A Letter to the Future Advanced BC Calculus Students

—Jane Dubrova ‘20

Dear Future BC Calc Students,

You are a little masochistic, aren’t you?

Well, if you have already come this far, I’m sure you are going to do fine. Math might not always come easily to most of us, but you’ll be amazed to see what hard work and dedication can do in a short amount of time. Homework deadlines and fear before an upcoming assessment can do even greater wonders. Remember that the prize always awaits you at the end of the journey. In this case, you would be able to brag to your friends that you are now able to write Taylor polynomials. Exciting!

At some point in this course, you might feel stuck and helpless. It might even seem that you are starting to develop anger issues, but don’t worry. It happens to the best of us. I recommend signing up for yoga classes in advance.

In order to succeed in BC Calculus, you have to learn to pay attention in the classroom. Without a solid conceptual understanding, you won’t be able to solve most of the problems, so don’t ignore your teacher and Mr. Sal Khan. Yes, Sal might become your best friend from now on. He and your yoga instructor.

Don’t forget everything you learned in your Pre-Calc or AB Calc class. In case you have been wondering when were you going to use that knowledge, here’s your show time. Also, it might be useful to decide whether you are going to take an AP exam at the beginning of the year and actually start preparing beforehand. I know it sounds crazy, but you have to trust me on this one.

Have fun and enjoy your journey!

P.S. When you get to the topic of Solids of Revolution, remember, I warned you to take Statistics.

Best wishes, Jane

So Long, Class of 2019

—Suha Choi ’22

High school graduation is often a time when a great mix of feelings exists. It is a time of exhaustion, joy, regret, pride, and almost everything in between. As new changes lie ahead, our seniors had countless things to say about their feelings on the topic of graduation and their future journeys: “I’m really excited to move on to bigger and better things, but I am also really sad to leave the people with whom I have made amazing connections. Although I often complained about being here, I am so thankful for everything this place had given me,” said Taylor Yanchuk ’19. In particular, she wished to thank Jocelyn Cote ’22, Ainsley DuBose ’19, Jake Lengel ’19, Ms. Maddock, Ms. Collins, Mr. Corazzini, and many more for making her time at St. Mark’s memorable.


Gift Paekul ’19, a graduating senior from Thailand, also expressed her mixed emotions about the upcoming graduation. She feels both nervous and excited about moving on to college. Gift mentioned that a close-knit community at St. Mark’s was always very welcoming, and she felt as if she got to know everyone, even the people she never had classes with. She also noted that every St. Marker smiled or waved while walking past her in the hallways. Due to all these comforts and greetings from students at St. Mark's, Gift feels that moving into a bigger community will give her a different experience. While she is nervous about this change, she also looks forward to meeting new people and visiting new places at her college.


While the shift from high school to a new place is already a big change for young adults, they often find the change even more difficult because of the many things lost during this change. A few seniors around the campus were asked what they would miss the most about St. Mark’s. Out of the many great things that out school carries, a very popular response to this question was the personal relationships they have built in the community. St. Mark’s is more than just a school with classes; it is a place where people live, discuss, and sleep. Therefore, it is not a very big surprise that the relationships built at St. Mark’s are often very deep and strong. Kennedy Petties ‘19 responded that she would miss the close-knit relationships she had fostered with the faculty members, who had almost become her 'second family.’ Kennedy describes that "it feels really different to go out to the real world where some people may be nice to you for a purpose or in order to get something out of you unlike the faculties here who are nice to you because they simply love you and wish the best for you.” Relationships with peers and classmates are also a very strong aspect of life at St. Mark’s. Leo Xie ’19 expressed gratitude for the friends and connections he made at the school, in particular, with Rwick Sakar ’19 and Luc Cote ’19. They have been exceptional friends to Leo, and he had never felt the need to hide his true feelings from them. He feels that it would be extremely hard to find such a strong personal connection in any other place: “We did not know each other very well at first, but we became closer and closer throughout the course of the four years. I am very grateful for the friends I have made,” Leo added.


As the end of the academic year approaches, the class of 2019 will soon be headed off to different cities, states, and countries. Whether that new journey would happen at a new college, during a gap year, or at a workplace, the St. Marker team wishes each and every one of them the best of luck.


Thoughts and Reflections from 2018-19 Pathways Prefects

—Sam Wang 21’

As St. Mark’s School seeks the best way to support students on campus, in addition to advisors, dorm parents, teachers, and coaches, the school also developed the Pathways program to promote community and equity. Our Pathways program promotes awareness around cultural differences and provides affinity opportunities for students whose social or identity needs do not belong to the mainstream at St. Mark’s. This program is the umbrella under which all student affinity groups are housed. In the 2018-19 academic year, we had 11 affinity groups listed below.  

  • Asian Student Alliance

  • Men are Not Born; They are Made

  • Gender and Sexuality Alliance

  • Southborough Society

  • Christian Fellowship Group

  • J-Team

  • Black Lions Union

  • white.space

  • #OpenlySecular


  • Los Leones


One to three student leaders of each group organize monthly meetings, all-school activities, and Pathways Pizza -- the joint meeting with other groups. They serve as an active support structure for students who do not fit into the dominant culture at St. Mark’s.

Pathway Prefects.jpeg

Pathways Prefects this year were Connor Browder 19’, Jenny Tang 20’, June Seong 19’, and Kennedy Petties 19’. They are the student voice for C&E and the friendly faces to talk to about issues and questions of community and equity at St. Mark's. They host the weekly C&E Minute during school meetings and assist the C&E Director on group-related logistics. As C&E programs made great progress this year -- more pathways activities were designed and more students became involved -- our prefects reflect on their experience and give advice to future pathways leaders:


Jenny Tang 20’:

“I really enjoy being a Pathways Prefect because I love learning about different people and bringing them together. I think it's fascinating how different individuals are in our cultures and backgrounds but also how similar we are in our shared humanity. Also, being an immigrant and straddling the lines between two cultures, the mission of helping people understand our differences to unite communities feels quite personal to me. I think our school's C&E program has come a long way since I have been here. I am very grateful for Ms. Adams’s and Ms. Starry's leadership and mentorship, and I love the progress we made this year in making C&E Day more student-led and engaging a greater part of the school community in Pathways meetings and activities. There are still a lot more to be done, but that's why I look forward to being a Pathways Prefect again next year.”

