Ms. Moriarty’s sixth graders are learning about electricity, specifically static electricity, this week.
Hope Springs Eternal
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: April 2, 2021
Mid-morning yesterday, I realized that I had forgotten to wear my Red Sox jersey to school to celebrate Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. I was disappointed to miss a chance to celebrate the Sox’s return—an annual ritual that reminds me that warmer weather, flowers in bloom, and glorious sunshine are on their way. And then, with the game’s rainout, I was given a second chance; this morning, as I got dressed for school, I donned my Nomar Garciaparra #5 jersey and will treat today like my chance to do Opening Day right.
As I reflect on all that Opening Day means to me, I return to the sentiment that hope springs eternal. I am reminded that a new season full of opportunities is within reach. As I reflect on the power and joy of hope, it is difficult not to consider what a week this has been. This past Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of hosting a virtual coffee for prospective Belmont Day families who are in the process of determining whether and why to send their child to BDS. (Insert your “What could be holding them up?!” sentiment here, if you’d like!)
As it happened, the coffee was to begin at 8 a.m. At 7:45 a.m., news arrived that Pfizer-BioNTech had released the finding that their vaccination trial for 12- to 15-year-olds proved 100% effective against COVID-19. The company is filing for emergency use which, if approved, would mean our eldest students would likely be vaccinated by the fall. Hope springing eternal, indeed. So, as we started the call—and keep in mind, these families are just starting to get to know me and BDS—I nearly broke down in tears of joy as I explained just how buoying the results of this vaccine trial are. Fortunately, I pulled it together quickly enough that a crack in my voice sufficed as my emotional moment. Still, I was on the verge because of the hope that comes with such an important medical discovery.
This morning, I find myself reflecting on the confluence of hopeful events: a collection of families considering the possibility of joining the BDS community as it starts to emerge from the pandemic’s darkest days; the announcement of a vaccine for adolescents and the news of trials beginning for children even younger; the emergence of the daffodils and tulips; and, yes, Opening Day at Fenway Park. That certainly warrants the opportunity to don a Sox jersey, if only for a day, and hope.
April 5 to April 23
Monday, April 5
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association Meeting and Volunteer Opportunities Discussion, Zoom Gathering
6–7 p.m., Neighbor Reception
6:30–7:30 p.m., Parents’ Association Meeting and Volunteer Opportunities Discussion, Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, April 6
8:30–10 a.m., Committee on Trustees, Zoom Meeting
5:30–7 p.m., Board Diversity Committee, Zoom Meeting
7:30 p.m., Grade Seven Spring Parent Social
Thursday, April 8
8:15 a.m., Friendraiser Walk and Talk
Friday, April 9
8:50–9:35 a.m., Spring Concert, Zoom Gathering
Saturday, April 10
7 a.m.–7 p.m., BDS Quest Scavenger Hunt
10 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Faculty Garden Workday
Alumni Community Service Week
Sunday, April 11 to Saturday, April 17
Capstone Presentation Week
Monday, April 12 to Friday, April 16
Tuesday, April 13
7:30 p.m., Grade Six Spring Parent Social
Thursday, April 15
5–7 p.m., Grade 5 Migration Exhibit, Zoom Gathering
7:30 p.m., Grade 8 Parents’ Night In, Zoom Gathering
Friday, April 16
Middle School Interim Grades Released
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly, Zoom Gathering
11 a.m.–2 p.m., Jam-The-Van Clothing Drive for Cradles to Crayons
Monday, April 19
School Closed for Patriots’ Day
Spring Vacation Week
Tuesday, April 20 to Friday, April 23
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Upcoming Middle School Parent Socials
Looking to connect with fellow middle school parents? Keep an eye on the calendar for a number of socials in the coming weeks. Parents will have the opportunity to gather with other parents with students in the same grade. All Zoom links and passwords will be available on the Parent Portal.
- Tuesday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m., Grade 7 Spring Parent Social
- Tuesday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m., Grade 6 Spring Parent Social
- Thursday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m., Grade 8 Parents’ Night In
Save the date for a musical journey courtesy of our student musicians and the music faculty. Always a joyful celebration of musical education, join us on Friday, April 9 at 8:50 a.m. for the annual Spring Concert. The Zoom link for the event will be emailed to all families directly and will be available on the parent portal.
