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These Dragons are ready to play at the college level

Athletics

We gathered up our sixth-formers who have signed on to play sports for their college teams — and what an impressive and diverse group of St. George’s athletes it was. This year 17 members of the Class of 2018 already know that athletics will be a big part of their college experience. With the continued strength of the St. George’s sailing program, colleges tapped eight Dragons to join their programs: John Kirkpatrick (Stanford), Amelia Schofield (Tulane), Gray Benson (U.S. Naval Academy), Gordon Gurnell (Connecticut College), Alex Fasolo (Tufts), Morgan Sailer (Georgetown), Ted Bjerregaard (Northeastern) and Matt Logue (George Washington). Two students will play lacrosse in college: Hannah Dreschel (St. Lawrence) and Sebastian Boivin (College of Wooster). Two students will play squash in college: Ainsley Weber (Yale) and Eric Molina (Hobart). Tristan Edwards will play football for Monmouth, Cameron Abeel will row for George Washington, Michaela Sullivan will play basketball for Middlebury, Quinn Cleary will play baseball for Yale, and Hailey Martin will play ice hockey for Salve Regina. 

Pictured above are: (in the top row) Eric Molina, Tristan Edwards, Gray Benson, Cameron Abeel, Gordon Gurnell, Matt Logue, John Kirkpatrick, Ted Bjerregaard, and (in the bottom row) Hailey Martin, Ainsley Weber, Amelia Schofield, Hannah Dreschel, Morgan Sailer, Sebastian Boivin, Quinn Cleary, Alex Fasolo, and Michaela Sullivan.

Longtime faculty member Tom Evans — teacher, coach and inspiration to hundreds — will retire in June

Faculty

Editor’s note: Please submit your own well-wishes or words of appreciation for Mr. Evans on our tribute page


Veteran biology teacher Tom Evans, an instructor who sparked a passion for science in generations of students, a competitive yet compassionate coach, and a dedicated lifelong learner, will retire at the end of the 2017-18 school year, capping an illustrious 31-year tenure on the Hilltop. 

With his passion for science, his experience as a high-level athlete and his calm, encouraging demeanor, Mr. Evans seems born to have become a teacher. Since his arrival on the Hilltop in 1987, he has taught all levels of biology and microbiology; served as director of the summer school, chair of the science department, an advisor and dorm parent; and coached varsity swimming and soccer, as well as cross country and golf. He has been the holder of the Vincent Astor ’10 Teaching Chair in Science, to promote and honor excellence in teaching, since 1991. 

“The first day of school next fall is going to be very different for me,” said Tom’s fellow biology teacher Holly Williams about his retirement. “For 27 years Tom has been in the science building (old and new) teaching next door to me. He has been there to help me learn the ropes as a new teacher, to collaborate with on laboratory experiments, to bounce ideas off of, to teach me about topics in HIV and microbiology, to share frustrations, to chat about biological research —but mostly to be a friend.”

Other colleagues added their appreciation for Mr. Evans as a mentor and guide.

“Tom has served as a standard for great teaching ever since I started here,” said chemistry teacher Scott Stachelhaus, who arrived at St. George’s in 2011. “He is someone I looked up to as a young teacher, and he is still someone I look up to today.”

English teacher Jeff Simpson, a longtime colleague of Evans who coached the cross-country team with him, said he’s always admired Mr. Evans’ “remarkable ability to inspire his students and athletes through a combination of very high standards and genuine care for their progress and welfare.”

Mr. Simpson said he witnessed many students strive to meet Mr. Evans’ “tough Old School requirements” because he created a culture of mutual respect. “[Tom] brings excitement, curiosity, and first-rate expertise to whatever he undertakes,” he said. “Only Tom could inspire kids to embrace ‘pain is fun’ as a cheery team motto.” 

In fact, legions of former athletes, many of whom may not have even known their true potential, upped their skill level and confidence under Mr. Evans’ guidance. During his tenure as head coach the varsity swim team, the 2008-09 season was the most successful in SG history. With 46 swimmers, the largest SG swim squad ever, the teams finished undefeated, 17-0 in coed, boys and girls dual meet competitions — and both the girls’ and boys’ teams won their first-ever ISL Invitational meet titles, besting teams from Milton and Thayer. In a story in the 2012 Summer Bulletin, Halsey Huth ’12, a co-captain of the boys’ varsity swim team for the 2011-12 season, said “Coach Evans is one of the best coaches I have had at St. George’s. Because of him, the swim team is a group of some of the closest students on campus.”