Connor Browder.jpeg

Connor Browder 19’:

“What makes me really proud is how I worked as a team with other prefects. Being the only boy in the team, I felt a little outcasted at first. I got to know them as I worked with them on different problems in community and equity affairs. We weren’t able to find a compromise among our ideas until I improved my teamwork skills. I believe that all pathways leaders need to learn how to work as a team; you want to make sure you all contribute to your affinity group equally and participate in the pathways meetings. One thing I wish I could have fulfilled is to integrate the males in our school more into the pathways program. The men’s group has done an awesome job this year, and their discussions were truly beneficial to the St.Mark’s community. But I still think the males at our school are just not as involved as most females are. I wish boys in our community would have more passion for promoting community and equity. I wish I facilitated that a little better this year.”


Kennedy Petties 19’:

“Since my freshman year, there is a really big shift in how we view C&E work -- it is no longer something that is painful for people to do. There are more people who truly devote themselves to this, and the whole community becomes more willing to sit down and have hard conversations. Besides C&E Day, cultural fairs, and other events that allow students to freely express their identities, there are now at least 35 student leaders and tons of faculty putting up all the affinity groups and spaces that students work together on issues of intersectionality. I think what makes me really proud is the development of the C&E program at St. Mark’s and the way we look at it. It is no longer hard, it is something that we want. Therefore, I would tell every single pathways leader to do C&E work because they love it. If you are really passionate about C&E, speak up and do something different, and don’t complain but give advice.  If you don’t like the way the affinity group meeting is run, go talk to the head and seek new changes. Do [C&E] because you love it, not because someone requires you.”

Thanks for all the hard work the prefects have done in the past year! They all did an amazing job in promoting St. Mark’s to be a safer and more diverse place. Next year, the new pathways prefects are Jenny Tang 20’, Naila Strong 20’, Felicity Keyzer-Pollard 21’, and Sam Wang 21’. Congratulations to the new prefects and let’s look forward to a better C&E program in the future!

(One of the 2018-19 pathways prefect, June Seong, isn’t involved in the interview part because she left early to Lions Roars in Spain.)

What is Love?

By Samantha Wang 21’

Last month, Rev. Talcott gave a chapel talk to the whole St. Mark’s community about relationships between individuals. Rev. Talcott introduced two ways of how we connect with others: the I-Thou and I-It relationship. These relationship models are proposed by Martin Buber, an Austrian born Jewish philosopher. In the I-Thou encounter, we relate to each other as authentic beings, without judgment, qualification, or objectification. We are open-minded and truthful towards each other, and our authentic heart and mind make this relationship truly valuable. The I-It encounter, however, is the opposite, in which one would treat another person as an object, which completely deviates from our good morals. This kind of profit-driven relationship is usually harmful and transient. The founder of this idea, Martin Buber, once stated that “I believe that the key to creating society that is nourishing, empowering and healing for everyone lies in how we relate to one another.” This displays Buber’s love and hope for humanity and society, where people are bonded together through the I-Thou relationship.

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day. All the high school romance around us—— the love like pure space filled with bright lights, or the bud’s unveiled scent in the early spring—— is so unrequited and desirable. As you are wondering how you could better implement the positive and loving I-Thou relationships in your daily lives with our families, lovers, and friends, the following two models can help you see your love more clearly and rationally. These models introduce two mainstream psychological theories and expand on the composition and mechanism of love from the emotional and physiological perspective.

  1. The Triangular Theory of Love (see picture below)

According to Robert Sternberg, a professor from the Psychology department at Yale University, love consists of three components: passion, intimacy, and commitment. Among these elements, passion is the emotional component of love, which refers to an emotional fascination. This mainly includes deep emotions and sexual desire. Intimacy is the motive of love, referring to the psychological feeling of “like”. It mainly includes the senses of connection, tightness, and love. Commitment is the cognitive component of love that refers to verbal or imaginative expectations. Commitment is also crucial for an individual in whether or not to establish a long-term relationship with another person. The combination of these three components constitutes eight types of love, ranging from Non-Love to Consummate Love.

  • No Love is when intimacy, passion, and commitment are all missing. This relationship might be arbitrary, superficial, and unconstrained.

  • Liking, such as friendship, is a relationship that is mainly intimate but lacks passion and commitment. However, if a friend evoked your passion when you first meet him or her and left you a profound impression, then the relationship between the two of you is transcends “liking”.

  • Infatuation is a relationship that includes mainly passion but lacks intimacy and commitment. For example, many first-love relationships are infatuations.

  • Empty Love is a relationship with commitment to responsibility but lacks intimacy and passion. In this relationship, there is neither warmth nor passion; most of the time, two individuals just live together.

  • Romantic Love is passionate and intimate but lacks commitment. This describes the relationships in which individuals only value relishing the moment.

  • Companionate Love includes intimacy and commitment ut lacks passion. They have a deep emotional attachment, which is warm and interdependent.

  • Fatuous Love is a relationship involving passion and commitment but lacks intimacy. For instance, when two individuals fell in love at first sight, their relationship is often accompanied by a whirlwind of courtship and a lightning-like marriage.

  • Finally, Consummate Love is the most valuable relationship in which passion, commitment, and intimacy are all present.

Passion, intimacy, and commitment together make up love. Without any of these elements, we cannot attain the perfect consummate love. This is like how necessary every point is for establishing a plane; otherwise, this unique plane would collapse easily.

2. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love

In the view presented by Helen Fisher, love is composed of three components that are controlled by interconnected but distinct biological systems, and these components have evolutionary significance.

The first is Lust, or a sexual desire, which is regulated by sex hormones. It motivates people to interact with others and encourages people to reproduce for an eternality of life.

