By Hugh Preas 18'
The St. Albans lacrosse team spent their time this spring break in Raleigh, North Carolina. The day of departure was full of excitement and confusion surrounding our travel due to a snowstorm that started the morning of our bus ride. Despite the inability of our bus to travel up the hill of Garfield street due to slippery conditions, we loaded up and made our way down to Raleigh with relative ease.
Our schedule was packed the first four days with time to relax on the last two. We began with a practice the evening we arrived and then started our stretch of three games in three days. Against our first opponent, Cardinal Gibbons, the bulldogs went down 7-1 at halftime, but put on a fantastic second half charge which came up just short as we lost 8-7. Disappointed in this loss, we returned to our hotel and regrouped for our next game the following evening. We then fought a tough game against Broughton High School which we lost in heartbreaking fashion in overtime. Frustrated with another close loss, we attempted to fix the majority of our mishaps from the previous two nights and recover for the game the following morning.
The bulldogs, just 15 hours after their loss against Broughton, were again suited up and ready to play Heritage High School. The bulldogs ironed out some of their previous mistakes and channeled some of the emotions that came with the first two losses to earn a great 17-8 victory to end the trip. Following this win, the bulldogs used their time in Raleigh for team bonding through events such as watching the Duke vs. Syracuse lacrosse game and bowling the following day.
Despite a disappointing 1-2 record on the trip, the bulldogs gained a lot of experience and chemistry through our six day trip down to North Carolina. The momentum from our game against Heritage carried through into our game against Bishop O’Connell which the bulldogs won 13-9. Overall, the trip was a huge success that will help the team on their quest to win an IAC championship for the first time in several years.
By Landon Chin 19'
After flying across the country to Stanford University the past two spring breaks, the tennis team headed in a new direction this year to Atlanta, Georgia. During our trip, we practiced on the tennis courts at the Westminster Schools, where history teacher Dr. Schaffer attended high school. We started practice every morning around 8 a.m. and finished up in the afternoon. For lunch, coaches would bring an array of subs from either Subway or Jimmy Johns. In the evenings, we ate dinner at local establishments like the OK Cafe and the Varsity, an iconic restaurant chain in Atlanta.
Off the tennis court, we were just as busy after practices with some type of non-tennis excursion every day following our hitting sessions. One of our first outings was to the Center for Civil and Human Rights, where we explored exhibits focusing on the American Civil Rights Movement as well as global human rights. In addition, we had the opportunity to look at personal papers and items belonging to Martin Luther King, Jr. that were being loaned out from Morehouse College. The next day, we were given a tour of the Coca-Cola Company Headquarters as well as an in-depth presentation from John Packman, Senior Counsel of Food Law & Advertising Substantiation who also graduated from St. Albans in 1976. We then visited the World of Coca-Cola and had the opportunity to try over 100 domestic and international Coca-Cola beverages and learn more about the history of the company.
Our last full day in Atlanta was an eventful one. After another morning session of hitting, we took a visit to the College Football Hall of Fame, conveniently located across from our hotel. Then we traveled to the Ken Byers Tennis Complex to witness a men’s ACC tennis match between Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. During the match, a player from the Virginia Tech team, who went to high school in D.C., came by the team and had a great discussion with us, providing insight into the life of a collegiate tennis player. After the match, the coaches had a “surprise” in store for the team and took us to BURN Studios for a private session of hot yoga. While at first resistant to this plan, the team quickly embraced the new experience. Numerous team members found the class to be enlightening and have discovered an obsession for chaturangas.
Following another successful spring break trip that formed new bonds between teammates and brought the entire team closer together, everyone is looking forward to having a great season and competing for the IAC championship once again.
By Avery Watkins 20'
I’m sure for many of you the sound waking up early over spring break is appalling, yet on the second Monday of break, I happily woke up before my 6 AM alarm. Sunscreen and stick in hand, I rushed to BWI where my sleepy, but smiling, teammates were waiting for me. It was time for the annual Varsity Lacrosse trip to Florida, something to which I’d been counting down since the end of last year’s trip. Although in years past the team has gone to St. Petersburg, this year CVL spent our six days together in Naples. Every day of our trip was different, normally consisting of a mix of practice, games, and other activities such as an Everglades boat tour, beach time, Starbucks runs, and, of course, a late-night trip to our beloved IHOP, which kept the days exciting and engaging.
