What an incredible week of Capstone presentations! Congratulations to the eighth grade!
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: April 16, 2021
If there could be a moment that marks a return to some semblance of life before the pandemic, may it be Capstone, our school’s programmatic crown jewel. We found a way to safely bring our entire eighth grade into the PAC—seated 6′ apart, masked, and ever attentive to the privilege of the moment—so that this key community experience would be shared as a class after a year of cohorted distance. And how the Class of 2021 has seized this moment.
Capstone is a clear manifestation of our mission. Inspire and challenge? Check. Each student has spent the year dedicated to a topic of their choosing, invariably inspired and challenged to great lengths along the way. Foster intellectual curiosity? Check. In the past week, we have witnessed presentations on everything from self-driving cars to nuclear fission to the trade war between the US and China to prison reform. Honor differences? Check. A student designed an app for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; another created artwork dedicated to bringing attention to implicit bias and its impact at local independent schools; another designed hair care products specifically for black-identified folks; and still another showcased the power and strength of the introvert. All are byproducts of the project phase of the Capstone journey, and all showcase our students’ voices in honoring differences. Empower meaningful contribution through our six core values? Check. Whether raising money to fight unlawful child labor abuses around the world, debunking the myths of misinformed conspiracy theories, carefully exploring children’s rights under the law, or creating beautiful public art, our eighth graders used this opportunity to give back in dynamic and meaningful ways.
I also enjoyed a privilege that few of my colleagues or fellow parents have been able to: the opportunity to watch the mentors as they respond to their mentee’s work. Each student has a faculty advisor or mentor that supports them throughout Capstone, and these relationships showcase the bonds between the adults in our community and our eldest students. The mentors joined the eighth grade in the PAC, and each presentation began with a video introduction of their mentee. As you will see below, the name of each student’s mentor appears in italics. Additionally, all of the students have had two steady and consistent presences throughout their journey—Kate Burns, the eighth grade social studies teacher who guides the paper writing process, and the indefatigable Jen Friborg, Capstone Coordinator. Jen is something of an orchestra conductor during presentations, patiently rising and falling with the tempo of each presenter. To observe the two of them watch each student presentation, proud like parents, is quite remarkable. Someday, I could imagine Madame Friborg herself being a Capstone topic worthy of study.
It was an honor to be seated among these students as they support one another in the final phase of the journey: presenting with poise, grace, confidence, and expertise, answering challenging questions live, and reminding us of the road they have traveled over their BDS years to get here. This year, as with every year, I have learned a thing or two myself and wanted to use this space to let you know just how much.
Ripley B: Dinosaurs (Ellen Brandt) I learned that, as Ripley promised, dinosaurs were way cooler than I thought, even if these ‘terrible lizards’ were closer to ‘elongated chickens.’ Stephen Spielberg has nothing on the truth, and Ripley knows it! I also learned that it is never easy to go first—especially in a pandemic—but you’d never know it from Ripley. Great job, Ripley!
Henry M: Cryptography (Stephen Bennhoff) I learned that those Google recommendations to strengthen my password are worth heeding! I also realized that I will never be able to listen to a piece of classical music—particularly one composed by Henry himself—without thinking there may be a hidden message for me in it somewhere! Xfmm Epof, Ifosz!
Zephy B: Nanomedicine (Leigh Twarog) One can never underestimate the feeling of learning how the mRNA of the Moderna COVID vaccine works when one is just a day removed from having received the second dose, as was true for me. I also learned that the future of nanomedicine already has a young doctor (if he wants to be one!) in training. Well done, Zephy.
Henry B-J: Graffiti and Public Art (Larissa Rochford) There may be some debate about the difference between graffiti and public art, but there is no debate that Henry’s command of an enormous canvas, clarity of expression, and talent as a public artist are exceptional. I also learned from Henry that “obstacles are never insurmountable.” A sentiment we could all learn from, especially this year. Excellent job, Henry!
Noah K: Cryptocurrency (Alex Tzelnic) The future is here, and its name is Bitcoin; just ask Noah. His comprehensive understanding of cryptocurrency and its role in the global economy allowed him to present to his peers and privately educate Mr. Colson and me about whether cryptocurrencies are viable options for tuition or advancement donations. It turns out that with Noah and a superpowered desktop computer, you could mine your way to a profitable digital future. Thanks again, Noah.
Kenna S: ADHD (Emma Nairn) Creativity, resiliency, hyper-focus, and curiosity. These are the superpowers of those of us with ADHD, and Kenna made them clear to her audience with ease. Whether designing her app or recording her podcast, Kenna shed a positive light on this highly diagnosed and broadly misunderstood learning difference. She might take comfort to know that I am getting this Scoop submission in just before the deadline. Great work, Kenna!
Ellora R: Implicit Bias (Brendan Largay) From Ellora, I learned that sometimes the mentor/mentee relationship is more than symbiotic; it can be inverse. I learned so much from Ellora throughout this process—not only about the powerful ways that implicit bias filters our perspective of the world and allows for systemic views on race and class to become intractable but also about the conviction it takes to make one’s voice heard. I also learned that for someone who ‘just learned how to paint,’ she has three works of art that might suggest otherwise. Couldn’t have been any luckier than to work with you, Ellora.
Cam C: Animal Treatment in the Entertainment Industry (Mary Norman) I learned that a love of animals nurtured throughout his life readily translated to Cam’s commitment to their defense as he built an imagined sanctuary for their rehabilitation. I also learned that Cam’s family does not yet have a dog. I feel like Cam wanted me to reiterate this last point one more time, just in case his parents had forgotten. (You’re welcome, Cam.) Nice job.
