Past Community Updates

List of 40 items.

  • An Update from the School Nurse (January 7, 2022)

    Dear Parents, Colleagues, and Boys:

    We hope that you and your boys all enjoyed some well-deserved rest and relaxation over the recent holiday break. It has been great to have the boys back on campus. I know it continues to be an unsettling and frustrating time for many reasons amidst another Covid surge; however, there is cause for hope and optimism. Our return this week, while challenging in some respects, has been affirming. Our team continues to work in close partnership to support the boys’ physical and emotional well-being, making sure that they feel a sense of stability and normalcy when they come on campus each day.

    As our first week of 2022 comes to a close, we want to update you on the adjustments that have been made to our isolation and quarantine protocols, as noted below.

    • Students with a positive Covid test will be asked to remain at home and isolate for 5 days. They can return to school on Day 6 if fever free and symptoms are resolving. They will be required to wear a well-fitting mask upon return through Day 10.

    • If you are a known close contact of a positive case and are unvaccinated, you will be asked to quarantine for 5 days and then return on Day 6 with a well-fitting mask through Day 10.

    • As the scope of transmission of the Omicron variant has intensified in recent weeks, determining close contacts of students with Covid is difficult. Therefore, we ask parents and boys to stay home when symptomatic or upon testing positive.  
    Thank you so much for your ongoing support. We are hopeful that this current surge, while challenging, will pave the way for a very positive 2022 ahead.  

    Julie Doerge, R.N.
  • An Update from the Headmaster (January 2, 2022)

    Dear Parents and Marksmen, 
    Happy New Year!
    I hope this note finds you doing well and that you and your families enjoyed a peaceful, joyous, and blessed holiday season. This time of year often prompts us to pause and reflect on what matters most in our lives and to consider the things that we can do to positively impact the year ahead.
    This school year has indeed been a blessing thus far for all of us. When we started in late August with some trepidation and uncertainty, none of us could have predicted the energy, momentum, and progress of the past five months. The time on campus this fall with the boys was filled with memorable experiences in and out of the classroom. Our time together leading up to the holiday break was energizing. We gathered for time-honored traditions like Lessons & Carols, Banner Chapel, and the All-School Christmas Party, attended concerts, assemblies, and winter sports contests, and witnessed the boys and the community come together to support those in need across our great city. Thank you for your strong support in helping us establish the normalcy and routine for the 900 Marksmen that walk our halls each day.
    Amidst the time away in recent weeks, we’ve all witnessed yet another surge in COVID activity around the world and of course right here in our community. This increase is a source of concern and has directly affected a number of our students and teachers. While we don’t necessarily know what the coming weeks will bring, the boys need a clear sense of stability, consistency, and confidence about the path forward.
    Given the increasing pressure on our community and the potential for disruption of the boys’ daily experience, it is important that we continue to take responsibility for our own well-being and the well-being of those around us. Our community continues to pull together at every turn, enabling us to remain focused on St. Mark’s core mission: helping every Marksman prepare for a life of leadership, responsibility, and service. As you know, indoor masking was required throughout the fall before transitioning to optional masking following Thanksgiving. As classes resume this week, we will continue with our mask-optional approach. At the same time, it is likely that many students and teachers will continue to wear masks while indoors, as they did during the leadup to the Christmas break. We will continue to carefully monitor our experiences on campus and will be prepared to make any adjustments should they become necessary.
    As always, thank you for your ongoing commitment to the boys and to one another. Nancy joins me in sending best wishes to you and your family for a very positive year ahead! 
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (November 8, 2021)

    Dear Parents and Marksmen,
    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well.
    In reflecting on the first several months of the school year, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to our boys, our parents, and of course all my colleagues for helping us re-establish normalcy and routine across the campus. After several years of disruption and dislocation due to the pandemic and the tornado, it has been affirming to see all our academic and co-curricular programs back at full strength. From Chapel services, assemblies, and class meetings to community service events, pep rallies, athletic and fine art programs, spirit parties, and so much more, daily life at 10600 Preston Road has been upbeat and fulfilling. At the same time, welcoming parents back to campus has been a blessing and contributes greatly to the resumption of the routines, activities, and traditions we all cherish. The meaningful daily support that parents provide uplifts our work with the boys. It has been great to see so many of you at games, in the lunchroom, walking the halls, or simply participating in the many activities across our community.
    As you know, public health conditions across the city have thankfully improved markedly over the past few months. We are also encouraged by our experiences on campus this fall with limited COVID impact, quarantines, and disruption. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of our students and teachers have been vaccinated, and with this week’s rollout of the vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 11, there will be added protections available to everyone in our community. Given this progress and our steadily improving conditions, we plan to make masks optional for all students and adults on campus following Thanksgiving break. Like you, I am incredibly proud that Marksmen of all ages have consistently demonstrated optimism and determination when faced with new challenges. We are eager to take this next step together and firmly believe that it will further support the social and emotional well-being of our boys as we strive for even greater normalcy and routine.
    Looking forward, in the next few weeks we will also provide several important updates on our planning for the redevelopment and expansion of the athletic facilities that were destroyed by the tornado. In addition, we are excited to share progress on a number of other strategic priorities, including faculty recruitment efforts and our commitment to expand student access and affordability in the years ahead. Along those lines, we are anticipating more than 1,000 attendees at next week’s Admission Open House as interest in St. Mark’s continues to resonate across the metroplex and beyond. We are also eager to once again welcome extended family members to campus for Grandparents’ Day on November 19.  
    As always, please know your support and partnership are vitally important. The values that underpin our mission, our community, and our culture are substantive and enduring. Thank you for working together, arm in arm, to sustain and strengthen the bonds we share. Nancy joins me in extending warmest Thanksgiving wishes to you and your family.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (August 13, 2021)

    Dear Parents and Marksmen,
    The past week has been filled with several significant milestones. Early Tuesday morning, the Class of 2024 returned from a successful Pecos Trip, marking the fiftieth anniversary of this Marksman tradition of boys trekking into the wilderness to forge even closer bonds of friendship and shared commitment as emerging leaders on campus. And just last night, we hosted the annual College Send-Off for the Class of 2021 and unveiled their newly inscribed names on the walls in Graduate Hall. Excitement continues to build on campus as we move ever closer to the first day of school and prepare to welcome faculty back to campus next week for pre-sessional meetings. We are particularly pleased to welcome a talented group of experienced new colleagues to the St. Mark’s team and are looking forward to the many contributions they will bring to our community.
    As plans are being finalized for the year ahead, we remain undeterred in our commitment to resume a high degree of normalcy and routine with all of our curricular and co-curricular programs, activities, and events. Chapel, the Great Hall, the Fine Arts Center and other communal spaces will be open, and we will welcome parents back to campus to support our daily work with the boys. All of our athletic and fine arts programs will operate at full strength.
    During the past year, we’ve gone to great lengths to support the physical and social-emotional safety and well-being of our boys, faculty, and community at large. In the face of considerable disruption last year, Marksmen and their teachers exhibited ongoing resilience, strength, and determination. With your support and encouragement, boys didn’t just endure the disruptions and challenges, they faced them head on and led our community forward with grace and optimism. Simply look back to Spirit Week, Banner Chapel, concluding athletic and fine arts events, Baccalaureate, and Commencement, and we’re quickly reminded how much leadership the boys demonstrated day in and day out. As one boy shared in a letter with me over the summer, "This past school year, every member of 10600 Preston Road worked as one to embody the principles of 'St. Mark’s Strong.' Blake and the Student Council constantly put the needs of the School before their own, bringing tremendous success to the entire student body." This year we will build on that momentum and provide Marksmen across campus with the most robust, engaging, and fulfilling experiences possible.
    At the same time, we have all followed the shifting landscape in recent days regarding how to address the rapidly deteriorating health conditions in our area, most of which we had hoped were in the rear-view mirror. Of course, the structural improvements we made across campus last year to support a safe and healthy environment on campus will continue to underpin our well-being in the months ahead. The major question we’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks is how to respond to the guidance related to masking on campus. We are grateful that more than 95% of our 250 employees and nearly 75% of our boys in grades 7-12 (which is two-thirds of our total student body) are vaccinated. And, while evidence over the past eighteen months indicates the risk of serious illness and mortality for children from COVID-19 has thankfully been low, in recent weeks there has been an alarming uptick in the number and severity of pediatric cases, including in North Texas. In conversations with UT Southwestern and Children’s Medical Center this week, we’ve learned how much pressure our pediatric care facilities are currently facing, which affects not only risks associated with the pandemic, but also other pediatric emergencies or critical care needs that emerge during this tenuous time.
    Thus, we have made the decision to open the school year with indoor masking for all students and adults on campus, including teachers, professional staff, parents, and visitors. And while there are no perfect answers to the challenges we face, it is incumbent upon everyone in our community to work in unison to support the well-being, development, and success of every Marksman in our care. Given the high vaccination rates across our community and the use of masks indoors, we anticipate that the need for quarantining of close contacts will be much less common than last year, again promoting greater normalcy and routine. In addition, we will continue to conduct voluntary surveillance testing; however, it will not be required for participation in academic or co-curricular programs, except in limited cases.
    As we have said repeatedly, our goal for the coming year is to provide normalcy and routine so that every boy across campus can stretch, grow, and thrive. Whether it is your first or final year at St. Mark’s, know that we will work together, arm in arm, and continue to demonstrate the individual and collective strength, resilience, and character that define our School.
    Thank you for your ongoing support, encouragement, and partnership. I look forward to seeing you in the coming days and weeks as we get the new school year underway, together. Here’s to an outstanding year ahead!  Go Lions!
    With gratitude, excitement, and anticipation,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (August 2, 2021)

    Dear Parents and Marksmen,
    I hope you are enjoying a positive, restful, and restorative summer. As we make our way into August and look toward the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year just three weeks from today, there is a growing sense of energy and excitement across the campus. We are eager for our hallways, classrooms, playing fields, labs, and public spaces to be filled with Marksmen once again, as we know they will bring great energy, creativity, and commitment as we embark on our 116th school year.  
    It’s been wonderful to have boys on campus throughout the summer for athletic workouts, art projects, journalism workshops, greenhouse gardening, and much more. Today, the Football team began two-a-day workouts and, early tomorrow morning, members of the Class of 2024 will head out for the Pecos Wilderness Trip, following in the footsteps of generations of Marksmen who've come before them. These experiences, much like our many culminating events in May, provide important and much-needed momentum as we prepare for the start of a new school year.  
    The summer months have thankfully provided meaningful opportunities for all of us to regain some sense of normalcy, balance, and perspective. In our house, we were grateful to have the opportunity to spend more substantive time with our children and extended family, time that we certainly treasure. And with a growing family moving in many directions, that has become increasingly difficult. But throughout the summer, I took time to reflect on all that we have been through together during the past few years and repeatedly found myself counting our many blessings.
    As we look to the year ahead, challenges and opportunities certainly remain. Of course, we all recognize the ongoing public health challenges before us and remain focused on providing our boys with both safe and meaningful experiences. Next week we will share additional information about our mitigation efforts for the opening of school, but want you to know that we are continuing to plan for a high degree of normalcy and routine. Among other things, we look forward to welcoming parents back to campus and reestablishing consistent rhythms that underpin our sense of community.  
    Let me express my heartfelt gratitude to you for your ongoing support and enthusiasm. In particular, I want to welcome our newest Marksmen and their families to the St. Mark’s community. We are thankful that you have joined our School family and look forward to the positive contributions you will make in the years ahead.
    Please enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. I look forward to seeing you on campus and catching up in person sometime soon.
    With gratitude and eager anticipation, 

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (May 4, 2021)

