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Fourth-former Dima Piskun of Kharkov, Ukraine, finished in 6:38 to capture a first-place finish in the 59th Annual Pie Race Sunday morning. “Piskun led from wire to wire, finishing nearly 30 seconds ahead of his closest followers, classmate JB Stewart of East Hampton, New York, and freshman William Wilson of Washington, D.C.,” wrote race organizer and mathematician extraordinaire Doug Lewis in his press release. Read Mr. Lewis’ full (tongue-in-cheek) report below and visit the event photo gallery on our Flickr site.
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Middletown, Rhode Island
December 3, 2017
6:35 p.m. EST
“WHAT A COUNTRY!”
DIMA PISKUN WINS 59th SG PIE RACE
Sophomore Dima Piskun of Kharkov, Ukraine, dashed across the finish line in a time of 6:38 to capture the 59th annual St. George’s School Pie Race in Middletown, R.I., on Sunday Dec. 3, 2017. Piskun led from wire to wire, finishing nearly 30 seconds ahead of his closest followers, classmate JB Stewart of East Hampton, N.Y., and freshman William Wilson of Washington, D.C. Running in his first Pie Race, and not completely sure that he had actually won the 1.1 mile race, Piksun commented, “What a country!” when told that, as the fastest finisher, he was the winner of a home-baked apple pie. Athletic Director Rachel Horn and her husband Chris were the first faculty finishers, in a time of 8:58, while a quartet of seniors, Haley Baldwin of Little Compton, R.I., Catherine Harrison of New York City, Irem Tural of Portsmouth, R.I., and Ainsley Weber of Newport, R.I., were the first female students to cross the finish line.
Dozens of students, teachers, staff members, faculty children, and a pair of sophomore girls who made a wrong turn on their way to the library participated in this year’s race. Former Presidential Press Secretary (and Portsmouth Abbey graduate) Sean Spicer said that the turnout consisted of what was “absolutely, positively the largest crowd to watch a Pie Race in history, period.” The Pie Race is the creation of the late Ted Hersey, who passed away in January 2016 after having been a part of 57 races. Hersey was the legendary physics teacher and track coach who devised the race back in 1959 as a way of boosting school spirit. Each year since, students have sprinted, jogged and cart-wheeled around the school’s stunning hilltop campus overlooking Second Beach in an effort to win home baked apple pies. Ted’s wife, Shirley Hersey, baked thousands of pies over the years, but the pies are now handled by the school’s crackerjack Sage Dining staff. For its first few decades, the Pie Race was taken seriously by students and faculty alike, but over the years it has evolved into what multiple Grammy winner and Rhode Island resident Taylor Swift recently called “a combination of Mardi Gras, Halloween, and the MTV Video Music Awards.”
Ordinarily scheduled just before the start of trimester exams in late November, the Pie Race was delayed a few weeks due to bad weather. For years, the race has given hard working St. George’s students and teachers a chance to be silly and blow off a little steam. This year, senior Rachel Smithie of Roslyn, N.Y., donned a red nose to lead of sleigh driven by classmate Cheka Orr of Washington, DC and Spanish teacher Neile Golding, while Morgan Hill-Edgar of New York and Chance Bachochin of Las Vegas, Nevada, wore matching bathrobes. Art teacher Mike Hansel jogged the course wearing a beekeeper’s suit, and Latin 2 students Iza Leonardi of Naples, Fla., Nicola Rogers and Mimi Jessup of Rye, N.Y., and Louisa Fiertz of London, England, wore togas as they construed their way around the course. Varsity soccer coach Ed McGinnis was awarded a special “certificate of inspiration” by the AARP for completing the race without needed any artificial respiration. Approximately 20 pies will be awarded at a future school assembly.
“It is with great pride and delight that the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Knisely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island, and I announce the appointment of Jackie Kirby as the Chaplain of St. George’s School, effective immediately,” Head of School Alixe Callen wrote to the St. George’s community on Nov. 9, 2017. The Rev. Kirby becomes the school’s first female chaplain and will be installed during a formal service on Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 9:45 a.m. in the St. George’s Chapel.
