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Educating Boys - It's What We Do!

Take a closer look at our most recent student-centered programming here on the Hilltop.  

The Salisbury faculty know and understand young men, and celebrate what it means to be a boy.  As a school designed for boys, our emphasis on relational learning enables Salisbury faculty to build authentic relationships with each student.  When a student feels known and valued, he is empowered to persevere through challenges and stay actively engaged.  Our distinctive course offerings are carefully designed to prepare students for the rigors of college and to think independently.  The all-boys classroom nurtures the confidence to take risks and inspires growth. Numerous resources are available to guide students while accomplishing his goals and reaching his full potential.  

In the classroom and on the field, Salisbury transforms a young man's character to graduate confident, spirited, curious, and loyal gentlemen and brothers.

Featured Student-Athlete: Rahsul Faison ’19

When you see him at work in his studio, you are reminded of other great artists, awed by the mysteries of inspiration, of creativity, of talent. You are struck by the seeming effortlessness of his finished works, the unsurpassed beauty of which can leave both audience and artist breathless. But like so many other masters in fields of artistic endeavor, a closer look reveals that suffering and sacrifice have played significant roles, as well, in producing those works.

Rahsul Faison works on a large scale. His rectangular canvas is monumental in size – over 57,000 square feet, in fact. His brushstrokes have a distinctively horizontal flow to them, though short, swift vertical motions also distinguish his artistic style. But, like most great masters in their fields, he has not come by his considerable talent or distinctive style without having first served a grueling apprenticeship.

Faison is a running back, the football field both studio and canvas. The contributions of this Picasso-in- cleats to the 2018 football campaign – 1,906 rushing yards, 31 touchdowns – have accounted for a significant portion of Salisbury’s offense and have arguably been the main reason for the Crimson Knights’ turnaround from a catastrophic 1-7 season last fall. This year’s team finished 5-3, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to unbeaten and league-leading Brunswick and a controversial last-second loss to Avon Old Farms in the season finale – notwithstanding a 297-yard performance by Faison, who this past week signed a letter of intent to attend Division I Marshall University next year.

Against Williston Northampton, Faison produced his masterpiece: a 367-yard, six-touchdown jaw-dropper that was the greatest individual performance of the Chris Phelps era, perhaps of any era. “We have had some good tailbacks since I arrived,” responded Phelps, who took over as head coach of the program in 2010, when approached by a curious fan after that game. “Denzel Knight broke the 300-yard barrier in one game, finishing in the 300-310-yard range. I haven’t seen a six-touchdown day, until now.”

School records are inconclusive as to where the tour-de-force etched by Faison that Saturday night in Easthampton, Massachusetts, might rank. Could it be the greatest in Salisbury football history? Most definitely. Was it, then, the greatest? “We cannot be sure of that,” school archivist Geoffrey Rossano cautioned when invited to check in on the subject. Check in he did, producing the results for Salisbury’s 1921 eleven, who won all five of their games and averaged 61 points-per-game. And get this: they ran up 102 points in a win over Canterbury. Might someone have run for 300 or 400 yards in that contest? “It’s certainly possible,” Rossano opines, “but we don’t have any way of knowing.”

For Faison himself, the game ranks as his personal best, topping a 365-yard performance he posted as a senior last year at Division 4-A Pottsgrove (PA) High School, one of two 300+ games he recorded en route to an eye-popping 2,925-yard season that included 42 trips into the end zone, setting both school and league records in the process. Among the end-of-season laurels Faison received were MVP of the Pioneer Athletic Conference, 2016 and 2017; 1st Team All-State, 2016 and 2017; PCTV Offensive Player of the Year, 2016 and 2017; and The Redding (PA) Eagle Player of the Year, 2017. In addition, he was named a Big 33 All-Star his senior year, designating him one of the top 33 football players in the State of Pennsylvania and putting him in the annual Big 33 All-Star Game, pitting the best high school players in the Keystone State against the best in Maryland. So it is not as if Faison arrived on the Hilltop unheralded.

What, then, did put Faison, who is African American, on the path to a post-graduate year as a Crimson Knight? After all, The Hill School is just a five-minute walk from Faison’s home. If a PG year were in order, why not enjoy the convenience of an excellent school, close to family? Faison’s mother didn’t see it that way, and Faison, a self-described “Momma’s boy,” has always heeded his mother’s guidance. After all, she had raised him as well as an older brother and sister as a single parent. Faison watched her work whatever jobs and hours were necessary to ensure that her children always had meals on the table and that any other needs were met. “That’s where my motivation is from,” Faison asserts, “seeing how hard Mom works to provide for us. I improved academically in my senior year, but my first three years of high school were weak academically, and my SAT scores did not give me many college options.”

Although Faison had committed to a Division I-AA college and had started to think about pursuing a degree in engineering, his mother didn’t feel he was ready for the challenges. “She felt it would be important for me not only to strengthen myself academically but also to learn how to be independent,” Faison explains. “I would not have experienced that at The Hill. I needed a place where I could continue to play football at a high level and also become a better student and person on my own, especially developing better study habits.”