Second, Attraction, which is regulated by dopamine and serotonin, motivates people to form stable relationships with their lover. When we fall in love, our dopamine levels rise, causing excitement and joy. Also, our serotonin levels drop, giving us enough energy to tirelessly love our sweetheart.

The last is Attachment, which is regulated by the neuropeptide oxytocin. This refers to the comfortable and safe feelings that are brought up by long-term relationships. This emotion allows couples to stay together, protect, and support each other for years, which also enables them to take great care of the next generation. The longer the time that two people are attached, the higher their oxytocin levels could be.

Therefore, humans are born with three different physiological systems that have evolved over time, each of which promotes the process of successful reproduction. It also shows that passion, intimacy, and commitment are independent of each other and can change individually. However, the emotional experiences of passion, intimacy, and commitment are clearly related to each other in other love relationships. A typical example is the excitement transfer process, in which an emotional excitement induced by stimuli can be transferred to the object of love. In short, high arousal, or strong feelings, amplifies the emotional response. What’s also interesting is that the effect of arousal on attraction does not depend on the type of arousals—— both positive and negative arousal can enhance attractiveness. Perhaps the effect of high arousal explains why in the movie, male and female protagonists often fall in love after bungee jumping.

Which point of view do you agree with? What are your interpretations of love?

The Triangular Theory of Love

The Triangular Theory of Love

West Campus: First Home Away

By Lina Zhang ‘21


After an exhausting school day, you walk out of the STEM building and head toward the dorms. You cross the street quickly, waving at the friends you meet along the way. Parts of the lake are already covered by floating ice, so you walk briskly, not wanting to stay in the cold for too long. The five-minute walk draws to an end as the red bricks of Maple-Elm come into view. “West is Best”, the bulletin board across the Ritz proudly proclaims.

Built in the early 1980s, West Campus has taken on many roles since its construction.  Originally one of the first girl’s dormitories, it now contains the welcoming dorms for all new students. Though no solid decision has been reached about West Campus’ future  since Dr. Warren’s announcement last spring, having new dorms away West will be a big change for both the school and students. Despite, and sometimes because of the long and sometimes cold walk to Main Building, many students have actually become quite attached to West Campus.

“I became a prefect on West as a way to give back. In my freshman year, it was very important to have a system of support with prefects, so when I became a prefect, it was a way to offer support all the time,” says Laura Sabino, one of the prefects in Pine-Oak. As the annual recipient of new students, West Campus has become a secure place for them to adjust to life at St. Mark’s. Because they are surrounded by students who can be just as lost and confused, it is easier for new students to come out of their comfort zone. “Most people here are new too, so that helps with adjusting a lot,” says Grace Li, a new fourth former living in Elm.

Dr. Harwood, the former house head of Elm, also speaks of West with clear fondness. “There was so much snow my first winter here. The students would have snowball fights, throw each other into snow banks,” she laughs. House head from 2012-2016, she recalls activities that the house used to do together, such as Halloween parties, spooky stories, and simple things like riding bikes and climbing trees. Even now, dormitories still hold activities that facilitate bonding among students. Brownies, in particular, have lured more than one frantically working Elm student into the Ritz for a short break. These memories of first friendships and life away from home lend West sentimental value as a place to be fondly remembered.

Since its construction, West Campus has grown on the St. Marker’s. From the three small dormitories that Alys Scott, one of the first female students to attend St. Mark’s lived in, West Campus has grown and expanded with the school. Since we may have to bid farewell to these six buildings in a few years, it is all the more important to appreciate them and the memories they contain. West is not only a long, infuriating walk; it is also the place where we find our first homes away from home at St. Mark’s.


"What do we eat?" : Problems at the Panini Station

by Katie Park ‘21

When I am dismissed from class around 12:20, I rush down the stairs to get in line for lunch. However, on days when I do not have much luck, I get there a little late and the line starting from the Main Dining Hall has already passed the Small Dining Hall. In this case, I swiftly run to the Small Dining Hall and grab a panini. Since I am more of a person who would rather have a panini than wait in line, I grabbed paninis for about one-third of my lunches last year. Also, I liked having a panini for lunch because there were various fillings that I could put on it.

This year, however, I am having a slightly different experience with the panini bar.

The Small Dining Hall went through renovations over the summer that changed the arrangement. The panini press is no longer on the side that leads to the Hinkle Room. Last year, it was harder for people to sit on the table right in front of the panini press due to the line that stretched to the table. In order to fix this problem, FLIK decided to place the panini press right next to the panini bar, which gives more space for the people in line and for people to sit at the table right in front of Hinkle Room. However, there are downsides to the new position of the panini bar. There are not as many meat and cheese options as last year. One day during lunch, there was only lettuce, tomatoes, egg salad, and only two types of cold cuts (ham and cheese). I could still make a panini out of these options, but it was definitely more limited than last year, when there was ham, turkey, and chicken for the meat options and at least two different types of cheese.

The Main Dining Hall also went through some changes. There used to be two salad bars, but Flik got rid of the second one and replaced it with a smaller toppings bar. This definitely provided more room in the Main Dining Hall. However, since the dressings are only in the first salad bar, as opposed to last year when there were dressings on both, some people had to go back to the first salad bar after getting the toppings from the next bar. Furthermore, a new suggestion is that since there is more room than last year, it would be better if the first salad bar and the toppings bar are pushed more toward the Small Dining Hall since the line waiting for the salad bar and the line to bus plates often clash.

We appreciate all the effort Flik puts into changing the setup of the dining hall. However, it always takes trial and error to reach excellence, and this process is no different.

Traditional to Technical: More Classes incorporate Online Learning

by Luke Lee ‘20

Recently, I have noticed an interesting trend among courses at St. Mark’s: teachers are offering more paper materials and course content online. Sure, there are times where I solve questions on paper, but those occasions are very few. In the past, I would only use my computer while writing my English or History paper. For subjects like math, science, and language, I had to do almost all of my work on paper. But now, I need my computer for all of my classes. Instead of giving out worksheets or problems on the textbook, my math teacher posts a link on Canvas that directs me to the homework. For chemistry, students conduct labs online instead of actual labs using the Atomsmith Classroom, a computer simulation program. And instead of writing down our responses on the lab sheet, we submit our responses on a website called GoFormative. Sometimes, I question if carrying a backpack to school is necessary; it seems these days all I need is my computer.

