class:

Sunday, September 15th, 12:30 – 4:00, Center Presentation Room
Interested students must register by Wednesday, September 11, with Maria Galvin by email at
The College Counseling Office has been working with Academic Approach for five years now and are proud of the relationship we have developed with them. The feedback from students on classes continues to be positive, as evidenced by the fact that enrollment continues to increase each year. We are fortunate that both the instructors for classes as well as the leadership teams in New York and Chicago have taken the time to visit St. Mark's and continue to work hard to understand our school and students.
The linked flyers detail the class schedule for both the SAT and ACT sections leading up to the December test dates. Please consider which class fits best with your academic and extracurricular schedule and the testing plan you have established. If you have questions about the best timing for test prep or testing in general, please feel free to reach out to us.
There will be additional classes offered, geared toward the March SAT and April ACT. They will begin in the early winter and we will communicate later in the fall about these classes.
The link for registering for a class can be found on the bottom of the ACT flyer. Once a student is registered, billing will be handled directly by St. Mark's. Total cost for the class is $849.00. Academic Approach generously matches financial aid awarded by St. Mark's. For students receiving financial aid from St. Mark's, the cost is equal to the percentage of the tuition a family pays. Billing will automatically reflect this percentage.
Finally, Academic Approach also has a limited number of tutors available in the Metrowest area for one-on-one tutoring. If you feel this arrangement would be a better fit for your test preparation needs, please be in touch with Brian Kirchner at Academic Approach by email at or by phone at 212.348.4172.

As you check off your back-to-school shopping list, please consider supporting St. Mark's through AmazonSmile! For every eligible purchase made from, the AmazonSmile Foundation will contribute a small percentage of the sale to your charity of choice. AmazonSmile offers the same products, services, and pricing as, but with the added benefit of generating funds for your favorite non-profit charity.
Select this link to set St. Mark's as your charity of choice, and bookmark that link in your web browser and on your mobile phone so you don't have to remember the special page every time you shop. Remember, all purchases must be made through!