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Greetings from the Hilltop

March 17, 2017 • Greetings from the Hilltop


Petersons wrap up a West Coast swing


This week St. George's hosted two receptions in California that were big hits. More than 100 alumni of all eras, as well as current and former parents, turned out to celebrate the success and leadership of Eric and Krista Peterson and to hear about the latest from the Hilltop. About 50 guests gathered Tuesday night at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica to honor the Petersons and their 13 years of devotion to the school. On Wednesday night, we hosted a unique reception at the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco that included several current students. The group was in the Bay Area to take part in our new Technology and Innovation Program and got the chance to meet with alumni and parents, as well as outline their experiences learning about the start-up culture of Silicon Valley, where more than 300 SG alumni now live and work. Eric and Krista (pictured above with Everett Muzzy '12, Marion Citrino '19, Ali Ballato '12, Mary Lee Citrino P'12, '19 and Robbie Citrino '12), along with Director of Signature Programs Allison de Horsey and Director of the Merck-Horton Center for Teaching & Learning Tom Callahan, were there to welcome our guests, outline the new program, and catch up with all our loyal SG community members. View photos from the events on our Flickr.com page.


Global Studies class meets subject of moving documentary in Vietnam


During their 10-day trip to Vietnam, students from the Global Studies class and their faculty chaperones traveled to the Saigon art studio of Lee Minh Chau on Wednesday. Chau (above, holding painting) is an Agent Orange victim and the subject of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, "Chau, Beyond the Lines." It was one of the many highlights of the trip, which has included meeting locals in the Mekong Delta, along with visits to several historic and cultural sites. "After sharing his inspiring story, [Chau] fielded questions from the group before presenting us with one of his paintings," reported history and English teacher Jake Westermann. "I imagine for many of the travelers, this will be an experience they won't soon forget." The group flew to Hanoi yesterday and visited the Viet Duc Hospital and took a food tour in the city's Old Quarter. Today's itinerary included meetings at the U.S. Embassy and at the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation's Community Centre.


Moms and sons unite across the globe


The receptions on the West Coast and the Global Studies class trip afforded an opportunity for an interesting photo opp Tuesday. On the same night, on opposite sides of the world, we got photos of two moms and two sons – only switched. While Krista Peterson was at the Santa Monica reception, she had the chance to catch up with Kelly Bullock '10, the son of Director of Diversity and science teacher Kim Bullock who is now working as an inside sales consultant at Schneider Electric in Costa Mesa, California. Meanwhile, Kim is in Vietnam with the Global Studies class, which includes Krista's son, Will Peterson '17.


Scholars learn the ins and out of D.C.


Ten students got an insider's view of Washington, D.C., during our bipartisan Rogers Scholars Program that took place earlier this week. It was a packed itinerary that included meetings with political strategists, lobbyists, fundraisers, campaign organizers, politicians, journalists and top military personnel, along with visits to the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon. Read more about this signature program, designed and organized by a number of our loyal alumni in honor of former history teacher and faculty emeritus William S.R. "Robin" Rogers '44, on our website.


SG Trivia Contest


Congratulations to Ali Ballato '12, who knew that Red Key guides often mention Hogwarts when they enter King Hall, noting its resemblance to the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies.

This week's trivia question: Students are currently on Spring Break until March 28. When they return, what surprise might they be looking forward to someday this spring that Head of School Eric Peterson enjoys announcing? The first person to respond with the correct answer wins a coupon for $10 a purchase from the SG Bookstore. Good luck!



The Greetings from the Hilltop e-newsletter will return March 31 following Spring Break.





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All upcoming events are listed on the Alumni page of our website. To RSVP, email us here.


To view photos of recent St. George's events, visit our Flickr page.


©2016-17 St. George's School

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Events held far and wide pay tribute to their 13 years of devotion to the school


The series of special receptions across the country honoring Head of School Eric Peterson and his wife, Senior Associate Director of Admission Krista Peterson, continues this spring with gatherings on the West Coast, Boston, New York, Washington and Bermuda. Next week the two will be in California for a reception at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica on March 14, and another at the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco on March 15.

The events are part of a yearlong slate of gatherings in special recognition of the Petersons’ 13 years of devotion to St. George’s. Events honoring the Petersons began with a reception in Newport on Sept. 15 and have continued in Houston; New York City; Chicago; Seoul, Korea; and Charleston. 

