Falcon student-athletes were honored on Thursday (June 2) when the Florida High School Athletic Association named Saint Stephen’s as the recipient of this year’s Fred E. Rozelle Sportsmanship Award in Class 3A. The prestigious award recognizes schools whose athletic teams demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship, on and off the field, during the 2019-2020 regular season, as well as FHSAA State Series competition. Named in honor of FHSAA Commissioner Emeritus Fred E. Rozelle, the award has been presented annually since 1991 to one school in each classification whose total sports program best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship as demonstrated by its coaches, players and spectators. Criteria for selection of the winners includes programs and activities implemented within the school and community to promote sportsmanship; the number and type of exceptional sportsmanship reports; and the source of the nomination. Winners receive a commemorative plaque and $2,500.
Saint Stephen’s celebrated its 69 graduating seniors with a unique drive-through commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 23. With traditional graduation exercises cancelled because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, SSES invited the members of the Class of 2020 and their families to drive through the Upper School parking lot where the seniors – in cap and gown – collected their diplomas and had a photograph taken while “Pomp and Circumstance” blared through speakers. The school was decorated with banners featuring photos of each senior. It was an atypical but fitting way to celebrate the close of the most unusual school year in SSES history.
Class of 2020 highlights:
- Three graduates are National Merit Scholarship finalists; one is a National Hispanic Scholar
- Of the graduates who identified a first-choice college, 77% were accepted to that school
- Four graduates were awarded their university’s top-level academic scholarship, paying full tuition plus research and/or study abroad grants
- Nine graduates were offered Honors College/leadership programs, including merit scholarships, research, travel and enhanced academic opportunities
- Nine graduates were recruited to play intercollegiate sports: football, golf, sailing, swimming, tennis and track
The entire Saint Stephen’s community was saddened on May 19 by the passing of beloved former Headmaster John Howard, following a brief battle with cancer. During John’s tenure from 1987-2003, SSES grew into the modern campus it is today, highlighted by construction of the buildings that now house the Pre-Kindergarten, Campus Center, Lower School, and Upper School.
Born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1937, John graduated from the Blake School in 1955 and Brown University in 1960. He launched his long career in education by returning to Blake for nine years, where he taught English, coached hockey and directed the Glee Club. John also served as Assistant Headmaster of the Kimberley School in Montclair, N.J., and as Director of College Counseling and then Upper School Head at Breck School in Minneapolis.
John packed up his young family and headed for Florida in 1987 to take on the role that was the ultimate challenge and joy of his career. During his years at Saint Stephen’s, enrollment grew from around 200 students to more than 600. Many of the campus traditions now held dear – Falcon Friends, Interim Quest, Cum Laude Society membership and more – were established, and he helped foster the warm and caring culture that Saint Stephen’s is known for today.
“John was an outstanding educator who loved Saint Stephen’s and always instilled that love of learning in his students, faculty and staff,” said Dr. Jan Pullen, who was hired by Howard in 1988 and succeeded him as head of school in 2003. “His caring, fun-spirited demeanor was contagious and inspired us all to put joy in our lives. I was honored to have been mentored by John for 15 years. He will be missed but our memories of John will be with us forever.”
After retiring, Howard still made a difference in the broader community, serving as the Interim Executive Director of the South Florida Museum, Habitat for Humanity and We Care Manatee. A Celebration of Life is planned for the fall at Saint Stephen’s and the family has requested that memorial contributions in John’s name be made to the Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School Endowment Fund.
The international Water is Life Conference, which SSES was set to host June 22-26, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Saint Stephen’s was to be the first U.S. site for the bi-ennial gathering, which brings together high school students and their teachers from around the world to discuss and share research on a variety of issues impacting water quality. Participating schools had registered from Zimbabwe, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Iceland, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Poland, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Canada, and Curacao. Saint Stephen’s remains an active member of the Water is Life Association and is represented on its board of directors. We hope to be able to host a future conference. Thank you to the many partners who had agreed to support the conference: New College of Florida, the Parker and Bishop foundations, Elizabeth Moore, Bill Johnston, Mote Marine Laboratory, Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Florida Park Service, Manatee Fish & Game Association, Reef Ball Foundation, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Sandbar Restaurant, Pier 22, Omeza, Lovibond, ReefSafe Sun, Gulfcoast CEO Forum.
In order to align with the Governor’s decision on Friday to close all Florida public schools for two weeks, we are instituting the following plan:
The campus will be closed March 16-20. Teachers will communicate with students/parents about how we will proceed with virtual lessons, which will be introduced Wednesday through Friday (March 18-20). From March 23-27, the campus will remain closed and students will receive daily virtual instruction from their teachers. From March 30-April 3, there is NO school and we will honor our already scheduled spring break.
This plan allows us to carry out the Governor’s decision, while also ensuring that we are not away from our academic program for three consecutive weeks. All extracurricular and athletic activities will be canceled from March 16-27.
