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  4. New Initiatives at the Lyceum Take Off During the Pandemic

Our students are curious, ask questions, and want to learn. That is something that I already knew, but it’s something that became even more clear to me when the pandemic broke out, and we had to take all of our teaching and co-curricular activities online. It has not always been easy, but what I am heartened and amazed by is the fact that our students show up, all of them, to our Zoom classes, where they enthusiastically participate in the course material.

Here is a round-up of our major accomplishments since September 2019:

In September 2019, with the launch of the revised Grade 9/10 curriculum, the Classics Department launched the Classical Languages Program (CLP), an initiative offering a choice of Arabic, Classical Greek, or Latin to Grade 9 students—many of whom will take their language of choice into Grade 10 or even all the way through their IB program. These languages not only reflect our location in the Mediterranean Basin, more importantly, as highly organized and logical (much like math), these languages sharpen the mind, cultivate mental alertness, create keener attention to detail, develop critical thinking, and enhance problem-solving abilities, making studying other languages and subjects much easier as students progress through their academic careers.

The majority of our freshmen take Latin, and they find our methodology of teaching Latin as an “active language” engaging and even fun. Students read, write, and listen to Latin and do short Latin composition exercises. As they are developing their reading skills, they are also learning about etymology and Roman culture.

The students who chose Classical Greek are drawn to the course because of the different alphabet and the importance of the Greek language in fields like science, medicine, and philosophy.

Arabic is growing in popularity, a testimony to the fact that our students like to be challenged and are curious to learn about Arabic culture, which they understand is largely responsible for transmitting knowledge from antiquity through the Middle Ages to our own times.

In February 2020, the Lyceum partnered with Creative Writing teacher Moira Egan and the English department to bring UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and young poet Ella Duffy to campus as Writers in Residence. Many of our students study the work of these two poets, and it was a unique experience for them to be able to meet and interact with such special guests. It certainly brought their studies to life. Carol Ann and Ella visited classes, spoke to the whole student body at Morning Meeting, and met with the Embrace Club, the school’s student-led LGBTQ+ organization. During their poetry reading event in the final evening of their residence, the auditorium was packed with students, teachers, parents, and community members for what proved to be a very engaging reading of their works.

Also, in February 2020, Dr. Abby Jaques (Interdisciplinary Research Fellow at Stanford University's Center for Ethics in Society) took up the David N. Redden Lyceum Fellow in Residence. As a philosopher working on ethics and artificial intelligence, Dr. Jaques was the perfect visiting scholar for our 2019-20 school-wide theme, artificial intelligence. Dr. Jaques led workshops in the grade 9 Core classes and grade 11 TOK classes, met with the Biology 2 and 3 classes, and worked with the students in the iLab. She also met with all of our students for a Q&A session at Morning Meeting and held a public lecture for parents and the wider community on the final evening of her residency.

As classes went online again in early March 2020, we found many creative ways for our students to do co-curricular activities learning. For example, in the Sustainable Cultural Heritage unit for our City of Rome 1 classes, the students are tasked with researching lesser-known or forgotten Roman sites across Rome and making a video about their history. During lockdown, they had to stay close to home and find sites in their immediate neighborhood, which in some cases, have nothing of historical importance; however, being the creative, tenacious St. Stephen’s students they are, they managed to produce informative and entertaining videos, including interviews with their neighbours and submitted proposals for repurposing dilapidated or underused buildings or sites to offer the local community something that they felt was missing. Among some of the more creative proposals was the suggestion to add a skateboard ramp next to a piazza where the fountain is used by skateboarders, thus causing damage to the monument. Another proposal was creating a farmers market next to the Ostia Castle in a disused parcel of land.

Earlier this year, we were fortunate to resume our Parent Tour program with small groups. Parent and alumni participants appreciated the opportunity to learn from our faculty about the two Jesuit churches Sant'Ignazio and il Gésu, the Keats and Shelley House, Campus Martius (Field of Mars), Fori Imperiali, Rome’s ancient theatres, street art, and industrial heritage in Testaccio and Ostiense, the Banksy exhibition at the Chiostro del Bramante and the Capitoline Hill. Many of the participants describe these outings with fellow community members as a beacon of hope in challenging times.

This academic year, our collaboration with the American University of Rome (AUR) expanded into an extraordinary partnership between the Lyceum and the archaeology and classics department at AUR: the Aventinus Minor Project (AMP). This partnership between St Stephen’s, AUR and the Istituto Santa Margherita home for the elderly (the AMP site, right above the SSS sports courts) is designed as a community archaeology project for the benefit of all of our students, AUR undergraduates in archaeology and classics, people living on the Aventine (including the elderly at the Istituto Santa Margherita) and anyone who would like to be part of it (parents, alumni, etc.).