Margot K: The Midwest (Dean Spencer) As the saying goes, sometimes you can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can never take the Midwest out of the girl. I was reminded of the Midwesterner’s trademark kindness in all that Margot said and did. I learned of the clear and present challenges the Midwest faces as it seeks to recover its previous glory as the nation’s heartland. Well done, Margot.
Aviva P-B: Conspiracy Theories (Kathy Jo Solomon) First, there is no truth to the fact that neither I nor any of the other leaders in the BDS community are aliens. How absurd. Second, I am thankful to know that if some would believe such falsehoods, Aviva will carefully assess the accuracy of any claim and help us debunk the myths of the increasing number of conspiracy theories spreading throughout the world. Excellent job, Aviva! [In case our alien president is reading this right now, rest assured, I denied everything. I don’t think they’re onto us at all.]
Jacob S: Ancient religions (Gretchen Fogelstrom) I learned that great storytelling, the powerful myths of two ancient religions, and the creativity and quick wit it takes to be a Dungeonmaster in Dungeons & Dragons have unexpected things in common. I learned, too, that of the religions of two ancient civilizations—the Greeks and the Aztecs—one sought to drink life to the lees, the other practiced human sacrifice. No wonder it is the Greeks we choose to study in fourth grade. Great job, Jacob!
Harry R: Reitshamer Academy (John O’Neill) Let’s see: innovative leader, forward-looking curriculum, student-centered, project-based, leveraging the wonders of an outdoor campus. Why does this sound so familiar? No, not because it sounds like BDS, though in many ways it does. It sounds like Belmont Day’s newest competition: Reitshamer Academy, a mastery-based academy designed by Harry to reimagine education. I am already worried about faculty jumping ship for the greener pastures of RA. I have put Ms. Parfit on notice in admissions as well. A fantastic design, Harry.
Bree L: Black Hair Culture (Leesa Mercedes) I learned directly from Bree, the incredibly talented hairstylist herself, that “hair is a reflection of the inside, not the outside.” Such power derives from a proud history and understanding of black hair culture, resistance to cultural appropriation, and an eighth grade student who has a mature understanding of her identity well beyond her years. Phenomenal job, Bree.
Sophia T: The History of Books (Minna Ham) I learned from Sophia that the Reformation might never have happened as it did without Gutenberg’s printing press that advanced religion and religious rebellion in profound ways at the start of the 17th century. And it’s a good thing, too! Without it, we may have to read books like Shusterman’s Scythe by way of clay tablet… a very heavy endeavor, indeed. Well done, Sophia.
Alice S. Small Businesses during COVID-19 (Sarah Barrow) First things first. As BDS navigated the PPP loan during this pandemic, I learned that little did we know that we had a student who would dedicate her Capstone study to the impact of the PPP loan on small businesses. I also learned that one can never underestimate the power of a good mentor/mentee pairing. Just ask Sarah Barrow, Alice’s mentor! Great job, Alice.
Cody C: Self-Driving Cars (Jim Walker) Equally a presentation on the future of remarkable technology and an acknowledgment of the complicated ethics associated with self-driving cars, Cody opened many eyes during his presentation. While he and his classmates may still need to get their driver’s licenses should they choose, what was once a certainty for children in their early high school years may soon be a thing of the past, and sooner, Cody expects, than we may think! Fascinating stuff, Cody.
Brooks L: Virtual Reality in Medicine (Elinor Hannum) I learned that virtual reality has become a key tool in the fight against mental health disorders and battling the trauma of PTSD. I also learned that there is nothing so powerful as watching your child perform their Capstone. Great job, Brooks.
Lucy M: Eating Disorders (Ellie Brennan) A student with a clear passion for social justice and a willingness to tackle a complicated and challenging topic, Lucy taught us about the realities and complexities of eating disorders. I learned about the insidious ways that our culture promotes unhealthy and potentially dangerous body images at a vulnerable time in the lives of girls and young women. Armed with harrowing statistics, Lucy presented with the fearlessness required to tackle such a demanding topic. Well done, Lucy.
Isaac F: Nuclear Fission (Tara Lightbody) I learned that sometimes it is the smallest things—like, atomically small—that can generate the most energy and sometimes do the most damage. I also learned that if he wants it, there is a professorship in the future for Isaac after seeing the poise, confidence, ease, and grace with which he clearly explained this most complicated topic. Excellent work, Isaac.
Bonnie W: The US and China Trade War (Heather Woodcock) I learned that two of the world’s economic superpowers, the US and China, have only just begun to engage in a trade war that is entering its second phase now and that, as is true with many wars, doesn’t seem yet to have a clear winner or loser. I was reminded, also, of Bonnie’s considerable talent as an artist as she used animation to explain the complexity of this geopolitical and economic conflict in the simplest terms. Way to go, Bonnie!
Milly N: Child Labor (Cicely Gibson) From Milly’s presentation, I learned that there are 152 million children under the age of 17 who are forced to work across the globe and that 48% of them are between the ages of 5-11. I also learned that with compassion, care, and dedication, each of us can make a difference for the better, as Milly did throughout her project phase. Great job, Milly.