    Dear Parents and Marksmen,
    As we make our way into the final weeks of the school year, there is cause for considerable excitement, enthusiasm, and optimism. In recent weeks, we’ve enjoyed a wide range of events and activities on and off campus, including athletic competitions, concerts and performances, and a number of springtime celebrations. Just last week, the Class of 2021 organized a Spirit Week for the Upper School boys that garnered widespread participation and tremendous campus momentum. It is important to acknowledge the ongoing commitment and positive energy demonstrated by the boys each day, as they continue to make the most of every opportunity. In addition, the many Marksman experiences throughout this year simply would not have been possible without the continuing dedication of our faculty, coaches, advisors, and professional staff who have invested themselves fully at every turn, as well as our parents who have remained focused on the values, ideals, and principles that we strive to instill in every boy. 
    Given the disruptions and pattern changes this year in response to the pandemic, it is natural to wonder what campus life will look like next year. While we continue to bring greater flexibility across campus in response to steadily improving conditions, it is our expectation that “normal” campus life will resume in the fall. We are planning to fully reopen important indoor communal facilities, including the Chapel, the Great Hall, and other widely-used gathering spaces. In addition, we expect to resume the use of Harkness classrooms and return to routine traffic patterns and space utilization. Special thanks to the many teachers who demonstrated great flexibility by teaching in different locations this year, enabling in-person instruction across the campus. Quite simply, we are all looking forward to campus life becoming much more routine. In addition, with the proliferation of the COVID vaccine among adults and a growing number of school-aged children, we also can imagine an environment where mask-wearing requirements will be very different. While it’s still too early to confirm exactly what our plans will be for masking in the fall, we are very hopeful and optimistic about increased flexibility. 
    While many public and private schools across the country have not experienced in-person learning for more than a year, we are grateful to have had the boys on campus. If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to visit the St. Mark’s website to see how engaged Marksmen have been, not just in their academic pursuits, but also in the arts, athletics, clubs, community service, journalism, and much, much more. From a Quiz Bowl National Championship, traveling sports teams, and the dedication of another Habitat house, Marksmen continue to make a difference wherever they go.
    We also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Katherine Steinbrueck and the St. Mark’s Parents’ Association for providing such meaningful support and encouragement throughout this year. Last month’s Celebrate St. Mark’s event in support of the Wilderness Program and ongoing tornado relief was yet another example of the many ways that our families have lifted up the whole community when it was needed most. 
    Over the next few weeks, we look forward to welcoming families to campus for various culminating traditions, from Fourth Grade graduation, Banner Chapel, and Final Assemblies to Baccalaureate, Marksmen Ball, Blue Shirt Day, and of course, Commencement. As we enjoy these remaining days together and celebrate your sons, let me once again reiterate the shared gratitude we all feel for the support that our whole community has demonstrated. While the past year has certainly provided us with some unexpected challenges and plenty of frustrations, I’ve never been prouder to be part of the St. Mark’s community. Marksmen have proven their strength, resilience, and determination time and time again. Late last Friday afternoon after the Spirit Week had come to a close and the cheering had subsided, several of the senior boys who had planned the week’s many events and celebrations stayed behind to pick up trash, put away supplies, and make sure they left the fields and campus cleaner than they found it. These Marksmen weren’t asked to lead, they simply took responsibility for the well-being of their School. In acts large and small, our boys understand that character matters.  
    On behalf of all my colleagues, thank you for your ongoing commitment and support. Here’s wishing you and your family all the best for a very satisfying and fulfilling final few weeks of school.

    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the School Nurse (March 10, 2021)

    As we near the one-year anniversary of the suspension of School last spring and the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our region, it is important to reflect on all that has happened over the past twelve months. While we have all been forced to navigate new and unexpected challenges, I want you to know how much I value the continued partnership and support that you provide to my colleagues, to the boys, and to my team as we’ve pushed through this difficult time together. Notwithstanding all of the disruptions and frustrations that have come our way, it has been wonderful to have the boys on campus each day interacting with their teachers, coaches, classmates, and friends. 
    Thankfully, we are seeing meaningful progress on the pandemic and conditions have been consistently improving in our community since late January. In recent weeks we have been clearly focused on vaccinating all of our employees. I’m pleased to report that a large majority of our teaching faculty and many of our professional staff have already been immunized. In that regard, three veteran faculty who have been teaching remotely due to health concerns will be returning to campus to lead in-person classes following spring break. This is very good news for sure. 
    With Spring Break approaching, I know there are some continuing questions about the School’s policy and expectations about travel and whether or not quarantining is required in the week we return. Just to be clear, we encourage you to follow the CDC travel guidelines and also know that every circumstance is different. Instead of mandating quarantines for students who travel during Spring Break, we are simply asking families to make good, thoughtful decisions and to keep their son home following travel if they believe that it is necessary. As has been true all year, our collective well-being as a community is a reflection of the individual decisions that we all make. Thank you for taking responsibility for your own family and for those across the St. Mark’s family. 
    As you might expect, we plan to continue all of our mitigation efforts throughout the remainder of the school year to ensure that the balance of the spring is as safe and successful as possible. And, as always, we are here if you have any questions or concerns.
    With all best wishes to you and your family,
    Julie Doerge, RN
    School Nurse
  • An Update from the Headmaster (February 5, 2021)

    Dear Parents,
    As we make our way into February and close out the end of our second week of remote learning, I want to express my sincere gratitude to you and all our teachers for providing the most positive experiences possible for your sons. I also want to convey how proud we are of all the boys for their ongoing efforts to engage with classmates and teachers while learning remotely. Suffice to say, campus has been way too quiet without the boys.
    As you’ve seen, COVID cases have steadily decreased across our community, thankfully. While the transition to remote learning and the suspension of co-curricular programs was far from desirable, it allowed us to regain our footing and stabilize infection rates among both students and adults. We are eager to welcome Lower, Middle, and Upper School boys back to campus this coming Monday, February 8, when we will resume in-person learning and re-start all co-curricular programs.
    Our commitment to the physical and social-emotional well-being and development of every Marksman will continue to guide all daily decisions. At this point, we plan to remain on campus and sustain in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. We don’t anticipate any remote instructional days, including following the upcoming winter break or spring break. Thus, it is incumbent upon everyone in our community, students and adults alike, to take responsibility for our collective well-being and be mindful of the impact of personal behavior both on and off campus. Please note that if you decide to travel at any point between now and the conclusion of the school year, we will expect your son to study remotely for one week following your return.  
    If we are to meet our goal of remaining on campus for the remainder of the school year, we all must redouble our efforts and be mindful of the risks we take and the impact they have on others and the community at large. Our recent experience illustrates how quickly a run of infections can disrupt classroom instruction, athletics and fine arts programs, and other important activities across our community.  
    Thank you for your unwavering support and commitment. We look forward to seeing the boys back on campus next week.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (January 29, 2021)

    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well. On behalf of all of my colleagues on the faculty and staff, let me once again thank you for your continued patience and support.  

    The transition to remote instruction this week, while certainly not desirable, has made a significant difference in helping us address the impact of increased COVID cases across our community. As you’ve seen, the daily count of new positive cases has been slowly coming down over the course of this week. Our hope and expectation is that the number of active cases and quarantines will decrease in the coming week, thus allowing us to resume in-person instruction.  

    In order to support this positive trend and more significantly reduce the number of active cases and quarantines, we will continue remote instruction through next Friday, February 5, and hope to return to in-person instruction on Monday, February 8. All in-person co-curricular programs are also still on hold. Like you, we are eager for the boys to be back on campus and appreciate that remote learning places added burdens on you and your sons. It has been a remarkably challenging year for everyone, and yet, we all remain squarely focused on the development and well-being of every Marksman. If your son is struggling during this time, please reach out to the Counseling team for support, guidance, and encouragement.

    Thank you for your continuing partnership, especially in the midst of ongoing frustration and disappointment. Our collective vigilance and shared commitment to responsible behavior is vitally important to having boys on campus for the remainder of the school year.   

    Here’s to steady improvement in the days to come. I hope you have a good weekend.

    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (January 25)

    As the new week begins, we are continuing to carefully monitor the impact of active and prospective COVID cases and quarantines among students and adults across campus. Unfortunately, a significant number of positive cases were discovered over the weekend, including into last evening, further elevating concern about the well-being of everyone in our community. After our announcement about the transition to remote instruction for Upper School boys on Friday, it also became necessary to quarantine the entire fourth-grade class.
    Given these developments and our ongoing focus on the well-being of every boy and all of our colleagues, we have made the decision to transition both the Lower and Middle Schools to remote instruction effective tomorrow. Dean Clayman and Sherri Darver have called divisional assemblies this morning with the Middle and Lower School boys and teachers to inform them directly of these plans so that they can prepare to be away from campus.  
    We will provide an update no later than Friday about whether or not remote learning will need to be extended. It is our sincere hope that the suspension of in-person instruction will not last long; however, it is incumbent upon all of us to do everything possible to safeguard the well-being of our students, our teachers, and the extended St. Mark’s community.
    These challenging conditions undoubtedly create added stress, disruption, and challenges for families across our community, so please don’t hesitate to reach out for support as needed.
    Here’s to improving conditions and better reports in the days ahead!
    With sincere gratitude,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (January 22)

    As you know, we have seen a significant rise in active COVID cases and close-contact quarantines in our school community over the past few weeks, with the highest percentage of the impact being felt in the Upper School. Of the total of positive cases we’ve experienced since the beginning of September, nearly 40% of those cases have occurred during the past three weeks. As of today, almost a quarter of boys in the Upper School are not able to be on campus for in-person instruction. In addition, for the first time this year, the impact on our teachers and professional staff has increased to the point where class coverage and maintaining continuity on campus is becoming exceedingly difficult. 
    Our current circumstance, particularly in the Upper School, is unsustainable. As a result of these increasing pressures, we are taking several temporary steps to address and hopefully stem this increasing tide. First, beginning Monday, we are suspending in-person instruction for Upper School students and will transition to remote instruction. In addition, all in-person co-curricular activities are temporarily suspended effective immediately, including Upper School athletics and Middle School intramural sports. In-person instruction for Lower and Middle School students will continue unless conditions worsen. 
    We will continue to closely monitor circumstances and make a determination by next Friday as to whether or not these changes will need to be extended. As has been the case throughout this school year, our foremost priority is to maintain the ability to provide in-person instruction for the boys. I urge everyone in our community to do everything possible to adhere to mitigation efforts and limit potential exposure for you and your family, most notably social gatherings and close personal contacts. While we are all suffering from COVID fatigue and the vaccine is cause for hope and optimism, it is vitally important that we redouble our efforts and continue working together to safeguard the well-being of our boys, our teachers, and the community at large. 
    Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership. 
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (December 15)