There are definitely advantages to having more materials online. For one, students don’t have to carry giant textbooks to school everyday. Online materials are not only beneficial to the students, but also to Mother Earth. By working online, both students and faculty use paper much less. This reflects St. Mark’s sustainability statement, which ensures that the school “actively fosters environmental stewardship.” Why bother printing worksheets and handing it to students? Teachers can tell their students to check on Canvas.

Online tools are usually easy to use, but that is not always the case. Often, these programs don’t work. Take, for example, my Advanced Statistics and Chemistry class. During our statistics class, Mr. Lester asked us to install R Studio, an open source data analysis software. It took almost the entire 45 minute block for us to install the software because some of us weren’t able to download it. Yet, the features of the software are also available on our calculator, and the software has only been used for two classes. During our chemistry class, we had to download the Atomsmith Classroom for computer simulations of gas molecules. However, two students weren’t able to install the program on their own, so they wasted a lot of class time trying to make it work. The next day, Dr. Smith-Nichols instructed us to record our responses on GoFormative. But unfortunately, most students weren’t able to do their work in class because the website was down. Few students had their pages open from last night, so they were able to submit the response.

A few weeks into the beginning of the year, I was curious if students’ opinion of online resources have changed so I sent out a survey to my statistics class to see what their thoughts were on the online tools. According to the survey, 80% of the class were fine with the online materials, while 20% of them preferred offline materials. And when my classmates were asked how comfortable they were with R Studio and online homework on a scale of 1 to 5, most students gave 3’s or 4’s, which shows that they are pretty comfortable with the online materials. Although online resources are generally accepted by students, there are still rooms for improvements.

Transition Time: Reflections on Being a New St. Marker

by Cathy Zhou ‘21

It is never easy to transition into a new environment. St. Mark’s is a place as welcoming and supporting as it could be, there are definitely surprises as well as discomforts for new students. For third formers, high school could be a novel but stressful experience and as for new students coming as upperformers, a new school could be hard to fit in.

Gift Wichayamas, new IV Former

Q: How do you feel as a new senior?

A: Everything is new and a rush. I feel like I am a freshman most of the time except

when they call sixth former and faculty to leave first. There are so many things to learn: the American culture, the college application process, names to remember, and of course, my English is to be improved. The fact that everyone already knows each other for at least two years make me feel awkward joining a conversation sometimes.

Q: What's your favorite thing about St. Mark's?

A: I have two favorite things here so far. My first one is the schedule here. In Thailand,

I had eight blocks every weekday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m, so having 6 classes and a free block at St. Mark’s is way better. However, the homework load here still hits me hard. Also, I love how supportive people are here at St. Mark’s. When people say “hi” or smile back at me, it lights up my day.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the school year?

A: I am looking forward to meeting new people, trying to speak up more, and getting into college. I also want to go watch games and join more activities. Generally, I want to do anything

that would make my first and last year here memorable!

Skylar Davis, new V Former

Q: How do you feel as a new junior?

A: Being a new fifth former is honestly a lot easier than I thought it would be. I was kind of worried, since two years of high school have already passed and there are only two year left, but everyone is really nice and inviting!

Q: What's your favorite thing about St. Mark's?

A: I really love the general environment, but especially the community. It is a very tight-knit community and I like the communal aspect rather than a more traditional school setting.

Q: What's your favorite dining hall food so far?

A: I love the sprinkle cookies! They're not sugary to the point of overpowering, but the sprinkles add the best touch.

Q: What are you looking forward to in the school year?

A: I'm really excited for neon, especially since people kept talking about it (haha), and Groton night!

Q: How do you feel about the orientation?

A: Orientation was absolutely exhausting, but it was also really great for a lot of reasons. I got lost so often during orientation that I've barely gotten lost during the school year! (I wish I was joking...) I also got to meet a lot of really cool people during orientation, outside of the stress of the classroom.

Lina Zhang, new IV Former

Several days ago, an old friend asked me how life was at my new school. Looking at her question, I had to pause and think for a bit. As a new sophomore, one of the first things that hit me as I walked in was the sheer size of the school. Driving up to the front circle, the expanse of the football and soccer fields had me wide-eyed and nervous. Walking through the buildings by the side of a student leader, I remember thinking that I would never find my way anywhere. Standing in line with my parents, I saw my peers for the first time. Some were calm, smiling easily as they received their orientation packets, striking up conversation with the person next to them; others glanced around with wary eyes, as scared as I was at the time. But with these two weeks, the initial fear and awe I held for St. Mark’s has transformed into something of fond annoyance. True, speed-walking from the dining hall to third floor STEM in five minutes is challenging, I still stop and ask for directions to the PFAC (until realising it was an entire building), and the location of the dorms in the Main Building remains a mystery.

I told her, life’s good, still hanging on; the people here are crazy—crazy nice, yes, but also plain crazy. From the blindfolding activity outside Ms. McBride’s window, to the random outbursts of songs in my Spanish class, life in general is always hectic and filled with surprise. Not usually a social person, I am continuously astonished by the amount of friends that I have made here, and how different they can be, while still being kind and truthful. I do not boast to know every single quirk of St. Mark’s, or to even have any idea of what midterm and final weeks must be like, but the campus is no longer overbearing or spacious. I look to the coming year with excitement.

Arden Williams, new III Former

Q: How do you feel about the orientation?

A: Orientation was very long.

Q: What's your favorite thing about St. Mark's?

A: Being a boarding student!

Michael Fisher, new III Former

Q: What's your favorite dining hall food so far?

A: The sandwiches.

Q: How do you feel as a new student?

A: I feel anxious as a new student.

Day of Silence

by Jenny Tang ’20

When I go to school, I step out of Boston’s Logan Airport. When I go back home, I land at the San Francisco International Airport.