As far as actual lacrosse goes, our progress as a team was undeniable. We spent the majority of our practice time perfecting new plays, sharpening our stick skills, and (everyone’s favorite) conditioning. We also played two very memorable games against local high schools, Gulf Coast and Barron Collier. We were able to come out with two big wins, with scores of 11-2 and 13-7, despite the fact that we had to overcome injuries and, at times, overly aggressive opponents. In both of these games, as well as practices, we were able to begin to come together and work as a team on every single part of the field, understanding how each player is vital to the group’s success, something that we’ve been able to bring home and implement during our games and practices since break. All in all, I would say that the trip set a great tone and allowed us to find our team’s character for the 2018 season: one defined by a balance between hard work and fun.
That being said, what I would argue was even more important than our lacrosse skills, was the team bonding that is annually one of the most important parts of the trip. We stayed in suites of six or seven girls, with each grade represented in each room, and our close quarters allowed for us to quickly get closer to both our new and old teammates. We spent our down time going to the pool (AKA getting sunburnt), staying up late watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and SVU, going on trips to the gas station for ice cream and candy, and simply strengthening the friendships that define our team both on and off the field. I can’t speak for everyone on the team, but for me, it’s the bonding — the bus sing-alongs, games of “Contact,” and dinners on the beach — that always make the lacrosse trip so special. It’s these memories that, I believe, make our “Team. Family.” mantra so true. Even though my tan has started to fade, our inside jokes (you’re.my.best.friend. @cvl) and friendships will last for the rest of the season, and, I hope, for a long time to come.
By Maria Ashby 19'
Most Close students separate their school year by the two semesters, but after my spring break experience, I see my junior year as BPT(before Paris trip) and APT(after Paris trip)
At first, I was very apprehensive about the exchange. I didn’t talk to my correspondent until about two weeks before the trip. The fear of being mocked for my broken French prevented me from getting to really know her. After talking to some of the other girls on the trip, I found out that my experience was not unique. But as soon we entered the city limits of Paris, all of my fear and anxiety faded away.
I could write about the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower or about how over-hyped the Mona Lisa is, but the thing that really made the French exchange so special was not just the city, but the opportunity to immerse oneself into Parisian life. I learned how to use the Parisian metro. I got lost on the Parisian metro. I learned how to spot a bad touristy restaurant just by looking at its sign. And after a few days at Stanislas, my exchange’s school, I figured out that all you need to do to sound like a French teen is to place the word “hyper” in front of all your adjectives. Maybe my thinking is still clouded by the sugar haze from stopping at bakeries five times a day, but becoming a Parisian felt like a natural transition.
During those ten days, my host family sort of became my faux family. We ate breakfast together — a hearty meal of a baguette and butter — while listening to French radio. In the evenings, I would watch Netflix with my host brother as we both avoided doing schoolwork (turns out procrastination is a multicultural phenomenon). At dinnertime, my host mother would cook meals from her native region Brittany and teach me about the different parts of France that each ingredient came from. After all her instruction, I am confident that I could write an IHAP on wine and cheese. Occasionally, one of my exchange’s older brothers would come to dinner and we would eat and chat until midnight. Sometimes would talk about local French politics, but other times we would argue about whether or not the Kardashian family is the American equivalent of the British royal family. The jury is still out on that one.
But my time in Paris was not always a fairytale. There were some rough moments. I found the courses at Stanislas to be dull and uninspiring with the exception of PE class which was a joy. The classes in France are lecture-style, and there is very little student participation during the entire period. This lack of creativity in the curriculum stems from the goal of the French education system: pass the Baccalaureate exam. In addition, over the course of the trip, I felt myself getting more and more mentally exhausted from speaking French all the time. As my conservations with my host family and my exchange got more complex, my French vocabulary began to become insufficient to keep up the conservation. My hosts were kind and helped me figure what I wanted to say, but my previous confidence in my speaking skills greatly diminished.
But, overall, the French exchange was a very positive experience and I would highly recommend it. It gave me the opportunity to forget about school and college stress and do some self-reflection. I also gained some friends that I hope to keep for a lifetime. But before you go visit yourself, be prepared to be disappointed by American food when you get back.
By Harry Grigorian 19'
On the first Thursday of Spring Break, the STA and NCS crew teams flew down to Tampa, FL for our annual training trip. Believe me, this is a true “business trip.” We practice two or three times per day for usually 2-3 hours, and when you tack on boat upkeep and travel time, you’re looking at an exhausting day.