Most recently, several generations of SG faithful gathered Feb. 28 at the Sailfish Club in Palm Beach, Florida, during a reception for the Petersons hosted by Christopher and Binkie McSweeney Orthwein '94. “Eric spoke of the strength and support of the community, the strong interest shown by prospective families this admission season, the continued innovation and evolution of the academic program, and the pride we all feel in the accomplishments and bright futures of our students today,” reported Assistant Head of School for External Affairs Bob Weston. It was a joyful gathering of grandparents, past parents, current parents and alumni. 

The Parents Committee arranged its own tribute event on Friday, Feb. 17, during which Eric and Krista were the recipients of much admiration and appreciation. The committee, chaired by Lisa and Francis Molinari P'16, '18, surprised the two with a special tribute luncheon attended by more than 50 past and present committee members. Speakers included past Parents Committee chairs Janette and Robert Macaulay P'12, '14, '16; Lorrie and Tim Burns P'13, '16, '18; Suzanne and George Gebelein '73, P'08, '10, '11; and Betts and Wisner Murray P'07, P'10. 

“The Molinari family believes that an angel surely got its wings when it sent Eric and Krista Peterson to St. George’s School,” the Parents Committee chairs said. “They changed the trajectory of this school, the futures of our children, and this entire community for the better.” 

View the full calendar of tribute events for the Petersons here.

Watch a special video tribute to the Petersons produced by Tony Wang ’19 on our YouTube page.


The welcome letters come after a highly successful admission season for St. George's in which 750 students applied for just 100 spaces.


Good news came to a special group of students across the globe this morning as the Admission Office sent acceptance letters to about 200 seeking to become Dragons.

The welcome letters come after a highly successful admission season for St. George’s in which 750 students applied for just 100 spaces.

Director of Admission Ryan Mulhern called this year “a highly competitive scenario” for aspiring Dragons. “We are thrilled with the quality and diversity of the candidates in our applicant pool,” he said, noting that today’s acceptance notifications went out to students from 18 countries and 30 states.

Since day-student applications were due on Jan. 15, and boarding-student applications were due by Feb. 1, some difficult decisions had to be made by the admission team.

“We know that we are very fortunate to have a far greater number of qualified applicants than we could ever accept,” Ryan said.

“But while these numbers are a positive indicator of St. George’s growing appeal, they also mean that we have to turn away more students,” he added. “We often wish our small community could be larger when it comes time to make decisions on March 10.”

Watch the "Welcome!" video our accepted students received this morning.

Typically St. George's offers experiential learning opportunities for students beyond the pastoral confines of the Hilltop during the March break, and this year is no exception.


Typically St. George’s offers experiential learning opportunities for students beyond the pastoral confines of the Hilltop during the March break, and this year is no exception.

Global Studies Senior Seminar in Vietnam

History and English teacher Jake Westermann’s year-long senior seminar in Global Studies will go truly global when Jake, history teacher Sarah Mongan, and Director of Diversity and science teacher Kim Bullock accompany 16 students to Vietnam March 10-20. The group will split their time between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The itinerary will include day excursions to local villages, and a trip along the Mekong River Delta to visit rural Vietnam. Student research topics may include climate change and adaptation in Vietnam, global trade in Southeast Asia, civil rights in Vietnam, urban development, a domestic economy that embraces both communism and capitalism, and modern-day diplomatic relations with the United States.

Rogers Scholars D.C.

For the third time in as many years the William S.R. Rogers Endowment for Public Policy Studies will usher a group of St. George’s history and government students into the heart of Washington, D.C. for a behind-the-scenes tour of U.S. policy making, organized and hosted by lobbyist Jeff Kimbell ’89 and a team of his fellow SG alumni and Washington colleagues. Amid an action-packed four-day itinerary March 12-15, history teacher Jim Connor will accompany 10 students from the fourth, fifth and sixth forms — our Rogers Scholars — as they encounter federal lawmakers, policy experts, advisors, pollsters and strategists face to face, and observe the Washington scene at a decidedly historic time in our political history. Read more here.

VERSLO in Reykjavik, Iceland

Assistant Dean of Students and history teacher Hannah O’Brien and Director of Student Activities Mary O’Connor will accompany nine students on a weeklong trip to Iceland March 11-18 hosted by SG’s partner school VERSLO. The visit will include time in the city of Reykjavik at VERSLO observing the school in session, and a more far-ranging tour of rural Iceland to experience the Land of Fire and Ice firsthand.