A graduate of Yale Divinity School with a Ph.D. in comparative literature from New York University and a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale, the Rev. Kirby was named St. George’s Interim Chaplain last spring after serving for two years as the school’s Associate Chaplain. She teaches several courses in our Religious Studies Department and was ordained to the Episcopal priesthood at St. George’s in January 2015.
“Over the course of just a few months in the interim role, the Rev. Kirby has launched a number of chapel initiatives, all of which have been wonderfully received by students,” Ms. Callen said. Included among these is a course that prepares students to deliver chapel talks; “Chapel Group,” in which students meet twice a month to provide input into the religious and spiritual life of the school; and a student-led, interfaith chapel service, which takes place on Tuesday evenings after study hall. For faculty, the Rev. Kirby also leads a book group, out of which has grown additional programming for students in the area of community life.
“I am honored and grateful and humbled,” the Rev. Jackie Kirby said upon the announcement she had been officially named Chaplain of St. George’s. “To be the spiritual leader of this amazing community is an incredible responsibility.”
The Rev. Kirby brings a wealth of both faith work and teaching to the Hilltop. Early in her career, Jackie was a teacher, both abroad in Guatemala and Indonesia, and in the Boston area. While writing her dissertation, she was an adjunct professor at Bentley College and Boston University. She later became a full English professor in the writing program at B.U., and she was the lead founder of the Frederick Douglass Charter School in Boston.
The Rev. Kirby and her husband Ed and 9-year-old daughter Annie moved into Haffner House over the summer. “I really believe I have the best job on campus,” she said. “I am so fortunate to be able to talk to students and adults about the things that matter most in their lives. I get to teach what I find to be the most inspiring and important material possible. And I get to preach to the whole school about the values and beliefs that mean the most to me … Everything I do feels like God's work.”
In this space we will keep a running log of important and interesting moments in the tenure our 12th Head of School, Alixe Callen, as she navigates her first year at St. George’s. To read more of our coverage on Ms. Callen's arrival, view this article from our magazine and this Q&A on the Head of School's page on our website.
Nov. 20, 2017
Meet Alixe Callen in this video sent to our community.
Nov. 1, 2017
Head of School Alixe Callen delivers this chapel talk: "Kindness Matters."
Oct. 24, 2017
Board Chair Leslie Heaney introduces Head of School Alixe Callen at the alumni reception in New York. Ms. Callen addresses those gathered. View the video here.
Oct. 10, 2017
Ms. Callen reflects on her first month of the academic year — and the positive and supportive community she's found here on the Hilltop — in this letter to the community.
Sept. 14, 2017
The annual Honor Chapel takes place, during which community members pledge to adhere to the school's Honor Code. Alixe makes this address.
In the evening, Alixe greets local parents and alumni at a reception at Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth, R.I. Watch a video of her remarks here. View photos of the event here.
Sept. 7, 2017
The community celebrates the opening of the academic year under the leadership of Head of School Alixe Callen during our Convocation service in the chapel on Thursday, Sept. 7. In her address, Ms. Callen tells students she hopes they will allow themselves to be less than perfect — and to be emboldened by the understanding and encouraging community around them. "I want emotion," she said. "I want you to ask questions, tell us your worries, be open to risks, and trust that this incredible community will support you." Watch the video of Ms. Callen's entire address on our Vimeo channel.
Sept. 5, 2017
Ms. Callen welcomes our 123 new families to the Hilltop and makes this address in the chapel on Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Aug. 4, 2017
On Aug. 4, 2017, Alixe meets members of the greater St. George’s community on Martha’s Vineyard. Photos are on our Flickr.com page.
July 11, 2017
Ms. Callen’s first letter to the community is sent on July 11, 2017.
