Change is in the air. One head of school is leaving; another is soon to follow. Two seniors classes are graduating; wide-eyed eighth graders, many of them new to campus, look forward to joining their respective upper school. A curriculum review is now complete and waiting to be implemented. Conversations about what type of community we want to have on the Cathedral Close are frequent. A relatively new set of fields, set of educators, and block schedule have nestled well within our schools.
When Alex Labossiere, Mannan Mehta, and I founded Exchanged two years ago, we had one, overarching goal: to create a platform which would inspire positive change within our community. In light of this goal, and in light of the evolving aspects of our schools, coming up with the theme for our final issue as Exchanged’s core leadership team was a no-brainer: Change. We hope you enjoy it.
As for change within Exchanged, we’re happy to be passing the baton to Will Nash and Olivia Vella, Editors-in-Chief for the 2018-2019 school year. Sunjin Kim, Jared Makehja, and Kyle Morin will be assisting them as our Digital Editors-in-Chief. We are confident these five individuals will keep Exchanged going strong, leaving it changed for the better.
Working on Exchanged for the past two years has been the highlight of my time here on the Cathedral Close. This publication would not be possible without its fantastic editorial team and over one hundred thirty student writers. Thank you for keeping Exchanged’s content interesting and making its weekly publication goals a reality. I’d also like to thank all of our weekly readers; you have been nothing but encouraging.
I hope everyone has a fantastic commencement week.
Kubair Chuchra ‘18
Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Exchanged
Edited By Zack Martin '18
STA Baseball 2018 Season Summary
By Henry Large ‘18
Varsity baseball had a record year. Kicking off the season with a 2-1 victory over local powerhouse St. John's, the Bulldogs played great baseball throughout the whole season. After two grueling weeks in Florida, where the Bulldogs competed with nationally ranked teams, the team returned to D.C. for IAC play. The Bulldogs finished 2nd in the IAC in the regular season with a 7-3 record. James Howe '18 and Clark Klitenic '19 were both reliable starting pitchers.
The Bulldogs went full steam into the IAC tournament. In the championship series, the Bulldogs dropped game 1, but proceeded to smack Georgetown Prep 14-7 then 7-0 over the next two games. Dogpiling and raising the trophy on Prep's field was as sweet as ever. The Bulldogs finished the season with a crushing 5-4 loss to Wilson in 9 innings, but the Bulldogs held their heads high looking back over the highs of the season. Brandon Torng '20, Chase Danekker '19, Clark Klitenic '19, James Howe '18, and Austin Burgess '18 were named all-IAC, and Clark Klitenic was the unanimous IAC player of the year.
This season was also very special because it was Coach Baad's last one with the team. Coach Baad said this year's IAC championship, his 19th, was as great as any.
STA Lacrosse 2018 Season Summary
By Hugh Preas ‘18
The St. Albans lacrosse team had an overall good year this year. We set out with the main goal of winning an IAC championship, and while we fell short of this goal, we made a lot of progress toward that goal for the coming years. We finished with record of 9-11 despite a slow 1-6 start to the season. The season will be remembered for the several comeback wins the Bulldogs pulled off, most notably against Bishop O’Connell and St. Mary’s Ryken. But mainly, this season will be remembered for the huge 7-4 win against Landon, a feat not accomplished by a St. Albans lacrosse team since 2007 and only the third win against Landon in school history. Due to this huge win and another dominant win over St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes, the Bulldogs received a home playoff berth for the second year in a row. All IAC selections for the Bulldogs this year included: Carter Tate ‘18, Hugh Preas ‘18, and Matthew Gunty ‘19.
While the season did not unfold as many would have hoped on the team, overall this year was great for the program and a huge leap forward from the program of years past. The departing seniors are confident in the team going forward and hope that they can continue the teams momentum towards finally winning an IAC title. In the lacrosse world, the St. Albans name does not hold very much notoriety; however, after this season, we hope that we have gained some notoriety as a team and have proven that we are, rightfully so, a great lacrosse program. I want to give a special thanks to our Assistant Coaches, Colin Heeter and Brent Hyken, for a great year this year. Finally, a thank you to our Head Coach, Rory Hyland, for a great two years both as a coach and friend. We wish all three of you the best in the coming years with whatever you may be doing.