Splitting my time near two of the most liberal cities in two of the most liberal states, one can say that I live a sheltered life: I have confronted overt homophobia neither in my school or home community. I have a voice. And when the immediate environment is so accepting, it is easy to forget that the reality can be otherwise.

But reality can be otherwise. It is otherwise in countless parts of the world, numerous states in this country, and even right under my nose. Individuals there do not have a voice. 74 countries outlaw homosexual activities; 30 states allow employment discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity. These are merely the legalities. Many more people see being LGBTQ+ as a spreading sickness to be cured.

My impression of acceptance by my entire local community was eventually shattered. Some parents in my old middle school have a group chat which my mom joined. One day last year, she sent me an excerpt of their chat history—a parent was appalled by how the school’s sex-ed teachers told the students that being LGBTQ+ is normal. This comment was joined later by many others who affirmed that the school is converting their children into mentally-illed. One parent came to LGBTQ+’s defense, but after the opposition drowned her reply in insults, she never commented again.


Though I still believe that rejection is in the minority in my local community, this event disillusioned me. It reminded me that, sometimes, the world is otherwise. Individuals there do not have a voice.

I guess that’s what the Day of Silence means to me. Our silence throughout the day resonated with the silence of the LGBTQ+ community in countless parts of the world and reminded us of the work yet to be done. Trapped in a liberal bubble like St. Mark’s where one can take the acceptance for granted, we do need reminders like this.

Voices. But sometimes, silence is so much louder.

The Importance of Discourse

by Matt Walsh ’19

Forgive me for the cliché, but at St. Mark’s, we live in quite the bubble.

Throughout most of its history, St. Mark’s has been a haven for the privileged, moneyed elite. Despite the school’s noble effort to diversify and its increasing commitment to promoting equity and inclusion, St. Mark’s will remain a bastion of privilege. It’s an unavoidable reality for most boarding schools.

The school’s high concentration of privilege has given us a blanket under which we can hide from the issues that plague the real world. Moreover, St. Mark’s, and almost every boarding school, suffers from an extremely short memory—a memory short enough to cause students to forget about an event like the Las Vegas shooting within a couple of days.

Political discourse exists at St. Mark’s—I have found many opportunities to talk politics with a wide range of people—but this discourse often occurs within the context of the school community. While the conflict in Israel, for example, may occupy students’ minds for a few days, nothing incites student discourse more than political events within the school. Community and Equity Day, for example, yielded far more political discussions than did the airstrike Donald Trump sent to Syria in April. In the same way, the walkout on Friday, April 20 fomented far more discourse about gun violence than any mass shooting that occurred in the school year did.

In an era where information is so easily accessible, there is no excuse to remain oblivious. Ordinary citizens now have the ability to help cure social ills and inequities. Some would argue that ordinary citizens have the ability and therefore the obligation to help solve the problems of the 21st century. Endowed with privileges and awareness of the social ills that grip our world, St. Markers can help too. And civil discourse remains the cornerstone to solving the world’s problems—after all, the Civil Rights Movement only succeeded because Martin Luther King and other nonviolent demonstrators inspired conversation in northern cities.

The walkout served a variety of purposes. First, we wanted to honor the seventeen lives that were lost in Parkland. Furthermore, we wanted to promote civil discourse and legitimize student demonstrations. Throughout history, older generations have viewed student protests as illegitimate, naive and misguided, and the nasty ad hominem attacks against the Parkland students served as evidence. Thus, we wanted to embolden students to become more involved in political demonstrations and understand that their calls for change are legitimate. In this spirit, we printed voter pre-registration forms and provided the students the opportunity to pre-register to vote.

Gun violence is a uniquely American epidemic. No other country in the developed world has such a high gun homicide rate. Communicating that gun violence, objectively, is an issue in the United States was the first step in advertising the walkout. Moreover, we stressed that the walkout lacked a political agenda. The goal of the walkout was to encourage student civil disobedience, and Rwick and I understood that giving the walkout a political bent would deter many students from participating.

The moderated discussion, however, allowed for students to voice specific solutions to the gun violence epidemic. While some proposed stricter background checks and bans on particular weapons, others called for the use of armed guards to defend schools and other public places against shooters.

Gun violence is not an issue that directly affects St. Mark’s School. While specific students may have particular experiences with gun violence—and many shared these experiences during the walkout—the threat of a shooting does not loom over St. Mark’s. Thus, discussions directly after the Parkland shooting, while not nonexistent, were somewhat sparse. But by making gun violence a relevant topic within the school community, the walkout encouraged more political discourse. The success of the walkout demonstrates that the best way to get students involved in political causes is to make the cause relevant to them.

What is Love?

by June Seong '19


February is an opportune month to talk about an essential topic philosophers have toiled over for millennia: love. A Christian celebration of Saint Valentinus but more traditionally a celebration of romantic love, Valentines stands as a day that celebrates a momentous driving human force. From Plato’s recognition that love is a desire for something that reminds us of a perfect world that transcends human capabilities of imagination to Alain Badiou’s assertion that love must be a series of untainted experiences from the corruption of reality, the postulations over love have landed man’s greatest thinkers on paths that extend wide and far.

Though the conclusions, or attempts at reaching one, stretch extensively, all philosophizing about love started from asking the same simple question: What is love?

For starters, the term philosophy roots out of the Greek word philosophia, meaning philo- “loving” and sophia “wisdom.” Compositely, then, philosophy means the love of wisdom. The philosopher’s job, thus, is based on this essential human pursuit. When asked what he has to say about love, Jacques Derrida responded that love was how “philosophy started.”

Starting from the very beginnings of the philosophical explorations on love in Western culture, we land on Plato’s concept of eros. He spoke of eros as constituting an “intense desire.” In his Symposium, he stated that eros roots from our observation of a beauty that, in reality, is a reflection of the “true” beauty that only exists in the world of Ideal Forms. One experiences eros for another person when observing in them a quality that is admittedly imperfect but resembles a perfect quality that transcends the human condition.