    As we near the holiday break and look ahead to 2021 with hope and optimism, I’m once again reminded of the strength of community that has sustained us throughout the first half of the school year. Thank you for your support, your partnership, and for trusting us with your sons, especially during a period filled with such uncertainty.   
    Over the next few days, we will share a number of time-honored traditions including the Festival of Lessons and Carols and the Annual Christmas Party. Members of the Class of 2021 will carry their first, second, and third grade “little buddies” across the Quad and bring the season of gratitude and thanksgiving into full focus. For sixty-eight years, the St. Mark’s Choir has celebrated Lessons and Carols, a service that will for the first time take place outdoors and be livestreamed to the whole community.  
    As you know, we continue to carefully monitor the health and safety conditions both in our community and across the Dallas area. The week of remote instruction following Thanksgiving gave us much needed time to identify positive cases, which limited the overall impact across our community. Similarly, we have decided to conduct all classes remotely during the week after the New Year (January 4 – 8). Additionally, all co-curricular programs will be suspended during that week of remote instruction. This approach will support our goal of returning to campus on January 11 and sustaining in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year.  
    I want to thank you for your ongoing partnership as we remain clearly focused on both the physical and social-emotional well-being of the boys. Along those lines, we are also delighted to share that Bridget Redondo-Doan will join St. Mark’s in January as Lower School Counselor after spending the past ten years at Children’s Medical Center Dallas as a clinical therapist.  
    In keeping with our efforts throughout the fall, we will again administer PCR testing for faculty and staff on January 7 and 8 as part of a UT Southwestern Medical Center Research Study. In addition, we will provide on-campus testing on January 7 for all Upper School winter athletes. We encourage all parents to consider testing their sons, either on campus or independently, during the latter part of that week. 
    On behalf of all of my colleagues, I want to wish you and your family a peaceful, joyous, and blessed holiday season. Here’s to a great 2021 ahead!
    With sincere gratitude,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (November 16)

    As we near the Thanksgiving break and reflect on the first few months of school, I want to express my continuing gratitude to all of you and share an update on our planning for the coming weeks. 
    First and foremost, I want to thank all of my colleagues across the campus for their dedication, their thoughtfulness, and their commitment in support of your sons. The first three months of the school year have provided many unexpected twists and turns, and it has reminded us how fortunate we are to have so many wonderful boys in our midst. Let me also extend my gratitude to you, our parents, for supporting our efforts every step of the way. We all recognize the stress on you and your families, as well as the frustrations and disappointments that continue to emerge more frequently than we would prefer. And yet, all of us have come together to support the boys. 
    You’ve certainly noted the uptick in new positive cases in Dallas and in our community. And while cases have increased, we are not aware of a single incidence of community spread on campus. All of the student and employee cases that have been reported since school opened in August have been the result of off-campus events, exposure to positive family cases, and social gatherings. Thanks to the proactive efforts of Nurse Julie and everyone on our health and wellness team, the recent string of cases since the middle of last week have been students who were already quarantined, thus driving down the risks to others in our community.
    Like many schools, during the past week, we have had to quarantine an increasing number of students, teachers, and staff, a frustrating and disruptive turn of events. The increased impact in our community and the dramatic rise in positive cases across Dallas have prompted us to develop a path forward that best supports our community during the upcoming holiday season. We have decided to conduct all classes remotely during the week after Thanksgiving (November 30 – December 4). Additionally, all co-curricular programs will be suspended during that post-Thanksgiving week. This approach will support our goal of returning to on-campus instruction for the final two weeks leading up to Christmas break, a time that is always filled with great excitement, energy, and celebratory traditions. And, in keeping with our continued efforts throughout the fall, we will test all faculty and staff as well as all Upper School winter athletes on Thursday, December 3, before we resume in-person instruction the following Monday. We also strongly encourage all families to consider testing their boys that week to ensure that everyone in our community is as safe as possible when we return to campus. 
    Thank you for your ongoing support. We are likely in for some bumpier weeks ahead, but there is reason to remain confident and hopeful. Here’s wishing you and your family a peaceful, joyous, and blessed Thanksgiving.
    With sincere gratitude,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (October 23)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark's Community,
    Earlier this week, we paused to mark the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornado that struck our campus, the surrounding community, and many families and businesses across our great city. We gathered for an all-school Chapel service (streamed into classrooms) to acknowledge this important milestone and to reflect on the strength of community and the many blessings that we enjoy.
    While it would have been impossible to predict the unprecedented challenges of the past twelve months, the resilience, strength, and character of our school community have been deeply affirming. Together, we've overcome obstacles, learned valuable lessons, and grown in ways that were previously unimaginable. When reflecting on the past year, one sentiment continually reemerges: Gratitude. Gratitude for those who've preceded us and set in place a strong foundation. Gratitude for those who now lead us forward as we look to the future with optimism. Gratitude for the opportunity to shape the lives of boys and young men in ways that make a positive difference.  
    Today marks the conclusion of our ninth week of classes and our seventh week with boys back on campus, as our corridors, classrooms, and campus facilities have steadily come back to life. With new routines and adjustments to daily rhythms, our boys and teachers have launched the school year with enthusiasm and determination. Not surprisingly, outstanding student achievement continues with 57 seniors earning National Merit recognition as either Semifinalists or Commended students. Five members of the Class of 2021 have already committed to play collegiate athletics, while a Marksman in the Class of 2024 recently represented the United States at The Chinese Bridge World Competition. Boys have earned accolades in film, journalism, debate, quiz bowl, and much, much more.
    As we look to the future, challenge and opportunity abound. While our foundation is strong, we must strive for ongoing improvement. Goals for St. Mark's IV provides an important framework and will continue to guide our aspirations to be an even better school for current and future generations of Marksmen. Student access and affordability, faculty recruitment efforts, health and wellness, character education, civic responsibility, and more -- there is meaningful and important work ahead. Underpinning it all lies the School's commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive community for every boy, regardless of background or experience.
    The opportunities we enjoy today are the result of clear and consistent focus on mission over time. Our charge is to help boys become good men. Clear and simple. We must continue to work in partnership to strive for excellence and improvement at every turn. As we navigate ongoing difficulty and occasional fatigue, I'm reminded that our community has met other great challenges before with determination and resolve. From the 1943 Founders' Hall fire that closed the campus for three years to last October's tornado, in these moments, St. Mark's hasn't just survived, it has forged ahead and grown stronger. And while the tornado caused extensive damage to our campus, we are emerging from this tragedy and the challenges of the pandemic better prepared for what lies ahead.   
    This year, our priorities are clear. First and foremost, we are focused on the physical and social emotional well-being of everyone in our community so that we can continue in-person learning. This work requires ongoing effort, commitment, and patience. With each passing day, we continue to assess and adjust our planning as needed to protect the well-being of our students and teachers and to carry forward our mission, programs, and activities.
    After years of careful planning, this fall we launched a new daily schedule to better support student experiences and, thus far, it has been well-received by the boys and our teachers. While it is too early to draw conclusions or fully assess the impact of these changes, it is clear that the focus on student health and well-being, increased flexibility, and greater alignment across campus is making a positive difference.
    We also have formed a Committee on Community, Inclusion, and Diversity consisting of faculty, administrators, and trustees to review and assess current and prospective programs and practices that support student well-being and to make recommendations about ways in which we can better serve boys from every background. As a community whose strength is in many ways defined by its breadth, depth, and diversity, we are fully committed to exploring additional opportunities to ensure that every Marksman is known, loved, and valued equally. This Committee grew out of extensive conversations in recent months and is reflective of a clear commitment from the Board of Trustees, the administration, and the faculty to strengthen and enhance the bonds we all share. I look forward to engaging the community more fully in this important work and plan to provide a comprehensive update on our progress soon.
    Finally, let me express the collective gratitude that is felt by all of us who live and work on campus each day. The ongoing expressions of support, encouragement, and reaffirmation from so many graduates, parents, and friends of the School have been instrumental to all that has been accomplished in the midst of ongoing disruption and difficulty. The strength of the St. Mark's community has never been more evident, and we never take that for granted. Your unwavering commitment to the School makes a difference to every Marksman.
    Here's wishing you and your family all the best. Let us continue forward, together.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Athletic Director (October 2)

    Dear St. Mark’s Upper School Student-Athletes,
    First and foremost, I want to thank you for your outstanding cooperation and effort during these initial weeks of on-campus athletics. It is has been so great to see our fall teams back in action, and I have been so impressed by your unwavering energy and enthusiasm.
    After weeks of discussions with local Southwest Preparatory Conference Athletic Directors, I am pleased to announce that our fall sports teams will now be practicing in preparation for an abbreviated competition schedule. It is important to note that these competitions will be contingent on the health of our community and that of our opponents. Please visit the St. Mark’s Athletics website to view these updated fall schedules.
    As we transition to this next phase of athletics, it is imperative that we all continue to adhere to the necessary guidelines and protocols put in place for the health and safety of our School. As you know, one positive test could result in an entire team being quarantined for 14 days, so it is critical that our student-athletes continue to make smart choices both on and off campus. 
    In addition to the guidelines and protocols currently in place for our fall teams, we will also be testing our fall student-athletes for COVID-19 on a weekly basis as we begin competing against other local schools. While this is optional for students to attend school, it will be required for any boy who wishes to participate in an athletic competition. We are committed to providing our students with the safest environment possible, and this testing will serve as an important tool for safeguarding our community. 
    Please stay tuned as we will be providing additional information in the weeks ahead regarding our policies for spectators, transportation, and COVID-19 testing. Thanks for your continued patience, and I look forward to watching our boys compete again!
    Sean Lissemore 
    Director of Athletics
  • An Update from the Athletic Director (September 11)

    Dear Upper School Parent and Students,
    It has been great to welcome boys back to campus this week. On Monday, September 14, we will begin on-campus athletic workouts for our fall Upper School student-athletes. These sessions will have strict guidelines and protocols put in place to safeguard all participants and will be primarily focused on basic strength and conditioning training and fundamental skill development.
    Our coaches and medical staff will communicate more details about these plans, guidelines, and protocols and will also provide specific meeting times and locations for various sports. It is imperative that you carefully review this information and adhere to all rules and guidelines.
    We share in your excitement about beginning athletic activities next week, but also emphasize that these sessions will be limited in intensity during this first phase. It is our goal to use these athletic sessions as building blocks toward a sequenced return to formal practices and hopefully competitions with several area SPC schools in October and November if circumstances permit. 
    We have been actively involved in collaborative discussions alongside ESD, Greenhill, and Hockaday to organize a limited schedule of local competitions for all fall sports. These discussions have been productive, and we are continuing to work towards a plan that would allow our student-athletes to compete in an abbreviated fall schedule against local SPC schools.
    As always, we are committed to providing our student-athletes with safe, meaningful, and fulfilling athletic experiences and understand that the boys are eager to compete. At the same time, we urge Marksmen athletes to be mindful of the importance of following public health guidelines on and off campus, including mask wearing, social distancing, hand washing, and the avoidance of large gatherings.
    Please stay tuned for additional information about next week’s plans from our medical staff and coaches. We will share an update, including tentative competition schedules, by the middle of next week.
    Thank you for your continued patience, support, and enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing Marksmen back out on our fields on Monday.
    Best regards,
    Sean Lissemore 
    Director of Athletics
  • An Update from the Headmaster (September 4)

    Dear Parents,
    As our second week of school comes to a close, I want to thank you, your sons, and all of our teachers for a simply terrific start. It has been heartwarming and gratifying to hear such positive stories from so many boys. Just this morning, I dropped in on several classes, including a group of eager new first graders who were enjoying a wonderful singing and voice lesson with Mrs. Livengood, who is in her 48th year teaching music at St. Mark’s. It was upbeat, joyful, and inspiring. I hope that these early days of school have been equally positive, stimulating, and productive for your sons.  
    We are grateful that the coronavirus trends continue to improve in the Dallas area and are eager to begin welcoming boys back to campus next week. At the same time, as we head into a holiday weekend and prepare for the resumption of in-person instruction, it is very important that we all remain vigilant about following public safety guidelines. We strongly encourage boys and their families to avoid large group gatherings and continue strict adherence to mask-wearing, social distancing, and hygiene practices, including routine handwashing. Our ability to successfully move forward as a school, a community, and as a city is dependent upon all of us working together.
    Next week will be our first time with boys back on campus in nearly six months. This morning our Medical Advisory Committee met once again to review final preparations for the resumption of in-person instruction. I want to thank our entire medical staff, including Nurse Julie, as well as the physicians who continue to serve the School. We recognize that there is continuing uncertainty in all of our lives. From varying perspectives about risk and the rationale behind school decisions, please know that our commitment to the physical and social-emotional well-being of our students, our teachers, and the community at large remain foremost in all of our planning. We also respect and appreciate that some families simply might not be prepared to have their boys return to in-person learning at this point.
    The past 180 days have challenged all of us in new and unexpected ways. While there are many hurdles yet to clear as we re-establish normalcy and routine, there are also many reasons to be hopeful. Thank you for your unwavering partnership as we work together to help each and every Marksman reach his full potential.   
    St. Mark’s Strong. Go Lions!
    With gratitude,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (August 28)

