by NM '20
Solvers of last week’s puzzle (in order):
1. David Hla
2 . Brandon Torng
3. Maggie Wang
4. Robert Shekoyan
5. Jonathan Merril
6. Matthew Chalk
7. Liam Chalk
8. Mark MacGuidwin
9. Mr. Rick DuPuy
10. Dr. Jarad Schofer
11. Lars Nordquist
Answer to and commentary on Puzzle #2:
Classification: Medium. I will use Robert Shekoyan’s excellent explanation; You know that the top factorial is going to contain the highest term in it (e.g., the 17 doesn't get canceled when you cancel with the factorial in the denominator) since ♤ > ☖ (because the hypotenuse is larger than either side). Thus, you want the terms between ♤ and ☖ to yield a product that is two times ☗ (e.g, if ♤ was 7 and empty pentagon was 4, I'm looking at 6,5). 8-15-17 is the only Pythagorean Triple for which this is true. It's easy to recognize it as 8-15-17 because we see that 16 is the only term between spade and empty pentagon, which is twice 8. Basically, the gist of it is to look at the integers between the length of the longer leg and the length of the hypotenuse and see if the product of those terms is twice the length of the shorter leg.
NM (email redacted)
This week’s puzzle: Mathematics (note: the puzzlemaker apologizes for the overemphasis on mathematics. Future puzzles will concern a more diverse array of topics). Solve for x.
Hint: Think of a way to generalize an infinitely repeating chain. For example, if y = -0.5x – 0.25x – 0.125x – …, then it could be said that y = -0.5x + 0.5y
by NM ‘20
This year, 11 St. Albans and NCS students were named National Merit Semifinalists for the 2019 National Merit Scholar competition, into which more than 1.6 million students enter each year. They are:
Katie E. Klingler
Nicole K. Owens
Olivia M. Vella
Liam N. Chalk
Ian N. Chang
Jonah N. Chang
Dan V. Huynh
Shiva Y. Khanna Yamamoto
Robert S. Shekoyan
Andrew G. Wu
Further reading: https://patch.com/district-columbia/washingtondc/55-washington-dc-students-named-national-merit-semifinalists
by Liam Warin '20
Jason Robinson is the Eighth Headmaster of Saint Albans School. He grew up near Richmond, Virginia and has taught at many prestigious institutions, including Lawrenceville and Landon. I sat down with him this past Sunday in his wood-paneled office in the Lane-Johnston building and had a fantastic discussion.
Why did you leave the law?
I get asked this a lot. When I was in college, I had law school in the back of my mind, but sophomore year I took a philosophy class and the professor became one of my best mentors and teachers. He was instrumental in getting me to think about the possibility of teaching in the future. Flash forward to my senior year, and I wanted to eventually become a college professor, so I went to grad school at UVA and received a PhD in Government, Political Philosophy, and Legal Philosophy. I became a Teaching Assistant at UVA and loved it, and met lots of older guys in the program. The older guys in the program revealed to me that the job market was really tough for professors in the 1990s, and my Constitutional Law teacher Henry Abraham took me under his wing and let me be his TA and research assistant. He basically told me that I should consider law school, and completely rekindled the law school idea.
So I applied to a bunch of law schools, even ones I had never visited. I had lived in a small sphere in Virginia for the past 20 years, and I wanted a different experience. Eventually, I choose Stanford because of its location and feeling, and after one visit I was completely sold. Law School was an amazing experience, especially out in California. Luckily, a good job was available straight out of law school for me, and I was blessed to become a law clerk for a federal appeals court judge, which I loved. However, it was only a year long. I then moved to DC and joined Covington and Burling, but I did not feel fulfilled by the work. The time I put in did not lead to my satisfaction, and I thought back to when I was a teaching assistant at UVA and realized I wanted to be a teacher. I came home to my wife and told her, “I don’t know how, but I want to become a teacher.”
I reconnected with a high school friend who taught at Episcopal, and I taught a class and really connected with the students. There was something about teaching that just resonated with me, as I felt a sense of purpose. I had more fun in that hour than I had in my previous three years in law, and that was when I knew that I wanted to teach at an independent school in the DC area. Many of the schools I applied to did not have spots, but Landon had a slot for a humanities teacher and baseball coach, so I took it.
Will you teach your own class in the future?