Geronimo home this spring, to Quebec City this summer!

SG’s flagship Geronimo with a crew of eight St. George’s students and four paid hands slid into La Phare Bleu Marina in Petite Calivigny Bay at the south end of Grenada on the afternoon of Dec. 9, 2016. In doing so she wound up a 3,031-mile transatlantic passage from the Canary Islands, and completed the final phase of the vessel’s first-ever two-year circumnavigation of the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea. She spent 13 months traversing the full length of the Med in a series of point-to-point legs enjoyed by a succession of student, faculty and staff participants.

Now Geronimo is in Puerto Rico following a winter cruise from Grenada to the Virgin Islands by way of St. Martin and the Leeward Islands. Up next is a week-long exploration of Puerto Rico and the outlying isles of Culebra and Vieques, to take place March 20-27. The return trip to the U.S. East Coast and Newport is scheduled for April and May.

But wait, there’s more! This summer from June 21 to July 20, 2017, Geronimo will be participating in a North American leg of Sail Training International’s annual Tall Ship racing series. The event will feature more than 50 entrants from around the world, including vessels similar to Geronimo in size and design from the U.K., Finland, Belgium, Germany and Latvia. Organized by Sail Training International in association with Le Rendez-Vous Naval de Quebec and the SAIL Boston summer festival, the program will begin in Boston, Mass., and include fleet racing from Boston to Nova Scotia, Canada. Following the race, participants will spend the next three weeks cruising through the Canadian Maritimes en route to Quebec City some 300 nautical miles up the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Tech and Innovation Scholars Program — San Francisco

Ten students, accompanied by Director of Signature Programs and French teacher Allison de Horsey and Director of the Merck-Horton Center Dr. Tom Callahan, will travel to San Francisco and Silicon Valley March 11-16 to meet with professionally engaged SG alumni and to visit the Stanford Design School. Participants will learn about tech start-ups, seed money, the role of venture capitalists, and product innovation from conception to launch. Design-process activities are planned at Apple, Turo and Stanford. Read more here.


Enterprising alumni Tom Wang ’89, Jordan Savage ’03 and Will Mason ’08 are among the hosts who will be helping a group of students learn more about the start-up and business culture of the Bay Area when our first Technology and Innovation Program takes place March 11-15. Tom is the chief product officer at Turo, a San Francisco-based car-rental marketplace. Jordan is co-founder of Grove Collaborative, an Internet-based natural products seller.

The Tech and Innovation Program, new to the slate of Spring Break learning opportunities for students, is being coordinated by Director of Signature Programs Allison de Horsey and Director of the Merck-Horton Center for Teaching & Learning Tom Callahan (shown here with student participants Eva Killenberg ’17, Margaret Todd ’17, Yvette Zhu ’17, Mark Niu ’17, Sophie Coolidge ’18, Oasis Zhen ’17, Max Thomson ’18, Charlotte Maerov ’19 and Angel Yang ’18.)

The program is designed to build upon St. George’s newly redesigned curriculum, which emphasizes innovation and creative thinking and was launched two years ago with our SGx design-thinking initiative.

A full slate of meetings and activities in the Bay Area is planned to give students an inside look at how entrepreneurs create business plans and build their ideas into companies.

At Turo, Tom Wang ’89 will lead students through a series of 15-minute design sprints — product- and process-development exercises often used at start-ups to generate and examine new ideas. Tom says he hopes to show the students that “there are no barriers to change” and you can get something done quickly “by just doing it.”

Jordan Savage ’03 co-founded Grove Collaborative, which started as ePantry, a few years ago. Since then, the company has taken its eco-friendly household and personal-care product subscription service to the masses. Signing up for the service allows customers to pick their favorite natural products and set up a customized schedule for shipments. Jordan will talk to the students about the history, challenges and successes of the company.

On Tuesday, March 14, students will head to Palo Alto for a special meeting with two Stanford University professors. Professor Kathryn Segovia, who teaches at the d.school, will lead a tour of the spaces there and discuss how teachers and college-student innovators use them. Allison and Head of School Eric Peterson have both participated in the d.school’s unique summer design-thinking program. Stanford Professor Rob Siegel, who teaches at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and is a partner at XSeed Capital, will discuss venture capital and Silicon Valley economics.