    Dear Parents,
    What a first week! 
    It truly has been an exhilarating time as we’ve come together in recent days to open the 2020-2021 school year. From enthusiastic orientation gatherings with the boys on Monday and Tuesday to our annual Opening Convocation on Wednesday and so much more, physical separation during the early days of school certainly hasn’t dampened the spirits of our boys and our teachers. Student Body President Blake Hudspeth ’21 captured it well in his opening remarks on Wednesday morning, saying, “We are a tight-knit community, and a pandemic cannot, and will not come between the bonds we share here at St. Mark’s.”  
    I wish you could see and experience the energy level and sense of optimism on campus among our faculty and staff. As I wander in and out of classrooms and offices, it is obvious how much love, care, and dedication our teachers are investing in the experiences of their boys. Of course, it has been incredibly helpful to have so many of our teachers back on campus, not just teaching from their classrooms, but also collaborating, sharing, and learning from and supporting one another.
    I want to once again welcome our newest Marksmen and their families to the St. Mark’s community, as well as all of our new colleagues. We are all learning together during these early days of school, finding our rhythms and routines, and of course, looking very forward to welcoming the boys back to campus.
    In that regard, we want to share our updated plans for the resumption of in-person instruction after the Labor Day weekend. As previously stated, we plan to have boys return to campus in groups by Division for a one-day orientation on Tuesday, September 8, to focus on health and safety protocols, traffic patterns, logistics, and other changes that will be part of our daily lives. On Wednesday and Thursday, Lower and Middle School boys will begin classes on campus, and we will work carefully with them to establish new routines, patterns, and behaviors. Upper School boys will return to campus Friday to begin in-person learning. The following Monday, September 14, we will also begin athletic strength and conditioning workouts on campus in the afternoons. Details of this schedule are noted below.
    • Sept. 8 – Campus Orientation
          –Lower School (9:30-11:00 a.m.)
          –Middle School (10:30-12:30 p.m.)
          –Upper School (1:30-3:30 p.m.)
    • Sept. 9 – Lower/Middle on Campus – full day
    • Sept. 10 – Lower/Middle on Campus – full day
    • Sept. 11– Lower/Middle/Upper on Campus – full day
    • Sept. 14 – Lower/Middle/Upper on Campus and Strength/Conditioning
    In addition to the ongoing preparations across campus to support the health, safety, and well-being of our students and teachers, we are also squarely focused on the many opportunities and experiences that will make this a truly exceptional year for all the boys.
    Next week we will continue on-site COVID testing for all of our employees. We also are offering on-site (optional) testing for students on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Additional information from Nurse Julie is included here. Please note that advance registration is required if you would like your son to be tested.
    And finally, as has been noted previously, if any family believes it is necessary to keep their son home for remote learning after September 7, please contact the appropriate Division Head. Parents will receive additional information about this on Monday.   
    Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.
    I hope you have a good weekend.
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (August 21)

    It has been heartwarming and affirming to see so many new and returning Marksmen over the past few days as we prepare for orientation and the beginning of classes next week! How wonderful it has been to witness the energy and excitement from boys and families who are ready for the new year to begin.
    As many of you are aware, yesterday afternoon the Dallas County Health Department released updated recommendations about in-person learning that prompted the Dallas Independent School District to extend their plans for remote instruction and suspend all athletics programs through at least October 6. While this information is certainly important for us to consider, at this point we have not made any alterations to our plans for the reopening of school. Should there be substantive adjustment to our current plan to begin on-campus instruction on September 8, we will share that information with you no later than next Friday, August 28.  
    Also included here are several important updates, including plans for Fall SPC Athletics from our Director of Athletics, Sean Lissemore, as well as information regarding Textbook Deliveries from our Student Store Manager, Nancy Goldberg.
    Thank you, once again, for your continued support. We are looking forward to the beginning of school with all the boys next week. Go Lions!

    With gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Athletic Director (August 21)

    Dear Upper School Parents and Students,
    I am writing to you today with an update on the status of the upcoming fall sports season and our current plans for St. Mark’s Athletics as we embark upon a new school year.
    The Southwest Preparatory Conference has been meeting regularly throughout the summer to evaluate viable options for the resumption of sports in the fall. These discussions have focused on how to safely preserve fall athletic competitions and effectively mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 while participating in sports.
    Several important factors were involved in the decision-making process. Member schools are located in multiple metro areas, spread over a wide geographic area with varying health conditions, regulations, public opinions, and governmental recommendations. SPC schools also have a wide variance in local conditions, approaches, and opinions regarding how to handle these challenging circumstances as they relate to athletic competitions.
    After careful deliberation, the SPC has decided to cancel all SPC athletic competitions for the 2020 fall season. The SPC intends to move forward with existing plans for the winter and spring SPC seasons and will revisit these plans at a later date to determine if any adjustments are necessary. 
    I certainly share in your disappointment regarding this news and know that this feeling is magnified for our seniors. I have been inspired by the resilient attitudes of our student-athletes during these challenging times and encourage you to continue approaching each new day with optimism, positivity, and a steadfast commitment to your teammates and respective sports.
    In the event that health conditions improve sufficiently to make some limited athletic competition possible later in the fall, we will make every effort to provide our students with opportunities to engage with athletes from local peer schools. We will alert students and families if that possibility arises.
    Our athletic program is an essential part of our School’s culture and serves as an invaluable building block in our approach to developing young men of character and integrity. We recognize the need for physical activity and sports in a boy’s daily routine, and our School remains committed to providing our students with a robust physical education and athletics program.
    It is also vital that our students have a healthy outlet during these challenging times to stay both mentally and physically fit. Our ultimate goal is to provide our student-athletes with an alternative athletic offering that will give them the opportunity to grow through the valuable lessons learned through teamwork, shared goals, and competitive sports.
    Our coaches, faculty, medical staff, and administration have been working tirelessly to develop a plan that will allow our students to participate in an athletics experience that is safe, engaging, and competitive. Details of this plan will be communicated to you through your respective coaches and will be specific to each grade level and sport.
    Thank you again for your continued patience, support, and understanding during this difficult time. We will communicate further updates and developments as they become available.
    Sean Lissemore
    Director of Athletics
  • An Update from the Headmaster (August 19)

    Dear Parents,
    Greetings from 10600 Preston Road. I hope this note finds you and your family doing well and staying safe during what continues to be unsettling times. 
    I am writing to you in the midst of our second week of faculty pre-sessional meetings as preparations continue for the 2020-2021 school year. As always, it is a time of great anticipation as we come together to finalize our planning for the boys' return. I want to thank our teachers and professional staff who continue to lean into this difficult work in the midst of ongoing uncertainty. We are also grateful for your patience and support, as it is an unusually challenging time for us all. 
    Hopefully, the communications that have been shared in recent days and weeks have been helpful and informative, from the updates on our campus preparations to the details about student orientation and the start of the new school year. This afternoon you will receive the second weekly update from our Division Heads, and we will continue to share regular reports about our progress and ongoing priorities as well as any updates on public health circumstances that affect our planning. 
    Following are several important developments as we approach the opening of school.
    On-Site COVID Testing 
    One of our central goals since early in the summer has been to develop an on-site COVID testing capability. After extensive planning and consideration, in late July we began on-campus Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for school employees through SafeWork. During the past three weeks, we’ve conducted on-site testing sessions for all of the faculty and staff, and plan to hold another full round of testing for employees prior to the beginning of in-person learning on campus. We also plan to continue and perhaps expand these measures throughout the fall, alongside other safety precautions, and are confident that they will further reduce risk for everyone in our community.
    Remote and In-Person Learning
    While there is certainly no way to eliminate risk altogether, we have gone to considerable lengths to support the health and safety of our students and teachers. As you know, we firmly believe that in-person learning is not just desirable, but important. Thus, we want boys to return to campus when in-person instruction resumes. At the same time, we recognize that in-person participation might not be possible for every boy and that medical or other circumstances might preclude a return to campus for some Marksmen. In the event that you believe that it will be necessary for your son to learn remotely after on-campus instruction begins, please contact the appropriate Division Head to discuss your family’s circumstance. Please know that we discourage parents from keeping their sons at home unless it is absolutely necessary. 
    We look forward to welcoming our newest Marksmen in the next few days and beginning orientation with the full student body on Monday and Tuesday of next week. The first full day of remote classes next Wednesday, August 26, will include our Annual Opening Convocation at 9:40 a.m. via livestream as we convene our 115th school year. 
    Thank you once again for your continued support and partnership. We come together filled with hope and inspiration by the limitless possibilities in the days, weeks, and months ahead as every Marksman strives to achieve his full potential. 
    On behalf of all my colleagues, I want to wish you and your family a very positive, safe, and satisfying school year. Regardless of what challenges lie ahead, together we will not only persevere, we will thrive. We are St. Mark’s Strong!
    With sincere gratitude,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Athletic Director (July 30)

    Dear Upper School Students and Parents,

    I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy during these challenging times.

    The Southwest Preparatory Conference, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, and the University Interscholastic League have recently announced their plans for the upcoming fall sports season, with many of these proposed plans including a postponed start date for fall sports.

    The SPC has been meeting regularly throughout the summer, and has further meetings scheduled early next week, to plan for fall sports in a way that will provide its student-athletes with the safest, most appropriate, and most meaningful experience possible. Earlier this month, the SPC released the following statement:

    "At this time, SPC schools are agreeing to delay any competition between schools for any of our sports to, at earliest, September 8. SPC counter games would not occur until, at earliest, the week of September 21."

    The postponement of the fall season sports, while disappointing, is necessary to safeguard the health of our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and families. The SPC and its member schools continue to closely monitor this situation while accessing and reviewing the appropriate public health and safety information from medical experts.

    At this point, we are planning to resume athletic activities with the initiation of team workouts and practices on September 8. Of course, these plans remain fluid and are subject to change. 
    Physical education and competitive athletics are instrumental to the growth and development of our students and play an important role in their overall health, wellness, and physical fitness. We are, of course, eager to resume on-campus athletic activities, and remain committed to providing our student-athletes with a safe, positive athletic experience that supports the mission of our School. Any disruption to our program is certainly cause for disappointment and frustration. At the same time, we know this to be a temporary challenge, one that we will work through together. We all look forward to bringing our programs, teams, and activities back to full strength as quickly as possible.

