Welcome to the second digital edition of The Cortile!
As many cities and countries begin to open up and are in various stages of vaccinating their citizens, Italy has once again opened to tourism from America and many other nations. At least half of Italy has been vaccinated, and, as we look toward the fall, those rates will increase substantially.
In our latest issue, we set the stage by looking back at events in the U.S., including the political upheaval and social unrest of 2020, and examine whether internet culture is driving America to extremes. Alumni and student articles add perspective on social justice matters, with analyses of George Floyd's murder and the rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans. In addition to various views from students and teachers about the pandemic, there is also advice for teens on responsible social media use and an update on a longstanding service project in the Congo run by Dr. Helen Pope.
As in every edition of The Cortile, our creative writing section stands apart. Creative Writing teacher Moira Egan's students' work is showcased, as is the school's only student-run literary and artistic magazine, INK. We also get a glimpse into what students are streaming online, and we feature some of our own special online events we held throughout the year. Our Arts section provides a selection of student video performances, digital photography, and art. And in Departments, we highlight the latest news of The Lyceum and our City of Rome course.
Completing this issue is the School's Annual Report and our Alumni Spotlight series, which is nothing short of spectacular. Six amazing interviews with St. Stephen's alumni show inspiring innovators and creators who are blazing new trails and making an incredible impact all over the world.
In these unprecedented times, St. Stephen's students, alumni, guest contributors, and teachers continue to excel and shine in countless ways. I hope you'll join us for this wonderful edition of The Cortile.
Eric Mayer, Head of School
Revenge of the Fringe
Is internet culture driving America to extremes?
In December of 2020, historians in The Washington Post weighed in on whether 2020 was the worst year ever. Materially, the answer is clear: even in a year of tumult, we live in an era of superabundance. Since the turn of the last century, Americans have added decades to our lifespans, easy-to-source food to our tables, and secured health outcomes that, even in a bad year, remain better than anything our ancestors enjoyed.
Understanding the Origins of BLM and the World’s Outrage Over George Floyd’s Death
"I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter... Our lives matter."
- Patrisse Cullors, Founding Member, BLM
Opinion: George Floyd’s Killing and the Black Lives Matter Protests Against Police Brutality
On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was arrested and killed by Minneapolis Police after being accused of stealing from a store. Outrage followed when footage of the arrest revealed one of the officers--Derek Chauvin--placing his knee on Floyd’s neck during the arrest for eight minutes and forty-six seconds and ignoring Floyd’s desperate pleas of “I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe…”
Opinion: The Rise of Anti-Asian Sentiment
After the recent fatal shooting of six women of Asian descent in Atlanta, Georgia, last month, there is increasing alarm about the proliferation of anti-Asian racist memes, posts, and other online activities that may have set the stage for real-life violence.
Bloom Where You Are Planted: How and Why We Persisted During Covid
“They won’t let you board the plane?” I responded on my mobile phone, rubbing sleepy sand out of my eyes. It was 6 AM on a Sunday in February 2020, and half of our school was at the airport – or soon to be -- for Spring Trips, heading out to destinations like Oman and Morocco (the other trips had gotten out the day before). So began my intimate relationship with the virus. Though we had been tracking the virus for weeks prior, that moment is the moment it all really began for me. (And, yes, those trip participants literally pulled their bags off the airline conveyor belts, redialed the rental van, and returned, despondent, to their homes in Rome.)
Reopening After a School Closure and Lessons Learned from the Pandemic
Dateline: 25 January, 2020
On January 18th, St. Stephen’s students and teachers returned to the classroom for the first time since late October. At 8 am on Monday, a line of excited students wound its way down Via Aventina, each student waiting their turn for morning temperature checks. All around them, teachers weaved in and out of the line, stopping to greet groups of students and remark on how surreal it felt to be back.
At War With an Invisible Enemy
The Covid-19 pandemic has been one of the most challenging issues the world has collectively faced in recent history. We are essentially waging war against a silent enemy--one who has no national borders, knows no social bounds, political systems, nor cultural norms or values. This silent enemy of ours has inflicted harm on whoever crosses its path, upending life as we have come to know it, surreptitiously taking lives, decimating industries, and destabilizing the world economy.