Aug. 23, 2017
On Aug. 23, 2017, the Newport Daily News publishes this profile of Alixe, in which she outlines her core values and approach to leadership at a new school.
July 1, 2017
Ms. Callen arrives on campus and her tenure begins.
Dec. 9, 2016
Ms. Alixe Callen is announced as the first female head of St. George’s on Dec. 9, 2016. Watch the video on our Vimeo channel.
Recognized for their outstanding scholarship, 25 St. George’s students have been inducted into the prestigious French, Chinese and Spanish Honor Societies this year. These students have not only excelled in their language studies, they’ve also demonstrated an interest in the people and communities where their respective languages are spoken. Many have taken leadership roles in off-campus community service events along with school events promoting cultural awareness.
Fourteen students were inducted into the French Honor Society. They are Lauren Anne Ceres ’18, Rose Rebecca Cheng ’18, Henry MacDonald Dane ’19, William Morgan Hill-Edgar ’19, Beste Engin ’18, John Yves Jammers ’19, Isabelle Hunter Kitchel ’19, Molly Ann MacCormick ’19, Charlotte Hadley Maerov ’19, Lindsay Brooks Meyer ’19, Matilda (Tilly) Weld Peck ’18, Morgan Ashley Sailer ’18.
Alexandra (Alex) Grace Thill ’19 and Ellen (Ellie) Page Williams ’18. They join current members of the French Honor Society George Harrington Shepherd ’18 and Ainsley Tourison Weber ’18.
The French Honor Society “recognizes outstanding scholarship in the study of French and provides a vehicle for focusing activities around the study of the French language and literature.”
Hojae Lee ’18 was inducted into the Chinese Honor Society. He joins current member Naya Ramtahal ’18.
The purpose of the National Chinese Honor Society is “to encourage its members to become lifelong learners in order to gain a better understanding of Chinese language and culture, as well as to play an active role as a contributing global citizen in the 21st century.”
And 10 students were inducted into the Spanish Honor Society. They are Brinley Gray Burdick ’19, Alexandra Jane Chicharro ’19, Spencer Warren Dellenbaugh ’19, Jesslyn Ting Yu Felicia Goh ’18, Megan Spaulding Grimes ’19, Natalie Louise Huschle ’19, Abra Issa ’18, Qinwen Lu ’19, Peyton Higgins Mulhern ’19 and Jackson Patrick Rockett ’19. They join current members Mary Kathryn Winters ’18, Haley Snow Baldwin ’18, Grace Elizabeth Coughlin ’18, Rose Antonia Eykyn ’18 and Irem Tural ’18.
Members of the Spanish Honor Society “have made a commitment to promote Hispanic cultures within the school, assist others in their study of the language, and provide service to the local Hispanic community.”
View a photo gallery on our flickr.com site.
For Afghanistan-born Zahra Arabzada ’15, running isn’t just an outlet for exercise; it’s an outlet for activism.
As part of an effort to encourage other Muslim women to pursue a healthy lifestyle and to challenge misconceptions of Muslims by other groups, Zahra is spending her summer training for a 38-mile road race in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, on Sept. 16.
“One of the biggest realizations I have had in life was hearing and truly accepting that women are actually capable of running or having the same rights as men,” said Zahra, now a student at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Recently she joined the Afghanistan-based Free to Run (F2R) organization, whose mission is “to use running, physical fitness and outdoor adventure to empower and educate women and girls who have been affected by conflict.”
The idea to encourage other Hijabi women to exercise has been on Zahra’s mind ever since she started running as a sixth-former on the St. George’s cross-country team. A college fellowship is helping her realize her dream. This year Zahra was one of just two students to receive the Cohen Fellowship from the Centennial Leadership Center at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “The fellowship is basically a way for me to work on my own project, which I have been thinking about and designing since I started running at SG,” she said.
She has three objectives for the project: to maintain a blog about her training, to speak at various sports clubs and events, and to work with organizations within her hometown of Konduz in northern Afghanistan.