When this notion is further observed, one realizes that it is simultaneously reassuring but controversial. Love, unlike a romantic’s idea, is not the complete and utter “desire” for another’s every quality; rather, it is a “desire” for a series of imperfect qualities that, though not summating to be the entirety of the individual being loved, are exactly what warrant the attraction.

Socratic eros sheds light on the need to realize the particular nature of human satisfaction. This nature is not only one that is wholeheartedly based on the realization of imperfection, but also a mirroring of a perfect world. This parallel warrants the acceptance and friendship that comes with love. If self-care is synonymous with self-love, a comparison that I will later further examine, then to love—to care for oneself—is to recognize the fundamental inability of humans to reach perfection and to revel in it. The “desire” for the self would thus arise from a recognition of the qualities that stand attractive to that individual.


Another exploration of love roots out of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, in which he meditates on the idea of philia, a fondness, and appreciation for one other. Aristotle, unlike Socrates, admitted that there are different levels of love. However, he suggested that the best kind of love would be produced by the best of men. In reasoning for what a “good man” was, he set his first tenant in achieving philia: self-love. He argued that without the ego, love could not extend to the other.

Marrying these two ideas of love together it becomes evident that the Ancient Greek conception of love came out of the recognition of an imperfect self. With love, it becomes pivotal to recognize that not only is the self-imperfect, but also all that surrounds us. The imperfection does not warrant diminution or criticism, however. Rather, it reminds us of the Ideal Forms—a world of perfection that transcends our own existence. These thoughts prove to be wholly reassuring.

Alain Badiou, a 20th century French ontologist, determines love as an irreducible, axiomatic, and self-evident function. It demands no more worldly intrusion from the “primary event,” especially not an intellectual one. He believes that love is remaining true to the initial experience of the fall of love. Because often the first encounter of two lovers is “contingent” and thus “disconcerting,” this surprise alone can act as an inspiration of kindling the relationship between them.

Further diving into this idea of the “fall” of love, Slavoj Zizek diagnoses the modern fear of authentic love as symptomatic of a generation of escapists. In a BigThink podcast, Zizek gesticulates over how the millennial's fear of “contingent encounters” is a regression into pre-modern, pre-romantic practices of arranged marriages. Arranged marriages allowed for all the practicalities of love—child rearing, building family connections—without the fall—heartbreak, butterflies-in-stomach, death. Zizek states that this is sad to him; these “contingent encounters” have acted as the fundamental motifs of the art of the Romantics, think of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther or John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. The haphazard dating scene is obscene to him, resolutely, as it stands as the end of an era of great human progress and the start of an onslaught inconsequential encounters. Just as we demand “sugar without calories” in stevia, “beer without alcohol,” and “coffee without the caffeine,” we demand love without the fall.

Our exploration of love leaves us less resolute on what love is. Though there have been a slew of thinkers having thought about the nature of this topic, a consensus has barely been made in small enclaves of agreeable philosophers. Though this end seems unsatisfactory, it becomes evident through looking a step further into the nature of thought that conclusions about love are next to impossible to come to.


SM Discipline Process Explained

by Justin Zhang '19

The St. Mark’s disciplinary process is rarely discussed amongst the student body. Students are reminded of the Student Discipline Committee and its disciplinary responses announced in school meetings. Nevertheless, many discipline violations do not result in the typical SDC that students are familiar with. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the discipline process, including different levels of offenses and discipline responses to those offenses.

At St. Mark’s, school rules are established under core values of community living: respect, safety and honesty. Students and parents are required to sign a document confirming their understanding of community policies before the beginning of each school year. Many school rules surround these three tenets of community living.

Breaches of school rules are separated into three levels in terms of the severity and nature of those offenses. A violation of minor school rules including “casual lying, disobedience of faculty instructions, use of tobacco products, gambling for money, unauthorized use of heat-producing appliances (Coffee makers, rice cookers, water kettle, etc.), and unauthorized possession of prescription medicine” is considered a Level III offense and makes a student liable for Dean’s Warning. Dean’s Warning serves as a notification for students that another violation of minor school rules might lead to sitting before the SDC. It is important to note that, as stated by the Student Handbook, a second Level III offense violation by a student within one academic year is considered a Level II offense, in other words, a violation of major school rules. “Deliberate lying of a single offense, knowingly being in presence of marijuana, drug paraphernalia or alcohol, tampering with school property, being off campus without permission, unauthorized visitation, unauthorized use of vehicles, and academic dishonesty” are all violations of major school rules and are considered Level II offenses. A student who has a Level II offense is most likely to be placed on Dean’s Final Warning, meaning that a subsequent offense of major school rules to occur while the student is placed on Dean’s Final Warning will automatically result in an SDC hearing. However, students with Level II offenses may also be brought before the SDC as all Level II offenses leave students liable for suspension. A Level I offense is the most severe breach of major school rules and will make the responsible student liable for dismissal. Level I offenses include blatantly rude behavior toward other members of the community, vandalism, possession of firearms, bullying in any form, possession or knowingly being in presence of illegal drugs, distribution of drugs or alcohol, and repeated academic dishonesty. According to the Student Handbook, “a second violation of a Level I or Level II at any time during a student’s St. Mark’s career” and “any Level II offense compounded by lying about that offense.” are all considered a Level I offense.

Students who violate major school rules (Level I and II offenses) will almost certainly be brought before the SDC. However, the decision on whether to hold a SDC hearing is made by the Dean of Students, or the Dean of Academics, and the Head of School by first determining the nature of the violation. Once a SDC is deemed appropriate, both the responsible student and the faculty member that reported the violation will write statements to the SDC concerning the event. During the SDC meeting, the committee will hear an account from the responsible student, a statement made by the student’s advisor on behalf of the student and from a peer character witness who also speaks on the student’s behalf. The entire process is completely confidential and only open to those present in the meeting. The SDC then examines the situation and recommends an appropriate response to the Head of School. Each SDC member is allowed to have individual opinions on the penalty, however, the Head of School will make the final decision. Students who are suspended will be sent home for four academic days. Students who are dismissed will have to leave campus as soon as possible and not allowed back on campus without specific permission from the School.