Ben R: Artificial Intelligence (Kurt Robison) “Alexa, Ben taught me that you are the weak kind of AI. Is that true?” I won’t reveal Alexa’s answer (can AI take offense to a question?) but I will say that Ben’s knowledge of artificial intelligence and machine learning is quite impressive. I also learned, as Ben put it, there is a simple way to identify ‘super-intelligent’ AI: “It’s the one that will likely destroy the world.” Thankfully, it appears super-intelligent AI is still a long way off from being developed. Nice work, Ben!
Elijah A: Circadian Rhythm and Sleep (Dale McGhee) From Elijah, I learned that a hot shower before bed–rather than, say, looking at a screen or, worse, drinking a double espresso–is a far better way to reestablish a healthy sleep cycle and to restore your circadian rhythm. I learned, too, that adolescents need 9.5-10 hours of sleep each night to feel fully restored and awake for the day. Maybe we need Elijah on our school scheduling committee? Great work, Elijah!
Charlotte M: Karate and the Martial Arts (Fred Colson) I learned from Charlotte that the rich history of karate began on a small island off of Japan in Okinawa, and that the art form has, in part, its representation in the media to thank for its rise in interest. I learned, also, that we have had a first degree black belt in our midst for over a year now; such is the virtuous humility of the discipline, and Charlotte wears it well. Senseitional job, Charlotte.
Dana C: Animal Sight (Leal Carter) From Dana, I learned that whether studying a dog, a gecko, a snake or a horse, the sight of an animal is unique, distinct and incredibly powerful. In the midst of presentations about advancements in technology, we may have as much to learn about how we see things from our own pets as we do from the most sophisticated tech, including the 360-degree vision of a goat or horse! Nice work, Dana.
Sue K: Prison Reform (Anderson Santos) From Sue, I learned that the fundamental purpose of incarceration may lie at the heart of the problem for the United States: is prison about rehabilitation or is it about punishment? While 71% of Americans believe it should be about rehabilitation, Sue cast an important light on the ways in which the system is far more punishing. I also learned that Sue’s voice is an important and well educated one in this debate and that she has the power to make an important difference in it. Well done, Sue!
Jake W: Interior Design (Anne Armstrong) One should never underestimate the power of a show like “Love It or Leave It” as it has sparked a keen interest in Jake, our resident expert on modern, contemporary, and minimalist interior design. I also heard Jake say, in the context of designing his own spaces, “follow the light to get out of the darkness.” Simple, but wise guidance from our next HGTV show host. Great job, Jake.
Alexander C: Evolution of Planes (Nathalie Pellenq) From Alexander, I learned that whether we like it or not, wars and international conflict like both of the World Wars played a critical role in accelerating the development of aviation technology. I also learned that Alexander was given the opportunity to pilot a plane during the project phase–a powerful and courageous moment for him and for his co-pilot, no doubt. Awesome job, Alexander!
Claire L: Children’s Rights (Angela DeVecchi ‘75) Whether the age of adult responsibility is 18 as defined by the United Nations or 21 defined here in the United States, Claire taught me that there are children capable of making critical legal and financial decisions who are deprived of that right simply due to their age. I also learned that those children might someday have a legal advocate in Claire herself, whose passion and competency will certainly help their cause. Great work, Claire!
Devon H: Heritage Leatherwork (Nicole Buck) I learned there is a delicate balance between preserving the secret art of a form like heritage leatherwork and advancing this endangered art form from one generation to the next. I also learned that for at least one more generation, the art form is in Devon’s talented and comfortable hands, whose understanding and early expertise in the field resulted in two beautiful pieces of leatherwork. Excellent work, Devon!
Kendree C: Optimism (Alice Henry) From one optimist to another, I was thrilled to learn a thing or two about what makes us optimists tick. From how optimism can quite literally make us live a longer life and do so more resiliently, to how our optimism may require us to do a more thorough risk assessment given our natural expectation that things will turn out well, Kendree proved the power and positivity of optimism. Congratulations, Kendree!
Toby G: Third-Party Politics (Deborah Brissenden) I learned that while the power of the two-party system here in the US makes the election of a third party candidate nearly impossible, it does not mean that third parties don’t have the power to create change for our nation. I also learned that folks should keep their eyes on a young upstart politician in the 2028/2032 political cycles: his name is Toby, and he’ll have my vote! Great work, Toby.
Vivian C: Introversion and Extroversion (Sunny Lee) Take it from someone who put the ‘E’ in extrovert; introverts make great leaders, too. Just ask Vivian—a leader in her own right—who showcased how an introvert’s thought process yields well-considered, highly strategic, and powerfully persuasive ideas. Vivian reminded us that this Zoom world might, in fact, have a bright silver lining for the introverts among us who thrived working in this new normal. Great job, Vivian!
Clio B: Representation and the Future of Television (Julia Juster) In the not too distant future, folks may well be laying claim to the privilege of having attended school with the newest and hottest television sitcom writer in their midst. Clio’s passion for scriptwriting, her understanding of direction, and her commitment to equal representation throughout the industry are palpable, as is the clarity with which we can all see her very bright future in the industry. Excellent job, Clio!
Thierrence M: History of Computers (Liz Gray) Smaller, faster, and more powerful with each passing day, computers seem not only to be shaping our world today but shaping tomorrow’s world, too. Just ask our resident expert, Thierrence, whose understanding of the history of computers led him to design his own computing company, Schmintel (“Beyond Technology” is their tag line), and we might all consider buying stock early! Great work, Thierrence.
