Page 1

Character at the



Spring 2014


Greetings from

St. George!


elying the weather we’ve experienced in central Virginia, this edition of The Ridge offers hopeful evidence that Spring is here. Of course, by writing this statement I may be cursing us with at least one more snowstorm and an ice-covered lake. At least the students in the BRS Polar Bear Club will be pleased!

If this is the first you’re learning of the Polar Bear Club, I encourage you to see our website and accompanying videos. I assure you it takes no small amount of grit to take the leap with David Welty, the BRS educator who leads the club. Grit, along with attributes like honor, integrity, and dedication to service, is a focal point of the Blue Ridge education; it’s our aim for students to develop these traits while exploring chemistry and learning how to write a persuasive essay (and jumping into the lake now and then). Blue Ridge boys are with us for some formative years. Their experiences here impact significantly the men they become and in many cases are truly transformative. We take seriously the role we play in a student’s academic development; no less serious is our charge to help him grow up and become a man of character. It’s this character education, interwoven throughout the academic and cocurricula, that is the feature of this edition of The Ridge. I am excited about the purposeful programs developing under the leadership of Vinton Bruton, our Assistant Headmaster for Co-curricular Programs (and history teacher, advisor, duty captain, and avid outdoorsman). Our team believes that the key to character education is the approach. Character development is not an isolated event; the dynamic occurs over time and is the result of many interactions and experiences across all areas of life. Character education at BRS, therefore, is not a separate entity. Teachers from all departments, coaches of all sports, dorm parents, advisors and leaders of clubs all incorporate character lessons into their daily classes, practices and meetings. Vinton continues to do a great deal of research into character education. Most notably, he has been selected to participate in an Action Research project by the International Boys School Coalition. Vinton’s research will focus on the ways in which boys implicitly develop character and what preconditions are necessary for effective character education. This will be a perfect fit with our plans on campus. I hope to see you at the Vintage Blue Ridge event on May 10th or at Graduation on May 24. You are most welcome on campus at any time, and your engagement with the School is greatly appreciated. Sincerely,

Headmaster William “Trip” Darrin III

Contents Walking the Walk: Character Education at Blue Ridge School


Baron Scholarship Program


Congratulations to the Class of 2014


Wine Educator and Enthusiast: John Buckey ‘88


Vintage Blue Ridge: Celebrating Great American Wines


It Matters! Advancement Update


Learning and Service: Outdoor Program Volunteers


Winter Sports Wrap-ups


BLUE RIDGE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION Mr. William A. Darrin III, Headmaster Dr. Kevin Miller, Associate Headmaster for Academics Mr. D. Franklin Daniels, Jr., Associate Headmaster for Advancement & Admissions Mr. Vinton Bruton, Assistant Headmaster for Co-curricular Programs The Ridge: Editor/Graphic Designer: Ms. Hilde Keldermans Writers: Ms. Hilde Keldermans, Mr. Dan Dunsmore, Mr. John Hetzel Principal Photography: Mr. Michael Hallstrom Additional Photography: Ms. Hilde Keldermans

We focus on helping boys reach their potential through personalized, structured, innovative learning practices in a college-preparatory, allboarding community. Blue Ridge School admits qualified young men of any race, color, national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. Blue Ridge School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial assistance and loan programs, athletic and other administered programs.

ON THE COVER: At Blue Ridge School Character Education is interwoven in all aspects of a boy’s education. For example Chemistry teacher Mr. Joe Reilly, pictured with Salman Almokbel ’15, uses the Manhattan Project as an assignment that requires his students to reflect on the ethical issues surrounding the science of splitting the atom, as well as creating and using an atomic bomb.





A by Dan Dunsmore

The true indicators that character education at Blue Ridge happens in very meaningful ways are in the students’ takeaways. Be sure to read their perspectives that accompany this article.

sk the powers that be at just about any educational facility in the world if they address character development with their students, and the answer will likely be, “Sure. It’s a part of what we do.” What does it even mean to make character education one part of the curriculum? Fit it in when you can? No follow up? No hands on?

When Blue Ridge faculty and students speak of character development on the St. George, Virginia, campus, they will more often than not describe it as EVERYTHING we do. I would even go so far as to suggest that character development at the Ridge is the most important quality that separates us from the large crowd of other independent schools.