    In the meantime, thank you again for your unwavering patience and support as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters together. We will communicate further updates and developments as soon as they become available. 
    Go Lions! 
    Best regards,
    Sean Lissemore 
    Director of Athletics
  • An Update from the Headmaster (July 17)

    Dear St. Mark’s Parents,
    Late yesterday in response to the ongoing concerns about the spread of COVID-19 across our area, the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services issued a new order for both public and private schools. It states:
    “Effective immediately and continuing through 11:59 p.m. on September 7, 2020, the Local Health Authority for Dallas County hereby imposes the following control measures on all public and private schools offering instruction to students in any and all grades, prekindergarten through grade 12:
    1. School systems shall not re-open for on-campus, face-to-face instruction until after Sept. 7, 2020. Administrators, teachers, and staff may conduct or facilitate the online learning process while on-campus provided social distancing is followed and facial coverings are worn at all times.
    2. Prior to Sept. 8, 2020, all Public and Private School Systems in Dallas County shall re-open schools through virtual, remote, or distance learning only.
    3. All school-sponsored events and activities, including but not limited to clubs, sports, fairs, exhibitions, academic and/or athletic competitions, shall not take place until school systems resume on-campus instruction.
    4. At least two weeks prior to re-opening for on-campus instruction and on-campus activities, each school system shall develop a written plan for resuming on-campus instruction and extracurricular activities and submit the plan to the Local Health Authority and make the plan available for parents and general public.”
    The start of classes is still planned for Monday, August 24. However, yesterday’s announcement requires that we begin school remotely until at least September 8. Our hope is that restrictions will be lifted so that we can resume on-campus learning as soon as possible. Throughout the summer, we have been planning for both on and off campus instruction in order to be prepared to respond to the changing circumstance. Clearly, we are eager to have boys back on campus as soon as possible for in-person learning and continue to make active preparations in that regard. At the same time, we will closely follow public health guidance and expectations to support the safety and well-being of our students, teachers, and professional staff. In the coming days, we will share more information about all of our orientation programs and beginning of school activities.
    Also, our Reopening Team and Project Teams continue extensive planning for both on and off campus learning. On campus infrastructure improvement efforts include expanded air filtration protocol and replacement of all plumbing fixtures that are not already touchless, social-distancing preparations in all teaching spaces, staggered schedules to reduce congestion on campus, prescribed traffic patterns and signage, and much more. In addition, there has been increased investment in technology integration and training to support fully synchronous remote learning experiences that mirror our daily schedule and ongoing curricular program expectations. A comprehensive website will be launched soon that will provide extensive resources and updates on the reopening of school and our progress as the year unfolds.
    The County Order noted above also limits all extracurricular activities until September 8. Athletic practices are expected to begin at that time and games will likely commence one to two weeks after that. A decision earlier this week by the Southwest Preparatory Conference also suspended SPC counter competition until the week of September 21.
    Thank you for your continuing patience, flexibility, and support. I hope your boys are making the most of their time this summer and that you and your family are staying safe. We are eagerly anticipating the 2020-2021 school year and the opportunities it will bring.

    With gratitude, 

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster

  • An Update from the Headmaster (July 1)

    Dear Parents,
    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well and staying safe.
    Yesterday marked the official conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year, a period that has brought unprecedented challenges across our community. I want to express our collective gratitude for the part you’ve played in helping us navigate these unsettling times and also provide you with an update on our planning for the reopening of school this fall. As you well know, uncertainty continues to pervade daily life for our School, our city, and our nation. Throughout the spring and into the early weeks of summer, members of our team have been working diligently on plans for next school year.
    While it has been difficult, challenging, and often frustrating for all of us to navigate new rhythms and routines, it is affirming to be a part of our School community. Just two nights ago, a Marksman delivered a lengthy, handwritten letter to our home, expressing genuine gratitude for all that he learned during the past year. I opened the letter and read it aloud to my wife, and we were both moved by what it represented. The words lifted off the page as this boy, whose home had been destroyed by the tornado, shared how much the St. Mark’s community has meant to him and his family. He recounted untold acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity. He described how much being a Marksman means to him, and he enclosed a personal contribution to the School with money he had earned to thank his classmates and the whole St. Mark's community.  
    So too was I gratified by the very thoughtful, constructive, and deliberate outreach from some of our youngest graduates who recently went to considerable lengths to share their thoughts, suggestions, and ideas for what might make St. Mark’s a more diverse and inclusive school. We have been engaged in many positive conversations about our ongoing commitment in this regard, reflecting upon ways that we can continue to grow and improve. I am deeply grateful to be part of a community where people care so deeply about their school and how we treat one another. 
    It is our commitment to every student, past, present, and future, that will support and encourage us all through the days, weeks, and months ahead.
    Plans for Reopening School
    We have assembled a Reopening Team and various project teams to support our planning work throughout the summer. I want to thank my colleagues across the “virtual” campus, many of whom have suspended significant time away with their families, to focus on planning for the fall. We have also welcomed a number of talented new colleagues who have joined these efforts sooner than previously planned. As you know, preparing for so many contingencies requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. We have project teams working in areas including Academic Programs, Co-Curricular Programs, Health & Safety, Facilities & Operations, Campus Events, Schedule & Calendar, Communications, and Governance.
    While significant work lies ahead, here is a summary of our preparations and planning to date. Please keep in mind that plans could, and will likely, shift between now and the beginning of school. However, the following updates will give you a good sense of how our work is unfolding. As always, I encourage you to reach out with questions or concerns. We will be sharing additional updates in July and posting extensive information on the St. Mark’s website.
    As we navigate the upcoming year together, please know that our thinking, planning, and preparations will always be guided by our fundamental commitment to the safety and well-being of the students and adults across our community.  
    On Campus, Virtual, and Blended Learning
    As has been noted previously, we are planning to resume classes on campus on August 24 with our full student body. We are incredibly fortunate that our campus and facilities are of sufficient size and flexibility to accommodate all 900 boys and our teachers, while still supporting safe distancing, varied pedestrian traffic patterns, and other accommodations to keep those on campus as safe as possible. At the same time, we are investing significant effort, energy, and resources into preparations for both remote learning and hybrid learning program possibilities. Should fully remote learning be necessary at some point, we plan to deliver our full academic schedule, with very limited modifications. Unlike the spring where programs were predominantly asynchronous, remote learning going forward would be delivered in a manner that’s more aligned with our daily schedule and programs on campus. Age-appropriate adjustments, of course, would be necessary given the challenges of delivering content online for boys in Lower School.
    Academic Programs
    Our foremost programmatic priority is the resumption of our academic program in a safe setting on campus where boys and teachers can interact directly in our classrooms. We are fully committed to providing a robust and comprehensive academic program across all three divisions of the School consistent with our curricular expectations and well-established high standards. While the delivery of our program might look and feel somewhat different depending on the circumstance, our fundamental philosophy and aspirations are unchanged. Our longstanding commitment to the highest academic standards is demonstrable and will be sustained going forward.  
    Co-Curricular Programs
    The pandemic and related public health restrictions will likely impact a number of our co-curricular programs in both Athletics and Fine Arts. We expect programs like band, choir, and close contact sports to be directly affected in the near term given the increased risk of virus spread. A variety of contingency plans are being developed in anticipation of these challenges, including our discussions as part of the SPC regarding athletic competition. We are fully committed to the ongoing importance, impact, and strength of our Athletic, Fine Arts, and other co-curricular experiences that we provide for our boys. 
    Schedule and Calendar 
    For the past three years, we have been actively developing and preparing for the implementation of a new Daily Schedule to better support our boys. This work had been not only substantive and meaningful, it has also better prepared us for the ongoing uncertainty and change that will likely be with us for some time. Greater flexibility, expanded collaboration and programmatic alignment across campus, and increased focus on student health and well-being will underpin our adoption of this new schedule when boys return. Again, we plan to deliver our new schedule in full whether on campus, in a hybrid environment, or operating remotely.
    Health and Safety 
    As we prepare to return to campus, maintaining the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff continues to inform our planning. Drawing from state and county guidelines combined with directions from health care experts, we are making preparations for daily health screening, hygiene practices, social distancing, campus access, and food service delivery that would limit close interactions, and revisions to all large group activities. It is anticipated that masks will be required on campus except, perhaps, for our youngest students. We are also carefully reviewing plans that would support the possibility of COVID testing resources on our campus. Our Medical Advisory Committee is meeting during the summer and our Health Services staff are working together on a daily basis with the Dallas County Health Department as well as with peer institutions across the city on school reopening plans.
    Facilities and Operations 
    Our goal is to maintain as much of the regular operations as we are able, but we do anticipate that access to the campus will be limited to only students, faculty, staff, and other essential personnel such as contractors and delivery personnel. All elements of daily operations such as morning and afternoon carpool, student movement across the campus, classroom layouts, repurposing of flexible spaces, and areas that typically support larger group gatherings are being reviewed and carefully planned for fall reopening with full enrollment. Our physical plant and safety teams are also carefully examining all campus infrastructure resources related to air quality and filtering, daily cleaning of all campus facilities, routine bathroom cleaning throughout the day, closing water fountains, and increasing signage to support health and safety protocols and distancing.
    Activities and Events
    All student and community activities and events for the upcoming year are being carefully reviewed to determine which events we can continue as planned, which events we need to alter in some ways, and which events might have to be postponed or cancelled. It is safe to assume that group events and gatherings, including for Admissions, Alumni Association, and Parents’ Association, will be virtual in the fall. Campus activity will be principally limited to essential activity that supports the delivery of our daily academic and co-curricular programs for the boys. Team members in every administrative area are closely examining all fall events and developing contingency plans as needed. We will provide a more detailed and comprehensive update on campus events and the school calendar as the start of school draws nearer.
    It is important that you have information that is relevant to your son’s experience in a manner that is timely and comprehensive. We plan to consolidate and increase communication to all parents in a weekly newsletter that will include updates from key staff across the campus highlighting divisional news, grade-level information, health and safety progress, and more. The School’s website will also be updated regularly as the summer progresses and into the fall to include comprehensive information about ongoing health and safety, student programs, community activities, archives of past communication, and updates to the calendar. Given the evolving and fluid nature of the pandemic, we recognize the desire for increased communication and will provide regular updates on a weekly and monthly basis.
    St. Mark’s is incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated and well-resourced Board of Trustees consisting of more than 50 volunteer leaders including parents, graduates, and other friends of the School. Several leaders on the Board, along with legal counsel, are working closely with our senior leadership team to address issues including ongoing strategic governance, compliance, and other important matters that are of particular importance at this time.
    As you can imagine, this letter is not the one I could have anticipated writing a year ago, and I share with each of you moments of optimism as well as moments of frustration. In those challenging moments, I think about the School’s history and how our faculty, families, and students must have felt during the most challenging times, as well. The time Founders’ Hall burned to the ground in the early 1940’s with no insurance and classes had to be moved to the SMU campus for a year, or the period several decades later when visionary leaders built the Math-Science Quadrangle, established the School’s financial aid endowment, recruited inspirational teachers like Tom Adams from around the country, and integrated the student body before desegregation had taken hold in Dallas schools. I think about the generations of Marksmen who are shaping the world today in positive and important ways, leading with courage and honor. This time challenges us — all of us, in ways that we never could have imagined. I continue to be buoyed by the strength of our history and the optimism and commitment reflected in our current students, families, and faculty to know that we will emerge from these challenges stronger than ever.
    While there is much work ahead, together, we will continue to strengthen and enhance St. Mark’s mission of helping boys develop into good men who will make a positive difference.
    Again, we will provide several additional updates during the month of July as our planning unfolds. Also, next week we will send an end-of-year report to the whole School community highlighting the milestones of the 2019-2020 school year. In the meantime, please accept my sincere thanks for your ongoing support, commitment, and partnership.
    All the best,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Athletic Director (June 25)

