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Anyone who has crossed Dwight’s transom at 18 West 89th Street knows that the gateway to our school is comprised of double hand-forged iron doors that are not only quite heavy but also beautiful to behold. These architectural icons of our campus, named the “School of Spirits” doors, were designed intentionally to be difficult to open.

Each door weighs 1,000 pounds. They were crafted by James Garvey, a Dwight parent (Sara ’95, Constance ’98, and Noah ’99), who is one of the leading metalsmith artists in the world. He wanted students to realize that they need to make an effort to learn, to overcome inertia to enter and excel; and that once inside Dwight’s learning community, they would feel safe.

The ironwork is complex and labor-intensive — and reflects Dwight’s 143-year legacy of merging tradition with innovation. The doors were created using ancient forging methods that originated before the Middle Ages combined with techniques developed in modern times.

Donated to Dwight in 1994 by the artist, our “School of Spirits” doors are again in the spotlight through a current re-crafting project by Mr. Garvey. I am reminded that the ornamental doors mirror the narrative of every child that enters Dwight’s portal. It is the story of overcoming small setbacks as a necessary ingredient to achieve anything of significance. Great teachers, just as the artist who created the “School of Spirits” doors, help to forge students with iron wills and open hearts. Historic and heroic teachers are memorialized in the doors, as they assist children to ascend to become ethical leaders. The doors represent the hopes and dreams we have for our children.

To learn more about Mr. Garvey’s work and the original concept for our “School of Spirits” doors, visit
It was the brainchild of one Dwight student. It became a collaboration across four Dwight School campuses. And it showcases 80 pieces of original art: Dwight’s “20x20” traveling art exhibit, which is currently on display in our Quad.

Last winter, Jin Hanbyul Lee ’16 of Dwight School Seoul had an idea to spark a global conversation and unite our network of schools in an exciting and creative project. He invited students in grades 6-12 from New York, London, Vancouver Island, and from his home campus in Seoul to participate in what would become a thought-provoking exhibit that has since journeyed around the world.

Working on this cross-campus collaboration with his mentor, Visual Arts teacher Carlos Noguera, Jin chose a broad but probing theme and posed the question, “How do you see the world?” Encouraging students “to consider environmental and social challenges in our society today,” they answered the query through art.

With no limits placed on creativity, but a few logistical considerations in mind, each piece would have to be the same size ― 20x20 inches ― and capable of being shipped flat in just one package that would make its way from school to school.

As the call to participate spread across Dwight campuses, a flourish of artistic activity ensued. Students were eager to share their creative sparks of genius. Each school contributed 20 multimedia works of art showcasing a wealth of collective talent and intriguing individual perspectives.

With 80 different answers to the same question, the artwork reflects a range from optimism to cynicism, through hopeful images of a peaceful world to anguished images of a world at risk. Views of land, city, and sea are interspersed with flights of fantasy. Creatures and animals, real and imaginary, are seen alongside self-portraits of artists, peering thoughtfully from their canvases, representing that essential truth: We all see the world in our own way.

The riveting exhibit debuted in the Spahn gallery at Dwight School Seoul and made its way to London for leg two. Now in New York, the art will arrive at its final destination in Canada this spring.

One of the New York students who contributed and whose spark of genius is art, Rebekka Christophersen ’15, shares her thoughts, “I grew up between Oslo, Jerusalem, Beirut, and New York, so I was excited by the idea of participating in an art project connecting Dwight students who study around the world. I also enjoyed the idea that each piece would be the same size, meaning all students had the same starting point from which they could express themselves. This is a brilliant way of presenting the unique nuances of every individual as well as our common human experiences.”

Rebekka explains how she developed her piece: “The first image that came to my mind when considering the question, ‘How do you see the world?’, was of the people I surround myself with. Considering my current New York environment, these people materialized into portraits of my closest New York City friends. I find encouragement and inspiration in their warmth, wisdom, and various strengths. I drew their heads hovering above the Brooklyn Bridge, since Williamsburg was where we first bonded over common music interests. I think people, particularly youth, are the most significant resource in battling societal challenges, so in this piece I am bringing this to light.

We want to thank Rebekka and all the students whose work appears in the 20x20 exhibit. Also, we want to give kudos to Jin for his imagination and leadership ― and a special tip of our hat to him for his wonderful performance at our all-campus Carnegie Hall concert last month. A member of the Seoul Chamber Ensemble, he played a violin solo, demonstrating that he is, indeed, multi-talented!

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The game was dramatic. The stakes were high. The outcome victorious. As Director of Athletics Jason Coy called it for us, “Down 13-5 after the first quarter of the NYSAIS Division B finals against Collegiate, Dwight came out in the second as the aggressor and the team fought its way back into the game with great defense and a steady offense. At halftime, the score was Dwight 24-Collegiate 21.” This was where things stood mid-afternoon on March 1, when the Dwight Lions were defending their league crown against the number-two team in the league.