“At Blue Ridge School, the phrase ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ is not just a creed but a way of life. It means having your friend’s back in hard times or helping someone out who might be new to something. Simple little things go a long way, and that is what Blue Ridge students are taught to live by. Many students come to this school to find a suitable learning environment or play for a State Championship team, but they also end up gaining a new family, one that watches over them

It’s difficult to pinpoint where character education begins at Blue Ridge, but I’ll say for argument’s sake that it begins with the signing of the Code of Conduct. All students and faculty sign it at the beginning of the school year. The signed code is then posted in every classroom and dorm room to inspire the community to do right in thought and action. The Code of Conduct includes our Honor Code as well as such core values as integrity, respect, moral courage and being a brother’s keeper. In the hustle and bustle of each school day, these core values might be forgotten. But not at Blue Ridge School. Character education is in every activity and program we offer: Residential Life, the Prefect and Proctor Program, the Honor Council, Ridge Rites of Passage, Chapel Services, Community Service, Saturday Morning Programs, Athletics, the Active Arts, the Outdoor Program, and the Disciplinary Committee and Classroom Instruction.

and guides them to be inspirations to the rest. In the end, we all graduate as brothers. We will always be each other’s keepers.” - Harrison Gant ’14, Four-Year Boy, Prefect and Member of the Honor Council


I thank Assistant Headmaster for Co-curricular Programs Vinton Bruton, Director of Performing Arts and Alumni Parent Jerry King and Residence Life Coordinator Hans Hermanson ’97 for their input. Their insight is either directly quoted or paraphrased in much of this article.

Peng Kamonprapasawat ’13 and Hassan Dasuki ’13


Learning to live with a roommate is a skill that many people don’t acquire until their college days. It’s probably fair to say that many adults still struggle with it. At Blue Ridge, learning the art of compromise and helpful, supportive conversation is at the heart of dorm living. Mr. Bruton describes the importance of residential life as follows: “The boys spend more time in the dorms than in any other place so it stands to reason they should learn many life lessons there. Living with a roommate is a new skill for the vast majority of our students. Learning to respect other’s space, possessions and opinions will serve them well at college and in life. Learning to keep one’s personal space organized and clean should pay dividends in the classroom. Doing one’s fair share of mundane chores such as cleaning community spaces and emptying the trash teaches responsibility.” Mr. Hermanson adds, “By following the character example set forth by the Hall Parents and supporting duty faculty members who work in the dorms, the Residence Life Curriculum is designed to be a compliment to the Character Education Program in that it teaches boys to contribute positively to communal living. This can be seen in their working with others to maintain their private and communal environments and learning that every student matters.”

“Every student matters and is expected to positively contribute to the community, every student is expected to work with other students to maintain their living environment, every student should learn a healthy respect for the needs and rights of other students and behave in a way that earns the respect of his peers, and every student is expected to live by the Honor Code and Code of Conduct.” - An excerpt from the Residence Life Curriculum

PREFECTS AND PROCTORS Students earn these vital

leadership roles through their proven character development track record. Being a strong leader requires a student to develop the skills of negotiation, leading by example, sense of humor and patience in the face of adversity. The goal is to train leaders who’ll lead by example, with empathy and with an attitude of service rather than privilege. Prefects and proctors definitely have to walk the walk because they’re under constant scrutiny by their peers. They are expected to help facilitate a safe atmosphere where the students feel a true sense of community and security. They should be the leading examples of the BRS Code of Conduct and make every effort to garner the respect of every student.



Students also serve alongside faculty members on this important council. Students’ character certainly develops as they confess their errors in the areas of lying, cheating or stealing, and other students then discuss what the most constructive consequence might be for the student and the community. These are often very difficult decisions. Mr. Bruton writes, “Our Honor Council is responsible for enforcing our Honor Code, though in the larger picture everyone shares this responsibility. This process offers the Honor Council members a chance to make decisions that most high school students don’t have to make. It also offers opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes and make amends while protecting our Honor Code.” RIDGE RITES OF PASSAGE

Director of Outdoor Programming Mr. Tony Brown coordinates this program that gives students the chance to accomplish something outside their comfort zone as a way to build character. The possibilities are endless, and Mr. Brown encourages students to come up with their own ideas. When the freshmen complete the four-day Wilderness Orientation Trip, when the sophomores run for leadership positions during the spring trimester, when the juniors write essays on “What it Means to be a Man” and when the seniors complete overnight solos on the mountain, they are fulfilling character-building rites of passage.


