Back in 2014, Ben Leeming, of the Rivers history department, made a discovery worthy of a detective story, albeit one with a literary bent. The startling results of his research, and the story of how the project came to be, can be found in Aztec Antichrist, Leeming’s new book, recently published by the University Press of Colorado.
All-school meeting has served as a venue for music and comedy, for distinguished visitors and important announcements, for student presentations and senior speeches. On a recent Monday, for the second year running, it provided a showcase for faculty poets (and others) to share their work with the community.
Last week, after an extensive and rigorous search process, the Board of Trustees, acting on the recommendation of the Head of School Search Committee, voted unanimously to appoint Ryan S. Dahlem as Rivers’s ninth head of school, succeeding current head of school Ned Parsons. Ryan will officially join Rivers on July 1, 2023.
Following the standard set by Prize Day two days earlier, this year’s graduation, held this past Saturday morning on the Lank Quadrangle turf, was celebratory, joyful… and surprisingly normal. Once again, as in pre-pandemic days, families gathered without restrictions to watch the faculty and the graduates march in to strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” applaud as each student crossed the stage to receive a diploma, and cheer the newly minted alumni.
As Prize Day 2022 unfolded under the tent this morning, it was hard to believe that it had been three years since the event was last held live and in person. The familiar rhythms of the day and the traditional slate of honors and awards made it feel almost as though no time had passed since Prize Day 2019.
Water was everywhere in Benson Gymnasium on Wednesday morning—not actual water, but tri-folds, posters, interactive displays, drawings, and other materials created by sixth graders for their Independent Water Projects.
You couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening under the tent than last Friday, when more than 200 members of the Rivers community gathered for It’s All Fun and Games. This festive occasion gave adult members of our community, including parents and faculty, the opportunity to gather together for food, drink, and merriment. As temperatures hovered in the 70s under clear skies, attendees gathered around tables for blackjack and roulette, tossed bean bags at the cornhole station, showed off their hoops prowess at Pop-a-Shot, mugged in front of the camera at the photo booth, and, most of all, reconnected with one another.
It was a windy day under the tent at Monday’s all-school meeting, causing the video screens to wave gently in the breeze. But that didn’t diminish the impact of the display: Students applauded as they watched a slideshow of art works recently chosen for honors in both the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition and the Small Independent School Arts League (SISAL) 2022 exhibition. In all, 21 works by 19 students received Scholastic Art awards, while four students took home SISAL honors.
If you grew up watching Shark Tank instead of, say, SpongeBob, you just might turn out like Sebastian Connelly ’22, Ryan Douglas ’22, and the other members of the Rivers Venture Capital Club—that is, willing and eager to spend a weekend morning assessing pitch decks, conducting due diligence, and creating term sheets, all with the goal of deciding how best to invest their employer’s money.
How do you get to Symphony Hall? Practice, as the old joke has it—plus luck, talent, poise, and passion. Those are the qualities that propelled Adalia Wen ’25 to earn one of four coveted grand prize spots in the 2022 Boston Pops Fidelity Investments Young Artists Competition. Hundreds of Massachusetts high school student musicians vie for the honor, which brings the opportunity to work with world-class musicians, receive one-on-one coaching from Boston Pops Maestro Keith Lockhart, and, most thrilling of all, perform with the Pops this spring on the storied Symphony Hall stage.
“What is the purpose of art?” Tim Clark, Visual Arts Department chair, asked the assembled crowd at a recent Upper School assembly. The question could be answered in any number of ways, but that morning, a pertinent and concise response was provided by Boston artist and guest speaker Cedric Douglas: “Art is a way to change the world.”
In Juliet Bailey’s playwriting class, the play is definitely the thing. This hands-on workshop has students creating 10-minute plays that are performed and critiqued by other members of the class. And as a kind of capstone experience, the students travel to Boston University to participate in New Noises, the Massachusetts Young Playwrights’ Project festival of works by high-school students.
Just as Rivers headed out on spring break, NEPSAC finals were wrapping up. And in case you missed it, on that first Sunday of break, Rivers boys’ basketball and girls’ ice hockey won their final games, earning NEPSAC championships in their sports. On top of that, a couple of weeks earlier the boys’ Alpine ski team also clinched the NEPSAC Class B championship.
Rivers has long had outstanding music programs that attract talented students, thanks in part to its association with the Rivers School Conservatory. But even by Rivers standards, this winter has been an extraordinary season for the school’s student musicians.
When faculty member Zoë Iacovelli and her team were pondering which musical would be presented by the Upper School this winter, she says the choice was clear. One particular show has the tunes, the laughter, the fun, and the joy—not to mention the numerous ensemble numbers that could accommodate one of the largest casts ever to grace a Rivers stage. Last week, months of planning and hard work came to fruition in two energetic performances of Mamma Mia.
Schuyler Bailar has a ready laugh, an easygoing manner, and the physical ease and grace of a former star college athlete. He also has a remarkable story to tell, which he shared at an all-school meeting earlier this week: Bailar was the first NCAA Division I swimmer to come out as transgender.
Melissa Anderson may be new to Rivers this year, but she is an ardent supporter of the school and of independent schools in general. That, coupled with her background and experience, which includes 16 years as a teacher, administrator, and coach at Greenwich Academy, made her the perfect candidate for head of the Upper School at Rivers. Melissa’s appointment was announced earlier this month, following a unanimous, enthusiastic, and unequivocal recommendation by the search committee.
The rooms still aren’t quite set up; boxes still need unpacking and the walls are still a bit bare. But the long-awaited move into the newly renovated Lewis Building is now complete, and Middle School students, teachers, and administrators are delighted to find themselves in a bright, modern, airy space that supports collaboration, community, and creativity at the highest levels.
Ned Parsons will complete his memorable run as the leader of The Rivers School at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Ned, eighth head of school, arrived in September 2014 and has overseen a school dramatically transformed on his watch—one that is poised to grow, innovate, and build a bright future on a foundation of past and present strengths.
When beloved math teacher Dan McCartney passed away unexpectedly in 2020, community members and the McCartney family came together to determine how best to honor the legacy of a man who gave so much to Rivers. From those conversations was born the McCartney Scholars, an endowed program of distinction that provides extraordinary opportunities in math scholarship and mentorship for selected students.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors the slain civil-rights leader—and so much more. That was the message of this year’s MLK Day Assembly at Rivers, held virtually this past Monday. In particular, the interactive presentation focused on the Black women, many of them unsung, who played pivotal roles in the struggle for equal rights.