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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.”
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.”
On Feb. 14, the SG community welcomed back to campus Ehtsham ul Haq '89, who was visiting from Pakistan. Ul Haq toured the school, had lunch in King Hall with students, and visited English and history teacher Jake Westermann's Global Studies class.
Ul Haq attended Columbia University after SG before moving back to Islamabad, where he is currently chief executive of ELC Solutions Corp., a telecommunications company that specializes in different power system services and defense supplies for the Armed Services of Pakistan.
We asked ul Haq about his time at SG and what it was like to return to campus:
What first brought you to St. George's School?
One of my teachers at my school in Lahore, Pakistan, suggested that if I wished to pursue a college education in the U.S., I might try to go for my senior year to a boarding school. He suggested several schools, SG being one of them.
What was your initial impression of the school when you got here?
Having spent almost 60 hours traveling: delayed transit at Amsterdam, a missed flight at JFK for Providence, a night spent with two large suitcases at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City in September 1988, waiting to catch the early morning bus to Providence, etc. After that, it was a relief to have made it finally.
I was, however, welcomed with open arms and a lot of affection from the faculty and the students. I can never forget the moment when my taxi arrived at the steps of the main entrance after the ordeal.
Who were some St. George's teachers that left an impact on you and why?
All my teachers were great. Mr. William Schenck (God bless his soul) was my counselor and he really treated me like a son. Until his passing away, whenever I would be in the U.S. or while I was at Columbia University, a dinner with him at the Harvard Club (his alma mater) was a regular feature.
What was your favorite subject at St. George's and why?
U.S. History. Mr. [Charles] Stillwell was the teacher and I really enjoyed the course and actually still know the names of all the states by heart!
What did you do after St. George's?
I went on to attend Columbia University in New York City with a major in materials science. Afterwards, I returned to Pakistan and joined my family business.
What is your work at ELC Solutions in Islamabad?
I run companies in Pakistan related to telecommunications and defense business. Also, we have an electronics recycling business coming up which would be the first one of its kind in the country.
What was it like being back at St. George's after so many years?
What made you want to revisit campus on Feb. 14?
I have so many fond memories of the school and just wanted to refresh them. I hope my children get the chance and opportunity one day to attend SG and that it will have the impact it had on me. It changed my life and perspective on a number of things.
What's changed the most at St. George's since you were a student?
I had my lunch at the faculty table!
Well, the school certainly has most modern facilities and the students I interacted with in the Global Studies class were just unbelievably smart and erudite. Their exuberance and the confidence in them really made me feel proud of them and the school.
The St. George’s girls’ varsity squash team emerged victorious for the second year in a row at the 2018 HEAD U.S. High School Team Squash Championships in Philadelphia on Feb. 2-4. Meanwhile, the boys’ team placed fourth in the Division IV tournament.
The girls’ squash tournament featured 78 teams spread over five divisions with the Dragons entering the weekend as the No. 1 seed in Division II.
The team included Ainsley Weber '18, Amelia Schofield '18, Rachel Smithie '18, Georgina Green '18, Julia Schofield '19, Maya Bardorf '20, Diya Moolani '20, and Darcy Weber '21.
The girls team swept Shipley School 7-0 in its first matchup on Feb. 2.
The Dragons then faced two teams on Feb. 3 – Conastoga High School and Rye High School. In the afternoon, the team beat Conastoga High School 5-2 and then later played Rye High School, emerging with a 4-3 victory.
During the finals on Feb. 3, the girls’ squash team went up against Agnes Irwin's JV squad and won 4-3.
“Nerves were high in this one, and the early matches were a back-and-forth affair and after the first five matches, St. George's held a tenuous 3-2 lead, helped in large part by co-captain Rachel Smithie '18’s five-game win at the No. 6 spot,” Coach Sarah Mongan said. “With the No. 3 and 4 matches last on court, heads turned back and forth with every point. Maya Bardorf '20 capped off an undefeated weekend with a 3-0 victory and clinched the championship match for the Dragons.”
“This was a tremendous weekend of competitive squash up and down the ladder with every member of the team earning at least one victory,” added Mongan.
The boys’ squash tournament featured seven divisions of 16 teams with the Dragons entering the weekend as the No. 8 seed in Division IV.
“We were seeded eighth in the division and finished fourth, so we ‘beat our seeding,’" Boys Squash Head Coach Colin Mort said. “We were able to do that primarily due to a handful of players winning very close matches at key moments.”
The St. George’s boys’ squash team includes: Ismail Atef '20, Eric Molina '18, George Shepherd '18, Hayden Bertsch '20, William Wilson '21, Ted Tilden '18, and Patrick Fearons '18.
In tournament action, the team defeated Rye High School and then SquashSmarts 4-3 in its first two matches of the tournament.
In the match that would decide it all against SquashSmarts, Hayden Bertsch ’20 battled back from a deficit to tie it up and then clinch the team’s victory.
“In the end, Bertsch pulled away on the last few rallies to take the win both for himself and the team,” Mort said.
However, the boys’ squash team was defeated by Berkshire 1-6 and then defeated by Episcopal Academy 1-6, earning the team a fourth-place finish overall in Division IV, the equivalent of 52nd overall.Full match results are available on the U.S. Squash website.
Eighteen talented SG artists received awards in this year’s Rhode Island Scholastic Art Competition — and half of those were coveted “gold keys.” Several students won top prizes for their self-portraits, including Jessica Chen ’19, Daly Cheng ’20, Gray Foster ’20, Simon Li ’20 and Dima Piskun ’20.
Cheka Orr ’18 and Angel Wang ’18 won gold keys for their art portfolios — “a series of eight distinct works that communicate a single cohesive idea or visual investigation.” Cheka won for her series titled, “Handywork,” and Angel won two gold keys, for portfolios titled “Mechanic Nature” and “Washed Planet.”
The final gold key was awarded to Tony Wang, for a photograph titled “Dreamer.” Silver keys went to Maeve Corridan ’18, Abra Issa ’18, Rachel Lu ’19, Charles Parson ’19, Hope Seiler ’20, Lexi Sinskey ’18, Rachel Smithie ’18, Madison Tregenza ’18 and Hanna Younghans ’18.
Eight of the winners attended the Scholastic Art Awards Ceremony at Rhode Island College on Sunday, Jan. 14. (right)
Artists who received a gold key for their work advance to national judging in New York, where nationally renowned creative professionals review and select work for national recognition based on three criteria: originality, technical skill, and “emergence of a personal vision or voice.”
National Awards will be announced in March.
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.
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.
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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