Hopefully next year I will teach some sort of government and constitutional law class. There is a big gap in our history department with the absence of Mr. Eagles, and teaching a class would allow me to connect more with the guys at this school. I just want to be able to connect with kids and teach a subject that I feel passionate about. One of the most important qualities of a St. Albans Headmaster is that they teach their own classes, that they have their own table at lunch, and that they are present at Chapel. I want to be able to follow in so many others’ footsteps.
What is the most different thing at STA then anywhere you've taught at?
St. Albans is the most distinctive school I’ve ever been at, and what I mean by that is that the culture and community of St. Albans is extraordinarily unique and is only found at St. Albans. I am excited to experience more of this culture because I can feel it in the air. Part of this culture is our community activities, whether it be sitting in Chapel together, having lunch together, taking tests together, or watching sports together. Other major components of our culture include our size, the fact that we are an all-boys school, and the way we authentically live out our mission authentically through Chapel together and assigned seats. We also have a unique sense of tradition, and that is reinforced by our age as a school being over 100 years old. We have a sense of pride in our school and in our past, looking fondly back at our school.
Being right next to the National Cathedral, we are able to have experiences most schools can only dream of. We have a physical location that is absolutely beautiful and serene. No other school does something such as starting school in the National Cathedral, a celebration that inspires greatness, so the physical location is certainly special. One of the main things that people say about St. Albans is that it is “special.” The phrase rolls off the tongue and is used as widely from a ten-year-old C Former to a 90-year-old alum, revealing the similar, special experience. St. Albans is the one single life-changing experience that students experience, and it is a completely indispensable journey through school. There is also a unique sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, and the social service requirement elevates that belief.
Finally, the way students talk to adults is extraordinarily mature for kids of such age, as students reflect much older than they really are. This is not normal for schools, and it is something that stands out to me as a teacher.
Were you surprised by anything when you first came here?
I had very lofty expectations of the school when I first visited, but I’m happy to say that St. Albans has surpassed my wildest dreams. I was also struck by the ways that boys greeted me when I stood outside on a cold December morning greeting students with Mr. Chandler. The younger kids could have easily brushed me off, but every one of them took the time to shake my hand and introduce themselves. I think this really shows the culture of St. Albans, as the students embraced me into this loving community. The boys really showed a devotion to the school, something I did not expect.
People often see us as a serious, austere learning center. Yes, it is true that we observe many formalities such as family style lunch, Chapel three times every seven days, and a strict dress code, but it is also true that we have lots of fun, demonstrated at BEEF Club events and in the classroom. The school is not grim at all and is a place filled with enjoyment. So I would say that another thing I did not expect is just how much fun people have here, while still learning and developing as students. Finally, the teachers are very flexible in their schedules and are always available. The “Office Hours” time section is one of the most important things our school offers.
by Lyla Bhalla-Ladd '21
Oh, freshman year — I can’t say I miss you. In my lengthy one year of high school experience, I feel the need to pass on my knowledge to the new vulnerable members of the NCS Upper School. The beginning of the year is a rough time for us all, but it can be even worse if you don’t know the unwritten rules and practices of the typical high school freshman.
First of all, stop sitting in the sophomore lounge. In my first week of freshman year I thought those couches were up for grabs and proceeded to not only put my bags there, but also occasionally eat their food (big eek). Skip the awkward interaction and just stay in the Hearst enclaves.
Use your free periods well. I know it’s the one thing you’ll hear in every seminar, productivity lecture, and parent-teacher conference, but seriously. I know it’s exciting to be able to go to Open City whenever you want now, but truly — you have way too much homework to be wasting time convincing yourself that somehow your friends will help you study.
Speaking of Open City, don’t get in the habit of buying five dollars’ worth of ice cream and inviting nine friends to sit on every couch, chair, and even table (y’all are crazy) after sports. The staff get annoyed, the seniors will meme you, and you’ve already been banned once, so let’s not repeat seventh grade. Also, you’re going to be LIVING off vanilla lattes for the next four years, so don’t make enemies with the people making your coffee at 7:57am on an A Day.
After taking/surviving Modern World History (that felt amazing to say), I can tell you that you’re going to be fine. I know what you’ve heard, and I won’t dump any “just meet with your teachers” on you, but really don’t stress. That class is hard, no doubt, but it’s also a really good time to listen and learn. Ms. Bailey taught me so much content that I am so glad to say I know. The amount of material is hard, yes, but everything you learn is widely accepted as difficult material. It feels so good to be taking a class that your parents, relatives, and teachers are impressed with. People will understand if that stuff confuses you because that’s the whole point of that era — complexity. Trust me, you will survive. Just listen in class, do your homework, and really push yourself to stay interested.