Pottsgrove H.S. football coach Rick Pennypacker introduced the idea of an extra year of school before college, and as soon as Chris Phelps joined the conversation, Faison was drawn to Salisbury. “Throughout the prep-school search process,” Faison shares, “Coach Phelps showed loyalty to my family and me. We appreciated that, and I wanted to return that loyalty.”

After deciding to enroll at Salisbury, Faison de-committed from the college he had previously planned on attending, In the months following the de-commitment – and especially this past fall – a number of Division I programs picked up Faison on their radar and were impressed by the improvement reflected in Faison’s December SATs. Faison will report to Marshall in early July for the start of pre-season football.

On the Salisbury campus, no radar is necessary to locate Faison: with his down-to-the-shoulders dreadlocks, he is easy to pick out in any crowd – even amidst 300-pound linemen in helmets and pads. “I’ve had them for seven years, and yes,” says Faison, chuckling, “they’re really mine! They were inspired by the rapper Lil Wayne. Before that,” he continues, “I had a mini-’fro. My mom is a hairdresser, and when I told her what I wanted to do, she did all the lineups. Since I went with dreads,” he adds with some pride, “the look has caught on around Pottstown.”

Of the other men who have played key roles in Faison’s life, none looms larger in his football aspirations than Ryan Wallace, a cousin who played outside linebacker and on special teams for the Pittsburgh Steelers team that won the 2006 Super Bowl Championship. Wallace, who starred in college at Temple University, became Faison’s personal trainer in 2009, following the latter’s ninth-grade season. From the start, Wallace established a serious workout regimen throughout the spring and summer: four times a week, usually two-hour sessions, with the focus on foot work, speed, and agility. Wallace is one of many family members who follow Salisbury football on live-stream, and he and Faison talk on the phone almost every day.

Wallace also introduced his young cousin to healthy eating and proper diet – not an easy sell for a Pennsylvanian teen who grew up with cheesesteaks. “I didn’t give up cheesesteaks altogether,” Faison readily admits, “but during the heavy, off-season training, I won’t put that stuff in my body. In the fall, well, that’s a different story,” he adds with a mischievous smile.

One other man has had a profound influence on Faison: his father, who, until recently, had been absent from his life for a number of years. “He was around from time to time when I was a little kid,” Faison shares, “and then when I was five or six, he went away. Around the time I started high school, we started talking on the phone on a regular basis. Then over the last year or two, we’ve talked daily. We reunited last August. Having him back in my life has meant a lot,” he tells his only listener, who is riveted by every word. “I never knew what it was like to have a father and always wanted to have him at games, with the other dads. We struggle together,” Faison asserts proudly of his family and of all they have been through, “and we succeed together.”

Faison’s success this past fall translated into multiple honors in the season’s aftermath. In addition to his election to the All-Erickson League Team, he was also named the League’s Player of the Year. Faison was also one of two Salisbury players – Kenese Leomiti was the other – named to the All-New England Team, where he was recognized as the New England Offensive Player of the Year.

When Faison is asked if he has any final thoughts or comments, he is quick to respond. “Whatever success I had last fall on the football field,” he asserts, “I owe to the O-line: Kenese, Vincent [Sprenger], Winston [Churchill], Erik [Bockisch], and Evan [Floren]. And Jairo [Ramos], who was my lead blocker out of the backfield. Those are the guys I look for at meals in the dining hall. I want to get to know them off the field, sit down with them and talk about whatever. The stats may go next to my name, but those numbers are theirs, too.”

Faison’s appreciation for others and for the ways they have contributed to his life extends to the classroom. “I don’t really have favorite subjects,” he responds to a question about his academic interests. “What matters to me are the teachers. Do they work with you? Do they understand what you need to be successful? I loved my English course with Mr. Curtis, ‘Fathers and Sons,’ and ‘20th Century Global Issues’ with Mr. Donahue. They get that not all students learn the same way or at the same rate, and they take the time to meet with me to go over material that takes me more time to learn.”

Whether at home, on the football field, in the dining hall, or in the classroom, Rahsul Faison is keenly aware that achievement is a collaborative art.

- Procter Smith

The Creation of an Ancient City

As a part of their trimester-long study of ancient Greece, the three sections of Ancient History (Mulrooney, Siff, Mokriski) have tackled the creation of their own ancient Greek city-states. Students will base their city-states on research and reports they did on real places (Samos, Corinth, and Argos) ca. 430 BCE. The culmination will be “Thucydides Day,” including a virtual tour through each class’s city-state, built entirely in Minecraft, and a council meeting inspired by “Model UN,” where our three city-states will come together to address a common threat in our region (modeled after the events of the Peloponnesian War).  


Unsung Hero Award

We are honored that Salisbury School has recently learned that we will be the the recipient of a Community Unsung Hero Award at the One Night for One Love event to be held on April 10, 2019 in New York City for our efforts as a community with the One Love Foundation and Yeardley Love. 

The Unsung Heroes Award is given to individuals and communities who go above and beyond to bring the educational program of the One Love Foundation and Yeardley Love to their communities.  Salisbury School has become a role model for all independent schools in its implementation of the One Love Curriculum.