In the science classroom, students have been inspired by Mr. Evans’ contagious love of discovery, often while peering through one of the solar-powered microscopes he outfitted his latest lab with. Third-form honors biology student Brady Lyons said she has always been excited to go to Mr. Evans’ class. “I appreciate how he can make a class informational, but at the same time entertaining and engaging,” she said.

When current Head of the Science Department Bob Wein came to interview for a job at St. George in 1999, he said Mr. Evans’ “openness, his obvious love of the kids and his thorough knowledge of microbiology” impressed him. “After coming to the Hilltop, it was clear to me that Tom's mixture of joy and the highest academic expectations are something I can only aspire to emulate,” he added. “He has impacted so many future scientists, and genuinely helped make the St. George's Science Department what it is today.”

Dean of Faculty Beezie Bickford said that when she first came to St. George’s in the fall of 1990, she heard about a teacher everyone called “The Rock.” “He was a really popular biology teacher, head varsity coach of swimming and soccer, dorm parent, advisor, family man — and he did it all with energy, curiosity, and good humor,” she said. “Now 28 years later, I am even more in awe of Tom. He's maintained a passion for teaching, he has an amazing range of interests, and he's still quick with a smile. That old nickname speaks to his deep commitment to education and students of all ages that runs deep and steady.”  

Cory Cramer ’00 is an English teacher at St. George’s now, but in 1996-97 he was a third former in Mr. Evans’ biology class. “I remember vividly his lecture on cat anatomy in preparation for our dissection project,” Mr. Cramer said. “He peppered the lecture with anecdotes from his time working in a morgue. Though I'm now firmly on the humanities path, I still think of Mr. Evans' class as a moment when I might have turned, because his passion for biology was, for our time together, my own.”

The grandson of the 1917 Norwegian women’s national swim champion, Mr. Evans discovered his own skills at swimming at an early age. “My first memory of ‘wow’ was 1959,” he said in a St. George’s Bulletin story in 2012. “I was 9 years old and I won a trophy at a YMCA meet. I loved that trophy. It was a big trophy. I thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool. I want more of these.’” He later went on to become a three-time All-American swimmer, captain of the swim team and starting goalkeeper for the soccer team at North Carolina State University, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology and microbiology.

He has always been known around campus as a man of many talents and interests. An excellent golfer, he even builds his own clubs. And he can often be seen with his favorite camera in tow capturing the beauty of the campus, including an iconic shot of the moon behind the chapel tower.

In recent years, Mr. Evans has found great reward in creating a specialized curriculum for the study of the AIDS virus and in serving as a mobility volunteer at Newport Hospital, where he and sometimes one of his students would go to help patients take their first steps following surgery. 

Recently, Mr. Evans reflected on his decision to retire. “It has truly been an honor to have been part of the St. George’s community for over 30 years, almost half of my life,” he said. “The Hilltop has been a wonderful supportive home for Linda and our children.”

He said he has always admired St. George’s teachers for their talents, dedication and enthusiasm. “But most of all I have been truly blessed to have been able to serve so many SG students who have inspired me and truly taught me what a humble and honorable gift it is to be a teacher,” he said. “It is frightening to think about my last class as a teacher at St. George’s. I cannot imagine not having a class to teach. Teaching has been like oxygen for me.”

Mr. Evans, a Wilmington, Delaware, native, says he will return to his hometown this summer to be closer to family and friends. His son Thomas, who graduated from St. George’s in 2009 lives in New York and his daughter Kaitlyn, who graduated in 2006, now lives in Washington, D.C.

“I plan to look for volunteering positions at local hospitals and schools, possible part-time teaching positions, I hope to continue my love of photography, and maybe even find time to play a few rounds of golf,” he said. “But I will miss the work and friendship on the Hilltop and the magic of the sunrises over Second Beach.”

Events

 

Nearly 250 alumni returned to the Hilltop for Alumni Weekend last week! Thirty members of the Class of 1968 came back to celebrate their 50th reunion, even managing to schedule a conference call with classmate Stephen Schmidt who lives in Germany and was unable to attend. Other classes spanning decades had gatherings on campus and in Newport as well.