The Reverend David McIlhiney, an Episcopal priest, conducts the services that take place two mornings a week as well on Sunday evenings. He makes a special effort to reinforce the faiths of students from Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist backgrounds as all students are expected to attend these services. The most meaningful services for me are those that involve students or faculty members sharing their personal experiences of character development. These talks often lead to further discussions during advisory time. The Lessons and Carols service, a full-community celebration of Christmas, is also a highlight each year.

Frankie Harris ‘14 and Max Morgan ‘14

“Blue Ridge has been teaching me to help others as much as possible, and community service is emphasized. Through my experience at Blue Ridge, my personality has developed because I realized, if I work as hard as I possibly can for something that I want, there is not much that can stop me. I have become determined to be successful and help others achieve their goals because of my experiences at Blue Ridge.” - Clayton Turner, Jr. ’15, Proctor



Students and faculty take advantage of many opportunities throughout the year to serve the Blue Ridge community, the Greene County community and the world community. Family members of faculty and staff also often participate, and it is this large-group effort, this all hands on deck, that is the strength of our community service. Mr. Brown coordinates such efforts as volunteering at the Salvation Army and Meals on Wheels. Our students definitely get their hands dirty as they peel apples, then stir the pot to make Apple Butter to benefit Operation Smile (organized by Dr. Kevin Miller and Mrs. Carrie Woods). They work in small teams to pack meals for Stop Hunger Now. Many of the students participate in Shop with a Baron, which gives local children a chance to buy Christmas gifts for their families. Many others take advantage of the opportunity to donate blood to Virginia Blood Services, an activity that is coordinated by librarian and English teacher Mr. Jon Baker along with Honor Society members. In all of these opportunities, students are definitely walking the walk of building character.

It’s a bit cliché to say that athletics builds character. What makes Blue Ridge different? Every student at the School is expected to participate in a sport at some point in the year. Nearly every faculty member and several staff members coach during at least one season. Sports aren’t relegated to just a select few. Everyone in the community learns how to deal gracefully and productively with winning and losing. It’s that important to character education at the School. Success and failure are part of life so sports offer a relatively low cost, high repetition method of learning how to do so.


Our Saturday morning programs give students the opportunity to hear guest speakers who challenge them in the areas of character development. At times, bad examples of character are shown as a springboard to discussions of good character in advisory groups. At other times, the student’s moral and/or ethical judgment is challenged by real-life scenarios, again explored in large-group discussions or in advisory groups. These programs offer a chance for the whole school to pause and focus on a particular issue. To be specific, during one recent Saturday morning, the boys listened to Chazz Woodson ’01 discuss how he has applied character lessons as an Ivy League student-athlete and professional lacrosse player. On another recent Saturday, the students discussed Lance Armstrong’s admission of blood doping and linked that to academic integrity.


This is the term that Mr. King uses to describe the various arts programs at Blue Ridge School. His comments, which he first made at the 2014 New York Auxiliary’s Blue and White Ball, follow: “I am convinced that the boys of Blue Ridge School are made more alive, become better men for having stepped up, into the realm of what I call the active arts. The core part of being human is being creative. Some have (or can develop) an eye for visual art; some have or can learn to perform music; sometimes they will do this solo, sometimes in a group; sometimes producing sound with just their own voices, sometimes with instruments; some will pursue drama. Experience with the arts has become a part of the core requirements for graduation for every Blue Ridge boy. We’re going for excellence. We’re doing all we can as teachers and administrators to teach boys to become good men, fully human, potential realized, with courage and a sense of adventure firmly in place to take on a world’s worth of challenges, some of them pretty intimidating. And to leave a mark, a good one. Because, by the time they are handed a Blue Ridge diploma, they will know – by experience – that they have what it takes to step up and really do something.”

“One of Blue Ridge’s top priorities is to help its students develop into moral, good-mannered and successful young men. The steps Blue Ridge takes with its structured schedule and community gatherings, such as Saturday morning programs, allow students to live in a tight-knit community where they become respectable young men in their own ways. The School stresses its desire for students to be themselves because it is vital in the process of developing as a man. Students at Blue Ridge display this important quality by performing acts of kindness on a daily basis all over campus, which demonstrates that Blue Ridge’s intention to develop us as young men is working.” - Greg Wasserstrom ’14, Prefect and member of the Disciplinary Committee




In the fifteen years that Mr. Brown has been at Blue Ridge, the Outdoor Program has become integral to the character development of the students. Canoes, the climbing tower, high ropes course and Frisbee golf course are just a few of the many ways in which students may involve themselves in outdoor activities on campus. Off-campus activities include skiing, climbing, hiking and swimming. Blue Ridge students do them all. The Outdoor Program offers boys a chance to push their physical and emotional limits against an absolute, unchanging standard. The mountains, a river, the weather in general, won’t change because a student isn’t strong enough or smart enough to overcome them. The student either adjusts his methods or he fails. Coming up against that unchanging force offers a student a chance to assess himself and learn from the experience.