STA Track and Field 2018 Season Summary
By Jack Tongour ‘19
This was no ordinary season for STA Track and Field. For the first time in fifty five years, St. Albans had the opportunity to host the IAC championships. Coming off of a very strong 2017 season which included a second place finish in the IAC (behind Bullis, a team with some of the fastest runners in the country) and a 3rd place finish at DC state championships (despite missing some team members), the team was optimistic for another strong showing in 2018.
STA T&F has always been known for its depth, but one area where STA was lacking (at least in comparison to an especially fast IAC field) was sprinting. New sprinters stepped up to replace the sprinting core the team had lost with the class of ‘17. Fortunately, the team received many high-potential freshmen. In fact, the team gained so many new members that Coach Findler decided to change the usual practice meeting place from the Little Field to the Amphitheater.
Other surprising developments came from the distance program. In the 1600m it was the young bucks, not the proven veterans, who led the way. Timmy Bitsberger and Jack Tongour were limited by health issues, so Jonathan Merrill, Henry McBride (4:43), and Damian Hackett (4:44—the fastest freshman time since record-holder Tai Dinger) all stepped up. In his first year running track, Merrill proved that this was his sport. He dropped to a 4:38 season best in the 1600m at the Draper Invitational and placed 6th at DCSAAs in the 3200m. Another twist was that Jack Kelly went full mid-distance, consistently producing 52-second splits in 4x400m relays and leading the team in the 800m. At IACs, Lincoln Cooper and Griffin Shapiro had breakout performances. Cooper’s final kick in the 800m earned him a 3rd place finish and Shapiro’s smart racing in the 3200m earned him a 5th place finish.
The flyin’ thighs of Joel DeClue and Julian Escoto dominated the hurdles this season.
The throwing program, led by senior “stumps” Richard Oh, William Busching, Jose Noble, J.P. Rodocanachi, and “The Ox,” remained extremely robust. Chris Tingle also impressed many with his team-best and modern freshman record of 40’ 7 in the shot put.
The highlights of the home-track 2018 IAC Championships were the first place finishes by Charlie Hansen in the pole vault and Kai Ahmadu in the triple jump which earned them both All-IAC honors. Ahmadu also placed 2nd in the high jump, 6th in the long jump, and 4th with the 4x400m team (also consisting of Jack Kelly, Nick Maguigad, and Lincoln Cooper that managed to beat Bullis’ squad). Kai Ahmadu led the entire team, not only with his impressive performances as a sprinter and a jumper, but also with his work ethic, his quiet confidence, and his dedication to his teammates.
I point out a handful of individuals in this summary, but this team prides itself on recognizing the success and improvement of every athlete. Many view Track as an individual sport, but I do not accept this belief. There is something gratifying about watching a teammate kick past a competitor on the final straightaway, successfully hand off a baton, or finish a race after he gave everything he had to give. When we run or jump or throw we are really only at our best when we do it for our teammates. 5th place in the IAC was not the finish we hoped for, but that does not mean May 12th was a bad day for St. Albans Track and Field. As a team, we did everything we could and we can be proud of the effort we gave in each and every event. In the end, our 83 points were only 3 shy of 4th place Episcopal and 6 points shy of 3rd place Georgetown Prep. Even though the DCSAA Championship Meet was “optional”, STA still managed to get 6th place out of 26 teams—a solid end to a hard-fought season.
STA Crew 2018 Season Summary
By Harry Grigorian ‘19
This crew season has had it all for the Bulldogs: half second thrilling wins, half second heartbreaking losses, and anything else one could imagine. The season started with a promising trip in Tampa, but a loss to Winter Park HS (Orlando) threw the lineup of the 1v into some turmoil. The 1v suffered some tough losses this Spring and the lineup was changed weekly, as we tried to find a group of 8 guys who moved well together. The 2v had a very solid year, culminating in claiming the city championship in a thrilling .5 second win against Gonzaga, a team which had beaten the STA 2v last year by upwards of 12 seconds (which is a mile in crew). This boat came in 4th at their final regatta, the Stotesbury Cup, a bitter-sweet finish as they had beaten 3rd place Lawrenceville (New Jersey) earlier that morning, and 1st place Gonzaga two weeks prior.