In terms of the disciplinary process’ influence on the college application process, the College Counselling Office must notify colleges on expulsion or withdrawal of a student in their sixth form year, as well as any suspension during their St. Mark’s career. If a student is suspended after college applications are submitted, that student is required to write a letter to colleges informing them of the disciplinary infraction. In short, expulsion and suspension are the only disciplinary responses that are reported to colleges.

It is important to keep in mind that there are resources available for students to avoid such disciplinary responses in the face of school rule violations, such as FASTeam and sanctuary. FASTeam is a tool for those who are concerned about other students in the community to prevent that student from getting into any disciplinary trouble while also providing that student with the appropriate help they need through counseling. Sanctuary, on the other hand, applies when a student’s health is at risk while using drugs or alcohol on campus. “Students brought to Health Services under Sanctuary conditions will not come before the Student Discipline Committee, they will be held accountable for their behavior through meetings with the School Counselor.”


Community and Equity Day 2018: “Is this homophobic?”

by Lora Xie '20


“You overheard two people talking in the locker room about how accurate their ‘gaydar' is. Is this homophobic?" the student leader asked. Small groups began discussing among themselves. When the time came for them to share their respective conclusions - red card for “definitely problematic,” yellow for “borderline problematic,” and green for “not problematic” - different groups showed everything from green to red to a combination of two colors that signals somewhere in between. My group raised a green card without hesitation. Looking around me, I was surprised at the great diversity of opinions. How could anyone regard this situation homophobic? Isn’t that a little over-sensitive? Confusion rose in my heart. Fortunately, the all-group discussion that followed shed light on our divergence. First of all, it turned out that we had different definitions of homophobia. While the groups that gave out green passes defined homophobia as dislike or fear of homosexual people, other groups that showed yellow and red cards included prejudices against homosexual people as a qualifier for homophobia. In this regard, we agreed that the concept of “gaydar” was largely, if not completely, based on stereotypes. Another discrepancy was derived from our different understanding of the scenario. The groups that showed red card pointed out that the two individuals were essentially outing people by boasting about their “gaydar,” thus being disrespectful and potentially harmful. The other groups, however, did not deem privacy as an issue because they reasoned that the two could only talk about the “accuracy” of their speculation if it was confirmed -  – if the subject of discussion had come out him/herself. Whether this conversation is rude and/or malicious depends on where the “evidence” for the sexuality of the subjects come from - they themselves, eyewitnesses, or rumors. These pieces of information were not provided to us. In the end, after getting some definitions and conditions on the same page, it turned out that we held strikingly similar core beliefs: respect and equality are desirable, and stereotypes and discrimination are toxic.

At first glance of the varying colors of our cards, we seemed so different from and contradictory to one another! Without the discussions that followed, we could have easily dismissed those with different opinions as nonsensical or morally corrupt, when in fact our divergence stemmed from reasonably different understanding of the terminology and the scenario.  


This activity, like many others on the C&E Day, reflects real-life situations. We seldom have all the information we need to make a comprehensive, definitive judgment. We are all blind men groping about a giant elephant called life, which is far too complex for any individual human mind to apprehend. The different images we have acquired from our limited experience are further blurred by the inherent ambiguity of natural languages in communication. Because of the limit of human experience and communication, it is critical that we refrain from putting labels on people and actively seek understanding. Before accusing and condemning one another, we should ask “what do you mean by that?” and “why do you think so?” Maybe we will be surprised by how fundamentally similar we all are deep inside.

President Trump Shocks the World Again

by Luke Lee '21


Last month, President Trump explicitly displayed his hatred towards the Muslim community when he retweeted three inflammatory videos containing anti-Muslim content. The videos first posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right, ultra-nationalist group. As there have been tragic losses from terrorism in Great Britain, the organization made an irresponsible decision to upload videos of deported Muslims assaulting people and even smashing a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Not surprisingly, sharing these highly offensive and derogatory videos caused fury in Britain, America’s greatest ally. A spokesperson for Theresa May, the prime minister of United Kingdom, made clear that it was “wrong” for Trump to share those videos. To the world, this thoughtless action brought confusion and irritation, especially to those of the Muslim population.

Receiving heavy criticism from America’s biggest ally, it might have been hoped that the  President had learned his lesson and would recognize the heavy responsibility that follows every single action he takes as the President of the United States. Yet, once more, he stunned the world and elevated the tensions between the Muslims and America through the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the following decision to build a new embassy in the city, a bold move in U.S. foreign policies.

Furious about his proclamation, some Palestinians began rioting in the streets. In accordance with ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Jerusalem should be shared by both Israel and Palestine. Therefore, both states have the right to claim part of the city as their own land. Not only did Trump’s announcement anger the Palestinians, but this decision annoyed its Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia, since they opposed this idea before he took action.

The recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a terrible mistake since it brings more harm than good. A prominent Palestinian exiled politician, Mohammed Dahlan, called the decision a 'historic mistake'  on Twitter, claiming that it undermines  'the principle of inviolability of the status of Jerusalem.' The president has escalated the conflicts in the Middle East, lessening the chance of peace and increasing the likelihood of terrorism. It also presents a negative image of the U.S. to  Arab countries, contradicting America’s past claim to be a fair mediator between Israel and Palestine.

Reactions to Sexual Assault in Society

by Lauren Menjivar '18


Harvey Weinstein. Matt Lauer. Kevin Spacey. Al Franken. These are some of the names of high-profile men who have recently been accused of sexual assault and have lost their power in their respective workplaces. In the past few months, news media have reported on multiple allegations of sexual assault in the United States by men who held significant power as actors, producers, journalists, and politicians. Most people are surprised by the sudden rise of allegations, but honestly, it should not shock anyone. Sexual assault has existed for centuries, but it is only now that brave men and women are speaking up about their experiences and raising awareness of the dangerous society we live in, especially for young, vulnerable people who do not have power.

