Croquet & the Wall Street Journal

Last Saturday, St. John’s played the Naval Academy in our annual croquet match. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal broadcasted a video of the event. Among others, Catherine Moon (A’14), Patrick McDowell (A’01), and Adrian Trevisan (A’84) were featured. Though we lost, the day was bright and sunny, our team looked noble in their togas and laurel wreaths, and good cheer and big hats were plentiful all around. Check out the video here:

 

 

Begone Dull Care! pt. 2

In addition to our video from last month of some of the Annapolis tutors performing I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles at their annual gloom-dispelling winter concert, we also have videos of a few folk songs they sang for us.

 

Jon Tuck fronting a performance of Get Together by The Youngbloods, with, from left to right, Cary Stickney, Chester Burke, Emily Langston, Jon Tuck, Henry Higuera, Greg Recco, Judy Seeger, and Greg Freeman. There are some nice shots of the audience and the Great Hall in this video as well.

 

Judy Seeger singing and leading the room (as is her wont as the director of freshman chorus) in a rendition of Dink’s Song, an American folk song that’s been covered by many noteworthy artists from the ’60s.

 

Sarah Stickney, Greg Recco, Cary Stickney, Henry Higuera, and Emily Langston performing Stay a Little Longer, a “Western swing dance” song written by Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan.

Paper Chasing

Poetry night at a Johnnie's apartment. Photo by Anyi Guo

Poetry night at a Johnnie’s apartment. Photo by Anyi Guo

It’s time… to write… a… paper.

When our tutor tells us we have to produce six pages on The Nicomachean Ethics my anxiety spikes. After more than thirty years, can I do this? Can I write an academic paper with, you know, footnotes and coherent sentences and a thesis that might actually be interesting? Talking in class is one thing; many times people speak in roundabout and cryptic ways. The tutor usually performs real time (and face-saving) editing: “Oh, Mr. X is asking this, which is a good segue to…” Writing is less forgiving. The language that I’ve grown accustomed to at work won’t be suitable. You can’t do Aristotle with PowerPoint, business buzzwords, bullet points. (“Aristotle was first mover in the self-help market.”)

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Begone Dull Care!

Mr. Stickney and Mr. Burke performing at Begone Dull Care!

Cary Stickney and Chester Burke performing at Begone Dull Care!

Every February, some of the more musically talented tutors from the Annapolis campus put on Begone Dull Care in an attempt to dispel some of the gloom and doom that comes with Nap Town winters. Jon Tuck began the tradition in the early ’90s at the behest of our unofficial matriarch, Eva Brann, and the standard crew in recent years has consisted of the aforementioned Jon Tuck, Judy Seeger and her husband, Tony Seeger, Emily Langston, Chester Burke, and Henry Higuera. This year Greg Recco, Sarah Stickney, Cary Stickney, and Greg Freeman also performed, for the first time. If we’re very lucky, they’ll be invited back.

From left to right, here’s Mr. Higuera, Mr. Freeman, Ms. Stickney, and Mr. Recco performing I Saw Her Standing There by The Beatles.

If anyone has videos of the rest of the performances, please send them to johnnietalk@gmail.com. We’d love to have them on the blog.

How’s Herodotus?

Photo credit to Anyi Guo

Photo credit to Anyi Guo

“How are you finding Herodotus?” a youthful African-American student asked his colleague, an older white woman. There is nothing unusual about a conversational gambit like that at St. John’s. But for me, a new Graduate student coming off a quarter century on Wall Street, it is startling to hear. Startling and reassuring: his question was like the voice of a car’s navigation system, telling me I have arrived at my destination.

I came to St. John’s at 54 seeking the company of people who share the desire to know and the conviction that the greatest sources of wisdom are the books read here. As a teenager, my intellectual curiosity was something I occasionally concealed for fear of embarrassment, but now time is short and the inner call must be answered. I took a leap and traded conference room for Seminar table, prospectus for Plato. It’s been quite a change: in the slang of my old profession it looks to be a “good trade.” In the almost three weeks I have been a Johnny I have not once heard the questions that used to fill my day and my mind: “Where’s the S&P trading? How will the Fed handle the taper? What does 2014 mean for corporate profits?”

Those are not unimportant questions, but I prefer my colleague’s: “How are you finding Herodotus?” (“He’s a hell of a lot more entertaining a writer than Aristotle,” flashed through my mind.)

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Freshman Winter Chorus Concert

Domenic D’Andrea, A’15, has put together a beautiful compilation of some of the highlights from this year’s first Freshman Chorus Concert. As part of the chorus class all of the freshmen are required to take, the freshman class performs two concerts a year, one in the fall semester and one in the spring.

