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To those of us who are interested in learning about Artificial Intelligence (AI), how the internet is structured, and the basics of programming, we may think we have an advantage, but there is so much effort and knowledge being put into creating these mechanisms, that even the original creators don't know the true potential or implications. We read a lot of hype about Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), 5G, or the Internet of Things (IoT) as the next new, big gamechanger, but alongside that is another concept called the blockchain. The name is not very descriptive or intuitive, so there is no wonder many do not really know what it is and why in recent years, it has gained significant appeal worldwide.

What is Blockchain Technology?

Before going into detail about the blockchain, it might be easier to start by clarifying what it is not. Many people are likely to associate the meaning of blockchain with Bitcoin. In reality, Blockchain is a wholly new and separate technology. Bitcoin is, in fact, only one of the products of its potential. The blockchain’s distinctive way of recording and transferring information finds much broader applications beyond cryptocurrencies.

In a very simplistic way, we could say that the blockchain is a method to organize a series of events to guarantee the integrity of data in order to make it easy for a group of people or companies to agree on it. In other words, as the name implies, the blockchain is a sequence of blocks chained together and distributed among the users. According to Kendall Little, a New York-based journalist covering personal finance for NextAdvisor, “A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) allows record-keeping across multiple computers, known as “nodes.” Any blockchain user can be a node, but it takes a lot of computer power to operate. Nodes verify, approve, and store data within the ledger. This is different from traditional record-keeping methods, which store data in a central place, such as a computer server. A blockchain organizes information added to the ledger into blocks or groups of data.

Each block can only hold a certain amount of information, so new blocks are continually added to the ledger, forming a chain.” (https://time.com/nextadvisor/investing/cryptocurrency/what-is-blockchain/). There are different types of blockchain. Permissionless blockchains are part of the public blockchain, in where no permission is required to join and interact with. On the other hand, a permissioned blockchain is private. It is closed, and only those authorized by the network administrator can join.

Key features

The key features of blockchain technology–immutability, security, and transparency–have added significant value to several sectors. While we cannot define blockchain as a cost-cutting technology, undoubtedly, its adoption has the potential to bring efficiency gains. Although blockchain’s adoption is not immune from challenges, including investment, education, and data standardization, there are several advantages it can bring to a project, including reduced operational risks, increased quality process, a higher level of transparency, and simplification of revision activities. In fact, blockchain applications allow the full visibility of transactions and the execution of shared rules on the ledger for the automatic matching of information. This applies especially in a setting where multiple organizations operate in the same industry, for example, in use cases developed by a consortium where a group of peers, leveraging a common governance, collaborate to define rules and the technology development.

Use cases

In light of its characteristics, it is not surprising that the blockchain has great appeal in the financial sector. Many of these applications–for example, Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies in general–tend to solve key business challenges, such as matching the quantity of money or assets exchanged with what the records state and identifying discrepancies. As an example, the Italian banking sector has successfully pioneered the use of blockchain/Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) with a new application, Spunta Banca DLT, for straight-through processing of interbank reconciliation. As we learn from the technical provider R3 in its use case about the Spunta project published on their website (https://www.r3.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Spunta_Corda_CS_R3_Digital_2020-copy-1.pdf), “Historically, the reconciliation process for interbank transactions in Italy, known as spunta in Italian, has been notoriously complex. With multiple parties involved, the task of identifying and addressing inconsistencies has historically been hampered by a lack of standardization, the use of piecemeal and fragmented communication methods, and no “single version of the truth.”

As a result, resolving mismatches in transactions has been a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. For decades, these shortcomings have meant that the need to reconcile transactions with other banks has been a significant headache for financial institutions in Italy and Europe. These issues made the spunta process an ideal candidate for automation through blockchain technology to automatically detect non-matching transactions using a shared algorithm, standardize both the process and the single communication channel, and provide a comprehensive view of the transactions among the interested parties.” However, leading industry players are exploring solutions for a variety of other sectors besides finance. One interesting case is the IBM Food Trust, a consortium of growers, processors, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, retailers, and other stakeholders in the food chain. This platform enhances transparency and accountability for each step of the food supply, connecting users through a permissioned, permanent, and shared record of food provenance, processing data, and shipping details.

Blockchain is complex and technical, as we have seen above, but clearly has the potential to truly transform the way we do business. However, the design and launch of a blockchain/DLT project require a broad view of aspects that impact the planning and the development of the new application. It is an exciting and relevant subject that I hope our school will soon introduce to its students. Understanding and mastering the fundamentals of this technology will be key both for those like myself who are genuinely interested in this and other new technologies and those who will need a foundation to ready them for higher education and work in the future.