Zahra came to St. George’s after having attended the School of Leadership Afghanistan in Kabul, which was created to promote gender equality in the nation. Through the school she connected with Marian Smith ’76 and began to think about attending boarding school in the United States. Her early schooling was kept a secret from neighbors in her hometown – as well as many of her relatives because Afghan girls are discouraged from pursuing a formal education.
“Running is a means to address some of the topics that are hard to address — and will make the conversation easier,” she said.
Six of our talented female science students were just the latest to benefit from St. George’s association with the world-renowned Curie Institute, the cancer research center established in 1909 by the noted physicist and chemist Marie Curie.
Since 2011, more than 30 SG students have studied in the labs at the Paris-based Curie as part of our Global Cultural Initiatives Program (GCIP), developed and overseen by Director of Signature Programs Allison de Horsey.
This year rising sixth-formers Lila Burns, Maia Lineberry, Beste Engin, Rose Cheng, Irem Tural and Sophie Coolidge (above) each had the chance to work in Curie’s research facilities, which focus on cell biology and oncology. (The institute also operates a hospital specializing in the treatment of cancer.)
Watch a video of Sophie Coolidge '18 and Maia Lineberry '18 talk about the research they are doing as interns.
St. George’s is the only U.S. high school with such a relationship with the Curie and working in the institute’s labs has certainly been a boon to our science-minded students. “Our students are immersed in the world of research — using techniques and performing experiments they’ve learned about in their science courses,” Ms. de Horsey said.
The program puts students side-by-side with professionals working on the cutting edge of cancer studies. For Beste, it provided invaluable learning opportunities.
“This two-week internship has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life,” she said. “The Curie Institute has provided me with substantial and beneficial skills for my future in the medical world.”
Irem said she learned not only new information, but also new skills at the Curie. “The researchers are not going to explain everything because they are so busy,” she said. “In order to understand the material in depth, you have to learn to not be afraid to ask questions. It is an important skill to have and I would not have learned so much if I hadn’t asked about as much as I did.”
Several of the girls also said the experience was a good test of their interest level in the field.
“I’ve been able to see the complexities of neuroscience up close,” Maia said. “I’ve always been interested in neurology and being able to see the building blocks of the field, as well as the research that goes into the neuroscience, has solidified my passion.”
“Seeing my coworkers and getting a taste for what they do on a day-to-day basis — the time commitment and small steps forward — it was truly a unique and engaging experience that was amazing to be a part of,” Sophie said.
One of the experiments Lila took part in involved sequencing DNA from frogs, mice, rabbits and humans. “This opportunity has allowed me to deepen my love for science and my passion to learn more about the biology world,” she said.
In turn, having American students in their labs has offered unique opportunities to the Curie’s researchers. “Working with our students gives them the opportunity to explain their work in English, share their passion and inspire the next generation of scientists,” Ms. de Horsey said.
Jacqueline Legras, the Curie’s program coordinator of the training unit and hospital training group said our students have earned her respect and admiration. “Once more it was a pleasure to welcome these six young girls motivated by science,” Ms. Legras said. “We are glad to hear that they learned a lot within our institution and that they lived a new experience in our labs.”
This year SG’s relationship with the Curie continues to grow and expand.
Our first graduate returned to the Curie for further study. Lilly Scheibe ’15, now a student at Yale University, spent two months working in the labs at the Curie earlier this summer.
And on June 27, more than 20 Young Principal Investigators from the institute arrived on the Hilltop from Paris for a retreat at St. George’s. Four SG science teachers and three recent graduates took part in the program, which took place in the new SG Academic Center.
Plans are to continue to nurture this valuable relationship.
“Spending time at the Curie is truly inspiring,” said Ms. de Horsey. “The students and I marveled at the researchers’ extraordinary dedication for science and for pushing the bounds to find new cures for all of us.”
Rose said interning at the Curie makes her feel hopeful for the future.
“I love science because of its ability to change the world,” she said.
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