David W. Dini, Eugene McDermott Headmaster

Let me begin by expressing my profound gratitude to the many donors and volunteers who sustained and strengthened our School during the 2020 fiscal year with generous gifts of time, energy, and financial resources. In the face of significant adversity and unexpected challenges, the St. Mark’s community forged ahead in countless ways to advance our mission and support the great work of our teachers and students. While this report is a look back on the 2019–2020 school and fiscal years, it would be an enormous omission not to acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on 2020-2021. Thanks to the ongoing commitment, partnership, and strength of community that we enjoy, our Marksmen and their teachers continue to thrive, innovate, explore, and contribute. As you would expect, neither the disruptions of a tornado nor a pandemic will hold back our boys, our teachers, or our community. Your unwavering support underpins and inspires all of us who care for and guide the boys each day.  

As you know, last fall our campus sustained one of the most devasting blows in our more than 110-year history. Buildings were damaged and destroyed, trees were uprooted, and the surrounding area was brought to its knees. Thankfully, no lives were lost, and our School’s foundation remained intact. In the days following the storm, our community rallied together not just to get St. Mark’s back on its feet, but also to help neighbors and area businesses, to volunteer and serve at nearby public schools that had been damaged, and simply to make a difference. We talked openly about never referring to the seven academic days that the School remained closed after the tornado as “lost time.” Some of the most important learning opportunities of our lives occurred during those difficult and yet uplifting days.

While it would be impossible to acknowledge everyone in this letter who deserves recognition for their extraordinary leadership during the past year, there are several individuals whose commitment has been exemplary. Much gratitude is owed to our entire team, the faculty and staff, the Board of Trustees, the St. Mark’s Parents’ and Alumni Associations, and more. Specifically, I want to acknowledge our Board President, Clark Hunt ’83, who completed his two-year tenure leading the Board on June 30, 2020. Clark has been a tremendous partner and exceptional leader for our School, guiding significant progress on Goals for St. Mark’s IV including the Winn Science Center Project and the renovation of the McDermott-Green Science Building, the response to the tornado and COVID-19, and much, much more. I also want to thank Kathy Crow for her continuing leadership as she stepped into the role of Board President on July 1, 2020, and assumed responsibility for guiding our governing board and supporting our mission. We continue to be blessed with devoted and visionary volunteer leaders like Clark and Kathy who guide our School forward into the future. Let me express my profound gratitude to our Parents’ Association President Leigh Koch and Alumni Association President Paul Genender ’87 for their leadership and devotion to our teachers, our boys, and our whole community. I also want to thank the members of our faculty and staff, division heads, department chairs, classroom teachers, coaches, advisors, facilities and security staff, administrators and support staff, and so many more. Our team has pulled together and conquered seemingly impossible challenges and remained focused on the boys’ well-being. In particular, I want to acknowledge our Associate Headmaster, John Ashton, and our Chief Financial Officer, Suzanne Townsend, who exhibited tremendous courage and leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges.  

Of course, it was affirming and gratifying this year to see our boys thrive and contribute both on and off campus. In the classrooms and laboratories, on the playing fields, in the art studios, and on the stage, the Class of 2020 lived out our mission each day and set an excellent example for boys across the School, constantly seeking to make a difference in the lives of others. Notwithstanding the loss of most spring traditions and the need to transition to remote learning for the final few months of the school year, the seniors stayed positive, remained focused on the things that matter most, and finished the year strong. And, thankfully, we were able to finally enjoy a very special Commencement with the Class of 2020 in the Perot Family Quadrangle on July 31, a memory we will not forget.  

Lower School boys continued to focus on building the foundational elements of the St. Mark’s mission and learning the values of empathy, compassion, and integrity. Middle and Upper School Marksmen had more than their fair share of opportunities to assume increased responsibility for the community at large and to care for others. And while student achievement was certainly outstanding during the past year, from four SPC titles in just two seasons, to national honors across many disciplines, and so much more, the really important lessons that our boys learned this year was that our core values matter: demonstrating courage and honor, facing adversity head-on, delaying gratification, respecting others, and exhibiting integrity, compassion, and empathy each day. All of these principles make up the foundation of a St. Mark’s education.   

As we look to the future with hope, optimism, and determination, there are challenges to address, hurdles to clear, and opportunities to realize. Your continued partnership and trust will help us address these priorities with confidence and vigor.

On behalf of all of my colleagues, thank you for your unwavering support. Please know that your support and generosity make a difference in the lives of each and every Marksman.