Faculty members constantly look for opportunities to teach character development through classroom readings, discussions and writing assignments. Those assignments that have worked particularly well are shared in a systematic way with fellow faculty members so that the opportunities may increase throughout the year.


This body of students and faculty sees students who have run afoul of our rules to the extent that the Dean of Students feels it’s necessary that a more serious consequence be considered. Some of the best character lessons are learned in these situations for both the potentially guilty student as well as the students who must sit in judgment of their peers. Both the students and faculty on the Committee sometimes lose sleep considering what consequences best fit the infractions. I have been a member of this Committee for the past two years, and I can attest to the emotional testimony at times as well as to the heart-wrenching discussions among Committee members that follow. It is definitely a character building process.

“By being a student leader, I’m able to set an example for my peers and lead them on a path to become true Blue Ridge Barons. By serving with other student leaders such as prefects, proctors, Honor Council members, etc., I also learn what it means to be a part of the School’s community. With the knowledge I obtain in my everyday activities, I can pass on what I know through my actions and hopefully impact the community in a positive way as I help other students become responsible men.” - Nana Poku ’14, member of the Disciplinary Committee


English and history teacher Pete Bonds recently offered the following assignments. After reading Lord of the Flies, students in 9th Grade English wrote an essay in which they explored how the plot of the novel might have been different had the main characters been Blue Ridge students adhering to the BRS Code of Conduct. Additionally, students wrote about whether or not it is realistic to expect human beings to adhere to the ideals of the BRS Code of Conduct when they find themselves in a dire emergency as do the characters in Lord of the Flies. In such a situation would the Code of Conduct be ignored or embraced? Mr. Bonds’ US History and Government students discussed this topic:  Is the idea of “Brother’s Keeper,” the foundation of the BRS Code of Conduct, compatible with those ideals set forth in America’s founding documents -- the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution? To what degree did the authors of these documents believe that Americans ought to act as “brother’s keepers?” How does government act as a”brother’s keeper” today, and should it? What are the potential downsides to being a “brother’s keeper?” and of understanding yourself to be a “brother’s keeper?” Also consider Chemistry teacher Joe Reilly’s Manhattan Project assignment. “After viewing the documentary about America’s development of the atomic bomb, consider the following questions. Can a scientific discovery be inherently good or evil? Why or why not? What are some of the arguments FOR America using atomic weaponry to end WW II? What are some of the arguments AGAINST America using atomic weaponry to end WW II? How did the development of atomic weaponry lead to the Cold War? Was it necessary to use the bombs after developing them? Was it necessary to drop the second bomb on Nagasaki? Was the use of atomic weaponry significantly different than the fire-bombing campaign that was already targeting Japanese civilians? Was either form of bombing ethically defensible? Write a 300-word minimum reflection on the ethical issues surrounding the science of splitting the atom.”

“Blue Ridge has always had an emphasis on character education and development. When I was a student in the 80’s, we were taught a lot of critical thinking, ethical reasoning and moral reasoning. Blue Ridge has expanded on these topics to include health education and promotion, non-bullying, conflict resolution and civic duties. My son Clayton and his classmates have been on civic field trips delivering meals, and this is another activity that Blue Ridge has added to its character education efforts since my days as a student. Mentoring underclassmen is one more area where Blue Ridge has made an effort to expand on character education. It is good to see these young men taking pride in helping each other out, no matter what grade they are.” - Clayton Turner, Sr., ’87, Class Agent, current Parent Council Officer, and father to Clayton, Jr. ’15

From left are Clarence Han ’17, Jason Hess ‘15 and Harrison Gant ’14 (on top).

BARON SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM Blue Ridge School’s Baron Scholarship Program offers substantial scholarships to boys applying for the 9th grade and who exemplify character and potential leadership.

Interested applicants will complete • A BRS application; • An essay on his interest in BRS and the qualities and talents he can bring to the school; and • A campus visit with his parents for a day of tours, interviews and meetings with faculty, administrators and Trustees. For more information, please contact Mr. James H. “Jamie” Miller, ’94 at 434-992-0528


lue Ridge School has designated $105,000 to provide five annual scholarships for qualified young men who are US citizens and rising 9th graders.

