Head of School Dr. Jan Pullen was recently profiled by Sarasota’s ABC 7 News in its weekly “Amazing Suncoast Woman” feature. Veteran reporter Linda Carson visited campus and talked with Dr. Pullen about her upbringing in Manatee County, her journey through education, and her 30 transformative years as a teacher and administrator at Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School. Dr. Pullen is a graduate of Manatee High School, Manatee Junior College, Florida State University, and the University of Pennsylvania. She has been a driving force in the emergence of Saint Stephen’s as one of the premier independent schools in Florida. Her message: “Never stop learning. Be a life-long learner. The world is full of new thoughts and ideas. Never shut your mind to them.”
The Falcons are tops in Class 3A in the state. The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) has released its final Sunshine Cup all-sports points standings for 2016-17. Saint Stephen’s Athletics ranks 7th in the combined 3A/4A classification and is the top-ranked 3A school. The SSES boys finished first and the girls were third overall. Falcons student-athletes had a record-setting year on the fields and courts, winning 10 district, five regional and three state championships. See the final Sunshine Cup points standings here: http://www.fhsaa.org/…/alls…/2016-17/class_4a-3a_private.pdf
Senior Vanessa Yan has been named a 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholar – one of only 161 nationwide. The White House Commission on Presidential Scholars selects students annually based on their academic success, essays, school evaluations and transcripts, as well as evidence of community service, leadership, and commitment to high ideals. Of the 3.5-million students expected to graduate from high school this year, more than 5,100 candidates qualified for the 2017 awards determined by outstanding performance on the SAT and ACT exams, through nominations made by Chief State School Officers, and other partner organizations. The 2017 U.S. Presidential Scholars are comprised of one young man and one young woman from each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from U.S. families living abroad, as well as 15 chosen at-large. Vanessa, who is also one of the area’s top prep golfers and has led the Falcons with Top-30 individual finishes at each of the past three state tournaments, will attend Yale University.
The Falcons followed up their first-ever district and regional titles with a Class 1A state track & field championship on May 6 at IMG Academy. Saint Stephen’s ran to a second-place finish in the 1,600-meter relay – the final event of the two-day meet – to finish with 42 team points and tie Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy atop the standings, earning a share of the 1A crown. The Falcons won the team title despite not taking the top spot in any single event. SSES received second-place performances from Andrew Csubak in the 800, Letherio Jones Jr. in the 400, the 1,600-relay team and 3,200 relay. Csubak, who also ran both relays, added a bronze medal in the 1,600, and Henry Howell scored points with a fifth-place finish in the 800. The Falcons appeared to win their first gold medal in the 100 relay, cruising to the finish line in 43.46 seconds, but SSES was ultimately disqualified for an early handoff in the first exchange zone. Had Saint Stephen’s victory in that event stood, the Falcons would have been the outright champions — although the same could also be said about Westminster, which was also disqualified in the event for stepping out of its lane in the third exchange zone.
Led by five SSES students, the Manatee County Academic Team represented the county in Orlando, April 27-29, at the state’s official academic competition – the Commissioner’s Academic Challenge sponsored by the Florida Department of Education. Throughout the fall, Manatee County high schools competed head-to-head in matches of 60 questions each. Questions covered all academic subjects, and students were awarded points for speed and accuracy. The top six students were invited to become members of the all-star county team. They practiced as a team throughout the spring in subjects such as math, history, and economics. This year’s team was comprised of Jack Lyons (Manatee High), MaryAnn Placheril (Saint Stephen’s), Alex Siegal (Saint Stephen’s), and Vanessa Yan (Saint Stephen’s), Jack Berry (Saint Stephen’s), and Matthew Thomas (Saint Stephen’s). Team Manatee got off to slow start at the Challenge, falling immediately into the consolation round, but they fought back through the bracket to reach the finals and ultimately finished sixth in the state in Division One, the largest classification in Florida. You can read more at the 2017 Academic Challenge website.
Saint Stephen’s has announced the hiring of former collegiate All-American Sheri Hart to lead its swim/dive program in 2017. Hart was a standout at Worthington High School in Ohio, winning a team championship and three individual state titles. She finished her prep career as the national record holder in the 100 backstroke (a mark eventually broken by Natalie Coughlin) and went on to become an All-American at the University of Southern California (1990-91). Hart was an Olympic Trial finalist in 1988 and semi-finalist in 1992, and has set more than 20 masters swim records. Her coaching resume includes serving as an assistant on a state championship team at The Hockaday School, a girls’ college prep school in Dallas, Texas. Hart has also been Event Director for Swim Across America, raising more than $1.25-million for cancer research by hosting and preparing swimmers of all levels for Open Water Swim events. Hart takes over a Saint Stephen’s program that found success in and out of the pool in 2016. The boys team was recognized by the FHSAA as state Academic Champions with a combined grade point average of 3.785. The Falcons established four new school records and qualified for the state meet in two individual events and one relay.
Saint Stephen’s tradition of excellence on the tennis courts continued Tuesday, April 11, when the Falcons boys and girls captured their respective 1A-District 9 tournament titles. On Monday, SSES advanced to the finals in all 14 brackets (singles and doubles), and went on to win 13 of those matches the following day at the Saint Stephen’s tennis complex to leave no doubt. The Falcons will next host regional matches on Tuesday, April 18. The boys won their 14th district title and will be seeking their sixth regional championship. The Falcons also boast five state crowns, the most recent in 2015. The girls captured their 17th district title and have won seven regional and state championships. Their most recent state win came in 1992.
The Tampa Bay Business Journal/Niche.com has ranked Saint Stephen’s the No. 3 private K-12 school in the entire Tampa Bay area. Niche assessed 1,594 private schools throughout the country that offer grades kindergarten through 12th grade by looking at multiple metrics including test scores, percentage of seniors who go on to college, student-teacher ratio, and feedback from parents and students. Saint Stephen’s was given an A+ ranking and was listed behind only Tampa’s Berkeley Prep and Shorecrest Prep in St. Peterburg in the greater Tampa Bay area. You can view a complete list of the area rankings here.
On Friday, March 10, Saint Stephen’s celebrated the official opening of its Confucius Classroom, a collaboration with the University of South Florida Confucius Institute in Tampa. The partnership provides access to educational resources and funding to enhance the Mandarin language programs at Saint Stephen’s. SSES joins Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School in St. Petersburg, Pineview School of Sarasota, and Hillsborough County Schools among the Tampa Bay area Confucius Classrooms. Representatives from the USF Confucius Institute were on hand for a program of song, dance, and a martial arts exhibition that was preceded by the unveiling of a special plaque signifying SSES as a program partner.