Amanie Y: Chemotherapy (Abbey Nyland) I learned from Amanie the remarkable history of the discovery of chemotherapy—mustard gas from the first world war!—and the powerful demands it places on the human body, even as it helps fight off the aggression of cancer. I learned, too, of the beauty of connection as Amanie’s interview subject, a most familiar RJ Parsons, was able to help Amanie gain an empathic understanding of the pain, power, and promise of chemotherapy as a treatment. Well done, Amanie.
Rosie S: Animal Consciousness (Carlos Hoyt) An Asian elephant, an octopus, a stingray, an ant, a rat, and a gorilla all walk into the Barn… Not just the start of a quaint joke, these six animals were at the heart of Rosie’s compelling and compassionate research into the consciousness of animals. As Rosie explained, we often project our own emotions onto the consciousness of our pets, so I can only imagine how patient, thoughtful, and insightful the subjects of her study must have been if hers was the consciousness projected. Great job, Rosie!
Audrey W: Beauty (Yui Kitamura) Beauty is… can you complete this sentence? Audrey asked the BDS community to try, and their answers—ranging from “strength” to “in your heart” to “the power to launch 1,000 ships”—all speak to the truth that Audrey shared with us. Beauty is everywhere, has immense power, and its standards can have a dangerous effect on those who aspire to achieve it without understanding it. I also learned that Audrey has many paths before her—as a fashion designer, an entrepreneur, a CEO, or an inspirational public speaker, to name only a few. Whatever direction she chooses, we know it will be a beautiful one. Nice work, Audrey.
Sarah M: Discriminatory Housing Policy (Pati Fernandez) I learned that as recently as 2020, discriminatory housing policies were still oppressing underrepresented populations in our nation. The history Sarah shared about white flight and redlining carries a dark and powerful lesson of the lasting and perilous impact that structural discrimination and racism can have, especially when it is baked into city planning and housing policies. Excellent work, Sarah.
Noah B: Machine Learning in Medicine (Kaleen Moriarty) I learned from Noah that sometimes, excellence is worth the wait. Our last presenter of the year, Noah’s self-designed app can accurately identify pneumonia from an uploaded x-ray with 91% accuracy and can identify close to 200 different dog breeds with similar accuracy as well. The implications are enormous for the medical field and Noah’s future. The medical field is ready and waiting, Noah. Thank you for sharing your comprehensive understanding of machine learning in medicine with us all. Noah’s app is available on the App Store to download if you’re interested. Great job.
April 19 to May 6
Monday, April 19
School Closed for Patriots’ Day
Spring Vacation Week
Tuesday, April 20 to Friday, April 23
ERBs for Grades 4 & 5
Monday, April 26 to Friday, April 30
Monday, April 26
Testing Day for All Students and Faculty: No School
7:30–8:30 p.m., Secondary School Panel for Grade 7, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, April 27
School Reopens: Offsite Learning
7–8:30 p.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
7–8:15 p.m., Anti-Racist Allyship Group for White-identified Parents, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, April 29
2:30–3:20 p.m., Robbie Couch: Author Visit With Middle School Students, Zoom Gathering
Friday, April 30
Middle School Interim Grade Released
8–10:30 a.m., Board of Trustees, Zoom Meeting
9:30 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Grade 2 Field Lab, Gaining Ground
Saturday, May 1
7:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., BDS Quest Scavenger Hunt
Monday, May 3
ERBS for Grade 5
8:30–10:00 a.m., Committee on Trustees, Zoom Meeting
6–7:00 p.m., Looking Ahead to Grade 6, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, May 4
6:30–7:45 p.m., Honoring Differences Seminar Open House, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, May 5
10:00 a.m., Parent Book Club, Zoom Gathering
6:30–7:45 p.m., Honoring Differences Seminar Open House, Zoom Gathering
7:30 p.m., Grade 2 Spring Parent Social, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, May 6
6–7:00 p.m., Looking Ahead to Grade 7, Zoom Gathering
7:30 p.m., Pre-kindergarten Spring Parent Social, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Save the Date: Founders’ Day 2021!
On Monday, May 3 we will be celebrating our third annual BDS Founders’ Day! Founders’ Day is an opportunity to remember our school’s founders–a committed group of parents and leaders whose vision established our wonderful school! We will have special announcements to come leading up to May 3. Students and faculty should plan to wear BDS apparel to school to show our school pride and we can all support BDS through our Founders’ Giving Day! More news and excitement to come soon!
Calendar: Important Dates for 2021-22 School Year
If you’re planning ahead for next school year, be sure to check out the new calendar of major dates, including first and last days of school, holidays, vacations, and various meetings and assemblies. Click here to see the calendar. Also available on the Parent Portal.
ERB Testing for Grades 4 & 5
All fourth and fifth grade students will be taking the ERB (Educational Records Bureau) assessments on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, April 28 to 30, and on Monday, May 3 (fifth grade only). All fourth and fifth grade families are asked to please check your email as more details were sent to you today. If you have any questions, please contact Ellie Brennan, learning specialist, or Minna Ham, lower school head.
Plan Ahead for Middle School ‘Looking Ahead’ Events
All middle school families for the 2021-22 school year are invited to attend the forthcoming “Looking Ahead” events in early May. During these evenings, faculty and administrators will give a valuable look at the curriculum and expectations for your student’s upcoming year. Mark your calendars! Links to these meetings will be shared with families by email and will be available on the Parent Portal. If you have any questions, please contact Liz Gray, middle school head.