Take an art class or two. One of my biggest regrets of freshman year was not dealing with my art requirement. Since you are coming from Middle School, you don’t know what it’s like to have a free period, so taking an art instead of a free won’t seem too daunting. But having to give up your free time later in high school to fulfill your requirements — that’s what kills you. Take an art that interests you and make some upperclassman friends!
In all seriousness, this is a big transition and it’s ok to feel overwhelmed at sometimes. Every single person around you gets it. Don’t be afraid to talk (cry) to your peer leaders about it. Just remember to stay present and take risks because there’s truly nothing like freshman year.
Volleyball Homecoming Game vs. Saint Vincent Pallotti (by Kayla Smith '20)
The homecoming volleyball game was amazing to say the least. Although we commenced the game with a less-than-promising warm-up, we pulled out a strong 3-0 victory against St. Vincent Pallotti. After the final events of Music Day, we made our way down the gym to decorate it with streamers, sign, and balloons. Following an extremely eventful and tiring day, we lacked the energy necessary to have a strong and productive warm-up. We missed passes that we typically get in practice and failed to move our feet to get to the ball. Parents and students slowly started filing into the stands to watch us warm-up. Knowing that our opponent was equal in skill to a team we had previously lost to, we became increasingly frustrated with each other and our poor warm-up performance. However, at the start of the game we had a complete turnaround; we played exceedingly better. We beat Pallotti in our first set, playing better than we ever have. Point by point, we continued adding sets under our belt by making great last-ditch efforts to get to the ball and remaining level-headed throughout the duration of the game. With the crowd cheering and sets racking up we became increasingly energized and had the most fun game thus far in the season. After beating Pallotti 3-0, we high-fived the opponent and proceeded in celebratory cheers concluding our homecoming game victory and the best game of our season so far!
Soccer Homecoming Game vs. Mercy High School (by Siena Waldman ‘20)
On Saturday, CVS (Cathedral Varsity Soccer) played Mercy HS for our homecoming game. We all arrived early to decorate the fence and talk about the upcoming game. As we warmed up, a nervous excitement filled the air. This game was the only thing on anyone’s mind (besides what they were going to wear to the dance that night).
We started with the ball but Mercy scored within the first 5 minutes. Luckily it was offsides, but it came as a shock to us and we knew we had to relax, get it together, and play our game. The backline, which consisted of Amanda de Castro, Allison Pierce, Jessica Alewine, and Mary Rose Bell, played strongly for the first half, and with the help of legendary keeper Lilly Keller we only conceded one goal by halftime. Despite being down, we knew we were still in the game. After the half, we changed our formation from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-1 with a diamond in the midfield in hopes of creating more offensive opportunities. Unfortunately, since we had never played this formation before, there were several problems with our defensive positioning, leading us to concede 3 more goals. However, we did not give up for even a second. The other team was very aggressive and physical, but we stayed strong and kept fighting, gaining tenacity and passion. As the game progressed to its final minutes, we knew we had to score. Our forwards, Nina Davy and Sam Douki, were doing everything they could to get a shot on goal. Mary Rose Bell, at left mid, had several shots from the left side that the goalie saved, much to the crowd’s dismay. Finally, within the last two minutes of the game, a corner kick from Jessica Alewine was loose in the box and Siena Waldman jumped into the air and hit the ball with her back, and the crowd erupted as it rolled into the goal. The goal ended up not counting because the ref called it offsides, or maybe the player fouled the goalie, no one is completely sure. But everyone who witnessed the shot considered it to be a real goal. Regardless of what the score should have been, we lost. But no one was upset because we played hard, and worked for each other, and both the players and the spectators had a fun time.
Field Hockey Homecoming Game vs. Bullis (by Ella Berry '20)
This past weekend during the NCS Homecoming game, the Eagles beat the Bullis Bulldogs 1-0. The singular goal was scored by senior Fiona Heaps during a penalty corner in the second half. Following the exhilarating win, the crowd rushed the field in their all white apparel to show their support and enthusiasm. Each member of the team was integral to the success of the Eagles and made the game one to remember for the 12 seniors on the varsity team.
by Nadya Osman '19
It’s not easy to decide on an all-encompassing idea that represents your grade in one word. It’s not easy to make the word somehow fit a 1 and a 9 in it. And surprisingly, it’s not easy to decide on it by being stuck in a room for three hours, but that’s what we did – all ninety of us.