The 1v trained for an extra week to race at Scholastic Nationals in New Jersey, bringing crews from all across the nation to compete. We made it out of the first round, but were faced with a tough heat with Central Catholic (Pittsburgh), St. Joseph’s Prep (Philly), Chaminade (Long Island), St. Joseph’s Collegiate (Buffalo), and Loyola Academy (Chicago). Off the start, the Dogs had the lead and held it for about 1000m of the 1500m race. With the top 3 crews advancing, we were in a good spot. However, great sprints from Loyola, St. Joseph’s Prep, and Chaminade left the Bulldogs in a heart breaking 4th by less than a second, preventing us from advancing.
The team improved greatly by our final race, and we look forward to coming back much stronger next year.
STA Tennis 2018 Season Summary
By Yuki Kinoshita '18
The tennis team had a good season with a senior heavy team led by captains James Long, Christian Potter, Mark Parrino, Yuki Kinoshita, and Liam Krygier. The team went out to Atlanta, Georgia for the annual spring break trip and improved its chemistry and skill at the Westminster High school tennis courts. Despite the high hopes the team had in winning the IAC championship, the team placed 3rd in the IAC, losing two close matches against Georgetown Prep both 3-4. Though the year didn't go as well as the team had hoped and expected, I look forward to the team's success in the upcoming years
Edited by Alex Bamford ‘19
Lacrosse (Nina Davy ’21)
Cathedral Varsity Lacrosse had a challenging but successful season. We started the season with some tough non-league games against teams that were playing down from the upper ISL division. Although the outcomes of these games were not in our favor, each of us grew mentally and physically stronger. CVL spent a week in Naples, Florida over spring break where we learned to play together as a unit. We beat both of our opponents in Florida, the difference clearly being the improved strong chemistry of our team. CVL carried this winning streak into our league games and finished the season as co-champs of the league (tied with Bullis and Sidwell). We don’t consider the losses at the beginning of the season setbacks, or unfair. Instead, these defeats prepared us for the competition in the season ahead. We ended the season with a loss but a well-fought game against Bullis.
Softball (Logan Robinson ’18)
The NCS softball team had an overall strong year. Starting off the pre-season with some scrimmages, we proved to be able to score a lot of runs which was a new concept for this team. Coming back from spring break we faced the two toughest teams in the ISL, Potomac and Flint Hill, losing 7-4 to Potomac and 7-2 to Flint Hill in 2 extra innings. Although these two games were losses, they really set the tone for the season as we entered the ISL tournament on an 8 game win streak. After shutting out Episcopal in the first round, we lost a tough game to Potomac who went on to beat Flint Hill in the championship. Later in the season, we went on to beat Model, St. Johns and Georgetown Visitation to win the DC “state” title for the third year in a row! Junior Jamie Wang had a great tournament and freshman Claire Fortier did a stellar job stepping in at shortstop. The four seniors, Jordan Gasho, Emmeline Leggett, Emily Donovan and myself are so proud of what this young team has become and can’t wait to see what they can do in seasons to come.
Voyageur (Zoe Contreras-Villalta ’19)
This spring season was a little different for the Voyageur family, as climbing was made available as a sport separate from paddling. Coaches Velosky and Tucker put together a schedule where both groups could have some off days and some time outside. In paddling, we started as usual in the STA indoor pool, practicing flips, tricks, and rescue methods in our kayaks. The day we got back from Spring Break, we finally made it out onto the Potomac River. Our regular practices involved a quick drive to the river, a briefing on the water level and temperature, and a rundown on what activity we were doing that day. From river running to surfing to stern squirts, the paddlers always make a splash. Spring climbers spent half of their week on our beloved NCS rock wall and the other half outside on the climbs at Carderock Recreation Area. They worked on their knot-tying skills, setting up outdoor climbs, and staying in climbing shape throughout the last third of the year.