Some of the pieces featured in this track are Hine Ma Tov, a Jewish hymn; Come, Ye Sons of Art, an English ode written by Henry Purcell in 1694; Psallite, Unigenito, a Christian hymn composed by Michael Praetorius in 1609; and Waters of Babylon.

The full recording will be up soon, but this should keep you content in the meanwhile.

Going Home

Photo courtesy of Shayna Jenkins

Photo courtesy of Shayna Jenkins

Before I left for college, my cousin told me that the next time I came home, I would feel weird, because everything would still be the same, but I would be different. That my blue comforter, my messy desk with years of Seventeen Magazines and Cosmopolitans strewn around it, my little black Bunny, my mother’s warm and inviting arms, the loud commanding voice of my best friend would be the same, and it was I who was changing. There is something Ptolemaic about this understanding of the movement of life: that all these bodies and lives would remain stagnant compared to my growth, that the way I would come to measure the world would be through my own steps, rather than seeing it in concordance with those around me. This seemed wrong, almost self-involved, but, I mean, who was I to disagree with her four years at University of Maryland?

So I believed my cousin. This might have had something to do with the fact that she had long hair and a boyfriend who was cute and seemed nice, but there was also something else about it. I wanted to to know that everything would be frozen the way I left it. I wanted to know that my little sister would never start flirting with boys and my dogs would always be able to amble up the stairs with the dexterity of an eleven year old boy forever. I wanted to be able to come home and adapt myself to the world that I knew I fit into, since I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to fit into the crevice that was waiting for me to come slip myself into it at St. John’s.

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“Food, Seriously”

If you appreciate delicious, unique, and easy-to-follow recipes coupled with beautiful photography and Program witticisms, you should probably take a moment to look at “Food, Seriously,” a food blog started over the summer by Annapolis senior Caneel Radinson-Blasucci. I can personally vouch for the red wine ice cream recipe.

Teen Vogue feature!

Sandwiched between fall trend reports (plaids and velvet, if you were wondering) and Prada Candy perfume ads is our own small liberal arts school, featured at the head of an article on “6 Non-Traditional Colleges That Just Might Be Your Perfect Fit.”

They did a good job of representing St. John’s, explaining the program as “a strict curriculum that’s known as the Great Books Program, based on studying touchstone works of Western Civilization (everything from The Iliad and The Odyssey to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations),” and touching on the classroom dynamic and two campus set-up.

Read their article and see the rest of the schools on the list here.

Continuing to Live the Questions: An Interview With Joseph Wood (A12)

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Continuing with our profiles of alumni-one-year-out, here’s Joseph Wood, who believes in God.

Joseph Wood! You and I have one big thing in common: we both entered with the class of 2011, dropped out, and then came back to the College. Also, we are both Episcopalians!

Huzzah! It’s an honor and a privilege to been in such distinguished company—even if it’s still a little surreal that we’ve graduated.

So what drew you to St. John’s? Especially the second time?

My experience with the college was really a love affair. In eighth grade, a teacher noticed just how much of a stereotypical bookworm I was, and she recommended I take a look at St. John’s. It was love at first sight. (You mean, I not only get to read all these books, but I get to talk about them with people!) It just seemed like a perfect fit, and I never really looked at another college after that first flush. The only problem being that I placed all the emphasis on becoming a Johnnie, and I never really gave thought to what that actually entailed. I got to the school and, within the first few months, was completely overwhelmed.

443px-The_Little_Schoolboy,_or_The_Poor_SchoolboyFortunately, my tutors took notice and kicked me out at the end of our freshman year. Well, I say fortunately now, but at the time it was an incredibly difficult experience, the worst of all possible break ups. I had spent all of this energy trying to make this identity real, only to apparently be unable to hack it. The situation, however, forced me to really take a step back and examine my options. What did I want from life? And even more: was St. John’s the right way to get it?

After a good deal of thought and more than a little angst, I realized that all of the enthusiasm I had for the school was still there, I just need to be more ready to meet the college halfway. I realized that I couldn’t passively be a Johnnie. In so much of my schooling beforehand, I had been smart enough to just show up and excel, but that pattern certainly hadn’t held out at St. John’s. I needed to be willing to really put in the work, willing to really wrestle with all of it, if I wanted to engage with the works and their questions in the way the college offers. In fact, that expectation of struggle is now one of my favorite things about the college, and I even wonder if we should emphasize it more. Continue reading