A Baron Scholarship applicant will demonstrate these qualities: • a respect for himself and the world around him; • an appreciation of an honor code and an understanding of his role in it; • an experience in team activities whether athletic, academic or artistic, as well as an aspiration to play a leadership role; • an interest in a variety of extra-curricular activities which may include the outdoors, community service and faith-based activities. While good grades and the ability to maintain them are important, the applicant’s character and potential leadership qualities will carry significant weight in the scholarship decisions. Baron Scholarships may be renewed each year once awarded, based on the student’s good performance. Candidates must be referred to the School by a qualified source (educational consultant, school counselor or teacher, current or former BRS parent, alumnus or friend.) In 2014, awards will be offered on or before June 15th. The deadline to accept the award is June 30th.



Class of to the


Adams State College Arcadia University Arizona State University Art Institute of Raleigh Auburn University Averitt University Baldwin Wallace University Barry University Belmont Abbey College Birmingham Southern College Brevard College Bucknell University Canisus College Case Western Reserve University Coe College Coker College Colorado Mesa University (2) Colorado State University (2) Curry College (2) Davis & Elkins College Delaware County Community College Dodge City CC Dickinson College Drexel University (3) East Carolina University Elon University Emory & Henry College Evergreen State College Ferrum College Flagler College Ft. Lewis College Franklin & Marshall Georgia Tech University Hampden-Sydney College (2) Harrisburg University Hartwick College High Point University (2) Hofstra University Humbolt State University Huntingdon College

Illinois College Ithaca College James Madison University Johnson & Wales University Langston University Lawrence University Longwood University Louisburg College Loyola University, New Orleans Lynn University Lynchburg College (2) Lynn University Mars Hill College (2) Marymount University Medaille College Mesa Community College Mercyhurst University Miami University, Ohio Michigan State University Mississippi State University Mount St. Mary’s University New York University North Central College Northern Arizona University (2) Ohio Northern University Old Dominion University (2) Penn State, Altoona Penn State, Berks Pepperdine University Presbyterian College Purdue University Radford University Randolph Macon College Rutgers University Queens University of Charlotte Samford University Shenandoah University St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College (2) St. Joseph’s University

SUNY Albany SUNY Fredonia Stetson University Syracuse University Tulane University University of Alabama (3) University of Arizona University of Arkansas (2) University of Buffalo University of California, Irvine (3) University of California, Los Angeles University of California, Riverside University of California, San Diego University of Colorado, Boulder (2) University of Colorado, Colorado Springs University of Hartford University of Illinois, Urbana University of Indiana (2) University of Kansas University of Kentucky University of La Verne University of Miami, Ohio University of Mississippi (2) University of New Haven University of North Carolina, Greensboro University of Rochester University of South Florida University of South Carolina University of Virginia (2) University of Washington Villanova University Virginia Commonwealth University Virginia Wesleyan College Western Carolina University Western State Colorado University Wingate University Wichita State University Wofford College (2) Xavier University Young Harris College


John Buckey ’88


& Enthusiast



ohn Buckey ’88 found his love of wine at an early age. Although his class nominated him as most likely to return to Blue Ridge as a history teacher, John realized that studying and teaching others about the all-encompassing topics surrounding wine was extremely enticing and very tangible. Currently, John is the Director of Sales and Marketing at the historic Hanzell Vineyards just north of the town of Sonoma, California, on the south western slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains. In 1992 upon graduating from Washington College in Maryland, he worked


as an assistant manager of a restaurant. He found that what he enjoyed most was running the wine program. From there he worked his way from retailer to distributor to sales representative and then into distributor management, selling some of the best wines from around the world. During his seven years at Churchill Distributors, he received multiple awards to include Sales Representative of the Year and the Gloria Ferrer Master’s Award. While managing eight sales representatives, he was also an instructor in the company’s Sales Training Program and its Certification of Beverage Professionals courses. In early 2002 John was excited to accept a position managing sales in the Mid-At-

lantic for Treasury Wine Estates, owners of the iconic Penfolds Winery and many other notable Australian producers. With two years of proven success, Treasury relocated him to Napa, California, to manage ten states around the country. After a few mergers and acquisitions, the culture changed, and John joined Constellation Brands — the largest premium wine company in the world — managing ten states on the West Coast. Although excited and challenged to be in such a large company of wines, he felt too far removed from the essentials of production and authenticity of smaller producers. John had been collecting the wines of Hanzell Vineyards for many years, and, while visiting the winery to pick up an order, the opportunity arose to fill the


C EL EB R AT I NG GR EAT A M ER I C A N WI NES n May 10, 2014, the inaugural Vintage Blue Ridge will be held at the renowned Grelen Nursery in Somerset, Virginia. The event celebrates American wine and viticulture featuring a tasting led by BRS alumni Tom Payette ’80 (featured in The Ridge, Fall 2013) and John Buckey ’88 (featured on the left).