- Monday, May 3, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Six”
- Thursday, May 6, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Seven”
- Monday, May 10, 6-7:00 pm – “Looking Ahead to Grade Eight”
Lunch & Snack Menu
April 26 to April 30
School Closed for Testing
Remote Learning Day
Snack: bananas; Smartfood
Lunch: ravioli with marinara; pasta with marinara; broccoli; crusty rolls; butter; Romano cheese; garden salad; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: apple slices; baked tortilla chips
Lunch: lentil soup; turkey sub; cheese sub; cucumber slices; Caesar salad; Romano cheese; chips; cookies; condiments; Mandarin oranges; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: Real Fruit Gummies; Cape Cod Chips
Tuition Billing and Payments through Parent Portal
Since last summer, parents have kept in touch with school information through the Parent Portal powered by our software partner Veracross. Through the re-enrollment contract process, this year parents were introduced to VC Pay, the Veracross student billing platform. For the 2021-2022 school year all student billing will be provided to parents through the parent portal using the VC Pay Platform. While FACTS Management served the school well, the VC Pay platform is fully integrated with the school-wide Veracross software allowing families a single sign-on experience. Parents will be able to make online payments for school tuition and incidental charges through this new platform.
Fred Colson, director of finance, noted that with the April 23 contract commitment date for 2021-2022 looming, invoices for families who elected the Ten Pay Plan have now been made available on the Parent Portal. Parents will be able to click the Invoices & Payments button to review their invoices. Ten Pay Plan payments this year are due on the first of each month starting in May. For those who will pay tuition via the autopay feature, the first payments will be withdrawn from your bank or credit card accounts on Monday, May 3 (as May 1 is on a weekend).
Parents who elected the Single Pay Plan or the Two Pay Plan will see their first invoice for tuition in June with payment due on July 1.
Please note, regardless of your payment plan, those who elected tuition refund insurance will see the premium charge on their first invoice. If you did not elect tuition refund insurance, but would like to do so, it is not too late. Please contact Fred Colson to sign up. Also, for those who elected a payment plan with a plan service fee, the charge will also appear on your first invoice.
The VC Pay platform will be used for all charges related to the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. For any outstanding charges for the current school year and for any incidental charges incurred between now and June, we ask that you view invoices and make payments through the FACTS Management system.
Please contact anyone in the business office if you have any questions.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
We had another successful week: one lab error that resulted in all-negative repeat testing. Have a wonderful break, everyone–and we’ll see you on Monday, April 26 for our all-school individual testing! Be sure to read the testing schedule information in the section below.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
COVID-19 Testing Times for Return from April Vacation
On Monday, April 26, the school will be closed so that we can test all students and faculty. Please note the suggested time slot for your child’s grade to be tested in the first dropdown below.
- These times are the suggested times for each grade.
- Siblings are welcome to come together.
- If your grade’s assigned time does not work for you, please reach out to Nurse LaRocque.
- Testing can be done any time during the day before Cataldo leaves at 3:30 p.m.
- Teaching faculty can come during the staff time or with their grade.
April 26 Testing Times
8:00 to 9:00 a.m.
Staff and Faculty
9:00 to 9:30 a.m.
9:30 to 10:00 a.m.
10:00 to 10:30 a.m.
10:30 to 11:00 a.m.
11:00 to 11:30 a.m.
11:30 a.m. to noon
12:00 to 12:30 p.m.
12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
1:15 to 2:30 p.m.
2:30 to 3:15 p.m.
3:15 to 3:30 p.m.
Staff and Faculty
Plan for Return After April Break
If you are traveling over April break …
Return by Thursday, April 22
In order to be tested on Monday, April 26, and return to onsite learning on Wednesday, April 28, all families and faculty need to return to Massachusetts by this date.
Since the school is only providing testing once per week, families and faculty who do not return by this date will need to obtain testing on their own 4-5 days after their return and wait for a negative result in order to return to campus.
If your travel plans mean that you will not be testing at Belmont Day on Monday, April 26, please let your division head and Nurse LaRocque know as soon as possible.
Monday, April 26 and Tuesday, April 27
Monday, April 26 is a testing day—no academic program will be provided
Tuesday, April 27—offsite learning for all students
Eighth Graders Teach Community On Great Variety of Subjects
Thank you to the eighth graders for such an enriching menu of learning opportunities. We were pushed to think about new topics, revisit familiar topics in a new way, and consider deeply the need to be actively engaged in making the world a better place.
Thank you to the many community members who attended: alumni, faculty, middle school students, lower school students, parents of eighth graders, parents of younger students, and new BDS families. The spirit of curiosity and the love of learning and sharing are alive and well at BDS!
Please visit the Capstone presentation site to send compliments to the presenters you heard and to visit their portfolios. And come back to the site in a few weeks, when recordings of the presentations will be posted.
– Jennifer Friborg, Capstone coordinator
We are thrilled to announce that Sarah Pikcilingis will join the Belmont Day School faculty as our new middle school math teacher beginning in September. Sarah comes to BDS after teaching grade 8 math for the past three years at the Diamond Middle School in Lexington, and for nine years at Sacred Heart Schools in Chicago. Prior to that, Sarah worked for four years as a grade 8 math teacher in the Chelsea and Watertown public school systems, and in various math teaching roles at the Duke School in Durham, NC, and the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Sarah has extensive knowledge of and a passion for inquiry-based learning and differentiation in the math classroom, social-emotional learning among young adolescents, and dance. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from Connecticut College, attended the Massachusetts DOE Institute for New Teachers, and received her master’s degree in mathematics for teaching from Boston University.