Track and Field (Amanda de Castro ’19)
This track season was definitely one of my favorites because of the true grit and determination our team embodied. Though small in numbers, the NCS track and field team had an amazing season with countless personal and season records, and even a 27-year-old throwing record shattered by 9 feet by Olivia Harley ‘19. My favorite part of the season was the constant improvement my 4x400m relay team showed at each meet up until the finals, where we were only 3 seconds off of the school record. Similarly, Niaa Jenkins Johnston ‘18 recalled how hard she worked for long jump all season until she finally beat her personal record at our final meet. These are just two examples of the hard work and persistence our team demonstrated throughout the season, allowing us to peak at exactly the right time.
By Jay Sastry ‘18
The most frustrating thing about the previous times the Washington Capitals have lost in the playoffs is not the collective depression felt by the community of fans. Walking through school the day after previous Game 7 losses in OT felt almost consoling, knowing that those around me felt the same way I did about our team. No, the most frustrating thing is fans of the other teams who are still members of our community. One unnamed senior (he can be found zooming in a red CR-V) gets kicked out of group-chats every year for gloating about the Penguins. Nothing causes more frustration than Bruins fans and Lightning fans. After every loss, I'd wonder, “how in the world did this person grow up in D.C., go to the same school as me, and turn out supporting the wrong team?” Put another way, our environments were the same, our childhoods were spent with each other, we should all believe in the same thing.
The (almost homogeneous) support of the Capitals in our community reflects a broader idea—at the foundation of every community is a shared set of values and beliefs. Just as our life contexts (geography in this case) make us Caps fans, they also play a role in informing our values. Living in America makes us predisposed to democracy. Going to St. Albans makes us partial to the colors blue and white. At times (favorite sports teams come to mind), some are led astray by other influences (“my parents lived in Pittsburg” or some nonsense like that). However, there are beliefs more fundamental to a community than just the team we support (shockingly). They are the terms and conditions of the social contract we sign when we enter a larger group. They tell us what we should do, not just what we can do (shameless self-promotion: I wrote an article on this idea in the last edition of the St. Albans News if you are interested).
At St. Albans, you find them in the mission statement: our community exists to “welcome and embrace boys of all faiths and backgrounds to this caring community that learns, prays, plays, sings, and eats together.” As the Student Handbook describes us, we are “a community that commits itself to honor.” These are the beliefs and values that define our existence on Mount St. Alban—the ideas that cultivate a spirit of brotherhood. They permeate the cheers of BEEF Club and the camaraderie of every sports team. They contribute to a culture of late nights spent (mostly) studying over Google Hangouts and working together on study guides. They pervade every brushstroke in a classmate’s painting and every breath of air used to sing. They are the voices composing each “I believe that we will win” and every “Men of the Future Stand.”
Recently, however, our community has had to come to grips with the fact that we do not live up to the values we preach. Tolerating racism and antisemitism is no smaller crime than participating in it. Allowing others to be hurt and disrespected lies in direct contradiction to the values we bought into by attending St. Albans. That kind of behavior is not “welcoming and embracing” those of other backgrounds. Culture is the area under the curve of experience over time, a summation of the students who have walked these hallways and sat in these pews. Culture refuses to be undone by a mere change in the composition of the student body, whether it be the graduation of a senior class or the expulsion of students through disciplinary action. The normalization of antisemitism and racism is not a problem with the freshman culture; it is a problem with our collective culture. We must defend the values by which we claim to learn, study, play, and live.
It will mean finding the courage in uncomfortable situations to stand up to that which we believe is wrong. It involves drawing a line in the sand to let others know what we, as a community, will not find acceptable. It may mean becoming the single voice, out loud or on our phones, that reminds our friends of the tolerance and respect that binds us together as a community. And most difficult, it will mean recognizing that humor does not sanitize. Lest we forget, Jim Crow was the name of a racist comedian. As I have learned over my nine years as a Bulldog, St. Albans is a school filled with exceptional teachers and amazing students. We must demand better of our student leaders; they must be the ones to speak up when no one else will. Most importantly, we must ask more of ourselves: pointing a finger at anyone else still leaves three pointing back at us.