Tom has deep roots in the Virginia wine industry and John works closely with some of the finest California labels. Together they will share their perspectives on this fascinating industry, offer a tasting of some of their favorites, and show all involved what two great Blue Ridge alumni can do! Two BRS Trustees are chairing the event – Wendi Smith and Page Sullenberger.

position of National Sales Director. This role consisted of many public appearances around the country while managing sales through the distributor network. Because of the added distribution around the country, visitors and sales at the winery increased dramatically, and the role of Director of Sales and Marketing was created for John in May 2013. Now he manages the hospitality team and is an integral part of the executive team at Hanzell Vineyards.

Tickets are $95 each or $175 for a couple. The evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. and includes a cocktail hour, gourmet hors d’oeuvres, a full wine tasting and the opportunity to peruse a truly unique silent auction - all at Grelen’s gorgeous Virginia Piedmont setting.   Proceeds to benefit Blue Ridge School.


He is a proud member of the Society of Wine Educators in which he holds the title of Certified Specialist of Wine, an exam that is rumored to have only a 33 percent pass rate.

To reserve your tickets or to become a sponsor, go to or call Franklin Daniels or JC Ignaszewski at 434-985-2811.




Blue Ridge School relies on the Annual Fund

and its generous supporters to make impactful differences in the classrooms, on the field and in

The Annual Fund

In 2013/14, the BRS Annual Fund goal is $800,000 – nearly 10% of the operating budget. As of March 31, the Annual Fund was on track to make its target, with about $200,000 remaining to raise before May 31.

every aspect of a boy’s experience at Blue Ridge. If you have not made your Annual Fund gift, there is still time to do so. Please send in your donation on or before May 31st and make a difference. As you can see, it matters!

We are very pleased to report that participation is up significantly from recent years with good numbers of new donors and returning donors joining – or re-joining – the team. The Annual Fund is always a down-to-the-wire race – making it exciting every year. If you have not yet made your gift, please do so. At this time of year, unrestricted gifts are particularly appreciated as they help balance the overall operating budget and set the stage for next year. Each year, our Advancement team members hear from scores of alumni, parents and friends who tell us the impact Blue Ridge had on themselves or their families. The best reason to give is a simple one. It matters!


Baron Athletic Complex GOAL: $1,980,000

During the February Trustee Meetings, staff were given the green light to pursue the

RAISED TO-DATE: (cash and pledges) $1,358,938 REMAINING NEED: $ 621,062

final documentation steps needed before construction begins on the Baron Athletic Complex. It is hoped that these studies and permits will be secured by August 2014 so that early site preparations may begin in the 2014 - 2015 academic year. From a fundraising perspective, the project continues to move forward. Commitments totaling nearly 75% of the $1.98M projected have been secured, leaving $621,000 to go. Several elements have been fully funded, including the Varsity Soccer Fields, the Track, and The Terrace, a beautiful new element which will serve as the entrance to the Track and Field Center. Currently, the fundraising focus is on the completion phase of the artificial turf field (lacrosse, soccer and football), the golf center and the launch of the baseball initiative.

BRS Faculty Commons GOAL: $960,000

Having more than 60 percent of our faculty living on campus remains a top priority

RAISED TO-DATE: (cash and pledges) $615,009

at Blue Ridge today. Toward this end, two new faculty cottages have been built and are fully endowed, totaling more than $600,000 raised. These two new residences are adjacent to Gibson Chapel and have been carefully designed to accentuate the Chapel’s extraordinary architectural features. Room for two more cottages remains in this area. It is expected that fundraising for those will resume once the Baron Athletic Complex is fully funded and under construction.

REMAINING NEED: Of equal importance, a concurrent project to refurbish several other existing faculty $344,991

residences on campus is now well underway. Two are complete with two more soon to be underway.