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Chapter 01: News from the Board of Trustees | Welcome to St. Stephen's

Welcome Head of School-Elect Jill Muti

The St. Stephen’s community looks forward to welcoming Head-Elect Jill Muti when she arrives in Rome later this summer.

For the last eighteen years, Ms. Muti has been the Head of Ashley Hall, a Pre-K-12th-grade independent school for girls serving 685 students. In this capacity, she has managed the budget, staffing, and all aspects of student life and has had hands-on leadership in virtually every dimension of the School's program, including strategic planning and development. 

Chapter 02: War in Ukraine | A Comment on Our Times, Cortile 2022 Highlights

The Fight for Ukraine: A Journey to the End of the Night

It was a day after Russia invaded when Alex texted.

Now a successful attorney, my good friend is Ukrainian. In childhood, he was a refugee, encamped in Italy before being relocated to Texas. “Remember that thing you wrote about whether individuals shape history?” he asked. I had to admit that I did not. “I do,” he said.

By Jen Hollis - Teacher of IB History
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Chapter 02: War in Ukraine | A Comment on Our Times

Ukraine Facts at a Glance



In March of 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed a region of Ukraine called Crimea, which Russia believed belonged to them. It was annexed through a Crimean parliament vote, followed by a 97% win referendum. The annexation, however, is still widely disputed by Ukraine and the International Community. (NPR)  It remains the only time a European nation has used military force to seize territory since World War II.

By Aslan Stephenson ‘25
Chapter 02: War in Ukraine | Putin's Mind, A Comment on Our Times, Cortile 2022 Highlights

Opinion - Putin’s Mind: A Psychological Assessment

With Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine,

Russia's rise towards autocracy hit a new high. Putin has threatened any country attempting to intervene with dire consequences, which some fear may include the use of nuclear weapons, during this full-scale military invasion.

By Emma C. Jansen ‘24
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Chapter 02: War in Ukraine | A Comment on Our Times

When Will It End?

A chill ran down my spine on February 24th as I watched the invasion of my home country in absolute horror.

Many said it wouldn’t happen. It did. Our president, Volodymyr Zelensky, appealed to the Russian people in a last-ditch effort to stave off the inevitable in those early morning hours in late February.

By Unnamed SSS Student
Chapter 03: Around School | Boarding Activities

Boarding: Holiday dinner & weekend activities

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Chapter 03: Around School | Fall Trips, Boarding Activities

Boarding: Lago Albano & Fall trips

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Chapter 03: Around School | Service, Field Trips

Field Trips & CAS

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Chapter 04: Technology Today | Blockchain, Technology

The Blockchain

Generation Z is growing up in a technologically advanced world.

Even though we are supposed to know the latest technology and advancements, many things you read about are still unclear and confusing.

By Emma C. Jansen ‘24
love of bitcoin
Chapter 04: Technology Today | Love of Crypto, Technology

For the Love of Crypto

Cryptocurrency is one of the world’s greatest inventions.

However, there is a lot of false information about it. For many, it remains mysterious and something not well understood. Because of that, many people choose to stay away from it, believing they will lose a lot of money. But is that really the case?

By Matteo Torralba ‘24
Chapter 04: Technology Today | NFT, Technology

I’ll Have an NFT, Please

In the last couple of months, interest in NFTs has skyrocketed.

If you haven’t heard of or know anything about this latest craze, the concept is relatively simple. NFT stands for Non-Fungible Token, which is essentially a virtual or digital collectible (e.g., art). If you are to buy a particular NFT, that means you are the only certified holder of it. It’s a pretty cool phenomenon.

By Francesco Saviotti ‘23
Chapter 04: Technology Today | New Technologies

New Technologies on the Horizon

Blockchain technology offers many exciting possibilities in various industries–from finance and law to music and fashion,and we’ve read a few use cases in this chapter. Below, you’ll find a few more technologies that are my top picks I believe we should keep an eye on for the impact each has the potential of having on human welfare.

By Francesco Saviotti ‘23
Chapter 05: The Dr. Helen Pope Lyceum | The Lyceum, Classics

The Aventinus Minor Project: An Educational and Community Archaeology Project

Learning about human societies - past, present, and future.