To decide on such a theme, Judy Ahn and I, respective Vice President and President of the senior class, led a long, agonizing process of throwing out ideas, writing pros in silence about each one, discussing and sharing opinions out loud on each idea, narrowing them down, and ultimately doing a few rounds of voting, with lunch somewhere in between. In the end, it came down to two themes, and I still remember the argument people made for legendary: the word could not only be representative of a memorable class, but it could also speak to what kind of a legacy we will leave behind. This is the part of the theme that is most important to me, and I would venture to say it is for the rest of the grade as well. What do we want to be remembered for? What kind of a mark do we want to leave on this community?
Such a concept was presented in the reveal video that Nicole Cason made along with help from the Reveal Video Committee. We showed it in class meeting the day before the reveal, and sitting there among my eighty-nine other classmates caused an eruption of emotion. I cried. I cried for the diversity of talent shown in the video, I cried for the future, I cried for the past, I cried for the legendary class of 2019. I cried even more when I looked around and saw that the rest of the class was in tears as well. In that moment, it really hit me that this was our last year together. That “oh my god” moment solidified itself right before the reveal, as well.
Standing in the stairwell behind Schifter Court, the air was full of excitement and emotion. Some people were crying, some were jittery, and others were completely stone-faced. In any case, the air buzzed with emotion and energy as I made my way to the door and placed my hand on the handle. We stood in absolute silence for a full minute and held our breaths. We had dreamt of this moment ever since we were freshmen. The air was about to burst. As the beat drop approached and the pace of the music increased, I waited and listened for the line I knew all too well: “It’s going to be legend – wait for it – wait for it – wait for it – wait for it – dary! Legendary!” As soon as I heard those words, I yanked open the door, sprinted into the open darkness, and leapt onto the stage with my entire class besides me, struggling yet cheering in our clunky costumes. The exhilaration I felt is unmatched to any other experience I’ve ever had. In that moment, the school recognized us as legendary.
Yet, even though we are just announcing it now, we have always been legendary. We always have and we always will be a legendary class not just in what we do but in how we treat each other. How we come into school every day and bring a certain energy that can’t be found elsewhere. How we see each other as one big happy family, and how we can make screaming to Mamma Mia in a haunted orphanage fun. I am so proud to be a part of such a class. To 2019 – cheers, you legends.
Gillian Moore '20
It’s not uncommon at NCS to be on the go, all the time. From classes and extracurriculars to homework and sports, it seems like everyone is busy, Monday through Sunday, September through June. This creates an environment of constant transition: you go from A to B to C with little rest in between, always thinking ahead to the next thing to do. Even those highly-coveted free periods do little good, most of us using that precious hour for homework, prioritizing school to-dos above rest or decompression time. It’s a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle that takes a toll on both physical and mental health, only adding to our stress levels and things to do.
We all process this sort of stress in different ways. My sister turned to writing, my friends turn to music and theatre, and I find this refuge in the visual arts. Regardless of the means, everyone needs an escape from academic and social pressures; it’s our nature to thrive off of balance in our lives. Not only do the arts provide this imperative counterpart to stress, but they also serve as an outlet for everything that we think or feel. As an art nerd myself, I definitely feel that art is undervalued at NCS. But even taking a step back and objectively observing, my (almost) unbiased self also takes issue. The arts aren’t just fun, they’re important. We are not just our grades or our schedules — we are people who should embody every aspect of our identities. By no means should we lose sight of the importance of academics, or forget our dedication to hard work and excellence. But, we should also remember to promote a healthy lifestyle, and valuing the arts is key to achieving the balance that will allow us to live like who we are meant to be: strong and independent citizens of the world.
Avery Kean '19
Everyone dreads it: the awful, exhausting, too sweaty/too freezing/too windy trek across the Close to your required co-ed class. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve sprinted in front of the Cathedral to make it to class on time, and I’m not proud to mention how many times I’ve not-so-accidently barrelled into an oblivious tourist while doing it. Even through all the complaining, however, I’ve really loved having the opportunity to take classes at STA.
As a senior, I’ve had the chance to take both American Literary Traditions and Expository Writing at St. Albans. I truly enjoyed taking Expo because I was able to be creative in my writing, but the class also gave me a stronger command of grammar. I also thoroughly enjoyed AmLit because it was incredibly collaborative; we consistently did work in groups to analyze and discuss our readings.