Students will get an up-close look inside the headquarters of Google Inc. on Wednesday, with a tour and lunch with Kyra Vargas, a Stanford graduate who works in the company's sales and customer growth division. On Wednesday afternoon students will meet Ted Levinson, founder and CEO of Beneficial Returns, an impact debt fund that gives loans to international companies. The meeting will take place at a co-working space operated by UploadVR Inc., founded by Will Mason ’08. Will, who recently made Forbes magazine's list of "30 Under 30" innovators, founded his company with a partner to support the virtual-reality industry.

When they arrive in San Francisco March 11, the Tech and Innovation program participants will be welcomed to the city and have dinner with Barbara Barros and Matthew O’Haren, parents of Zoella Barros O’Haren ’20.

The trip concludes Wednesday evening, March 15, with an alumni reception at the Presidio Social Club, during which the students will get to meet alumni who live and work in the Bay area.


The greenery is striking. Walk up to the second floor of the SG Academic Center, enter what has been known to teachers and students as the “plant room” and you’re in a space that is remarkably different than the mostly earth-toned classrooms and atrium. Sunlight beams through floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights in the south-facing room, which contains a thriving plethora of plants, among them orchids, begonias and other succulents, a bonsai that had been growing in a student’s dorm room, and a citronella plant from Lebanon donated by Elie Karam, father of Naji Karam ’20. An indoor koi tank bubbles with fresh water near the entrance.

Construction of the 325-square-foot greenhouse, which has quickly become a beloved places on campus, was made possible by the generous donation of Victoria and Julio Rios, parents of Catherine Rios ’16 and Caroline Rios ’19 (right). The conservatory was formally dedicated Friday, Feb. 17, as part of the Parents Committee’s annual Fifth-Form Parents Weekend gathering. The Rioses, Head of School Eric Peterson, Associate Head of School for External Affairs Bob Weston, Chair of the Science Department Dr. Bob Wein and Caroline Billyard ’17, who made extensive use of the conservatory for an independent study in plant DNA last spring, offered remarks at the ceremony.

“For our family the conservatory represents growth and growth brings life,” said Mrs. Rios, an artist. “Science was never my forte, however … the natural sciences are my inspiration in every piece of work I produce. I don’t have a green thumb unless paint is on it, but what I have is the ability to create and reflect the beauty of nature in my art. What I find fascinating about this is the connection of it all — nature, science, art and imagination.” 

Since its inception, the conservatory has offered a host of teaching and learning opportunities, according to Wein. “Students are in the conservatory all the time,” added science teacher Holly Williams. “Some come to do homework in the peaceful atmosphere, others to rest, others to chat. Some come to work with plants.”

Following her independent study, Caroline (on left in picture at right), with Mrs. Williams’ help, is now creating a “living wall” in the conservatory as part of an independent SGx project. Art teacher Ted Sturtevant manufactured the metal frame, which now hangs on the room’s west side and is expected to be filled with five rows of plants, including lettuces that could be used in the dining hall.

And it won’t be the first time Sage, the school’s dining service, has taken advantage of the room’s foliage. Chef Rob Couto said the conservatory regularly provides herbs for several flavorful dishes. “I have used the oregano in most of the Latin dishes we prepare. The lavender has been used in the biscuits. And the rosemary in all the other dishes that require it,” he said.

The Rioses, of Dallas, Texas, said they donated the conservatory to inspire others to give to St. George’s, as well as to serve as a source of inspiration. “Our hope is that the St. George’s community will take advantage of this great space and it will inspire knowledge, creativity and growth,” Mrs. Rios said.

Margaret Todd ’17 said she was fortunate to have the opportunity to help Mrs. Williams set up the conservatory. “I feel at home in the plant room,” she said. “Since last fall, it has become a place I know I can always go, whether to study for a test or to take a study break.”

The space, she said, has become a sanctuary – and a place for imagining possibilities. “I have become attached to the plants that I have seen grow from nothing, and the fish that I got to help pick out,” she said. “I am very grateful, along with many others, that we now have a place like this easily accessible. I have always loved nature and the environment, and this room has provided me with the opportunity to explore what I want to do in the future.”

Geronimo - A Ship At Sea

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