Friday, January 22, 2016

Chapel Talk: Truth

One of Peddie's core values - honesty - is described as "devotion to truth." Long-time faculty member and Math department chair Tim Corica discusses what that means for us in a practical sense (and, of course, he throws a bit of mathematics in there too!)

Before I begin, let me lower your expectations.  This talk won’t be as meaningful and brave as Scout’s.  It certainly won’t be as beautiful as Phil’s acapella singing at the Martin Luther King Day chapel.  And it won’t be as simply wonderful and educational as Mr. Middleton’s will be on Monday – as his always are.  But I’ll do my best.

I want to talk today about something simple, but hard.  Essential, but often rare.  Powerful, but often not used by those in power.  I want to talk about Truth.

You’re thinking “Well, that’s quite a topic, Mr. Corica!”  I know, it sounds grand and deep – much grander and deeper than I could ever manage.  The Greek Philosophers wrote thousands of words on the topic, and I have just a few minutes!   What I hope to do is to try to develop a picture of truth by looking at it from different directions, telling a couple of stories, and quoting from three Nobel Prize winners!

First, a story from second grade:  I was pretty much in love with my teacher, Mrs. Short.  She was kind, answered my questions, taught me mathematics – what more could you ask for?   I was in love and I wanted her to think I was special.   One day she told us that she had been to a baseball game the evening before.  I raised my hand and said “I saw you on TV!”  It was a total fabrication – I hadn’t watched the game, and certainly hadn’t seen her. When she questioned me, “Really?” I must tell you my blood ran cold.  To this very day, more than 50 years later, I can still feel my sense of embarrassment, and disappointment in myself.  I had failed the most important test: being truthful.

I don’t think my little lie hurt much (except my pride).  I mean, does a lack of truth ever really hurt anyone? 

You might ask the people of Flint, Michigan that question.  If you have been following the news, you know that for much of the past two years, government officials denied that there was a problem with the drinking water.  During that time, children were exposed to high levels of lead, likely leading to long term injury, including brain damage.  The cause was a terrible decision to take water from the Flint River, to save money.  But at the heart of the problem was a lack of truthfulness on the part of people in government.  The resignations are already starting.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year's Resolution: Stretch just a little bit further

Vincent Dotoli has served as Head of School at Harlem Academy for the past 12 years. He visited Peddie recently to speak to students about his career path, and desribed how our own Rev. Johnson  "reached across barriers" to connect with him and encourage him to explore the world beyond his comfort zone.

Good morning, my name is Vinny Dotoli and until 2001 I had not taken any steps that would land me at this podium.

I grew up in suburban New Jersey and went to prep school.  After college, I went to work with Peddie’s famous Dean, Sandy Tattersall, at a camp in Maine while also starting to teach middle school math.  At that point, I became a reasonably productive do-gooder though still without much of a story to share.

But in 2001, I went to graduate school in New York City and my life took a turn that brings me here today.  Early in my first semester, we had to write a paper about school choice.  One of my classmates knew the rector of a historic Episcopal church in Harlem. This guy had decided that the best way to help his dwindling congregation was to transform a portion of the church into a school.  It seemed a bit crazy to me, but we agreed to write our paper about starting that school.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chapel Talk: Keep an open mind

 English teacher and Crew coach Joe Murtaugh gives us a timely reminder that "It's not where you go, it's what you do when you get there" that makes all the difference.

Not long ago, a sophomore told me it was common knowledge that by the second term of tenth grade, one should have figured out both college major and at least a general career goal. Of course I was dismayed to hear this: this kid already knows where he’s headed, and I’m forty years older than he is and I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

There is a kernel of truth buried in that last line relative to my career trajectory. So please bear with me while I spend a few minutes discussing one of my favorite topics: me.

At the dawn of history, as I was finishing my undergraduate degree in English at the University of Virginia (Go 'hoos!)  I was shocked to discover that employers were not banging down my door with job offers. So I came up with a plan: I cobbled together several part-time jobs to fund what I really wanted to do: volunteer as a coach for the then very small UVA club rowing team.  It seemed like a good idea to me. As you might imagine, my parents were less enthusiastic. I became used to hearing the phrase: “colossal waste of tuition.”  

One of my jobs was substitute teaching in the Charlottesville Public School System. I was initially attracted because they paid twenty dollars a day, which, even for the mid-eighties wasn’t very much money for a day’s work. But I enjoyed it, and I reasoned that if I liked being a substitute, the real thing might be even better. I applied and was accepted to the masters’ program at UVA’s School of Education. A very efficient and motivated student can earn an M.Ed in a little over a year.  It took me somewhat longer, but eventually I completed my student teaching, passed the National Teachers Exam and began interviewing for jobs.  

Friday, December 11, 2015

Here's how we do physics

Senior Conor Donohue is a big fan of his advanced physics class - it's not hard to see why!


What better way to learn and understand Newton's laws of motion than design, build, and race balloon cars? After discovering the best balloon car design in the class from a bracket-style drag racing tournament, we finished the project with an all-out Ben Hur style Baha race. 


After coming back well-rested from Thanksgiving break, we jumped right into a new chapter dealing with circular motion and centrifugal force. But it's Mr Patt's class; we never go small scale. We had the perfect excuse to use a hovercraft and to fling a student across a basketball court... There was nothing to stop us.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Educating through sharing personal experiences

Students in Spanish III Honors and Spanish V had an unexpected visitor - one who is not new to our campus -  in their class recently. 

Edwin Mendoza, who manages Dakota Building Services staff on Peddie's campus, was a guest speaker in today's Spanish III Honors and Spanish V classes. Speaking on the issue of freedom of speech in Guatemala, Mendoza presented to the students in Spanish and shared his personal experiences.

Spanish III Honors students seek to expand their knowledge of grammar and their communicative skills by reading short stories, writing research papers and giving oral presentations. The course is taught entirely in Spanish.

Students in Spanish V further develop their oral and writing skills through experiential learning - discussing classic films, preparing oral presentations, drawing, painting, making small sculptures, and through teaching ESL to Spanish-speaking learners. In Spanish V, students learn to use language as a vehicle to learn about other cultures, try new disciplines or simply to help others.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A fabulous 24 hours!

Headmaster Quinn sent a message to the community following Saturday's big win.

We had a fabulous 24 hours

Monday, November 2, 2015

Chapel Talk: Rollin' Along

Senior David Loughran shares his very personal struggle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and has an important message or two for us all.

Each of us has things that are unique about us. What you probably notice right away is this chair I am stuck in. At the age of six, I was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. DMD is a genetic
disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. The muscles deteriorate because of a lack of dystrophin proteins, which causes the body’s muscles to break down easily. One of my signature stories is of my first and LAST bicycle ride. It was about a year before my diagnosis when my parents decided it was time for me to learn how to ride a bike. It did not go well. I couldn’t gather enough speed in order to keep the bike upright. My mom was screaming “pedal faster, pedal faster!” Trust me when I tell you that there was no pedaling any faster. Let’s just say that after that experience I do not like bikes. Sorry Mr. Clements!

David's distaste for bikes didn't keep him from the Sophomore bike trip!