We live in a country and a world that, in many ways, face the same challenges we do. Every member of our community—not just a section of English I, or a group of teachers, or a set of prefects—must find the courage to begin a culture shift. We owe it to ourselves and to the students who come after us to get this right. If we can, we will become a voice louder than any “Let’s Go Caps!” To draw on the words of former President, one voice can change a group chat. And if it can change a group chat, it can change a community.
By Kevin Quigley ‘18
St. Albans builds the men of the future. It’s the unique blend of tradition and culture immediately apparent even when visiting the school, coupled with its top-notch education and teaching staff, that empowers future lawyers, artists, investors, and leaders. Our alumni include mayors, screenwriters, journalists, and authors. It is no question that St Albans’s economics and English programs are the flagships of the school. But, since St. Albans advertises the mission to create well-rounded students, not too heavily biased toward one subject or another, where is its science?
Across the Refectory and down several flights of stairs, tucked into the border between the Upper and Lower Schools, sits the St. Albans Science Department. Only seven teachers guide students through just three required years of study. And our Computer Science department isn’t any larger. Just one teacher offers four courses, none of which are required at all!
It’s not as if these areas are neglected or in disrepair; in fact, science teachers are some of the most respected in the school. Biotechnology and Programming courses are always full, and APES is never an unpopular choice. Even though only three years of science are required, most seniors take a fourth year anyway. The respect, knowledge, and demand are present; my only question is, “Why not more?”
Science is always the way of the future. The world will never lack a demand for those who want to investigate and discover. If St. Albans wants to continue to build the men of the future, to form those who will lead others to new heights, why shouldn’t the curriculum reflect more of that? Certainly, science is not for everyone, and it wouldn’t be quite within St. Albans tradition to transform into a tech school, but it doesn’t have to. All it needs is more attention for its science.
By Max Niles ‘18
I was a good Spanish student at St. Albans. I was pretty good at writing, I was good at reading, and I excelled at grammar. Yet by senior year, I had one option to continue my Spanish education at St. Albans: a one-semester class about culture. Now, I am incredibly thankful for the Spanish I have learned here, but if I were to change one thing about St. Albans I would reform the Spanish program in two ways: First, to increase the focus on speaking and listening, and second, to change the senior year options.
In three years of St. Albans regulars Spanish, students become very good at the minutiae of Spanish. We can conjugate in most tenses, know a large amount of vocabulary, and write pretty well. Even after a year off of Spanish, I can read most Spanish texts that I look at and could probably write a decent essay on a simple topic. However, all St. Albans Spanish students tend to have the same problem—they cannot speak the language. The aforementioned skills are very useful to Spanish learning, but if we truly desire to use Spanish, there needs to be a much larger focus on speaking and listening. In most classes, there is an attempt to speak and listen in Spanish, as most classes try to speak only Spanish at the beginning of the year (however inevitably that measure fails), and everyone does cheesy listening comprehension activities. Despite these efforts, even at the apex of my Spanish skills at the end of Junior year, if I were to be in a conversation in Spanish I would have to ask others to speak slower and take a long time to form sentences. I don’t know exactly how to make students better listeners and speakers—maybe it means immersion or oral tests or something else—but in order for St. Albans students to have a better Spanish education, there needs to be a higher focus on the verbal elements of the language, and less focus on pure grammar.
It was very frustrating that there was only one option available to me as a senior. I really did want to take a full-year class, yet for Senior Year there are only two Spanish classes available: Spanish V (which is one semester) and AP Spanish Language. AP Spanish Language is full-year, yet is only offered to students who are on the honors track, meaning that Spanish V is the option for most students. I understand that the AP Spanish curriculum contains cultural material that students from regulars would not understand and would need a lot of catching up to learn, but I think that gap can be bridged. Regulars students should be able to move up to AP Spanish for their senior year. If that is not an option for the future, then I think Spanish V should be expanded to a full-year class that focuses more on college preparation and fluency as opposed to culture. It’s hard to go into college with either a semester or a full year off of Spanish, and by reforming the Senior Year class offerings, St. Albans could ensure that its students are as prepared as they can be for college-level Spanish.