A typical day consists of a 6:10 wakeup, followed by a 6:30 breakfast. At 6:45 or 7:00, we load the vans and roll out to Plant High School’s boathouse on the Palm River. We arrive and everyone quickly springs into action. Rowers rush to put the launches (the coaches’ motor boats) in the water. Coxswains rush to check everyone’s seats. Coaches rush to every cry of “I can’t find *insert lost item*.” About 10 minutes after arrival, all eight STA/NCS boats are on the water. Morning practice usually consists of technical work. We typically fill this practice with drills to hone our rowing form. After a few hours, we dock, wash the boats, fill up the vans, and head back to the hotel.
At about 12:30, we again gather for lunch before loading up again and heading to the boathouse. Mid-day practice is usually the hardest, as this practice is filled with the most work. A typical afternoon practice may consist of 5x5 minute pieces, or 18x1 minute sprints. Again, we head back to the hotel, shower, and relax for a few hours.
At about 4:30, there is usually a large snack, and we head back for one more practice at 5:15. This practice consists usually of long, steady work, like three 10 minute pieces. We dock, tie down our boats, pull out the launches, and head back for dinner.
In the late evening, boats usually meet to discuss strategy or watch film with coaches. At 10 PM rowers are typically back in their rooms, and most go to sleep before 11.
This year, we also had the opportunity to race Plant High School (Tampa) and Capital City Rowing Club (Tallahassee). All STA boats scored big wins, and it was a great way to start off the year. One week after arriving, we flew back to DC.
St. Albans is very fortunate to be able to go on this trip, as it provides us valuable water time when the Potomac is still in awful conditions. This was certainly a successful trip, and STA is primed for a big year.
By Will Nash 20'
Over Spring Break, the NCS and St. Albans Combined Chorale journeyed across the pond to London to perform in the centuries-old cathedrals for which England is famed. This year’s trip was the first trip overseas since Mr. Straub took over as Director of Choral Music from the late Mr. Hutto, and his first trip at the helm was truly a paragon of organization and efficiency, while it also allowed for plenty of time for independent exploration of the city of London.
After a smooth seven and a half hour flight from D.C. to London, all Chorale members regrouped on Saturday morning at Windsor Castle, the longest-occupied palace in Europe, for the first sight-seeing of the trip. There, singers grabbed a quick brunch and then either paid admission to the castle to see the royal State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel or explored the surrounding town of Windsor independently. After a couple of hours, the Chorale regrouped to head back into London to the hotel where they would rest up for a big day of sightseeing the next day,
On Sunday, all rose bright and early to attend Sunday service at Westminster Abbey. There, the Chorale heard the beautiful singing of the world-renowned Choir of Westminster Abbey and saw the tombs of such renowned English figures as Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens. After church, the Chorale boarded buses and received a guided tour of London including Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. The night ended with an early dinner at Princess Diana’s favorite pizza place followed by an evening at Royal Albert Hall to hear the London Philharmonic accompanied by lasers and strobe lights. The outpouring of English patriotism at the end of the performance when the orchestra began playing Rule, Britannia made even the staunchest Yanks such as ourselves yearn to be British
The next day, Monday, singers had the morning to themselves. Many visited London’s famed sights such as the British Museum and the Globe Theater, while others simply went for a stroll on the snow-dusted paths of Kensington Gardens, a block from the hotel. Everyone reconvened at noon to drive out to St. Albans Abbey and Cathedral in Hertfordshire. There, everyone examined wall frescoes dating back from Roman and Norman times. Many also made the pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Alban in the rear of the cathedral, where legend has it the holy relic of his shoulder bone is buried. There, many St. Albans boys dropped down to their knees and prayed the Oath of St. Alban with one another, an experience that many will remember long after they graduate.
Tuesday, the singers again had most of the morning free to explore London. A handful of sophomores went on a arduous quest to dine at Saravana Bhavan, traveling by taxi and London tube. At noon, everyone rendezvoused at St. Paul’s Cathedral for an informal recital in the Nave. After, some of the group ran up the 528 steps to the top of the cathedral to experience an unparalleled view of the river Thames and the surrounding city, an experience that was the highlight of many people’s trips. That evening, the Chorale gave a joint performance in the Our Lady of Victories Church with the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, followed by an archetypal American dinner of hamburgers and french fries.
Wednesday was the last day in London, and the singers woke up early to journey to Ely Cathedral. There, the Chorale was given a brief tour and then went out into the town of Ely to have lunch. After eating, the Chorale gave a concert in the brilliant acoustics of the historic cathedral and then boarded the buses once again to head to Cambridge. There, the Chorale was given a guided walking tour of the beautiful colleges and lawns of the University, and then ate a steak dinner at a local restaurant. The Chorale arrived back at the hotel late at night and promptly went to bed exhausted, feeling they had made the most of their brief stay in London.