Our youngest additions to our community will be welcomed by two new faces next fall. We are excited to welcome Nicole Siverls and Sharon Gillespy. Nicole will be our new permanent pre-kindergarten teacher and Sharon will work with our other pre-k cohort next year while Kate Oznick is on maternity leave.
– Minna Ham, lower school head
Nicole has over 20 years of teaching experience working in schools around the world as well as in New York and Massachusetts, and she has spent the majority of her career teaching in both kindergarten and pre-kindergarten classrooms. She received her first master’s degree from the Bank Street School of Education in early childhood and elementary education and last year completed her second master’s degree from Lesley University in teaching with children with moderate disabilities PreK-8. While working at the Carroll School this year she also pursued her certification in Orton-Gillingham. The hiring team enjoyed watching Nicole connect with our kindergarteners over Zoom and reading her learning experience plans that incorporated outdoor education, DEI, social-emotional learning, and foundational academic skills. Nicole’s knowledge of and experience with DEI concepts/skills was impressive, and we look forward to seeing it impact our students’ learning.
Sharon brings with her a wealth of experience working with young learners. She has taught in various states working in both public and private educational settings. The hiring team loved her enthusiasm over Zoom and it was wonderful to see kindergarteners so engaged with a remote teacher. Sharon received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University in special education and early childhood education and her master’s degree in reading and literacy. Sharon’s deep understanding of early childhood education and the importance of social-emotional learning and a play-based approach to teaching foundational literacy, math and science skills make her a wonderful match for our pre-k program. Sharon was also able to visit the campus one evening and was impressed by both our indoor learning spaces and our bountiful outdoor spaces. We are excited to see how she continues to weave the outdoors into our pre-k program.
Parent Gifts For Faculty & Staff
What a wonderful way to start the spring vacation week! Thank you to our incredible parent community for the lovely gifts–wine and bookstore gift certificates–for every member of our faculty and staff. Your thoughtfulness and care deeply touch us all! We wish everyone a relaxing and joyful week ahead.
BDS QUEST & FEST CORNER
Save the Date for Quest #3!
Our next Quest, a BDS-themed adventure, begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 1. For those participating, the team captains will receive an email and an app alert at 8 a.m. announcing the Quest is live and the mission list is available. The list will include 100 or more missions to complete throughout the day. Each Quest theme will guide the list of clues and missions listed. Please be prepared to explore all things BDS community-related, and brush up on your BDS trivia to complete missions without leaving your home! The BDS-themed Quest will end at 3:30 p.m.
Register for the BDS Fest!
The Fest: Community Event and Auction
We are very excited to host our virtual Fest on Saturday, May 15 at 5 p.m. It will be a community-wide celebration and auction event. It will include music, highlights from our scavenger hunts, and an announcement of our winners. The event will also have a silent auction and paddle-up fundraiser. The proceeds from the event will be to help defray the COVID-19 expenses and the cost of winter/spring pool testing for all students and faculty.
Have you registered for the Fest? Click here to register by May 13 and join us for the fun.
In Case You Missed It: Spring Concert 2021
Last Friday, Belmont Day School students celebrated the musical work of Ensemble students and also clapped along with the closing song for the Spring Concert! During this semester, the students in the Ensembles Program worked on a variety of pieces in their weekly rehearsals on Zoom. For the concert, students practiced their pieces for their instrument/voice with backing tracks made by the ensemble directors. Whether they worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean, Patsy Ory Ory, Dragonhunter, Kusimama, Blue Train, or Seasons of Love, the students’ hard work and dedication came to fruition during the culminating concert. If you’d like to check out the Spring Concert again, click on the Veracross Parent Portal Event Recordings to enjoy the recording.
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Volunteers Prep BDS Garden for Growing Season
This past Saturday, we had a great crew working in our school garden with fantastic weather and sunny skies. Combining endurance, strength, and focused energy, a group of BDS garden enthusiasts helped wake up the school garden. Some of the jobs were clearing leaves around the fence and garden area, adding compost to beds, pruning perennials, and planting peas, greens, and carrots. All our produce is used in school lunches and the summer harvests are donated to our community partners, which has included Arlington FoodLink, Belmont Food Pantry, and Rosie’s Place in Boston. In the fall, volunteers will cook a locally sourced meal with our garden vegetables for On the Rise, a day program for homeless women in Cambridge.
– Kathy Jo Solomon, visual arts teacher and sustainability coordinator
Upcoming Author Visits
We are excited to share several more opportunities for students to connect with authors this school year.
Coming up after break, on the Tuesday when classes are remote, students in grades 3-5 will meet with marine biologist Marissa Cristina Marquez, author of the new Wild Rescue series. She will be meeting up with us from Australia. Later that week, several students from the Gender and Sexuality Alliance will be helping to moderate a conversation with Robbie Couch, who will be discussing his debut novel The Sky Blues with middle school students.
Other upcoming author events:
- Kim Tomsic will discuss her picture book The Elephants Come Home with grades 1 & 2 on Tuesday, May 18.
- Francisco X. Stork will discuss his new book On the Hook with middle school students on Thursday, May 20.
- Tracy Marchini will discuss her STEM-focused take on the 12 Dancing Princesses called Princesses Can Fix It! With grades pre-k-2 on Friday, May 28.
…and more to come!