The remainder of my English classes have been at NCS, and I’ve loved them too, for different reasons though. Something I especially appreciate in NCS classes is the Harkness Method. I think it can be hard to come from either school and switch into an environment that either doesn’t incorporate Harkness or one that heavily emphasizes its important, but I still believe it’s necessary for our education to switch it up and be immersed into the different experience. I’ve found that at either school, each class has varied slightly in grading and assessments, but are nonetheless rigorous and demanding of hard work.
So yes, sometimes the walk across the wind tunnel is excruciating and painfully long, but in all, it is worth it. Personally, I’ve enjoyed both my NCS and STA classes, and I think the coordinate program is an entirely necessary aspect of both schools’ curriculum.
Alex Misiaszek ‘21
So you walk into class and you see a seemingly insane teacher with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen standing at the front of the room. They introduce themself as your teacher and inform your class that they intend to throw you off a cliff this year and that most of you will fly. They then turn their head to make direct eye contact with you saying, “Some of you won’t fly, but the majority of you will,” all the while, grinning ear to ear. Sound familiar? I thought so — it’s the first day of freshman year.
Here’s what you’re going to do:
1) Excuse yourself to the bathroom and have a cathartic emotional breakdown as your heart sinks to your stomach while you realize that the teacher who you thought looked a little nuts could probably be clinically considered mentally insane. It’s ok. Deep breaths. Now stop being so dramatic and go back to class! You’ve had your two minutes. Now go face the remaining 63,418 minutes left of your freshman year.
2) Ok, lunch time. This isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine. Nay, you must get accustomed to starving yourself to avoid refilling the portion of food at your table that is invariably almost empty. The bowl of food will always be containing exactly one morsel generously left behind by the previous student at your table. You may think that if you wait the rest of the table out, someone else will refill the bowl, but you’re wrong. You would be shocked how many people would willingly starve themselves to avoid standing in line at the kitchen. And now you’re one of them!
3) Now, you’re a few weeks into school, and you’re realizing that those 8 hours of sleep prescribed by almost every adult who invariably takes time out of your life that you would otherwise spend sleeping simply do not exist. Not to worry: many people have come before you and worked out exactly how to tackle such an issue. Yes my friends, I am referring to the divine, life-giving liquid colloquially referred to as “coffee”. There are three ways to maximize the seemingly ever-shrinking vessel which you use to nourish yourself with the life-giving stuff. First, you must drink black coffee. I know it tastes bad — get used to it. Cream and sugar waste space that could be filled by caffeine. Second, iced coffee is the only option. You don’t have enough time to babysit a scalding hot cup of coffee while you wait for it to cool down. Third, you can’t just use any old ice cubes in your iced coffee. Again, these waste space that could be filled by more coffee. So what you’re going to do is freeze some black coffee (yes it must be black) in an ice tray the night before so you can cool down your coffee with more coffee. Isn’t that genius?! I know, no need to tell me.
Ok so now you know everything that you need to know to survive freshman year. And the most important thing to remember is that 99% of this is just an overly dramatic joke.
Or is it…
by Joe Bladel '20
On Friday, September 21st, the Varsity Soccer Team took on Appoquinimink High School, or “Appo” for short, a team hailing from Delaware. After a tough week of games for the team, the ‘Dogs were looking forward to ending a long week of soccer with a game against a team they did not know much about. At the start of the game, things took off with a quick start for both teams as both of them had early chances to score within the first five minutes of the game. However, Appo was the first to strike, as they scored within six minutes of the first whistle. Settling down after the opposing goal, the ‘Dogs came out and played their game and created many close chances off corners and tough pressure at the top of the field. About twelve minutes after the Appo goal, the ‘Dogs scored with quick passing and a great finish by Zach Velli, who chipped it over the goalie. Once halftime arrived, the tempers of both teams were starting to stir, and the game became more intense. After lots of hard tackles and good play from both teams, Appo received a red-card due to a dirty foul and had to play with ten men for the remaining twenty-five minutes of the game. Plenty of opportunities came for the ‘Dogs to strike and put the game away as a result of the man advantage, but unfortunately they were unable to capitalize on those opportunities. After lots of hard work and crafty play, the boys could not find the back of the net and the game ended with a tough 1-1 tie. Another great game for the soccer dogs, as they roll into IAC play next week. We are all looking forward to what they will do in the upcoming weeks.