Some may question why women and men do not speak up after an assault has occurred, but it is not as easy as one may think. The current culture we live in obstructs us from speaking up without being slandered by others. Common statements that people may say are: “You should have been more careful.” or “What were you thinking going there/wearing that?” These questions can sometimes be unintentional, but it is indirectly putting the blame on the victim. Affected by these statements, victims remain silent often out of fear of speaking up about the incident and are left feeling ashamed. Recently, when actor Pamela Anderson went on Megyn Kelly Today, she remarked that the women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault could have prevented it. These kinds of statements shut the victim down, leave the perpetrator of the assault unpunished, and permit him or her to continue his or her behavior.

There is no doubt that these men have taken advantage of vulnerable people who were below them in power, but they are only a few of many perpetrators that exist in the world. This is only the beginning of justice for victims of sexual assault. Fortunately, people who work with them have taken action to address the incidents. Harvey Weinstein was fired from the Academy of Motion and Picture Arts and Sciences and from the Weinstein company, while Matt Lauer was fired from NBC.

On a recent 60 minutes with U.S. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, she asked, “Why are we looking at why didn’t the girls speak up? Why not look at what about the culture? What did [the culture] do to manipulate these girls so much that they are so afraid to speak up?” If people were not blaming the victims for the incidents and actually tried to help them cope with it, then it would be easier for women and men to speak up, and sexual assaults would occur less often.

Sexual assault occurs frequently much to people’s dismay. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 women reported that they have been raped whereas 1 in 71 men reported they have been raped. Also, “Among female rape victims, perpetrators were reported to be intimate partners (51.1%), family members (12.5%), acquaintances (40.8%) and strangers (13.8%)” (CDC).

AT this particular moment in time, there is definitely a cultural shift in how we are reacting to sexual assault. We are condemning it more than before, but there is more to do on reporting sexual abuse to become “normal”. No more victim-blaming and less leniency in punishments for perpetrators. It is important that we educate young people on sexual abuse and remind them that if they become a victim, it is not their fault. Sexual assault is a type of violence against another human being and there is no “real” way to prevent it. What we can do is say that the behavior is intolerable and people like Weinstein, Spacey or any person can no longer not abuse the power they have acquired. Young people are able to change the current culture; they should encourage victims to speak up and provide solutions for these issues. Society would be safer for the men and women at the end.






The Gray Area: We Need Storytellers

by Kaela Dunne '18


Co-curricular is a treasured time among our students. It’s 45 minutes to nap, hang out with friends or get ahead on homework. Except when there are all-school events such as Gray Colloquium. As a member of the Gray Colloquium Committee, I’m expected to enjoy Gray Colloquium but that has not always been the truth. In fact, I joined the committee because of how much I disliked Gray Colloquium. Of course, I try to convince myself that it’s actually a really unique opportunity, which, if used well, can bring so much to our students. When I give tours I always describe Gray Colloquium as a chance for St. Markers to break out of the ‘boarding school bubble’ and see diversity amongst a common theme. In theory, I think that sounds pretty cool, but next thing I know I’m sitting in the PFAC trying not to zone out. Sure, I don’t love when my 40 minutes of free time are encroached upon, but I especially don’t like it when I’m bored the whole time. Some of the speakers we’ve hosted have had such important things to share with us, but not all of them know their audience. We’re exhausted high school students, and the number one priority should be to keep us awake. That’s the only way we’ll hear the message, no matter how important it is. In my opinion, this year’s speakers have been the best in my four years here. Dr. Loewen’s talk was aimed at high school students, both in content and in the fact he wasn’t afraid to wake people up. Alexis Jones was even more engaging as a speaker. She used the whole space - not just the stage - to her advantage, and she encouraged audience participation. Part of her brand is that she’s a storyteller, and that was evident to the audience. I think what Gray Colloquium needs is storytellers - not just experts in their field, but people who can engage 350 students in a hall. At the end of the day, the message is only as well received as the speaker itself. It has been nice to be genuinely excited about the Gray Colloquium speakers this Fall, and I hope that the pattern continues into the rest of the year. After all, if we can showcase a year’s worth of engaging speakers, students might not miss their forty minute nap quite so much.

Current Events: Biggest Number Of Women Candidates In The Election Ever!

by Luke Lee '20

When Mr. Trump became president, most women were definitely not happy about it. Here’s why.

During his campaign, President Trump made so many disrespectful comments about women, causing people to wonder if he was serious or not. The most famous of those comments is when he verbally attacked Megyn Kelly by saying “blood coming from her wherever,” referring to a period.  Unfortunately, Megyn is not the only female victim attacked by Trump. He has mentioned that Gail Collins, New York Times columnist, had a “face of a dog.” He would go on by calling breastfeeding women “disgusting,” disdaining all the moms in the country.

Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise for Americans to see Trump not being passionate when talking about issues concerning women’s rights as when he was criticizing China for taking away jobs from American workers. These are his thoughts about women’s rights.

When asked about paid family leave: “I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it.”

When asked about equal pay: “When you have to categorize men and women into a particular group and a particular pay scale, it gets very — because people do different jobs.”

So when he was elected, many women felt compelled to do something about these issues. As a result, many brave women across the nation were inspired to run for public office. And the numbers speak for themselves.

More than 19,000 women have contacted Emily’s List (organization helping “pro-Democratic” female candidates);

43 women are running for seats in Virginia House of Delegates to represent Democratic Party of the 43, 23 women are running in public election for the FIRST TIME. EVER;

There is a 60% increase in women running for public office;

About 16000 trainees signed up for She Should Run (another organization that helps women run for public elections).

In order to have more women’s voices in legislature and build laws that protect women’s rights, many brave women are taking a bold action. But even if the candidates don’t get elected, the female “justice league” will not back down. “If we want to see equity for women in government in our lifetime, we have to have record-breaking election cycles in the next few cycles to come. We know this isn't going to happen overnight, but we cannot let off the gas right now." Erin Loos Cutraro, CEO of She Should Run, said with determination.