We hope your children are enjoying our author series this year. Please consider purchasing a book by one of our visiting authors from Belmont Books, who we work with to coordinate this program, or borrowing a book by our visiting authors from the Erskine Library. If you purchase from Belmont Books, please indicate your affiliation with Belmont Day School and they will include a bookplate with an author’s signature when possible.
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Honoring Differences Seminar Open House for Parents
The facilitators of the Honoring Differences Seminar (HDS) for our middle schoolers invite all parents to an HDS Open House!
This will be an opportunity to gain insight into the seminar—the rationale, goals, lesson plans, and how students have been engaging—from the facilitators, and to ask questions. The facilitators for HDS are Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion, Dr. Leesa Mercedes, school psychologist, Dean Spencer, grade six social studies teacher, and Joe Jean-Mary, associate director of auxiliary programs.
The HDS Open House will be held twice: Tuesday, May 4, 6:30-7:45 p.m., and on Wednesday, May 5, 6:30-7:45 p.m.
Please use this form to let us know if you’re planning to attend either (or both) of the sessions, and to provide any questions you’d like to share ahead of time.
The open house is open to all parents, pre-kindergarten through grade 8.
The Zoom links for both open house times will be made available on the Parent Portal.
Hope to see you there!
– Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion
Arts Update: Fourth Grade Quilt Project
Students in fourth grade art class just completed their handsewn quilts inspired by an investigation of African American quilting traditions. Students learned about the Gee’s Bend quilting tradition from rural Alabama that began in the 1800s and is still vibrant today. Beginning as a necessity, these fabric artworks have emerged as an American art form. In addition, fourth graders looked at the two surviving story quilts made by enslaved artist Harriet Powers from Georgia. After designing a geometric or figurative quilt, each student used watercolors to tint their fabrics. Cutting shapes and forms they pinned and sewed a quilt top by using needles and thread. Next, they put together the three layers: quilt top, batting layer, and the quilt back. As a final step, they used quilting stitches to bind all the layers together to create one-of-a-kind fabric artworks.
– Kathy Jo Solomon, visual arts teacher
Second Grade Fights Hunger, One Page at a Time
This year, the second grade explored in-depth what it means to be a changemaker. Now, students are putting what they learned into action with the Read for Seeds fundraiser for Gaining Ground. Gaining Ground is an organic farm in Concord that provides fresh produce for those facing food insecurity in the Boston metro area and Eastern Massachusetts. To help volunteers at Gaining Ground continue their important work, our second grade changemakers dedicated two weeks to raising money for seeds to be planted. Each student collected pledges from family and friends for each page or book they read during this two-week event. To celebrate the final day of Read for Seeds, students cozied up with their favorite books, blankets, and stuffed animals on Thursday for a morning-long Read-a-Thon. Stay tuned to find out how many seeds the Belmont Day second graders will donate this year!
–The Second Grade Team
Athletics Update: Lacrosse is Back in a Big Way
For the first time since May 2019 lacrosse is back at Belmont Day and Coach Nyland couldn’t be happier. The first spring athletics session brought nearly 20 sixth grade athletes to the field and the group has been getting after it. From ground ball drills, to quick stick off the rebounder, to learning how to attack the crease, these athletes have done it all. The first three-week session wrapped up yesterday, so following break Coach Nyland will get a new crew of athletes to work with. Even with the modified spring schedule, lacrosse is finally back!
– John O’Neill, athletics director
Celebrating Spring in Spanish Class
Celebrando la primavera en clase de español
During this month, sixth grade Spanish students have enjoyed learning about topics related to spring. At the beginning of the season, they shared what they like to do during spring and talked about similar interests presented in the group. The class also took a walk in the woods to find inspiration and learn new Spanish words that served as a starting point of the La Primavera project.For the project, students created colorful dictionaries that included vocabulary related to sports, plants, animals, clothing, weather, and a section of regular and irregular verbs.
What a creative group they are! Each student showed their booklet to the class during their first oral presentation in Spanish! At the end of the unit, the group visited the BDS garden, where they helped Ms. Solomon with some work, learned new vocabulary, and drew plans of a garden with the foods they like the most.
– Ana Maria Restrepo, Spanish teacher
PE Update: Charging Into Spring Break!
Even though the spring vacation week was right around the corner, there was no slowing down in our physical education classes! Students were enthusiastically dancing, running, throwing, catching, and honing their sport specific skills. Be sure to check out this week’s PE highlight reel to see our students in action.
– Abbey Nyland, physical education teacher
Third Graders Raise Their Voices To Help Others
Third graders recently finished reading, Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami, a story about a young girl who loves to read and is empowered to support the kind man who offers free books to the community. She helps him to keep his book cart when others were making it difficult for him. Students read and discussed also many other books about social justice issues and thought about the issues they care deeply about. They are creating protest posters to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities and folks who need us all to advocate for equity and empathy.
– Leigh Twarog, Grade 3 teacher
Sixth Grade French Students Just Keep Talking and Talking
When I announced to my grade six French students that sustaining a two-minute conversation exclusively in French was the goal of this year, I was met with doubt and disbelief. Two minutes is a short time to speak in your native language, but it is a real challenge after only a few months of learning a foreign language. This week, each student was involved in six two-minute conversations during the course of one class. They shared information about two family members. Each time that they had a new partner and it became easier to find the words. Peers became experts at asking questions to move the conversation along. When it was time to dismiss the class, the best tribute to the exercise was their question, “What? It is over?!”