T by Cory Woods

he Spring Outdoor participants recently volunteered with the American Chestnut Foundation at an Orchard near Charlottesville. Mohannad Almofadhi ’15, Ian Burgin ’14, Fielding Castle ’15, Grant Fessler ’15, Jamie Fletcher ’16, Eric Hong ’17, Nick Parnell ’15 and Mohamed Shokeir ’16 accompanied Mr. Cory Woods and spent an afternoon measuring the trees’ circumferences to support the foundation’s scientific studies. The American Chestnut Foundation works to reintroduce the tree that was once the dominant species in the Appalachian canopy. The “chestnut blight” is an airborn fungus that still limits the growth of the species that continues to sprout from the long-surviving underground root systems in our mountains. At the turn of the 19th century Chinese Chestnut trees were imported for their orchard quality as they provided easy harvest that was consumed readily throughout the region. However, these orchard trees harbored a fungus to which the Chinese trees were resistant. The American variety could not cope with the invasive fungus. What followed was a drastic change to our local ecosystem and livelihood for many in this area.


& Service

American Chestnuts comprised at least one in every four trees in Appalachia. Wildlife thrived from the unusually large mast or seeds that fell from the trees each autumn. Pigs, the primary livestock of the mountaineers, were left to roam free to fatten-up on the bounty. Early settlers also used the chestnut’s high quality lumber for their cabins, barns and fence posts. In 1983 the American Chestnut Foundation began the long process of using traditional breeding methods to produce a chestnut with dominant American traits (tall, fast-growing canopy tree) that would be blight resistant. Starting with a 50/50 Chinese-American species, they “back-cross” bred the trees back to Americans; each successive generation breeding out the orchard characteristics of the Chinese species yet maintaining blight resistance. Now six generations deep, the Foundation has developed a hopeful “Restoration Chestnut” – a 15/16 American (1/16 Chinese) tree which has been planted in orchards throughout Virginia and up and down the East Coast. Once the test trees reach a certain size, they are ready for inoculation – an injection of the blight to test its resistance (our students’ measurements from this spring will help support this step of the process). Each tree is then meticulously tracked to study which strands show success (those that show evidence of the blight are cut and

burned to remove them from the gene pool). The Foundation continues its work to develop a successful cross-bred tree and to build a deep gene pool so this species may be reintroduced to the Appalachian Mountains. Each fall our students in the Mountain Ecology class supplement their study of invasive species with a trip to the Virginia Department of Forestry’s office to help the American Chestnut Foundation open burs as well as test and sort the nuts from local orchards. “The important work being done by the American Chestnut Foundation provides an excellent learning opportunity for our students. The work offers an important connection to our local ecosystem and a meaningful application of servicelearning,” explains Mr. Woods. The process provides a practical example of scientific method, experimentation, sample size, control groups, genetics and disease resistance used to solve real problems. Our students are offered a valuable lesson in land and ecosystem management – important concepts for the Outdoor Program at Blue Ridge School. “We teach our students by how we steward our own mountain property,” concludes Mr. Woods. To learn more about this topic, visit Pictured left is Nick Parnell ‘15.

2014 Winter Sports Wrap-ups by John Hetzel




Varsity Wrestling started the season with a bang as senior Torian Pegram won the gold medal at the Norfolk Academy Wrestling Classic, and senior Nathan Johnson earned the silver medal. Though the team lacked wrestlers in some weight classes, BRS acquitted itself admirably in competition all season earning headto-head victories over Trinity Episcopal, Roanoke Catholic, VES and Miller School. Along with senior leaders Torian, Nate, Jordan Edelman and Zach Bridges, the competitive team included junior Daniel Lecce. The season culminated with Torian and Nate both wrestling their way to gold medals at the VIC Championship, while Jordan Edelman won silver. The next weekend the champs both placed second in the VISAA State Wrestling Championship. Torian pinned four opponents en route to the final match where he lost 2 to 3 to his St. Christopher’s opponent. Nate pinned two opponents to get to the finals where he lost to St. Christopher’s 4 to 1.