    Dear Upper School Students and Parents,
    In response to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Dallas County, we must suspend our plans for on-campus summer strength and conditioning programs. Campus remains closed to all students and activities.
    We currently plan to implement a remote strength and conditioning training program for the weeks ahead that will offer the flexibility to transition to on-campus training when circumstances allow. These sport-specific workouts will help to safeguard the health of our student-athletes, while also providing them with the physical and mental preparation necessary for their respective seasons.
    As an experienced collegiate and professional athlete, I understand the importance of ongoing conditioning and encourage our student-athletes to approach these remote workouts with the same steadfast dedication and motivated spirit that you would have if you were training on campus. It will be imperative that our teams adhere to these prescribed workout plans to ensure their readiness when on-campus athletic activities resume.
    Coach Dilworth will be communicating more specific details about these remote strength and conditioning workouts in the days to come. He will also be available to answer questions and discuss any additional summer training needs that you may have. 
    These unprecedented times require a diligent, yet agile approach to planning for our summer and fall athletic activities. As always, the health and safety of our community continues to guide our planning and decisions. You should also know that we are closely monitoring local and national developments related to athletics, and I remain in constant contact with athletic directors from schools across the SPC.
    Thank you for your continued patience, cooperation, and understanding as we work together to support our student-athletes. We will continue to monitor this evolving situation and communicate updates as soon as they become available.
    Best regards,
    Sean Lissemore 
    Director of Athletics
  • An Update from the Headmaster (June 12)

    Dear St. Mark’s Families,

    I hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones healthy and safe. Now that the 2019-2020 school year has come to a close, we would like to share preliminary information about our plans for the resumption of school this fall.
    First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your thoughtfulness, your perseverance, and your patience throughout the spring. We all learned firsthand that remote learning has its limitations, the most important of which are the human interaction and relationship building that are central to the St. Mark’s experience. Our teachers ventured into uncharted waters alongside you and your sons, and we grew in new and important ways. And yet, it left all of us longing for the rhythms, routines, and interactions that make our daily activities across campus so meaningful and fulfilling.  
    During the first few weeks of summer, our team has been actively making plans for the fall term and want you to know that we intend to be back on campus to begin classes as originally scheduled on Monday, August 24. While our planning and preparations will continue throughout the next several months, and there are certainly many decisions still yet to make, we wanted to share the framework for our thinking with you as we head into the summer.
    Several key issues are guiding our planning for the fall. As always, our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff is paramount. We are developing practices and protocols to support the safe reopening of the campus, from social distancing and mask wearing to personal hygiene and testing. In addition, a thorough analysis of the physical environment across campus is being completed, including classroom spaces, traffic patterns, public settings, and the potential impact of health restrictions on our daily routines. We are also considering staffing implications, co-curricular programs, and technology needs for both students and teachers. And finally, we are assessing the experiences and impact of remote learning this spring and developing plans that will allow us to better serve our boys going forward, whether on or off campus. In the coming days, you will receive a request for feedback in this regard.
    The 2019-2020 school year has certainly been challenging, straining our human and organizational resources in many unexpected ways. I am deeply grateful for the way our community has repeatedly come together to support one another and forge ahead. We will take these difficult lessons forward with us and grow stronger in the process. Our mission of helping boys develop into good men has never been more important, and our commitment to that goal is unwavering. Thank you for your ongoing support and partnership.
    Sending best wishes to you and your family.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (June 3)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark’s Community,
    I write to you today with a heavy, yet hopeful heart. As we close the books on what has been one of the most difficult school years in St. Mark’s 114-year history, it is a time when we are searching for answers and looking to brighter days ahead. This school year has been marked by seismic challenges, from a devastating tornado last fall to a global pandemic this spring that prompted a transition to remote learning for the final ten weeks of classes.
    Throughout sustained periods of dislocation and disruption, our teachers and our boys have consistently demonstrated resilience, strength, determination, and grace. Never before has our mission of forging young men of substance, integrity, and purpose been more relevant. As we navigate challenging times together as a community and a nation, we’re reminded of the importance of character-driven leadership.
    Last week we witnessed another horrifying example of racial injustice that led to the death of a defenseless American citizen. We all have been struggling to understand why some in our society fail to take responsibility for the well-being of others. Moreover, in far too many instances, racism toward African Americans continues to weaken the sense of community that is so important to all of us as human beings. It was sad and appalling to see the graphic and disturbing images that have prompted so many to speak out during the past week, including our graduates. We all have a responsibility to confront bigotry, hatred, and discrimination wherever and whenever it occurs. We can, in fact we must, be better than that.
    I am certainly grateful to be part of a community where care, empathy, and compassion are fundamental expectations, and confident that our graduates will continue to provide much-needed leadership, now and in the future. Having spent the past 26 years at St. Mark’s, I know that we strive each day to honor those values and treat others with dignity and respect. And, like in any community, we must continually work together toward ongoing improvement.
    Thank you for supporting our mission of helping Marksmen reach their full potential, potential that will enable them to make the world a better place.
    With love and prayers,
    David W.Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (May 2)

    As we enter the final weeks of the school year, I want to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you. The past nine months have challenged our School in ways we never could have imagined, yet we’ve come together and consistently demonstrated how important it is to care for one another. Parents caring for other parents, for teachers, and for their sons. Teachers caring for boys and each other. Boys reaching out into the community and caring for Dallas neighbors they don’t even know. And while it would be easy at this time to focus attention on what we are missing, I find great inspiration in the way Marksmen continue to respond to adversity. As Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Well, our boys, from first grade to this year’s senior class, have remained steadfast throughout one of the most challenging years in the School’s history.
    And while we continue to focus attention on bringing the year to a successful close, this past week I’ve had the opportunity to join my colleagues and welcome all of the newly admitted Marksmen to the St. Mark’s community via Zoom calls organized by our Admission team. These calls have been energizing as we learned more about our newest Marksmen and heard their genuine enthusiasm and excitement about joining our School family. It has been yet another reminder of how much we have to look forward to in the coming months.

    During the past week, our team has also been formalizing plans for culminating activities with the boys in each grade. In the coming days, we will share more information about year-end recognition and closing activities across the Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. I want to acknowledge the leadership, creativity, and ingenuity provided by our Division Heads, Department Chairs, and the entire faculty and staff; they have been unwavering in their commitment to support every Marksman during our time away from campus.

    As we look ahead, I also want to reassure you that we are making plans to safely resume school on campus this fall. We look forward to welcoming boys back to campus and continuing the many programs and experiences we all treasure. We will, of course, take every necessary precaution to safeguard the well-being of both students and adults. I want to thank our School nurse, Julie Doerge, for her thoughtful leadership, as well as our Medical Advisory Committee and our Health and Wellness team. As we head into summer and learn more about public health requirements and expectations, we will share more information about our plans to safely resume classes on campus this fall.
    As many of you know, one of our highest priorities in Goals for St. Marks IV is to expand student access and affordability. We have spent the past several years working on plans to reduce the financial barriers to student enrollment. We also recognize that recent events have presented unexpected financial challenges for many of our current families and will respond to those needs to the greatest extent possible. In the coming days, you will be receiving information from Suzanne Townsend, our Chief Financial Officer, about expanded tuition financing options and new initiatives to respond to potential increases in the need for financial aid. St. Mark’s longstanding commitment to sound and prudent financial management is more important than ever, as it provides a firm foundation during times of uncertainty.
    The recent gratitude collage posted on 10600 of all 32 first graders thanking the senior class really warmed my heart. It was a great reminder that we are one community, made up of many varied parts, unified by a common purpose and a core set of enduring values. I hope you had a chance to see it.
    Thank you for all that you do to make St. Mark’s such a special place for boys to develop into good men.
    St. Mark’s Strong!
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W.Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (April 25)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark's Community,
    Greetings from St. Mark’s. Many of you know that today we would normally be gathering with more than 1,000 graduates and their families to celebrate Alumni Weekend. In fact, this past week we would have held our All-School Spring Convocation, celebrated our most accomplished senior scholars at the Cum Laude induction ceremony, and enjoyed the Spring Orchestra concert, among many other year-end celebrations. We also would have attended Chapel, watched boys share time together on the quad, sat across the lunch table from colleagues and friends, taken in spring sporting events as we geared up for SPC, and so much more. It’s the little things and the big things that make every day at St. Mark’s special.
    Instead, several members of the senior class have delivered protective masks made from their senior blue shirts to our home. Boys have given thoughtful and heartfelt talks and breathtaking performances on 10600. Listening to the Upper School Choir sing together “virtually” or seeing the gratitude collage from all of the first graders to the class of 2020 literally brought tears to my eyes. We’ve celebrated Passover, Easter, and Ramadan Chapels across all three Divisions of the School, held virtual assemblies, and stayed motivated and focused thanks to regular updates from Coach Dilworth, Dr. Gabby, Nurse Julie, and others. Boys have raised money for the North Texas Food Bank. New students are being welcomed and recognized. Teachers have stretched themselves in ways that were previously unimaginable to support not just ongoing learning and instruction, but also to deepen meaningful relationships with their students Marksmen of all ages have worked hard, remained positive, exhibited great resilience, and resisted the temptation to let frustration or disappointment rule the day.
    During the past five weeks our family has spent as much time as possible out and about in the neighborhood. I’ve enjoyed a daily run with our oldest daughter, Megan, who teaches second grade at Lamplighter, and we frequently encounter St. Mark’s families. One day last week, Megan and I ran into a Lower School Marksman who was out on a bike ride with his mom and his sister. Later I learned that he had been feeling a bit down and that our chance encounter had lifted his spirits. Well, what he doesn’t know is that seeing him cheered me up, too! Like everyone else, I greatly miss the daily energy of being together on campus, seeing and talking to the boys, watching them lead, encouraging them as they compete, and learning from colleagues. We are all doing our best during these difficult and challenging times, but it is certainly not easy. I am incredibly grateful for the strength of community that we enjoy and have every confidence that we will emerge from this period stronger, more resolute, and even more grateful for the many blessings that we enjoy.
    As we complete our fifth week of remote learning and head into the final month of school, our team has developed a new year-end schedule, and I have attached this for your review. It includes the dates when School will conclude for our various grade levels, information on AP Exams, and a preview of culminating activities. In the next week, we will share more detailed information about year-end recognition and various concluding traditions. 
    In the meantime, I want to express, once again, my profound gratitude to each and every one of you — it is on my mind every minute of every day. This year has tested us in many new ways, but I am proud of how our community has responded. Thank you for never wavering in your commitment to our School.
    St. Mark’s Strong!
    With sincere gratitude,
    David W.Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (April 18)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark’s Community,
    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well and staying safe. As many of you now know, yesterday we learned that our campus will have to remain closed through the conclusion of this school year. While not unexpected, this news is certainly disappointing.
    In the coming week, we will communicate more about our plans to bring the year to a successful and positive close. The Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools will be sharing additional information in the coming days and weeks. In addition, we recently shared our Graduation Contingency Plan with the senior class and their families, as we focus on celebrating these young men who have contributed so much to the St. Mark’s community. While we’ve all had to make dramatic adjustments to our plans and expectations, I continue to be heartened and encouraged by the response from our boys, our families, and our colleagues. The values, spirit, and commitment that underpin our community have never been more evident.
    As we look back on our first four weeks of physical separation and remote learning, there is certainly much to be grateful for. Every day we experience opportunities for new discovery, unexpected growth, and renewal. At the same time, we recognize the many challenges that have affected people around the world, as well as families in our own community. From economic hardship and financial uncertainty to those who have been on the frontlines of the healthcare crisis and those who have lost loved ones, we have all been touched in different ways by this dramatic turn of events.
    I want to reassure you that many people across our community have been working hard to prepare for whatever lies ahead. Of course, our first priority is always supporting the continued growth and healthy development of every boy in our charge. Hence, our energies have been squarely focused not only on providing the most robust remote learning experiences possible, but also preserving and strengthening the sense of community that is so important to our School culture. At the same time, our senior team and Trustee leaders have continued to focus on the School’s long-term well-being and the advancement of our core mission.
    As I’ve told the boys and my colleagues many times in recent weeks, this year has without a doubt been one of the most challenging periods in our School’s history. And yet, we’ve all grown in ways that are difficult to measure. In a call last week with the senior class, I reminded the boys that many of history’s most notable leaders lived through and, in fact, thrived in the face of great adversity. Lincoln. Churchill. King. After the call, one of the boys texted me an image of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, noting “who could’ve guessed how relevant this would be for our senior year!” Indeed, from a devastating tornado to a global pandemic, we’ve all grown and been tested in unimaginable ways. Of course, I am proud to say that our boys have repeatedly and consistently lived out our motto, courage and honor.
    Nancy joins me in sending our prayers, warmest wishes, and sincere thanks to each and every one of you. Thank you for your unwavering support and partnership.
    St. Mark’s Strong!