Thursday, the Chorale packed up their belongings and boarded the buses, bound for Canterbury Cathedral, another place of much importance for the students of St. Albans. There, all sophomores, juniors and seniors broke into chants of the first 18 lines of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, paying homage to the classic text of English literature all St. Albans students learn in their sophomore English classes. Later in the day, everyone settled into the new hotel in Oxford.
Finally, on Friday, the last day of the trip, the singers had a concert in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford, and then were allowed to explore the university town before dinner. At the farewell dinner, many seniors got up and thanked Mr. Straub, Mr. Bowers, and all the chaperones for their tireless work to make the trip a reality. All in all, the trip was a great cultural and musical experience, and everyone is looking forward to the next overseas trip.
By Lauren Carl 19'
Over Spring Break, the Voyageur team took a trip to the Buffalo River in Arkansas, canoeing a total of 58 miles. We set out early from the Athletic Center, driving all day and spending our first night on the bus in a Walmart parking lot. After picking up some last minute supplies and food for the trip, we finished our drive to the Buffalo River. We picked boat partners (each canoe had two paddlers) and entered the river at Pruitt Landing, beginning the six-day paddle on the river. Throughout the trip, we grew closer as a team and learned how to work most efficiently as a group, allowing us to paddle more and more each day and settle into a routine. An average day consisted of waking up to Coach Velosky kicking our tents while Coach Tucker took over the breakfast station. After breakfast, we packed all of our supplies into water-proof bags, which proved to be much more difficult than it seems, and got on the water for the day. Paddling constantly, we stopped only for lunch or to push our canoes when the water level was low. We got lots of practice working with our boat partners, especially when maneuvering sharp turns; at first, we ran into the sides of the river time and time again, but we quickly became pros of navigation (our apologies to Buffalo River Outfitters for the new tree scratches on their canoes). Throughout the day, we took in the amazing views. The Buffalo River is known for its gorgeous bluffs and diverse wildlife, which was definitely present when we visited, in addition to its crystal clear water. We were never bored on the water, looking constantly at the scenery around us and participating in (off-key) sing-alongs. Once we found our campsites for the day, we would, with very sore arms, unpack and set up our tents, avoiding the spiders that seemed to be everywhere on shore. For dinner, we never went hungry as we learned classic Voyageur backcountry recipes. “Big spoon club,” the title of honor won for eating all the leftovers, was almost always mandatory as all food prepared had to be eaten. After dinner, we would plan for the next day and have fun chatting as a group. At night, we either slept in our tents or were lucky enough on clear nights to sleep out under the stars: a breathtaking, must-do experience of any expedition. Unlike D.C., there is little-to-no light pollution on the Buffalo River, so we were able to see the sky come to life with stars every night.
We all entered the trip excited, yet nervous for the week ahead. We faced legitimate threats such as hypothermia, dangerous weather, and dehydration, and less serious threats such as being separated from our phones and not being able to shower. However, going through this experience together has allowed us to create a unique bond unlike any other. Whether it was the vulnerability of being in the backcountry or seeing each other disconnect from society (some questionable fashion choices were made… crocs for the win), we learned how to function as a group and keep spirits high. Zoé Contreras-Villalta ‘19 said, “it was one of the best weeks of my life being able to disconnect like that and then create a group where we all share a type of connection now that no one else will understand.” Additionally, Olivia Harley ‘19 recalls that “after being stressed for weeks before spring break, getting away from civilization to canoe for a week with my closest friends was just what I needed. Arkansas was the most fun I have ever had outdoors.” We all learned more about ourselves on this trip, and conquered new challenges everyday with the help of our amazing coaches. We also found a unique sense of group humor, consisting of perfectly timed Vine references, self-deprecating jokes, and distressed noises, all of which are quoted in our trip journal. In a very short amount of time, we learned how to be “pro” paddlers and how to make the most of any backcountry trip. Our return to civilization was bittersweet, as we looked forward to showering and reconnecting with our loved ones, but knew that we would be leaving a place we learned to call home. Although our time on the river may have ended, the memories and fun times shared will be remembered always and we can’t wait for the next adventure.
By Simon Palmore 19'
For the first eight days of Spring Break, the entire baseball program traveled to central Florida for another iteration of a decades-old tradition. The varsity and junior varsity teams played a collection of very strong teams, and both improved greatly as a result.