Exploring the Aventine Hill right next to St Stephen’s, something that has not ever been attempted systematically, will engage students in classics, history, science, math, technology, art, and modern languages to gain critical knowledge of archaeology, including the methodology of excavating and archaeological drawing, hard sciences, including archaeobotany and other interdisciplinary fields such as zooarchaeology, 3D laser scanning, and printing, archival studies, record keeping, iconography, cartography, topography, and photography. In short, it is a pathbreaking, state-of-the-art archaeological excavation.

The excitement generated by this project is clear, judging from the high number of participants in the Aventinus Minor Project summer course that was held online in July 2020 and the number of donors and volunteers supporting the project.

This spring, students in their City of Rome 1 classes were the first to participate, as they studied the history and archaeology of the Aventine Hill with an AUR intern who was involved in the first phase of the AMP, bibliographical and topographical research, last summer.

We are looking forward to the end of the pandemic when we will continue to expand all of the Lyceum program offerings and really kick the Aventinus Minor Project into high gear. In the meantime, I look forward to sharing with you again very soon.

Thank you for your continued interest and support.

A presto!

Before you turn the page, the Lyceum is entirely donor-funded. We are truly grateful to the Lyceum Founding Donors and all of our donors and volunteers for their continued generosity. To date, we’ve raised $313,000 toward our goal of $650,000 to endow the Lyceum Programs Fund permanently. To renew your support, make a new gift or participate in our community programs, please contact Allison Kemmis-Price at allison.kemmis-price@sssrome.it.

Chapter 1: The World Around Us | A Comment on Our Times, Cortile 2021 Highlights

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.

By Jen Hollis - Former Teacher of IB History, St. Stephen’s School
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Student Perspectives on Social Justice, Cortile 2021 Highlights

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

By Tatiana Lima '15
op ed2
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Student Perspectives on Social Justice

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…” 

By Sofia Ghilas '21
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Student Perspectives on Social Justice

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.

By Lixuan Du ‘23
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | The Pandemic

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.)

By Eric Mayer - Head of School
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | The Pandemic

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.

By Vittoria Giusti ‘22, Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | The Pandemic

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.

By Xara Al Said ‘23
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | The Pandemic

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.

By Tanesha Alexander - Assistant Librarian, EAP Teacher, and DEI representative
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Student Perspectives on Social Media and Bullying

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.

By Emma Jansen ‘24
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Student Perspectives on Social Media and Bullying

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.

By Sofia Ghilas '21
spirit new
Chapter 1: The World Around Us | Service

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

By Dr. Helen Pope - Former St. Stephen’s Teacher and Director of the Dr. Helen Pope Lyceum
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching

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.

By Luca Vanderson '22
what we started
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching

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.

By Matteo Scarfini ‘24
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching

Film Review: Seaspiracy

The newly released Netflix documentary, Seaspiracy, explores the damage the fishing industry is causing the blue planet.

By Gustav Franklin ‘21
gone wind4
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching

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.

By Benedetta Bosco ‘22
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching

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.

By Anita D’Alisera ‘21
favorite online
Chapter 2: Our Life Online | What Students Are Watching | Digital St. Stephen's

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.

Chapter 3: Creative Writing | Creative Writing


As the school's only student-run literary and artistic magazine, INK provides the grounding for your creativity to thrive.

By The INK Team
cw 1
Chapter 3: Creative Writing | Creative Writing

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.”

Chapter 4: Departments | The Lyceum

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.

By Inge Weustink - Director of the Lyceum, Classics Teacher
city of rome1
Chapter 4: Departments | Exploring City of Rome II Class

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).

By Dr. Rebecca Raynor - Art History, Dr. Paul Treherne - History
arts hero
Chapter 5: The Arts

The Arts

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

Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview, Cortile 2021 Highlights

Nicola Formichetti ‘96

Fashion Designer / Stylist / Creative Director

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
M. Stancati photo
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Margherita Stancati ‘03

The Wall Street Journal reporter

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Galen Druke ‘08

Host and Producer at FiveThirtyEight.

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
Diva Tommei.Photo credits Ilaria Magliocchetti
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Diva Tommei ‘02

Investment Director Information Technology ICT at ENEA Teach

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
elizabeth blackwell2
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Elizabeth Blackwell ‘86


By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
Rachel Sadoff
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight Interview

Rachel Sadoff ‘15

MA Candidate in Public Health at Columbia University

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
Healthy Campus team
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Alumni Spotlight

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…

By Eric Mayer - Head of School
online alumni
Chapter 6. Alumni Spotlight | Digital Alumni

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.