During spring break, we will inform parents about whether we will return to campus for classes on April 6, or if we will continue with virtual instruction. This decision will be based on the latest information available.
Tod Creneti, the head coach who built Saint Stephen’s football into an independent school powerhouse, has resigned his position after nine seasons at the helm. Veteran assistant coach A.J. Brown has been named as Creneti’s successor.
The Falcons posted a record of 68-32 during Creneti’s tenure, including an impressive 50-7 mark over the past five seasons. Saint Stephen’s advanced to four consecutive Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC) independent state championship games under Creneti from 2015-18, and won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017. The Falcons fell one win short of a fifth straight trip to the Florida Bowl last season, finishing 9-2.
Creneti’s teams have established the standard of excellence for the fledgling SSAC, winning 24 consecutive games between August 2016 and September 2018. The Falcons’ loss in the 2019 playoff semifinals to eventual SSAC champ The Master’s Academy snapped a 25-game home winning streak. A series of student-athletes coached by Creneti have successfully gone on to the collegiate ranks, including Division I signees Sydney and Chase Brown (Illinois), Jacob Westberry (Fresno State), Wyatt Knopfke (Boston College), Cam Vining (Army), Dylan Davis (Furman) and others.
Brown, who has served as a physical education teacher at the school and as secondary coach on Creneti’s staff since 2010, will guide the Falcons through spring practice and into the 2020 season. He has also been the school’s head track and field coach since 2015, and led the Falcons to a boys Class 1A state championship in 2017.
The SSES girls basketball team’s historic season came to a close in the Class 3A State Final Four on Wednesday night (Feb. 26) with a 67-30 loss to Carrollwood Day School at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The Falcons finished their record-setting campaign at 26-5 and smashed nearly every single-season mark in the school’s record book. Their 26 wins bested the previous high of 16 set by the 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams. The Falcons won their first district championship in 36 years (vs. Cardinal Mooney) and their first regional title ever (vs. North Port Imagine) to advance to the Final Four. A slew of team and individual records also fell during Head Coach David Gaulman’s first year on the sideline. Sophomore guard Jamie Springstead established a best for points in a season with 493 (a team-leading 15.9 per game). The Falcons also scored at a clip of 51.8 per game. No Saint Stephen’s team had previously recorded a scoring average better than 43.5 ppg. Records for points in a game (84), points in a season (1,609), winning percentage (84%), and margin of victory (22.2 ppg.) also fell. The team returns all but one starter next season.
Brittany Skoda, a 2005 Saint Stephen’s graduate, has been named Managing Director and Global Co-Head of Software Banking at Morgan Stanley in New York City. Following SSES, Brittany attended Georgetown University, where she competed on the golf team for one year and was named a Big East Conference Academic All Star. Brittany graduated Magna Cum Laude from the McDonough School of Business. She worked for Goldman Sachs for nearly a decade and, most recently, at Workday, Inc. in San Francisco. As a Saint Stephen’s student, Brittany was a member of the 2005 Harvard Model Congress, a 2004 Sarasota Model United Nations delegate, and participated in the 2004 National Youth Leadership Forum on Law. She was selected to the National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, and was named “Most Likely to Succeed.” Brittany most recently returned to Saint Stephen’s in 2018 to share her experiences with students. She’s pictured in the classroom with economics/history teacher Bernie Yanelli and former New York Stock Exchange President Bill Johnston, a frequent guest presenter at SSES.
Ryan Roslansky, a 1996 Saint Stephen’s graduate, has been named the CEO of LinkedIn. The business-networking company owned by Microsoft has been led by Jeff Weiner for the past 11 years, but Weiner will hand the reins to Roslansky on June 1. Since 2009, Roslansky has served as LinkedIn’s Senior Vice President of Products and User Experience. In accepting the position, Roslansky wrote on his LinkedIn profile: “I’m taking on this new role of CEO because I believe deeply in what we are doing, how we are manifesting our vision, and where this company can go. And the best part about it is that I truly believe we’re just getting started.” Roslansky was Weiner’s first hire when he joined LinkedIn in December 2008. The company was purchased by Microsoft in 2016 and has grown to include 675-million members. LinkedIn currently generates $7.5-billion in revenue, six-percent of Microsoft’s total.
With their victory on Tuesday night (Jan. 21), the 2019-20 SSES girls basketball team is now in the record book as the winningest team in school history. The Falcons routed local rival Bradenton Christian, 60-31, at the Panthers’ gym to record their 17th victory of the season, eclipsing the 1983-84 and 1984-85 teams, which each won 16 games. With at least five games remaining, the Falcons are poised to set an incredible new standard for Saint Stephen’s girls basketball under first-year Head Coach David Gaulman. After finishing as district runner-up in each of the past three seasons, the Falcons (17-3) have their sights set on winning their first district championship since 1984 and advancing deep into the postseason. Last year’s team captured the school’s first-ever regional playoff victory, upsetting Naples First Baptist Academy before falling in the regional final.