We began the trip in a town called Winter Haven. This was a place complete with off-brand fast food, a menacing Walmart, and George Jenkins High School. Ranked 31st in the nation, Jenkins was a difficult first opponent to play. However, St. Albans kept the Eagles to a close 3-0 victory. The game provided a wonderful introduction to Florida baseball. The 75ºF weather was a welcome change from the cold of DC, and the opposing parents’ yodeling and jeering from the stands during the game quickly reminded us that baseball in Florida is more than a casual hobby.
The next stop was Sebring. Based out of the spacious and comfortable Holiday Inn Express, the Bulldogs played the strong Avon Park Red Devils in a retired minor league stadium—a fun experience for all present. By this time, the team had enjoyed a number of excursions, including a fishing trip near Tampa, a team dinner, and an outing to see Black Panther. However, the majority of the games was yet to come.
The next and final destination in central Florida was Okeechobee (affectionately referred to as “The Chobe”). The St. Albans baseball program has enjoyed Okeechobee for decades, and from this small town we travelled around central and southern Florida. We beat Port St. Lucie High School, lost to American Heritage Delray in a close game, and defeated South Fork High School in extra innings. On the final day of the trip, the Bulldogs played a traditional game against Okeechobee High School, a hallmark of the trip.
Before the game, STA Head Assistant Baseball Coach David Baad (STA ‘83) was honored by the Okeechobee baseball program. In a delightful surprise, the Okeechobee announcer read a thoughtful and appreciative speech to Coach Baad, who played against the team both as a player at STA and as a coach. This year’s game was his last as he is leaving St. Albans to be the Headmaster of the Episcopal School of Dallas. The Okeechobee coaches gifted him a bat signed by the entire program and an Okeechobee baseball cap.
The game itself was an exciting one. It was a good team effort from the Bulldogs, but the Brahmans had the advantage. Senior Sean Osceola led Okeechobee to victory with a homerun (the third of his career against STA) and a powerful pitching performance at the end of the game. There were no hard feelings, though. After the game, the Bulldogs and the Brahmans sat together in the bleachers and enjoyed a barbeque dinner while both teams’ coaches reminisced one last time while Coach Baad was still present. It was a wonderful way to end the trip.
The next morning at 3:30, the red-eyed and sleep-deprived Bulldogs departed for West Palm Beach Airport to head back to DC. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams had faced tough, nationally ranked competition, and the entire program improved and matured along the way.
By Gigi Aiken 19'
This past Wednesday, NCS and STA Track and Field competed in the second meet of the season, against a number of other schools in the area. St. Albans took the win with 158 points, ahead of Sidwell, St Anselm’s Abbey, Field, and Flint Hill. Many runners participated in their events for the first time this season, and many ran new ‘personal records’ (PR).
In the boys’ running events, Kai Ahmadu ‘18 took second place out of 25 in the 100m, running 12.10 seconds. In the 200m, Finn McCarthy ‘19 and Aram Akhavan ‘21 finished third and fifth respectively out of 13 competitors. Jack Kelly ‘19 ran his PR of 54.83 seconds in the 400m to take the win, along with every STA runner breaking their PR or season record in the event. Julian Escoto ‘19 took a win in both 110m and 300m hurdles. Mekhi Love ‘21 finished 2nd in his first time running in the 300m hurdles. In the long-distance events, Mac Johnson ‘19 took a 3rd place finish with a 2:24:34 time in the 800m. Luc Harbers ‘21 took off 6 seconds in the 1600m.
The boys’ throwing events came in strong. STA swept the top 4 in shot put, with William Busching ‘18 coming on top with 37-02.00. Richard Oh ‘18 led discus with a 93-06.
Kai Ahmadu ‘18 broke his PR in the high jump with 5-06.00. Michael Katsock ‘20 broke his PR in the triple jump with a 33-03.00.
In the girls’ sprint group, Arrie Solomon ‘21 and Ingrid Searby ‘21 ran their PR in the 100m. Amanda DeCastro ‘19 finished 4th in the 200m. Tindall Adams ‘18 and Siena Waldman ‘20 finished 3rd and 4th respectively in the 400m relay. Sierra Turner ‘18, Gigi Aiken ‘19 and Ava Dettling-Marefat ‘21 all ran in the 100m hurdles, either earning a season record or personal record. Gigi and Sierra finished 2nd and 3rd in the 300m hurdles as well.
Congrats to the NCS & STA track teams!