January 14

The week at Keystone – January 14, 2022

An update about Omicron in our community

Dear Parents,

As we head out for the long MLK Day weekend, we would like to share information we learned from independent school webinars regarding Omicron in schools sponsored by Independent School Management. From the information in this call, discussions with doctors on our Medical Advisory Committee, and a recent NY Times article, we are seeing some signs for cautious hope.

The doctors on the calls last Thursday and today were David Ruben, MD of Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Adrianna Bravo, M.D., pediatrician and independent medical director, and Tanya Altmann, MD FAAP Pediatrician & School Physician. Their overall message combined caution for the current state of COVID and cautious optimism that things would soon improve.

They shared the following pieces of information:

– It appears that case numbers have flattened in New Jersey and Maryland, and certain cities like Chicago and Los Angeles. Cases may have peaked in the Northeast and Pennsylvania.

– Wastewater treatment plants in Boston have seen a 40% decrease in Covid in the water since January 1.

– The proportion of children in ICU for upper respiratory illnesses, including Covid, has decreased.

– About 1/3 of positive cases detected in hospitals are from patients who came in for a different reason

– The numbers on the West Coast seem to be trailing the Northeast by two weeks, but they are following a similar trend.

– Schools continue to not be the disease vectors that people thought they would be. (The Omicron surge began while schools were closed for winter break.)

– People should be able to return to school when they are asymptomatic rather than having to wait for a test result.

– “Omicron is painful in the short term, but is a blessing in disguise.” Epidemiologists have rarely seen a virus gain capacity that’s been lost. So, there may be other strains down the road, but it would appear that COVID is following the paths of other viruses in history that increase in transmissibility but lose potency.

– Omicron also seems to be a trigger for other respiratory diseases which are more easily managed by the medical system.

– At this point, it is more likely that Omicron will burn itself out rather than become more virulent.

– The general rules for schools: 1) Stay home if you’re sick; 2) Mask up.

– We are likely in for a rough few more weeks, but by February/March, we should be on the other side of this.

Please know that all of us at Keystone appreciate all you’re doing. We know the ambiguity around Omicron, combined with the absenteeism we’re seeing right now, has made for a stressful week. Unfortunately, we will probably have a few more stressful weeks ahead of us, but as you see, we are seeing some signs for cautious hope.

I’m attaching an article that examines whether Omicron is peaking in this country. Please click here to read it. Like the physicians who led the webinar we attended, it concludes with caution and optimism.

With hope,


6th grader wins Spelling Bee

Congratulations to Victoria, a sixth-grader who won Keystone’s Spelling Bee.

She won in the 19th round by correctly spelling “rhetorical.” Congrats also to runner up, Zoe, an eighth grader.

Other words: irregular, prioress, brocade and perdition. In addition to the spelling words, the Bee now includes vocabulary questions.

Read More >

Alumni Day shows former students’ many accomplishments

Where do our graduates go after they leave Keystone? Literally to the highest levels of accomplishments in many fields.

Some examples: property manager on major Hollywood films; a Harvard Law School grad who now runs his own consulting company; owner of a veterinary practice; an attorney who specializes in food poisoning litigation; a family medicine physician; an astronomer who now works as a consultant for the Air Force; and a biology professor who now works to discover drugs that can treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and, surprisingly, COVID-19.

Read more >

Internship fair brings corporate reps to campus

Shortly after the Alumni Day presentations concluded, Upper Schoolers met with representatives from several local businesses, who came to campus to discuss opportunities for internships and more.

Although we had a few last-minute COVID cancellations, Keystone hosted representatives from:

– The DoSeum

– GenCure


– Witte Museum

– World Affairs Council

– Keystone’s Development/Marketing Office

7th Grader wins sports stacking tournament

Congratulations to 7th grader Ryan, who took first place at a tournament of the World Sports Stacking Association.

He won the male all-around last week at the West Coast Online Winter After Dark tournament with a total time of 10.096 seconds, nearly 0.3 seconds ahead of this second-place finisher. Ryan competed against others from the United States and other countries that includes, Canada, Germany, and the Philippines.

If you’re not familiar with the sport, sport stacking (also known as cup stacking or speed stacking) involves stacking 9 or 12 specially designed cups in pre-determined sequences as fast as possible. It tests agility, concentration and quickness.

Middle schoolers cast in “School of Rock” production

Congratulations to 7th grader Ella Sofia (below left) and 8th grader Ricardo (below right), on being cast in major roles in the Woodlawn Theatre Academy’s upcoming production of “School of Rock – The Musical.”

The musical follows an out-of-work rock singer and guitarist who pretends to be a substitute teacher at a prestigious prep school and forms a band of fifth-graders in an attempt to win a Battle of the Bands contest.


The show runs Jan 27 – Feb 6. Get your tickets here.