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • Graduation Contingency Plans from the Headmaster (April 17, 2020)

    Dear Senior Parents,

    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well and staying safe.
    While this year has presented quite a remarkable array of unexpected challenges, it has been inspiring to see how your sons have consistently responded with thoughtfulness, resilience, determination, and grace. Ever mindful of the needs and well-being of others, the Class of 2020 has led our school community forward in good times and in bad, and never shied away from responsibility. Thank you for raising such outstanding young men, and for partnering with us to help every Marksman reach his full potential.
    As you may know, we have been actively developing contingency plans for our major graduation events including Marksmen Ball, Baccalaureate, and Commencement, in the event that we cannot hold these events as originally scheduled in May. We have actively sought feedback and guidance from the boys during this process and are pleased to provide you with an update on our plans.
    Should we unable to hold our graduation events in May, we have identified two series of dates, in early and late summer as backup possibilities. As is noted in the attached document, if we have to defer next month’s activities, we will first look to the Plan B dates (June 15, 16, and 17). If for some reason the Plan B dates in June are not possible, then we will shift to the Plan C dates (July 29, 30, and 31). This information has been shared with your sons, and I encourage you to make sure these dates are secured on your calendars. While there is still uncertainty ahead, it is our sincere hope that this planning will ensure that we are well prepared to properly celebrate and honor the Class of 2020 no matter what.
    If you have questions or concerns, I urge you to reach out to Colin Igoe as soon as possible. Of course, we all recognize that postponing these important events is certainly not desirable. However, we want to make sure that we are as prepared as possible for every contingency.
    Thank you for your understanding, and your unwavering support!
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (April 11, 2020)

    Dear Parents,
    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well, enjoying the Passover and Easter weekend. As we look back on our third week of remote learning, it has been affirming to hear positive anecdotes from boys and teachers about the value and impact of expanded interactive engagement. With the integration of added structure and synchronous class meetings for boys in Middle and Upper School, we’ve seen encouraging results. As always, I want to express my gratitude to you for your ongoing support of your sons and our shared partnership. I also want to recognize and thank our dedicated teachers and professional staff who continue to extend themselves in the face of new and ever-evolving challenges.
    This week we released the Policy on Third Trimester Grading to provide greater clarity on the topics of grading and assessments, to articulate clear expectations, and to offer continued encouragement for the boys. We also announced this week that final exams have been cancelled. The feedback from the boys and from teachers has been positive. We continue to focus our energies on continued learning and active engagement with the boys. At the same time, we want to reduce anxiety and uncertainty, enabling the boys and our teachers to simply focus on the opportunities for continual growth and progress.
    On Thursday afternoon, several colleagues and I had the opportunity to gather with the senior class “virtually” to talk about the contingency plans being developed for graduation activities. It was great to hear (and see) the boys, and fun to once again interact with them as a group. I was reminded what an exceptional collection of young men they are when the first three questions they asked focused on the well-being of others, including: “How will junior class traditions for the Class of ’21 be sustained?” “How is the School supporting the health and safety of our security officers who continue to work on campus?” and “Are the hourly employees including custodians, cafeteria staff, and others still being paid during the campus closure?” I came away inspired and lifted up by the boys, as they remain squarely focused on what it means to be a good man.
    This past week the Class of 2020 also received a great deal of positive admission news from a varied list of colleges and universities. I am incredibly proud of these boys, not for just earning admission to such a wide range of highly selective universities, but rather because of the kind of young men they are becoming – thoughtful, caring, determined, compassionate, and resilient. At the same time, enrollment demand for St. Mark’s remains high. We just completed the most selective admission year in school history, admitting just 18% of the applicant pool, and enrolling 95% of the boys who were admitted for next fall. Student attrition is also currently at an all-time low. In a time of great uncertainty, these results are encouraging and affirming, and they speak to the strength of community that we enjoy. Rest assured, we never take any of this for granted. For further updates, I encourage you to check out recently released editions of The Pride and The ReMarker, and as always, you can visit 10600.
    Thank you for your unwavering support as we work together in support of every Marksman. Here’s to a very positive week ahead.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (April 4, 2020)

    As we reflect on the second week of remote learning, I hope that you and your families are doing well and staying healthy. I also want to thank you for actively supporting your sons and for partnering with our teachers during this period of uncertainty and disruption. While we all continue to adapt to the challenges and limitations of daily life, the past week we’ve been lifted up by stories of connections that affirm the strength of the relationships we value so highly in our community. I was particularly moved by the junior class “gratitude” video that was featured on 10600 yesterday, hearing the boys express heartfelt thanks to their teachers, coaches, and advisors.
    Given ongoing public health efforts and restrictions, we are planning to keep the campus closed through at least May 1. As you well know, this is a fluid situation. Given the uncertainty ahead, we are making plans to continue remote learning through the end of the school year, should that be necessary. In response to these circumstances, the Southwest Preparatory Conference has also cancelled the spring sports season, including the Conference tournament. While necessary, this decision is disappointing for all of us, including coaches, parents, and of course our athletes, most notably our seniors in their final season as a Lion.
    I know that these continuous changes are unsettling. The past year has, without a doubt, been among the most challenging in our School’s long and storied history. And, this is the time of year when we all begin looking forward to the many celebrations and milestones that mark the passage of time and of our boys progress on the path to manhood. We are, of course, already thinking carefully about how to bring forward our important rituals and traditions, not the least of which are the culminating events for our graduating seniors. Notwithstanding the extraordinary disruption to their final year at St. Mark’s, these boys have continued to lead us forward with optimism, thoughtfulness, and generosity.
    We have all learned a great deal during the first two weeks of remote learning. In week one we established basic rhythms, patterns, and interactions. This week we introduced advisory meetings and more interactive engagement. After considerable planning and preparation, next week we will transition to Phase II of remote learning and layer in a clear and simple schedule for Middle and Upper School boys to further expand interactive student-teacher engagement. In grades 5-12, synchronous class meetings will be added not just to support continued learning, but also the important relationships that underpin our community.
    Thank you for your continuing support as we work together, hand in hand, to support the continued growth and development of every Marksman. While the learning curve is certainly steep for all of us, we’re in it together.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (March 27, 2020)

    Dear Parents,
    As we near of the end of the first week of remote learning, I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere hope that you and your families are healthy and doing well. I also want to thank you for supporting your sons during these unprecedented times. As we go forward together and continue to navigate these uncharted waters, I am heartened and inspired by the responses we have seen in recent days. The past week has been filled with stories of connections that affirm the strength of the relationships we value so highly in our community. Thank you for nurturing and encouraging the boys during this period of uncertainty and disruption.
    We continue to closely monitor efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, and after careful consideration, have decided to keep our campus closed through at least Friday, April 10. Our priority continues to be the health and safety of our community, and we are in constant communication with Dallas area health authorities and with schools and other organizations around the country to ensure that we are making informed decisions. We will keep you updated as our planning develops. It is our strong desire to have our boys and teachers back on campus as soon as possible.
    The past few weeks have been filled with many noteworthy and memorable experiences. In particular, I want to acknowledge and recognize the extraordinary leadership, thoughtfulness, and initiative that has been demonstrated by the Class of 2020. Notwithstanding the extraordinary disruption to their final year at St. Mark’s, they have stepped up time and time again to lead our community forward with care and compassion. Even over spring break, seniors were working on a variety of fronts not only to support one another, but also to support younger Marksmen. We’ve had daily meetings and conversations with many boys, and it is safe to say, without hesitation, that I have never been more grateful to be part of the St. Mark’s family.
    It is also important to acknowledge the spirit of commitment, dedication, and initiative that has been demonstrated by our faculty and staff. I want to recognize their ongoing efforts to support and care for every boy. As you well know, recent days and weeks have presented all of us with a steep learning curve, and we are growing and learning together, one step at a time. Faculty and staff continue to work tirelessly to maintain meaningful connections and relationships that are central to the St. Mark’s experience.
    Our philosophy this week has been “go slow to go fast,” and our priority has been to establish rhythms, patterns, and tools that establish a sustainable foundation that we can build on, improve, and expand. As always, these efforts require teamwork, and I want to thank the members of our Remote Learning Team and our Health and Wellness Team who are going to great lengths to support students, teachers, and families. In the coming week, you will see meaningful expansion of our interactions and activities, including student-led chapel services, regular and more frequent advisory gatherings, faculty office hours, and ever-increasing efforts to sustain the bonds of community that are so important to us all. In that regard, daily updates from across the community can be found on 10600.
    Finally, I want to acknowledge the unfailing leadership provided by the Board of Trustees, the Parents’ Association, and the Alumni Association. We are blessed to have so many dedicated volunteer leaders who support us at every turn and always have the School’s long-term well-being in mind.
    I continue to find great confidence in the spirit of our community and the strength of our mission. As always, we are squarely focused on the continued development and well-being of every boy. Decisions in the days and weeks to come will be guided by our commitment to serve the boys well. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out for support and guidance.
    My sincerest thanks to each of you as we continue to navigate together what has been a truly extraordinary school year. Thank you for your patience, your unwavering support, and your continuing partnership as we work to help every boy reach his full potential.
    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update to Faculty & Staff from the Headmaster (March 23, 2020)

    Happy Monday, I hope you’re doing well. Thank you, once again, for all of the time, energy, and creativity you are investing in the transition to remote learning. The spirit, enthusiasm, and professionalism that our whole team has generated in recent days have been simply remarkable.

    We have reviewed the Dallas County “Shelter in Place” order that was passed late yesterday and concluded that, as of midnight tonight, the campus must now be completely closed, except for a very limited number of people who support the school’s critical infrastructure. I know a number of you were planning to work from your office or classroom and am very sorry that campus access will not be possible after today. Should you need technical support, have questions, or need to gain access to the campus for some reason, please reach out to department chairs, division heads, or members of the remote learning team.

    Thank you for your thoughtfulness and care for one another and for the boys.

    Again, we are in it together! Onward and upward!!!