The Disproportional Impact of Covid on Black Americans
Last year, as we watched the United States attempt to tackle the Covid-19 virus with mixed messages from the former President, spotty stay-at-home orders, at will mask-wearing, and widespread Covid testing, we observed a great divide between those catching the virus and recovering and those catching the virus and dying.
Teens and Bullying
Bullying occurs a lot more than one would expect. Injuries, abuses, humiliations, threats, teachers offended while the class videotapes them, kids kicked, teenagers arrested for serious acts against peers.
A Social Media Guide for Teens
The use of social media has become an inevitability of modern-day life. Whether you’re following your school’s Facebook account, chatting with your family on Whatsapp, or sending your friends pictures on Instagram.
In the Spirit of Service
“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope; you will fill yourself with hope.”
― Barack Obama
Film review: Judas and the Black Messiah (2021)
IMDB Rating: 7.6
‘You can kill a revolutionary, but you can never kill the revolution.’ Words from the great activist for black rights, Fred Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party from 1966 to 1969.
Film Review: What We Started
What We Started on Netflix is a beautiful documentary about the history of electronic music that follows its origins from the early 1970s until today. The film explores the genre through interviews with DJs and music producers.
Film Review: Seaspiracy
The newly released Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, explores the damage the fishing industry is causing the blue planet.
Gone with the Wind: A Film Review for Our Times
I saw this film for the first time three years ago, and it is one of those movies that you cannot only watch; you have to think and read and write about it to understand it and its impact on you.
Film Review: The Perks of Being a Wallﬂower
The Perks of Being a Wallﬂower is a coming-of-age drama ﬁlm directed by Stephen Chbosky, starring globally known actors Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller, and was released in 2012.
Our Favorite Online Events
This past year has challenged us to move our events online, from Zoom olive oil and wine tastings that transported us to the Tuscan countryside to gallery openings that brought us to the heart of the New York City and Roman art scene; we have made the best of this pandemic, seizing it as an opportunity to experiment with new mediums and new activities.
As the school's only student-run literary and artistic magazine, INK provides the grounding for your creativity to thrive.
A Selection of Creative Writing
You’ve probably seen that meme: a child in a big armchair, cozily reading a book. All around her head are thought bubbles full of knights and dragons, maps and mountains, ships and seas. And below, the caption: “Reading Takes You Places.”
New Initiatives at the Lyceum Take Off During the Pandemic
"All men by nature desire to know." (Aristotle, Metaphysics 1.980a22).
Nevermore than during the last seventeen months did these words from Aristotle ring true for me. We are so fortunate that through the Lyceum, we are able to create special opportunities for our students to learn about the ancient world, whether it’s through weekend trips and lectures or by inviting scholars, writers, and poets who through their workshops, lectures and readings enhance our classes and broaden our students' horizons.
Exploring the New City of Rome 2 Class
Between 1400 and 1700, Rome was reborn as a global city, capital of a growing world ‘empire,’ so to speak, for the first time since antiquity. The city today owes much of its historical appeal, its most eye-catching artworks, and monuments, to this, the Early Modern era (c.1400-1700 CE).
This year our students have embraced the digital world, moving their drama and art shows online.
Image: Credit in here mentioning that the art work was selected for the cover
Nicola Formichetti ‘96
Fashion Designer / Stylist / Creative Director
Margherita Stancati ‘03
The Wall Street Journal reporter
Galen Druke ‘08
Host and Producer at FiveThirtyEight.
Diva Tommei ‘02
Investment Director Information Technology ICT at ENEA Teach
Elizabeth Blackwell ‘86
Rachel Sadoff ‘15
MA Candidate in Public Health at Columbia University
Alumni serve as our Healthy Campus Team
With Italy’s many COVID restrictions, we’ve needed additional staff to greet and temperature check arriving students, walk the campus for compliance, assist classes if the teacher is working remotely but the students are here, and various other activities to keep us safe. To our great fortune, four alumni came forward to help us for the year: Michael Alonzi (2013), Tatiana Lima (2015), David Rosales (2016), and Alessandro Cosmo (2017). We asked about the experience, and they had this to say…
Alumni Events Online
From alumni trivia and virtual reunions to happy hours and afternoon coffee breaks, our digital alumni events have enabled us to bring together alumni and current and former faculty members from around the world.