Billy’s Blog – From our Head of School

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”
–Randy Pausch

On the first day back in class from Winter Break, I watched and listened in admiration as recent Keystone alumni spoke to current students and offered excellent counsel on their final years of high school, the college application process, and the transition to post-secondary education. Every January, Keystone welcomes back alumni to speak to upper school students as a group and in their grade level classes on a variety of topics.

For the second year in a row, we were unable to meet as a large group in person due to COVID restrictions. However, we could gather by Upper School grade levels in a variety of places around campus. A huge thanks goes to Director of College Counseling Sara Christiansen and Upper School Head Bill Spedding for organizing the day’s activities.

Read More >

Important events and notes

San Antonio Spurs – Keystone Night – Jan. 21

Time is running out to get your tickets for Keystone Night at an upcoming Spurs game. It happens Friday, Jan. 21 at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs are playing the Brooklyn Nets, featuring Kevin Durant and James Harden, along with former Spurs Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge.

All tickets purchased automatically include a food voucher and access to the Courtside experience, which allows fans to sit near the court before the game to watch both teams warm up.

Ticket prices range from $33.50-$58.50 for Balcony Level; $98.50-$128.50 for Lower Level; and a few seats at the VIP Charter Level at $353.50.

Here’s the link to purchase tickets: https://fevo.me/keystone

See you there!

Navigating College Admission Tests – Jan. 26

From Ms. Christiansen:

When: Wednesday, Jan 26 at 6 p.m., Zoom
What: Navigating College Admission Tests with Compass Education
Who: Families in grades 9-11
Details: Families receive information via email

Sponsorships available for Keystone Food and Drink Festival

If you have a business or other organization, you will want to sponsor the upcoming Keystone Food & Drink Festival.

The Food and Drink Festival offers exciting opportunities to strengthen your brand while helping students who will take on the future challenges of our world.

This year’s spring fundraiser will bring parents, grandparents, alumni, parents of alumni, and friends of Keystone onto campus for an evening of enjoying outstanding dishes, along with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, while coming together and catching up in person. Funds raised through the Food and Drink Festival will support Keystone’s students, faculty, and campus. Tickets for this event will go on sale on February 18th.

This event will be held on the evening of Friday, March 25, 2022, so be sure to mark your calendars!

Secure your sponsorship today: https://event.gives/foodanddrink

Cobra Radio podcast goes live

If you haven’t checked out the Cobra Radio podcast — it’s now live! The first episode features Student Council President Avril and new episodes come out every two weeks during the school year. Find it and subscribe on:
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1CW3NkwhBKFrQ78AHj9Wlr?si=b6b7d6c972c64768
Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/cobra-radio/id1600933930
Google Podcasts: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5zaW1wbGVjYXN0LmNvbS9NUHBUbUpnVQ
If you’re searching for it on Apple Podcasts, type in “Cobra Radio” and “Keystone”.

Alumni News

Luke Vilagi ’18 completes BMW internship

Talk about guts, resilience and determination. Luke Vilagi ’18, had enrolled at the University of Alabama to participate in the university’s German exchange student program that worked with Mercedes Benz, which operates a factory nearby.

But then Mercedes pulled out of the program. Last summer was supposed to be his time to go to the Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart. Since he was already enrolled at a German university, he decided to go abroad anyway and apply for internships while he was over there. He was able to get an internship at BMW in Munich.

So from July through November, he helped create instructions for building engines — and used his bilingual abilities to assist a team from BMW’s England engine plant, who were in Munich planning future engine production.

He’s back now at college for his senior year and plans to stay in the automotive industry in some capacity after he graduates. We know he’s well positioned for whatever comes next.

Get your Keystone gear now

Snag your Keystone swag at our online store: KeystoneSchoolStore.com.

We are working with Follett, which provides fanwear and other merchandise to colleges, universities and K-12 schools. Place your orders with Follett, and your merchandise will ship directly to your house.

Support Keystone while you shop

If you’re shopping with Amazon, please use AmazonSmile

If you’re purchasing items from Amazon, please consider supporting Keystone with your purchases and use AmazonSmile. Just designate Keystone as the beneficiary and a portion of your purchases will go to the school.

Make sure to install the Smilematic browser extension. It works with Firefox, Chrome and Safari and automatically redirects users to AmazonSmile when they visit Amazon. Here’s the tool: https://couponfollow.com/smilematic.

If you’re getting school supplies or adding to your home office from either Office Max or Office Depot, please mention Keystone. As part of the Give Back to Schools program, the stores give 5% of the purchase price of qualifying school supplies in credits to Keystone for office supplies. Be sure to include the school’s ID number when you make your purchase. Keystone’s school number is: 70100727.

If you have news about the students, alumni, faculty or staff at Keystone School, please share:


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