CBS News correspondent Anthony Mason ‘74 received the 2018 Diman Award. The Howard B. Dean Service Award was presented to Stuart Danforth ’84, Natalie Dyer ’83, and Richard Sayer ’65, P’96, ’98, ’03. The Philip Murray Reynolds Award was presented to Elena Thornton Kissel ’77.

Also as part of Alumni Weekend, a group of alumni shared their career experiences with students and talked about their life journeys since graduating from SG as part of our Dragon Tales Live series. The program included discussions on everything from the oil industry to Hollywood productions, and featured Rob Larkin '98, Susanne Leath Wright '98, Theresa Salud '13, Brooks Hagan '93, Chris McNally '93, Melina Martin '99, Andy Buckingham '98, Adi Shankar '03, Charles Barzun '93, Rohan Gopaldas '98, and Anissa Roberts '00.  To view the Dragon Tales Live photo gallery, visit our Flickr page.

In tandem with Alumni Weekend, the Alumni Board of Visitors were on campus for a two-day meeting.

The alumnus will take responsibility for the various aspects of student life on campus

Faculty

Head of School Alixe Callen announced today (March 2, 2018) that alumnus Mervan Osborne, a member of the St. George’s Class of 1986, has been appointed Associate Head of School for Student Life. He will begin his tenure on July 1.

Mr. Osborne is a founding faculty member and Head of School at Boston’s Beacon Academy. The school offers motivated students in and around Boston a challenging yearlong academic program in between eighth and ninth grades in preparation for application to New England independent high schools. For 11 years prior to Beacon, Mr. Osborne taught English and drama courses; led diversity initiatives; and coached football, basketball, and baseball at Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has also served as a resident tutor for A Better Chance in Massachusetts and was a member of Teach for America’s Founding Corps in Compton, California. From 2011-2015, he was a member of the Cambridge School Committee.

In addition, Mr. Osborne has a passion for filmmaking and for many years taught film and video production classes to middle school students in the summer. He holds a master of fine arts degree in film production from Boston University, completed graduate coursework in education at Lesley University and holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Trinity College. 

Ms. Callen said Mr. Osborne quickly rose to the top of a strong pool of more than 70 applicants. “Our search committee, comprised of administrators, faculty, staff, and students, immediately recognized Mervan’s myriad strengths,” she wrote in a letter to the community. “From the start, he impressed us with his deep experience as a school leader, his commitment to his students, and his love for St. George's.

Ms. Callen also noted that Mr. Osborne’s references “spoke extensively about his ability to foster a positive school culture and to connect with and mentor students;” his positive interactions with faculty, parents and trustees; and his “warm, authentic, deep-thinking nature.”

Sixth-former Tilly Peck ’18, who served along with two other students on the search committee, said, “Mr. Osborne has a real and unparalleled way of connecting with people, especially students. He’s really on the students’ team.”

“I think Mr. Osborne’s ability to form relationships and empathize with the people of St. George’s will be a huge asset, and he’ll do great things on the Hilltop,” she added.

Mr. Osborne said he’s excited to take on his new role. “I’m thrilled to be returning to the Hilltop — a place that was absolutely transformative for me,” he said.  

Mr. Osborne, his wife, Lucy Darragh, and their sons Moses, 5, and Atticus, 2, will move to campus this summer. 

“Lucy and I are excited to introduce our children to the remarkable St. George’s community,” Mr. Osborne added, “and are eager to call it home for years to come.”

 

Athletes and coaches are elated at news of two turf fields coming to campus

Athletics

 

Much to the delight of coaches and players, the St. George’s Board of Trustees voted on Feb. 24 to approve the construction of two artificial turf athletic fields north of Auchincloss Dormitory and Memorial Schoolhouse.

The fields will provide a dramatically improved playing surface for our field hockey, football and lacrosse teams and remedy current drainage and scheduling issues.

A swift construction schedule beginning in March means the fields will be ready for play this fall when students arrive on campus following summer vacation. In addition to the turf fields, the existing baseball field at Elliott Field will be reconstructed in the northwest corner of campus and will be ready for play in spring 2019.

“This has all been about admission and about attracting the best possible students to St. George’s, and that means all kinds of students — scientists and writers and artists and athletes,” said trustee Lisa Colgate Scully ’81, who is also chair of the Turf Fundraising Committee. “If students aren’t giving us a chance because of our lack of turf fields, then we’re not in the game.”