    With sincere gratitude,

    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update to Faculty & Staff from the Headmaster (March 21, 2020)

    Dear Colleagues,
    Happy Saturday afternoon, I hope you’re doing well, staying safe, and having a good weekend.  Despite the unsettling times we are facing, I hope you have been able to enjoy some rest and relaxation this spring break.  Certainly, this has been a time of considerable disruption and unease as we all work through the newfound challenges of social distancing and we anticipate the transitions and changes ahead.  In addition to managing our personal lives with a new set of rhythms and patterns, we are also filled with questions and uncertainty as we imagine the shifts in our daily lives as school, albeit remote school, resumes next week!
    Of course, it is important to always remember that we are in this together. This morning Nancy and I were walking into the grocery store and we ran into a member of the junior class, who immediately stopped to greet us with enthusiastic elbow bumps. When I asked him how he felt about the transition ahead and the prospect of distance-learning, he eagerly responded by saying, “I’m excited!” He then told us that his parents were moving one of his two older brothers, both Marksmen, home from college this weekend.  And again, I was reminded of the many varied challenges and new realities that every family is navigating.  It also reminded me how lucky we are to have each other, and to have so many amazing boys in our community, each one of whom will play an important role in making the balance of this school year not just successful, but one that will change their lives, and ours, for the better. 
    Let me share a few thoughts with you as we prepare for the transition to remote learning next week. It’s incredibly important that we all agree that the safety, health, and well-being of faculty, staff, and all our students are our foremost priorities. While our commitment to continued learning and delivery of content remains, we must also recognize the new realities that will challenge us and our boys in ways that were previously unimaginable. It will be vitally important for us to constantly, willingly, and repeatedly extend grace to one another, to all of our students, and to families throughout our community. We are fortunate to be part of a special extended community, and we are at our best as we care for and support one another in good and bad times. We all must hold dear and vigorously protect the fundamental values that bind us together.
    As we go forward, here are four principles to keep in mind.
    First, set realistic expectations for yourself and the boys.  
    Second, remember, classroom instruction will be asynchronous
    Thirdrelationships are at the center of everything we do.
    Fourth, stay focused on the health & well-being of the boys and each other. 
    As we near the end of spring break and begin the transition to remote learning, keep in mind that uncertainty about what’s ahead will likely reach a fevered pitch in the coming days. The boys, along with all of us, are coming to grips with the reality that we will not be on campus together for some time, and we don’t yet fully understand how distance learning will work and feel. One of the most important things we can do is to provide positive reassurance that we will get through this together, and to set some basic and realistic expectations that everyone will understand.  As an example, just letting the boys know that assignments will be posted each day by 11am on Blackbaud and that they should plan to check in by that time is a very good first step. Giving them basic guidance about the first day or two will help us reach day three, four, and five.
    It will also be important to try not to accomplish too much too quickly. Like in any new situation, we need to crawl before we walk, walk before we run, and run before we sprint.  We’re all accustomed to moving quickly and getting things done, but it’s important to recognize that the landscape has shifted dramatically, and we need to be prepared to adjust our expectations accordingly. We all know this intuitively, but it will be a balancing act as we learn together.   
    We have all witnessed the seismic shifts that are happening around us with many new realities that none of us could have ever imagined. As we go forward with the boys, let us do so thoughtfully, deliberately, and intentionally, as we always do.  You are all gifted educators, and more important you are trusted advisors, coaches, mentors, and friends. Together, we will navigate uncharted and, perhaps, even choppy waters ahead.  Tending to the needs of our students, one boy at a time, will ultimately make all the difference.
    Also, just to confirm, students are not allowed on campus.  Faculty and staff are discouraged from coming to campus and encouraged to work remotely.  If you choose to come to campus, please notify your department chair in advance, keep in mind the guidelines from health officials, and remember that children are not allowed.  You also will be hearing from Kurt Tholking soon about the Remote Learning Team and the resources that they can provide for teachers.  The most recently updated version of theRemote Learning Plan is attached for your review.  
    Thank you for your unwavering commitment as we work together to support every boy in our charge.  And, as always, please reach out to department chairs, division heads, John, and me in the coming days and weeks with questions, suggestions, and stories. 
    And just remember, one step at a time!!!
    With profound gratitude and admiration,
  • An Update from the Headmaster (March 20, 2020)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark's Community,
    I hope this note finds you and your family doing well, staying safe, and enjoying some restful and restorative time together. As we have made our way through a highly unusual spring break, all of us have wrestled in different ways with the uncertainty that has become so common over the past several weeks. It has been affirming and inspiring in recent days to have heard from students, colleagues, parents, and graduates who have shared their enthusiasm, commitment, and love for our School and the sense of family and place that it represents.
    In so many ways, the strong sense of community that we share continues to inform our thinking and planning as we transition to remote learning on Tuesday, March 24. Our commitment to helping every Marksman reach his full potential remains our primary focus, and, while the methods of interaction and program delivery will shift, our mission and fundamental objectives remain intact.
    In response to the State of Texas Governor’s executive order yesterday, we will extend our suspension of onsite classes through at least Friday, April 3, and we will update you on our plans as we learn more. While it is our strong desire to resume onsite classes and learning as soon as possible, we recognize the possibility that we might have to extend remote learning through the end of the School year and are making appropriate plans should that be necessary.
    As part of our ongoing preparation, we have formed a Remote Learning Team comprised of faculty leaders across campus to support our teachers and students with training, guidance, and technical service. In addition, a Health & Wellness Team has been assembled to ensure that we continue to support the physical and social-emotional learning for boys across all three divisions of the School. These groups include professionals from the offices of Counseling, Athletics, Physical Education, Computer Science, Technology, Nursing, and Communications. I want to acknowledge the leadership and commitment of these and other colleagues who have stepped forward in myriad ways to make the coming weeks as seamless as possible.
    As we begin the transition to remote learning next week, it will be important to manage expectations in ways that not only support student learning and progress, but also underpin overall health and well-being for students and teachers. As spring break comes to a close, next Monday will be a day of transition as students and teachers prepare for the resumption of class activities and remote learning. More detailed information will be shared with you and with the boys in the coming days.
    Thank you for your continued support as we work together on behalf of every Marksman.
    Warmest wishes,
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (March 12, 2020)

    To Members of the St. Mark’s Community,

    As I shared with the boys in Middle and Upper School Chapels in recent days, we’ve learned a great deal this year about the importance of resilience, determination, and flexibility. In addition, we’ve also developed an even greater appreciation for the importance of community.

    As circumstances regarding the COVID-19 virus evolve, we remain in constant contact with local and state public health officials as well as with our peer schools. In response to growing safety concerns about large group gatherings and CDC guidance about social distancing, we write to bring you up to date on the School’s plans for the next several weeks.

    We have concluded that it is in the best interest of our community to suspend classes and activities tomorrow, March 13, so that faculty can gather on campus to continue preparations for implementation of remote learning plans. Students will be allowed to come to campus tomorrow to retrieve materials, books, supplies, or other items that they might need over the coming weeks as part of their ongoing academic obligations.

    Immediately following Spring Break, we will also suspend onsite academic classes for the week of March 23-27, as well as all co-curricular events, including athletic practices and games, campouts, trips, and other events. During this period away from campus, we will conduct online classes as part of our remote learning plan.

    This decision has been made after lengthy consideration and is driven by our commitment to the health and safety of the community. We also recognize the challenges and disruption associated with these developments and appreciate your understanding.

    As has been noted previously, members of our team have been actively preparing to conduct classes remotely so that teachers can advance student learning and ongoing interaction with the boys. We will provide continual updates and specific information about our remote learning plan on the School's website.

    Thank you for your continued patience and support.


    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • An Update from the Headmaster (March 7, 2020)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark’s Community,
    As we make our way into the third trimester, I am constantly reminded of the strength and resilience of our community. As tornado repairs continue across the campus, last week the junior class led a wonderful McDonald’s Week in support of Austin Street Center, and the boys organized another outstanding STEM Conference, which included inspiring scientists and educators who covered meaningful topics from technology and medicine to dark matter research and space exploration. This, on the heels of a truly remarkable winter SPC weekend and the opening of another Habitat for Humanity house in west Dallas built by students from both St. Mark’s and Hockaday.
    During what continues to be a time of some uncertainty, I am reaching out to provide an update on planning related to COVID-19. We are actively preparing to minimize the potential impact of this health issue on our School community and have been meeting regularly to discuss our readiness for various contingencies, including how student learning can continue should we have to close school temporarily.
    We are carefully tracking information from the Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Health, and all local health officials and remain in close contact with the other independent schools across the area and Dr. Wendy Chung, Chief Epidemiologist for Dallas County Health and Human Services. Our team has participated in briefings and updates from leading organizations across the country including U.T. Southwestern Medical Center, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), and the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS), among others.
    The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and families are, of course, our foremost priorities. While the total number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. remains relatively low and there are currently no confirmed cases in our area, it is important for us to plan and prepare for every possible scenario. Currently, the key recommendations from public health agencies to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses are as follows:
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
    • Cover coughs or sneezes
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
    • Get a flu vaccine
    In addition, we strongly urge students to stay home if they show any signs of respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms.
    St. Mark’s routinely takes the following proactive steps to keep our campus facilities safe and clean. We place hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes in all classrooms and other centralized locations, perform nightly cleaning of every building on campus, and regularly wipe down frequently touched surfaces including doorknobs, light switches, desks, and countertops. In addition, we will perform a deep cleaning of the entire campus this weekend and plan to repeat that process during the latter part of spring break.
    As you are aware, businesses and organizations around the country are curtailing and, in some cases, even restricting non-essential travel. At the same time, global travel restrictions are being continually updated as circumstances change in different parts of the world. Last week, we were notified that the annual ISAS Fine Arts Festival, which was scheduled for early April and brings together more than 3,500 students from 43 schools across the region, was cancelled due to increased concerns about travel and large-group gatherings. 
    As spring break approaches, we urge families to be mindful of global travel restrictions and to consider the potential challenges associated with travel to regions directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Please monitor all State Department alerts and pay careful attention to CDC and WHO warnings about the risks of both domestic and international travel. We are closely tracking all scheduled student travel programs and will keep you updated.
    Please consult the following organizations for more information:
    For more information, visit the Health and Wellness page on the School’s website. We will send out additional updates in the weeks ahead as developments arise.
    Thank you for your ongoing support.
    David W. Dini
    Eugene McDermott Headmaster
  • Letter from Nurse Julie (January 27, 2020)

    Dear Members of the St. Mark’s Community,
    As part of our ongoing commitment to campus health and safety, we have been closely monitoring the current coronavirus outbreak in conjunction with the School’s Medical Committee, which includes Dr. Wendy Chung, Chief Epidemiologist for acute communicable diseases at the Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services, as well as a variety of other physicians and medical specialists from across our community.
    As you may know, the 2019 novel coronavirus emerged from the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China last month. This virus, thought to have been initially transmitted to humans from animals, is now being spread from person to person through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, in much the same way the flu and other respiratory viruses are spread. Symptoms are thought to appear within two to 14 days after exposure and consist of fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
    At this time, people considered at risk for contracting the virus are those who have traveled to Wuhan, China, or those who have been in close contact with infected individuals. A limited number of cases have been confirmed in the United States to date, while there are many additional cases being monitored. At this point, no cases have been confirmed in Texas, and health officials have reported that the immediate risk to our population is low.
    As you likely know, there continue to be intensive, ongoing investigations to learn more about the virus, such as the source of infection, populations at risk, and manifestation of symptoms, and this information is changing rapidly as the outbreak continues to evolve. We will remain in close contact with local health officials and provide updates to our community as needed. For more information on the coronavirus and the flu, I recommend the following resources:
    In the meantime, public health officials note that the flu and other common respiratory illnesses are circulating in our area, and they recommend the following basic prevention guidelines:
    • Individuals 6 months and older are encouraged to get a flu shot.
    • Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
    • Stay home when you are sick, and keep sick children at home.
    Thank you for your continuing commitment to the safety and well-being of individuals across our community. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly.
    Julie Doerge R.N.
    School Nurse

St. Mark’s School of Texas

10600 Preston Road
Dallas, Texas 75230


About Us

St. Mark’s School of Texas is a private, nonsectarian college-preparatory boys’ day school for students in grades 1 through 12, located in Dallas, Texas. St. Mark’s aims to prepare young men to assume leadership and responsibility in a competitive and changing world.

St. Mark’s does not discriminate in the administration of its admission and education policies on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.