Now back in the game, our Varsity Boys Basketball team started the second half, as Mr. Coy continues, “with defensive pressure from senior Rodrigue Marthone, Jr. and eighth-grader Dajuan Piper, their opponents were never allowed to find a rhythm. The fast pace led to a few run outs and easy buckets. Jeremy Bonifacio ’15 protected the rim, while Felipe D’Andrea ’16 and Marcus Klotz ’15 each grabbed a few offense rebounds to keep the possession with our ‘Boys in Blue.’ The final four minutes hovered around a one possession game until Rodrigo D’Andrea ’16 drove the baseline and finished to push the lead up to five. After Collegiate scored four unanswered points, they were forced to foul Rodrigue for a one and one inside the final 30 seconds. Rodrigue tickled the nylon twice to set up a dramatic last possession and a desperate three-point attempt by Collegiate to go for the tie. Their shot fell short and Dwight was fouled. Two free throws later, the buzzer sounded…Dwight 49-Collegiate 44. Back-to-back State champs!” AMAZING!

Dwight entered the finals, following a showing at the semi-finals two days earlier that was nothing short of a “Cinderella story.” After losing three times this year to the number-one team in the league, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, fourth-ranked Dwight showed grit and determination to defeat this juggernaut opponent 59-48, representing the best of Dwight.

Coach Dave Brown ’97, who also led the team to victory in the NYSAIS championships last year, reports, “The team triumphed over Léman because the players believed in one another and performed beautifully. It was a special game and they played with more heart than I have ever seen in my 16 years of high school and college coaching.”

One Goliath (Léman) down. One more (Collegiate) to win a second-straight league championships. Coach Brown takes the story home, “The players’ commitment to defense prevented Collegiate from advancing. Any time a team plays against a team such as theirs, ranked among the most prepared in the City, you have to be better prepared to win. And to win after a slow start, you have to play the best basketball possible for the last two and a half quarters. Our team did just that.”

Now that’s what we call March Madness! Congratulations to everyone!

Dwight’s 2015 NYSAIS-winning Boys Varsity Basketball team takes its place in a long and proud tradition of basketball excellence, beginning with former Headmaster Dr. M.C. Spahn. He was an All-American at CCNY and then a professional in the American Basketball League in the 1930s before retiring from the game. His son, Chancellor Stephen Spahn, was an All-American at Dartmouth College, where he established several scoring records. His commitment to nurturing scholar-athletes and vision paved the way for our new Dwight School Athletic Center, which has been home court to our proud Dwight Lions for the last two years. Check it out here!
Art is omnipresent at Dwight. Student artwork adorns the hallways and gallery spaces of our campus ― and shares pride of place alongside Dwight’s museum-quality collection of over 200 paintings, sculptures, etchings, thangkas, and more.

Against this amazingly vibrant backdrop, and from classroom to classroom, students learn about and create art within the context of the IB curriculum, while letting their imaginations roam free. With guidance from mentors, such as Timothy House Art Teacher Amanda Thompson, students unleash their inner Michelangelo or Picasso! A graduate of the London University and Rhode Island School of Design, Ms. Thompson shared her thoughts about teaching and how the artistic spark of genius is found in all her students, when we sat down to discuss all things art.

When did you first become interested in art? What or who inspired you?
My mum is an artist. She went to art school in Brighton in the 70s. I grew up around her and her artist friends in Brighton and London, and we spent a lot of time looking at and talking about art. I first became personally interested in creating art in London in the 80s. Many of my friends were in the music and fashion industries, and I started by creating large-scale paintings and collages in clubs and shops in Soho. It was all about transforming the space.

Is there one art form that you are most passionate about?
Tell us about your personal work. I am particularly enthralled by large-scale, interactive installations. Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson, and Anish Kapoor are some of my favorite artists.

As for my personal work, I was trained as a painter, but I mainly make three-dimensional abstract work. My last solo show was in a 3,000-square-foot gallery in Williamsburg, where I showed a multimedia installation, using cast glass, resin, carved wood, and video. My goal is to continue to create installations ― to create spaces ― which take the viewer into another world.

How do you ignite the artistic spark of genius within your students?
The spark is in all of them. I am just the facilitator; my job is to make sure I don’t stand in their way. Having said that, each student has a different spark, so I believe, as their art teacher, it is my responsibility to introduce him or her to as many different art forms as possible. For example, we have units that focus on graphic design, others on sculpture or painting, and even one on engineering.

Can one teach "creativity”?
Yes, I believe you can. I think it’s important for students to be active in the decision-making process. If they are authentically invested in what they are learning or what they are making, they will become very creative. A large part of art class is spent asking questions, brainstorming ideas and solutions to problems, collaborating, and communicating ideas in new and innovative ways. Some of my best classes have started with a pile of materials and a problem to solve, with the creativity blossoming infinitely.

How is art taught differently in the IB curriculum?
I believe that the fundamental difference is in how the art curriculum is integrated with the rest of the curriculum. It is concept-based and skills are taught through the content, rather than in isolation. In this way, everything we do is relevant and interesting to students, and often generated by them. This keeps students motivated and allows them to take ownership of their own learning. I had a first-grader ask me to teach him how to draw a house in 3-D the other day, as he was in the middle of a unit on homes. I ended up teaching the whole class how to draw with a one-point perspective in the next class ― and we had a blast!

What makes Dwight's art program stand out from the crowd?
I think it’s pretty incredible to be a part of New Yor
Founded in 1872 and located in New York City, Dwight is a leading private international school. The first school in the Americas to offer all four International Baccalaureate programs

for students in preschool through grade 12, Dwight is dedicated to igniting the spark of genius in every child.
Dwight School   291 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-3002   Phone: 212.724.6360