By Inge Weustink - Director of the Lyceum, Classics Teacher
Chapter 05: The Dr. Helen Pope Lyceum

Scientific Methods in Archaeology Lessons

During the last week of March, the 9th- and 10th- graders engaged in a presentation followed by an interactive session related to archaeology and the sciences.

By Esme Lundius ‘10 - St. Stephen’s Activities Coordinator, Boarding Department
Chapter 06: Creative Writing | The Arts, Creative Writing

Celebrating the Core Value of Creativity

Creative Writing Teacher Moira Egan is extremely pleased to introduce these pieces by students in the Spring Semester’s Creative Writing Classes.

A wide and wonderful gamut is represented here, including works inspired by works of literature or students’ artwork, the classic yet fun form of ovillejos, and beautiful translations from the Hindi and Chinese.

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Chapter 07: Interview with Outgoing Head of School Eric Mayer

Eric Mayer

Outgoing Head of School

By Natalie Edwards '14 - City of Rome I, Core 9 Teacher and member of the Boarding Faculty
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Chapter 08: Our Life Online | Digital St. Stephen's

Technology for Good

In this online event, we discussed and provided insight into how St.Stephen’s alumni benefit from an adaptive aptitude towards building technologies that truly solve problems, beyond the financial gain.

Chapter 08: Our Life Online | Gaming, Technology

The Wonderful World of Gaming

In gaming, there are several social and emotional advantages.

Although online games are a form of entertainment, with the support and guidance of parents, they can help children develop creativity, cultivate relationships with friends, and improve strategic thinking.

By Francesco Saviotti ‘23
healthy mind
Chapter 09: Sports | Exercise Critical for a Healthy Mind

Why Exercise is Critical for Maintaining a Healthy Mind

Exercise, be it aerobic or anaerobic, is generally perceived as a positive activity to partake in; yet what does the science say when it comes to its effects on mood, mental health, and general well-being?

By Alexander Carbon ‘22
Chapter 09: Sports | Sports Program at School

Sports lens

Enjoy our photo gallery

ice skating
Chapter 09: Sports | Ice Skating is a Passion

The Fire Inside Me

I frequently question what people are passionate about.

And, I mean like insanely in love and an ardent passion towards a sport, music, subject, person, or anything; a kind of passion that lights a fire inside you.

By Clotilde Citrani ‘23
true to myself
Chapter 10: Mental Health | Surrounded yourself with Healthy People

To Thyself Be True

The importance of surrounding yourself with healthy people is knowing you are fine just by yourself if you don’t find them

By Emma LeGalle ‘23
mental health
Chapter 10: Mental Health | Impact on Mental Health, The Pandemic

The Impact of the Pandemic on the Mental Health of Adolescents

Psychologist Erik Erickson in his theory of psychosocial development, posits that between the ages of approximately 12 and 18, adolescents search for a sense of self and personal identity and explore their independence.

By Luisa Nannini - LCSW Health and Wellness Counselor
Chapter 11: Service Tributes | In the Spirit of Service

Supporting the Children of Idjwi

“Providing a meal at school is a simple but concrete way to give poor children a chance to learn and thrive.” WFP

By Dr. Helen Pope - Former St. Stephen’s Teacher and Director of the Dr. Helen Pope Lyceum
Chapter 11: Service Tributes | In the Spirit of Service

The House Whose Name is Love

La Casa di Andrea

By Annie Jacquet - Teacher of French and Supervisor of the Reach Out Student Club /Associazione Andrea Tudisco
Chapter 12: The Arts Collective | Book Corner

The Giver by Lois Lowry

HarperCollins Edition 2014

The novel, The Giver, is a fantasy intended for young audiences. It is an exciting story full of twists and turns. But above all, especially in these times, it pushed me to reflect on the pain brought by war and human brutality.

By Vittoria Giusti ‘22
Chapter 12: The Arts Collective | Book Corner

The Plague by Albert Camus

My English class has been reading and studying the novel The Plague by Albert Camus.

Throughout the book–centered around disease, sickness, and consequent suffering–we observe the plague's ‘chillingly rapid’ progression throughout the city and its psychological, social, and emotional effects on those living through it.

By Benedetta Bosco ‘22
Chapter 12: The Arts Collective | Photography, The Arts, Digital St. Stephen's

Liana Miuccio's Photoclasses

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Chapter 12: The Arts Collective | What Students are Watching

Film review: Promising Young Woman (2020)

IMDB Rating: 7.5

‘Can you guess what every woman’s worst nightmare is?’