I’m truly thankful for my three years of St. Albans Spanish education. I have really grown with the language and am confident that I will be able to succeed in my college classes and, hopefully, become fluent. However, the Spanish program still has some issues that can be improved, and placing a higher emphasis on speaking and reforming the senior year curriculum would go a long way to improve those flaws.
By Hugh Preas ‘18
St. Albans is a great institution which has formed me into the person I am today. I firmly believe that St. Albans would still be a fantastic institution if nothing were to change; however, I do feel as though it could become even better.
The St. Albans dorm houses around 35 students at St. Albans and is the school’s opportunity to attract great students that may not live near the close. However, the dorm struggles to attract these students many times. The antique nature of the school is carried over into the dormitory, which is nice in places but needs to be updated in many ways. The heating and air conditioning units in each room do not do the greatest job. The carpets are old and stained from years of use. Some of the furniture is falling apart. On top of all these things that should be changed, the food needs much improvement. The dorm is a group of growing boys. Having the last available food for them be dinner at 6:30, which sometimes does not feature enough food to begin with, leaves many hungry.
With an improvement in the availability and quality of the food as well as those things previously mentioned, the dorm would be an attractive option for families who want to send their boys to one of the best institutions in the country but are not close enough to drive every day. The dorm has great things for me, and I do feel as though we have a good dorm; however, I feel as though as impressive as the school itself is, the dorm is falling behind.
By Fred Horne ‘18
This May, History Club invited two distinguished speakers to address us: Mr. Claude Smadja, former international journalist, and Brigadier-General Boon-Kim Tan, defense attaché at the Singapore Embassy.
Mr. Smadja spoke about his experiences as a journalist and about Asia in the 21st century. Over twenty years as a journalist for the Swiss Broadcasting Corp, he traveled across the world covering conflicts and conferences, warfare and diplomacy. In his first international deployment, he covered the Six Days’ War. He was one of two journalists in Dhaka when Indian forces captured the city in the Bangladeshi War of Independence—the day after he arrived in India. One year, he spent six months living in palace of the Shah of Persia in order to write a description of the Shah, finding him “a very lonely man.” The center of Mr. Smadja’s talk, however, was the importance of Asia. After the Soviet Union fell, he said, the West expected that China would be forced to adopt Western free-market capitalism or similarly fall. That has not happened. The United States currently has the largest economy, best technology, and most diplomatic ties in the world; in ten years, China will have the largest economy, at least equal technology, and economic inroads throughout the Third World with its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The West must realize that the international balance of power is changing, and white men will not dominate the 21st century as they did the 20th.
Brigadier-General Boon-Kim Tan spoke about the United States’s role in East and Southeast Asia. From Singapore’s perspective, the US is a benign force, essential to maintaining international order. The size of the US’s military and economy make the nation uniquely suited for the role of international policeman, as the US can project power anywhere in the world. Accordingly, Singapore cooperates more closely with the US than any other nation in Southeast Asia, allowing US carriers to refuel in Singapore and training soldiers in the US—1200 people across 4 bases, the largest foreign military presence in the US. The most important bilateral relationship in the world, Mr. Tan argued, is between the US and China, making good relations between the two of paramount importance. A trade war or an isolationist US would destroy stability in Southeast Asia and imperil the US’s key role in the region. Pushing China on unresolvable issues, such as Taiwanese independence, could precipitate a meltdown. Mr. Tan proposed that bringing China further into the international community is key, as joining would show China the benefits of international cooperation. The US, too, must see those benefits: the US’s dominant international role comes because the US can and will use its powers benignly in concert with other nations, and when the US abdicates that role, it loses its international dominance.
By Christian Potter '18
What do you do when you’re discontent? Luckily, St. Albans creates a community that we feel lucky and joyful to be parts of, especially at this time of the year. But all institutions, especially in the thick of their life cycles, produce certain issues that create discontent. And then what? To whom do you go with a complaint or even with solutions? If I could suggest a change for the future of St. Albans, it would be the creation and support of mechanisms for student feedback, concern, and ideas.
