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!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A conversation with author Hanna Pylvainen

Junior Natalie describes a visit from Hanna Pylvainien, author of We Sinners, a novel that Peddie juniors read over the summer.

The junior class summer reading for AP English this year was We Sinners, a novel by Hanna Pylvainen. We Sinners is broken up into a collection of stories about a family from the Laestadian church. Some of the children struggle to accept their strict religion and turn away from the faith, as Hanna herself did. Last Thursday the juniors had the privilege of meeting with Hanna during DMX, and some students were even able to spend some time with her during class. 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Don't be nervous! A senior reflects on his arrival to Peddie

David , Class of 2016
Day student
Activities: Outdoor Club, Cross Country and Track, Pit Band, Environmental Club, Kayaking, Bird Watching, and hiking.  
Interests: Ecology, Environmental Science, and English.

As I think about the things I am looking forward to most with the start of my senior year, I am reminded that these were the very things that caused a lot of anxiety the summer before I started at Peddie. I was worried about a lot of things. For starters, I was not a very social person. I liked doing things by myself and didn't like expanding beyond my comfort zone. Secondly, I was never a very athletic person nor a theater person so I was worried about fulfilling Peddie's athletic requirement, which is to participate on a fall sports team and either a sports team, training program, or theater production every trimester following for all four years. Lastly, I was worried that wouldn't be able to do well in Peddie's challenging academics. These fears were normal, but my biggest fear was thinking I had made the wrong decision about coming to Peddie.  

Looking back on my anxiety the few weeks before the beginning of school, it seemed like I completely forgot the reason I chose Peddie: the community. Peddie prides itself on its strong community. Peddie isn't just a school or job for the students and teachers, it's a home. Teachers don't just leave at 3p.m. to return to their "home lives." They are coaches, directors, advisors, and dorm supervisors that work well into the night to help students succeed. They live on campus, eat with us, and their children grow up around us. As a result, the teachers here at Peddie have a great dedication to the school and to its students. It's not only the teachers though, the students meet them halfway. We aren't just their students, but their athletes, actors, musicians, and advises. The same effort we put into our academics we put into our athletics and arts. All of this work often leaves us with less free time, and for me that meant less time being outdoors explore nature. However, our teachers make sacrifices too. I can think of countless times when my teachers gave up their time after or before school to help me with essays, studying, and projects. The strong community that Peddie has was the main reason I wanted to come here. However, that idea started to fade as my anxiety grew.  

My first worry was about making friends. When I walked in Annenberg Hall the first day of POCO (Peddie On Campus Orientation) that was the sole thing in my mind. Out of the 120 students in my class I knew two of them. POCO is basically two days of class bonding activities that are designed to break kids out of their comfort zone and meet new people. The activities were silly games, like a giant game of Rock Paper Scissors Shoot, but their purpose was to make everyone laugh and have fun. When you are having fun you rarely become concerned about external things, and friendships kind of happen naturally. After a scavenger hunt, movie night, and dance barriers were broken down and I made new friends. Some of my best friends are the ones I met at POCO.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Mr. Guilbert goes to the World Fair, Part II

I experienced some significant history during my visit to Italy (it's hard not to, really), especially in Venice.  Close to my hotel there were two very ordinary-looking but profoundly moving sites.

The Jewish Ghetto
Arches, Jewish Ghetto, Venice
I was surprised to find that there's a Jewish ghetto in Venice.  I was even more surprised to find that it begins right behind the hotel in Venice where I stayed.

But I guess I shouldn't have been surprised.  Back in high school I learned the Shakespearean lines:

I am a Jew! ... If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?  If you poison us, 
do we not die?  And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Bridge to the Jewish Ghetto
Spoken, of course, by the character Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice.  So, even by Shakespeare's era, the relationship between Venice and its Jews was already complicated, to say the least.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Mr. Guilbert goes to the World Fair, Part I

Mr. Guilbert took a tript to Italy this summer which consisted of three parts. There was, in his words, "...a physics-related part (the videos shown at Expo Milano), a side-trip to Venice just to see it (which ended up being a far more historically fascinating place than I had imagined), and a third city, Trieste, because from there came the inquiry about the physics videos that got me to Italy in the first place." 

Below is a reflection on Part I; more to follow!

Just after the Class of 2015 graduated from Peddie, I received an email out of the blue.

coffee beans in their raw (lighter)
and roasted (darker) states
A staffer at a science museum in Trieste, Italy, was asking my permission to show in public some of the videos on Granular Matter that I had made with Mien "Brabeeba" Wang '14 and Kenny Griffin '14. Granular matter is a large collection of small solid objects, like rice or gravel or sand, and since the staffer's corporate sponsor for the exhibit where the videos were to be shown was a coffee company, the request made sense. I quickly gave my permission, thinking that the videos were going to be shown in something like a local science fair in Trieste.

I could not have been more wrong.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Nicholas Massenburg on riding in Pennsylvania

I think the gods release these winds
As i push up hill.
Like the lost ones i want nothing
But to go back,
But concurrently a feeling of need,
A passion like fire
Keeps pushing the tire that would so easily
Give up.

To my left, fields of what we call nothing.
They stir little emotion
for us,
But reality says different.
These fields glide on the wings of an Ill understood dream.
They make and break peoples lives when they cease to yield.
People we ignore.
People we forget.
These fields make me remember that they're
They make me forget the violence
And broken silence
Of the ways of our established world.
I can breath here and actually smell
Life, stirring without worry.

And so i push on,
Through heaving breaths of the freshest air
Ive ever known.
And my sweat lands in the grass,
Its water providing nutrients for the crop.
And as growth takes host,
I soon become one with the land.

But still,
Through these fields,
I found something more devout than Mennonites
Something more serene than the Amish.
Something deeper than myself.
I found America.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A visit from Nathan Jackson

Cathy Watkin's Art History class got a lesson in traditional Tlingit culture recently when master carver Nathan Jackson stopped in for a visit to discuss his culture and life as an artist. 

Jackson, a native of Kethikan, Alaska and member of the Native American tribe Tlingit, performed a ceremonial dance wearing a hand-woven blanket crafted by his wife. 

The Raven crest on the balnaket represents one of the two major clans, the sockeye salmon is a smaller family within the Raven's group.

From there, Jackson got down to the basics of carving with a demonstration of the main chipping tool called the adze, a curved, razor-sharp instrument.  

A recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship (1995) under President Clinton, Jackson presented a slide show of some of his major totem pole commissions, some made out of a single block of wood 40-feet tall. One curious slide showed a 12-foot cedar totem pole carved for the Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise ship.

In closing, Jackson talked about the uniqueness of being an artist, "I leave art work for people to enjoy. Art becomes something that eventually does not belong to me anymore, but for others to share in my abilities." 

How did this accomplished artist find his way to Peddie? Thanks to Hightstown resident Adam Welch, a member of the town's Arts Council, with the help from Associate Head of School Catherine Rodrique, Welch, a ceramics artist, worked as an assistant to Jackson for nine years in Alaska  and was involved in many large projects including a 23-foot totem pole commission for the Indianer Museum in Zurich, Switzerland. When Welch found out that Jackson's  was coming south to attend his son, Stephen's graduation ( He received his Master of Arts degree from Columbia University), Welch invited Jackson to visit Peddie.