Varsity Basketball faced an uphill battle this season as P. J. White, one of two senior leaders on the squad, was lost to injury in the preseason. Despite having a young and inexperienced group, the Barons faced a typically challenging schedule. The season began with losses to STAB and Carlisle. After a third loss to Germantown Academy in the opening round of the Bishop Walker Invitational at St. Albans, the Barons were able to regroup on day two of the tournament with a big win against Bell Academy 8268. Coach Ramsey’s squad could not springboard off the win, losing a string of games before being bolstered by the midseason arrival of 6’10” sophomore transfer Mamadi Diakite from Conakry, the capital city of Guinea. The Barons changed their tactics in mid-stream to adjust to this talented inside player, and the squad began to challenge some of the better teams in the league. The team fell by only one point to VISAA #1 State Tournament seed VES at home and were outlasted 55-51 in a double overtime game against LCA. The Barons played teams tough for the balance of the season and notched a second win over North Cross 51-46. Despite the difficult

season, the team stayed together and should be contenders next year with the majority of its starting lineup returning to St. George. This includes Diakite, who was 6th in the league in scoring average (13.8/game) as well as blocks (5.8/game). Diakite was named to the first team VIC as a sophomore and is being recruited by major universities such as UVA. Four rising seniors figure to support Diakite as the Barons look to work their way back up to the top of the conference. Juan Porta was 5th in the league in scoring (14.8/game), Afanna Offor was 12th in the league averaging 5.8 rebounds/game and chipping in a healthy 9.2 points/game, while Cal Ramsay and Noah Brooks each averaged 6 points/game. JV BASKETBALL BLUE

JV Blue Basketball had a challenging time gaining any traction this winter due, in part, to a slew of interruptions because of severe winter conditions. Seven of the team’s final 10 games were

VIC Champion

VIC Champion Nate

Torian Pegram ’14

Johnson ’14


ALUMNI LACROSSE WEEKEND MAY 10, 2014 For information, call Rory Bosek 434-992-0581

either cancelled or postponed. Despite starting the season 0-4, the Barons pulled off a big upset on the road against archrival Miller School 46-41 in a multipleovertime thriller. The squad followed that win with an impressive victory over United Christian Academy at home before winter set in and cancellations played havoc with the remaining games on the schedule. JV BASKETBALL WHITE

JV White Basketball opened its season with a 34-33 triumph over Covenant but couldn’t rekindle the magic during its ensuing four matches. Despite being on the wrong end of the final scores, the young team played with great enthusiasm, and every player on the team improved as the season progressed. INDOOR SOCCER

Indoor Soccer played five tournaments at the Collegiate School this winter and compiled a record of 2-8-2. The Barons competed hard and kept virtually every match close while maintaining a fun atmosphere. The team beat St. Christopher’s 3-0 in the quarter-final of the Valentine’s Day Classic Tournament before falling to Steward 2-1 in the semifinal.

Pictured above from left: Athletic Director and Varsity Basketball Coach Bill Ramsey ’83, Afanna Offor ’15, Mamadi Diakite ’16, Juan Porta ’15, Cal Ramsey ’15 and Assistant Athletic Director and Assistant Varsity Coach Bryan Puckett.

Winter Sports Awards The 2014 Winter Sports Awards Ceremony was held on March 19 at which our student-athletes were honored for their participation in both competitive team sports and afternoon activities. Coaches for the winter competitive teams gave varsity letters and honored outstanding athletes for their courage, leadership and dedication to their sport The winter sports include varsity, junior varsity, blue and white basketball teams, indoor soccer, wresting, outdoorsmen, theater, art and robotics. Varsity Basketball Most Valuable Player – Juan Porta Most Improved Player – Afanna Offor Coach’s Award – Cal Ramsey

JV Basketball White Most Valuable Player – Albert Che Most Improved – Charles Gao Coach’s Award – Spencer Ammen

Varsity Wrestling Most Valuable Player – Torian Pegram Most Valuable Player – Nate Johnson Most Improved Player – Zach Bridges Coach’s Award – Daniel Lecce

Indoor Soccer Most Valuable Player – Nana OhemengTinyase Most Valuable Player – Bibi Olaitan Most Improved Player – Siqiao Yin Coach’s Award – Jacob Morgan

Outdoorsmen Most Improved Outdoorsmen – Nick Hou Coach’s Award – Miles Xu Coach’s Award – Andrew Marsh

For more photos, click here. For a video of the BRS robot, Baron Bot, click here.

JV Basketball Blue Most Valuable Player – Hampton Peace Most Improved Player – John Zheng Coach’s Award – Joe Pence


Blue Ridge School 273 Mayo Drive St. George, VA 22935

The Blue Ridge School Annual Fund



The Ridge, Spring 2014  

Blue Ridge School's bi-annual publication. This issue features our Character Education Program,a profile of John Buckey '88, the upcoming Vi...

The Ridge, Spring 2014  

Blue Ridge School's bi-annual publication. This issue features our Character Education Program,a profile of John Buckey '88, the upcoming Vi...