The obvious mechanism in current operation is the Student Council. As a member of the Student Council for three years and then its leader in my senior year, I will always believe in the Student Council, but I also know its limitations. The Student Council’s role at St. Albans is threefold: its members set good examples of conduct, work to uphold yearly necessities, and promote change on behalf of the student body. The first role I will always consider the most important, but it doesn’t relate to student input. The second involves planning yearly events and serving on honor and disciplinary committees; it consumes time that would otherwise be spent on the third role, carrying out procedures vitally important to the life of the school. So only a third of the student council’s roles and perhaps half of its time can be considered a mechanism for student input.
Then further limitations kick in. Much of this question of student input is about access. The student council has direct access to the head of the upper school and to itself. For some decisions, that access is enough, but for most, other parties are needed. When the adoption of a lost-and-found system was announced, Simon Palmore ‘19 in particular was commended for “navigating the ship through bureaucracy.” I’m not sure that the issue is bureaucracy, but it is true that the student council needs access to other parties, sometimes several at a time, to accomplish many of its goals. In that case, it was the facilities managers. Often it’s the kitchen staff or the athletics department. Mr. Ryan, Mr. Brooks, and Mr. Schnell have all met with the Student Council this year with eagerness to help. But, of course, they aren’t members of the Student Council, so our access to them is limited and case-dependent. What I would suggest, then, is the creation of a student advisory board, composed perhaps of student council members, vestry members, and others, that would meet regularly with key faculty members from the athletic department and the curriculum committee to provide student input. Or these administrators could meet regularly with the student council as it is. Regular access of student leaders to athletic and academic decision-makers would provide a forum for student input so that little changes in student life can be voiced with the potential for success.
Another mechanism in current operation is student publication. The St. Albans News and Exchanged are great platforms for students to discuss school affairs and, to the extent they can, work to effect change. Isn’t that what this article is part of ? It’s important that the school continue to support these platforms, even when it’s difficult to do so. Without a constructive place for students to express concern, including criticism, they can revert to destructive ways of showing student solidarity or anti-administration sentiment. This rift directly inhibits their and our goals. Healthy student publications promote a healthy student body.
Even with an advisory board for student interests and thriving student publications, issues often arise on an individual-student, -teacher, or -class basis. End-of-the-year surveys are great, but the timing (explicit in the name) is optimal for reflection but fruitless for benefitting their responders. For small-scale, individual change, I would simply suggest restructuring the advisory time and making office hours live up to its name. Advisors can only advocate for students if allotted the time to thoroughly discuss situations that arise. Certain advisory slots could be designated as times to discuss specific or general academic issues or social issues at the school and formulate plans to solve them. If office hours were extended to, say, one hour, the results would be immense. Students, now able to utilize the time without worrying about sports encroaching, would meet far more frequently with teachers to discuss their work, promoting a closer relationship between teachers and students. One-on-one, in-person interaction tends to do that. With that climate, students could more easily approach teachers about individual items they think need fixing, and teachers could more easily work with them to fix them.
St. Albans doesn’t need too much fixing. It’s a well-built house, always expanding with new additions. Some people do the building, and others do the dusting every day: faculty, administrators, the Student Council, and, of course, the recent curriculum review all play a role. But currently, there are few places students know they can go for solutions if a teacher or coach is acting unfairly or if they want to speak out about antisemitism, racism, or homophobia, to which we know we are not immune. We must acknowledge that while our students thrive, they also can also suffer. We should be equipped to help ourselves. And we almost are: St Albans students have brilliant ideas, and that’s no accident. Our education here has taught us to spot inconsistencies, analyze situations thoroughly, and craft creative solutions. We’ve been taught to draw a picture before applying the formulas, to outline the evidence then craft a thesis. The next step in our education is to allow us to use those tools to solve the real-life problems that arise in our community. If all students could play some role in dusting the St. Albans house, our sense of responsibility would grow along with the school itself, and St. Albans would be an even better place.