Celebrating Spartan Spirit and Ingenuity

During the period of remote learning and living at St. Stephen's this past spring, students and faculty did not allow sheltering-in-place or social-distancing to inhibit their talents in any way. Through class assignments, extracurricular activities or purely independent impulses, they achieved new heights of intellectual exploration, artistic expression and athletic exertion. As we look forward to the new 2020-21 school year, we continue to celebrate the unbridled Spartan spirit that was on display last spring.

Spartan Spirit!

Spartan Community Honors Class of 2020 with Parade on Campus

On May 15, St. Stephen’s Class of 2020 lined up in cars at the front gate for the Senior Parade and Bell Ringing. At 3:30 p.m., the automobile procession began as seniors and family members made their way slowly through campus. Lining both sides of the parade route were faculty and staff decked out in Spartan gear, waving celebratory banners and screaming congratulatory sentiments. It was truly a sight to behold, and a celebration befitting an extraordinary class that has risen to the many challenges of the virus-impacted spring term. 

Class of 2020 Celebrates

By stitching together individual videos shot around the world, the Class of 2020 came together to celebrate their college acceptances. As they embark on the next chapters in their lives, they will matriculate at outstanding institutions across the United States and around the globe — from University of California at Berkeley to Colgate University, from University of Michigan to Middlebury College, and from New York University to the U.S. Naval Academy, among others.


History 11 Students Deliver Sizzling Presentations on Global Warming

For their last assignment in History 11, a graduation requirement at St. Stephen’s, student teams presented a variety of approaches to address the issue of global warming. Topics ranged from assigning financial responsibility to past emitters, to a poverty-focused approach calling for economic growth and development.

Upper School Stats Class Tracks COVID-19 Cases

Throughout the period of online learning this spring, St. Stephen’s mathematics teachers Dhvani Sethi and Kurt Oehler assigned students a number of class statistics projects using real-time COVID-19 data. In addition to making use of the City of Austin COVID-19 case tracker, they studied up-to-the minute information from The University of Texas pandemic toolkit, designed by UT professor and Spartan parent, Lauren Meyer, director of the university’s Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation.

Applying LIDAR Technology to Call Balls and Strikes

A 12th-grade Spartan spent his final year working on a device that detects a strike in baseball. To do this he used a LIDAR to map the zone above the plate. LIDAR is used in self-driving cars and aerial archeological research. Data from the LIDAR sensor are sent to a Raspberry Pi where a Python program that he wrote detects an object passing through the strike zone. He plans to study electrical engineering next year. His work was part of an independent study with Troy Lanier, Robotics and Electronics teacher.

Student Builds Ultrasonic Levitation Device

A member of the Class of 2020 built an ultrasonic levitation device that uses wave interference to trap objects in a location, making them seem like they are floating. In addition to learning about waves and sound, during the process he learned to solder, use an oscilloscope, control speakers with microcontrollers, manage power in a circuit and program in C++ on an Arduino. He printed the body of the device in our school's makerspace, the PIRL. This project was part of our Projects in Science and Technology course taught by Troy Lanier.

English 10 Intro to Metafiction

In this engrossing online video lecture*, Upper School English instructor Ben Hines explored how metafiction challenges peoples’ pre-existing notions of certainty and consciousness by taking an introspective turn to reconsider itself again and again, thus turning reality on its head.

English 10 Student Presentation

A 10th grade Spartan shared a video of her inventive book presentation on “The History of Love” by Nicole Kraus. Students were asked to create a visual representation of the journey of “The History of Love” as the narrative travels through time and place in the novel. In her presentation, the student uses three graphic icons to map the journey of different characters: a heart for Leo, a compass for Alma and a book for Zvi.

Electronics and Robotics

Students in Upper School science class, Electronics and Robotics, learned how to implement computer vision on an inexpensive single-board computer called a Raspberry Pi. Instructor Troy Lanier ensured his students' work was not disrupted by mailing them all the materials needed to set up their own home robotics labs. From Thailand and Korea to Jamaica and Texas, each student was able to work virtually alongside Lanier in their own home robotics lab.

Science 6

Middle School science instructor Kindy Verderber's 6th graders had the opportunity to create imaginative biography presentations to share with their classmates online. They dressed in homemade costumes and designed interesting background settings to enhance their peers’ understanding of the person they had researched.

English 7

In his review of making meaning from poetry, Middle School English instructor John Keyes invited students to think of poetry in a new way — as a three-tiered medium comprising not only words and sounds but also visual elements, such as formatting, line breaks, stanzas and even blank spaces. Keyes took a multimedia approach to his engaging lecture, combining video narration and static slide content.

Fine Arts

Middle School and Upper School Orchestras Give Final Performance

The St. Stephen's Middle School and Upper School Orchestras connected in the digital realm to give a final virtual performance of the spring term. This tango, El Choclo, was organized by John Moon, director of orchestras and chamber music. Each part was recorded by individual students from home. One of the performers, a 11th grade student, also wove separate files together, doing the work of both sound engineer and editor. Learning how to present online has become an increasingly critical skill this spring, and will continue to be a part of the orchestral experience even after we resume our normal daily routine on The Hill. 