I cannot put into words how proud I am of these inspiring French students. They took risks, were bold, and problem-solved on their feet. As with learning any new language, it was imperfect along the way and sometimes it was a struggle. But it was always marvelous. They conquered their fears and had fun, and that is what learning a new language is all about!
– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher
Kindergartners Dig Visit From Former BDS Teacher and Amateur Paleontologist
The kindergarteners were excited to welcome David Downing back to BDS this week via Zoom. Mr. Downing is a former BDS teacher and director of the associate teacher program who retired in 2017.
Since 1985, one of Mr. Downing’s favorite pastimes had been accompanying scientists on dinosaur digs. In fact, he became interested in them when he was a kindergarten teacher and his students were so intrigued by dinosaurs. While Mr. Downing no longer embarks on digs, he has many fond and vivid memories of his paleontology adventures locating dinosaur bones, teeth, and prehistoric reptiles. Since the current kindergarten students have been studying paleontologists as part of our community helpers unit, we invited David to share about his experiences.
Mr. Downing spoke about his travels around the country, mostly in the states of Colorado and Montana. He revealed that some of the important tools he used on his digs were hammers, chisels, and brushes. He briefly explained the process of preserving delicate bones that are discovered and the process of transporting them back to the lab. He also spoke about the importance of wearing appropriate attire during the digs. Long pants, such as jeans or dungarees, are important to prevent injury in case of any falls on the sharp rocks. Mr. Downing also pointed out how crucial it is to shield one’s face from the sun. Mr. Downing related how there was a large storm that caused unusually rainy and muddy conditions during a dig in which he and his colleagues uncovered some stegosaurus bones. Despite being well protected from the elements, Mr. Downing shared how it was still an uncomfortable ride back in the truck that day!
During the visit, students were able to ask several questions to Mr. Downing ranging from “What is the littlest dinosaur you have found?” to “What is your favorite dinosaur?” Thank you, Mr. Downing, for sharing your experiences with us! It was great to see you again!
– Betty Chu Pryor and Missy Hartvigsen, kindergarten teachers
Parents’ Association News
Family Fun Event: Seeking Volunteers!
Annually, the PA hosts a family fun event and although we cannot be in person this year, we are continuing the tradition, virtually. And, we need your help!
On Saturday, June 5 we will host a series of virtual workshops for all families to participate in. We will have a number of opportunities for families to join cultural workshops to learn how to cook a dish, create a craft, or play a game from a BDS family’s traditions. We would love to include many families to reflect our diverse and vibrant school community.
Click here if you are interested in volunteering to host a workshop!
Teacher Appreciation Week 2021
We have been so fortunate to have our children attending school in person this year, let’s show the teachers how much their efforts have meant to all of us! For Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3 to 7, the PA, with your help, will create word clouds of appreciation for each classroom. Ask your child what has made this school year so great for them or why their teacher is the best. Responses can be recorded by clicking here and filling out this form. Please contact [email protected] with any questions.
Faculty Appreciation Luncheon
On Friday, May 14, the Parents’ Association will be providing faculty and staff with a beautifully catered lunch from East Meets West catering in individualized boxes, which meets our COVID safety requirements.
How can you contribute? Families can still contribute to this event by bringing beverages or individually packaged desserts! Please click on this SignUp Genius link to sign up. Approved packaging will be provided to families who sign up for desserts. As a reminder we are a nut-free campus, please keep that in mind when planning your dessert contributions.
Additionally, we invite your children to make a thank you sign for faculty to be hung in the school during the week. You may give your sign to staff at drop-off during the week of May 10. Please contact Pati Fernandez if you need supplies to make a sign.
The next book club selection is The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, May 5 at 10:00 a.m. to discuss this book. A Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on the Parent Portal. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
We are excited to welcome the next faculty baby this spring! Please help us welcome first grade teacher Cicely Gibson’s baby, with a donation of your favorite book. Books may be dropped off until Monday, May 3 during drop-off or pick-up. There is a collection bin in the vestibule of the Schoolhouse. The Baby Welcoming committee will assemble the books into a basket for delivery. Thank you!
Now that spring is here, we plan to walk every Thursday morning after drop-off. We’ll meet in the grass circle in front of the schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m. Come to reconnect with friends and make new ones! We look forward to seeing you there.
Lost & Found
As the weather is changing have you noticed any winter gear that didn’t come home? There are many student items that have been left on campus. If you are missing an item, please complete this form. We will search the Lost & Found bins for the item and it will either be returned to your student or we will be in touch to let you know that we haven’t found it. If it isn’t found at this time, it will stay on the list in case it reappears at a later date.
Help bring spring into the classrooms! We are looking for volunteers to donate “centerpieces” for the cohort rooms for April and May. This is an easy, low-stress way to contribute to BDS and a nice way to brighten the day for students and faculty. Simply bring in 12-14 small plants or seasonal centerpieces that can be placed in the rooms and will last for two to three weeks. Simple is best. Color is nice, but herbs and green plants also work well. All ideas are welcome. Your children may enjoy participating too! Plants can be brought to the main Schoolhouse entrance at drop-off. Click here to sign up for an available slot.
If you have questions, please contact the chairs of the Classroom Flowers committee by email, phone, or text: Tracy Leng, 781-526-8657; Grace Wang, 857-313-8696.
30 Days of Science in Cambridge!
Learn something, or many things, new and cool this month! Explore the amazing world of science for a few minutes a day, every day, during the month of April with the Cambridge Science Festival! Click here to learn more and join in and take the 30 Days of Science Challenge. Daily prompts with fun activities will be provided each day.