The new turf fields fulfill recommendations laid out in the 2012 Athletic Fields Master Plan, which also suggested tennis court renovations, additional parking, and a third turf field in the area north of the stone wall.

To date and in just six months, the Turf Fundraising Committee has raised over $3 million for the project.

“The Board was committed to this project and we had parents and alumni who believed in it,” Scully said. “We had the passion, the perseverance, and the people to make the fundraising effort a success.”

Head of School Alixe Callen added, "As a new head of school, I am amazed by the generosity of this community."

Evening the playing turf

The new turf fields will help SG better compete with other prep schools that have turf facilities while simultaneously preparing our athletes who might want to compete at the collegiate level.

“For some athletes who are accepted, our lack of turf fields has been an issue,” Scully said. “If you want to play field hockey in college, you have to play on a turf field in high school.”

And indeed, our current athletes say they’re thrilled.

“I believe that getting turf fields is a major advancement for the St. George’s athletic program,” said field hockey player Bailey Randall ’21. “As a field hockey player, having the opportunity to play on an artificial surface for my next few years at St. George’s will make me a better player. And it will give me another lead if I wish to pursue the sport in college, because most D1 and D3 field hockey programs have artificial surfaces.”

Teammate Effie Blue ’19 said she thinks the fields “will excite current athletes at SG and be incentive for athletes who are visiting SG.”

“Playing on an artificial surface will be a game changer for me as a field hockey player,” she added. “An artificial playing field will help advance the field hockey team’s skill level, it will make us more prepared when competing against other schools because most schools in our league have turf fields, and finally, it is all around just more fun to play on turf.”

The new turf fields will not only help preserve the other fields on campus, but also allow SG teams to play games and practice year-round, despite inclement weather. About 16 games had to be postponed or rescheduled in spring 2017 alone because of poor field conditions, according to SG Athletic Director Rachel Horn.

“We lose a lot of games here because of the rain, particularly in the spring, and playing on turf allows us to play despite the weather, which really does make a difference,” said Horn. “I think that not only helps the athletic program, but also the academic program because we’re not having to make up games on non-game days and holding to the schedule really creates fewer conflicts all around for students.”

Dean of Afternoon Activities John Mackay has been head coach of the football team for 21 years, but his players have never been able to practice on the same field they play on.

“It’s going to be great for football because we can practice and play on the same surface without tearing it up,” Mackay said. “In the past, we’ve had a little tiny practice field. We try to stay off of our game field for that reason.”

Football and lacrosse player Zachary Stern ’19 said the year-round turf facilities will mean a whole new style and level of play.

“Lacrosse and football are totally different sports on turf,” he said. “The adjustment from a grass field to turf is enormous and provides a consistent playing surface for all practices and games.

“With the new turf fields, field hockey, football, and lacrosse will all benefit from a faster pace of play and they’ll provide our athletes with proper preparation for games at other schools and for college athletics as well."

Katie George ‘19 said the new fields would help advance her game and make for more fair competition.

“To me as a field hockey player, getting turf means a lot. Practicing on grass is not ideal and it’s harder to improve my skills,” she said. “Most teams in the Independent School League have turf and have been improving at a much faster rate simply because they had the right kind of surface.

“It was frustrating and unfair to have to play on a grass surface, while everyone else had turf. I’m very excited to have turf and can’t wait for the season to start again.”

Documenting the highlights of our 12th Head of School's first year at St. George's

Campus Life

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.

***  

 

April 20, 2018 
Ms. Callen opened SG's A Weekend for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion by welcoming attendees before the keynote speaker.

April 6, 2018
Head of School Alixe Callen gave a chapel talk to prospective students and their families during Revisit Weekend. Watch the video here.

Feb. 15, 2018
Ms. Callen sent a letter to the community to give an update on school culture and community engagement initiatives.

Feb. 6, 2018
Ms. Callen delivered a chapel speech marking the start of Black History Month. The speech can be read here.

Dec. 6, 2017
Ms. Callen sent a letter to the community to give an update on her first year of headship and what she has learned so far.

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.

Oct. 6-7, 2017
During Family Weekend, Ms. Callen makes this address as part of our community dinner event in the Dorrance Field House. Watch the video of her address on our YouTube channel.

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. 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.

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.

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.

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