Senior Spartan Art Exhibit

The remarkable Class of 2020 continued to amaze us with its Senior Art Exhibit. Students created myriad imaginative works in a variety of media, from pastels, oil paints and photography to ceramics and 3D printers.

11th Grade Flautist Performs Concertino

This spring, one of our talented 11th graders performed Concertino by Cecile Chaminade, a French composer working in the late 19th early 20th centuries. Since arriving at St. Stephen’s as a boarding student in the 8th grade, this Spartan flautist has been a member of the school orchestra, participating in All-Region and All-State bands and orchestras through the last four years.

Madrigal Singers

Director of Choral Music Kendra Lipman and the St. Stephen’s Madrigal Singers gave an inspirational performance of the classic gospel song "Unclouded Day" from their homes across the world to the delight of the school community. The final video production took close to three weeks to produce. Lipman created the audio master and then an 11th grade Spartan helped edit the final compilation.

Group and Individual Lessons

Remote dance and music lessons? You bet! Dance instructor Ally Holt held virtual group and individual dance classes with her Middle School students, and the school’s music instructors, including Director of Orchestras John Moon, piano instructor Jodi Blount and cello instructor Hai Zheng Olefsky, conducted virtual lessons with students, who never missed a beat! 

Spreading Joy with Inspiring Sonatas

Missing the St. Stephen’s community and wishing to spread a “bit of joy” during the period of remote learning, two Spartan sisters performed two uplifting and inspiring sonatas on the piano for their fellow students: Beethoven’s Sonata, Op. 2, no.3, in C major, 4th movement and Mozart’s Sonata K.457, in C minor, 3rd movement, molto allegro.


Daily Services

The Rev. Todd FitzGerald, school chaplain, holds daily Chapel programming, which frequently include special remote guests and speakers. The full school community is invited to participate in these uplifting and thoughtful services, including school alumni. 

Clubs and Activities


The literary arts and magazine of St. Stephen's School, Proteus, Vol. 31, has just been released. The magazine is the first-ever in the school's history that features the work of student artists and writers in quarantine. In fact, the magazine is dedicated "to all the artists that contributed during these uncertain times, and all the artists that continue to make art during quarantine.”

Fur Hurtado and Sophia Messer served as student editors with English Department Chair Jenny Huth, Ph.D., as the faculty sponsor. The vibrant, bold cover art is by graduating senior Margo Downing.

The publication includes 76 student entries, including short stories, essays, screenplays, poetry, ceramics, photography, and art.


To heighten student engagement, Student Government members spearheaded a number of online social events for Spartans, including movie watch parties and virtual coffee houses. A weekly capstone event, the livestream coffee house showcased the musical talents, culinary skills and artistic creativity within our school community to the delight of everyone.


Spartan Strong

Our coaches are committed to keeping students active during remote learning. Students are invited to join the department’s online Fitness and Wellness classroom, where an array of activities and workouts are posted daily. Coaches also offer live virtual workouts for students and teams. The school community formed a virtual team on Charity Miles. Comprising 33 Spartans, the team has logged more than 1800 miles walking, jogging or biking to benefit their favorite charities.

SPC 2020

On Saturday, May 2, the Southwest Preparatory Conference (SPC) united to honor the senior class of 2020. Through friendly virtual competition, called One Day Once Conference 2020 Miles, athletic departments and coaching staff across SPC competed with each other, accumulating miles in recognition of our senior athletes whose final sports season came to an end prematurely due to COVID-19. Participants ran, walked, biked and hiked with the goal of collectively logging 2020 miles. Our Spartans were excited to compete and amassed more than 370 miles in honor of their senior athletes.

*Film credits for Ben Hines video include: Top Secret (1984) Paramount Pictures, The Truman Show (1998) Scott Rudin Productions, Paramount Pictures, Inception (2010), Troy (2004) Warner Bros., The Hunger Games (2012) Lions Gate, Macbeth (2015) See-Saw Films, Life of Pi (2012) Fox 2000 Pictures, Apocalypse Now (1979) Omni Zoetrope, Snow White (1937) The Walt Disney Company, Beauty and the Beast (2017) Walt Disney Pictures, Deadpool (2016) 20th Century Fox, Marvel Entertainment, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Paramount Pictures, Scary Movie (2000) Dimension Films, 21 Jump Street (2012) Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 500 Days of Summer (2009) Dune Entertainment, Lady Bird (2017) IAC Films, Scott Rudin Productions, Tree of Life (2011) River Road Entertainment, Avengers: Infinity War (2018) Marvel Studios, Django Unchained (2012) A Band Apart, Columbia Pictures, 300 (2006) Warner Bros., Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) 20th Century Studios, Carol (2015) Film4, The Aviator (2004) Warner Bros., Miramax, Produktions KG, Sherlock Holmes (2009) Silver Pictures, Wigram Productions. Also features works by graphic artists: Jim Lee, M.C. Escher
Address: 6500 St. Stephen's Dr., Austin, TX 78746
Phone: (512) 327-1213