Lunch & Snack Menu
April 5 to April 9
Snack: apples; white corn cheese puffs
Lunch: creamy pesto pasta; pasta with sauce on the side; garlic bread; primavera vegetables; Romano cheese; garden salad with dressing; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: clementines; Nutri-Grain bars
Lunch: beef hot dogs; veggie patties; buns; chips; pickles; coleslaw; apple slices; milk and water
Snack: bananas; pretzel twists
Lunch: crispy cheesy chicken; vegan nuggets; French fries; carrot coins; ketchup; BBQ sauce; arugula salad with roasted tomato; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: whole grain Rice Krispie Treats; apple slices
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; Caesar salad; Romano cheese; Mandarin oranges; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: Real Fruit Gummies; Cape Cod chips
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
We had another wonderful testing week with all results coming back negative. Keep up the great work, everyone!
All Testing Done Wednesday Mornings
If your student will not be at school on a Wednesday morning for any reason, please let me know prior to 8 a.m. that day so that arrangements can be made for drive-up testing if possible. All students and staff/faculty must have a negative PCR test every week to be in school. If students miss their weekly testing at school, families are responsible for securing an outside PCR test. Please check in at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.
Students of all grades are on the fields and and in the woods every day during recess, class, and physical education/athletics. Please help your child get into a routine of checking themselves for ticks EVERY DAY. Ticks especially like warm, moist places—between toes, under the arms, behind knees, the groin, the scalp, and behind ears. The quicker a tick is found and removed, the less likely it is to cause illness. Questions? Feel free to check in at [email protected].
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
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
COVID-19 Travel Advisory Update & BDS Protocols
The Commonwealth recently issued changes to its COVID-19 travel guidance. Effective Monday, March 22, the state travel order was replaced with a travel advisory. The state travel form and lower-risk states map are no longer in effect.
Families should be aware that although the state has loosened its travel protocol, the school is maintaining a more conservative one that is based on our testing, not on the state’s guidance. The school will continue to test 4-5 days after possible exposure.
As this relates to April Break, families are still asked to return to Massachusetts by Thursday, April 22, regardless of where they have traveled out of state. Thank you!
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
Sign-Up for BDSRemote
If you are considering having your student(s) engage in the BDSRemote option for the remainder of the year, please fill out this form as soon as possible. We are hoping to assess total enrollment in the program by next Friday, April 9.
The final period of BDSRemote will begin when school reopens after April Break on Tuesday, April 26, and run through the end of the school year.
Planning for Fall 2021
One of the significant changes we anticipate in planning for next school year will be a move towards onsite instruction only without the option for BDSRemote.
The data on student learning has made clear that students learn best in person. Beyond that, the increase in vaccinations state- and nation-wide, the data coming out around very low transmission in schools, and the state’s mandate that all student learning be onsite beginning this spring has supported our decision. Further, our protocols throughout the pandemic have effectively inhibited spread on campus this year, and we will continue to enforce mask-wearing, physical distance, handwashing, and cohorts as next year begins. Safety continues to be our top priority as a school and we believe this is in the best interest of the students.
Of course, all of this comes with the unwelcome asterisk that if we endure another surge or the pandemic appears to be moving in the wrong direction, we may need to reevaluate this decision again.
We understand this may create a challenge for some families in preparing for next school year. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Brendan Largay, head of school.
Katie O’Brien, grade 2 teacher
We are thrilled to share the news that Katie O’Brien will be joining Nancy Fell as a second grade teacher in the fall. Katie comes to Belmont Day after finishing her master’s degree in elementary education from Lesley University and completing the Shady Hill Teacher Training Center program. Since graduating from Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Katie has substituted in Belmont Public Schools and has served as the development associate and student advisor at Beacon Academy. Katie has a passion for outdoor activities and spent a summer co-leading a group of high school students on a month-long self-supported bike trip from Seattle to San Francisco with the Overland Summers Program. The hiring committee was impressed with Katie’s ability to connect with students over Zoom during her demo lesson. Her thoughtful and intentional lesson was beautifully crafted to incorporate student voice and social-emotional, as well as DEI themes. Katie is excited to be teaching in her hometown of Belmont.
Arts Update: Improv Sets off Some Wild Stories
In our eighth grade theater intensive, the students learned about acting and empathy and then wrote monologues from a shoe’s perspective. They next analyzed a scene adapted from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They also created an original set design for the scene. At the end of the intensive, we learned to say “yes” and build on each others’ ideas in a series of improvisation games. Two favorites were “The Worst Day Ever” and “Late to Work.” In the first game, everyone has thirty seconds to regale their peers with a description of their worst day ever. In “Late to Work,” one student plays the employee, another plays their boss, and the remaining students are a group of co-workers. The employee is sent out of earshot, and the rest of the players come up with a reason the person is late for work. When the employee returns, the co-workers pantomime the reason, while the employee tries to make sense of their actions and explain what happened to the boss. The boss “helps” the employee by acknowledging when the reason is viable or not. Imaginations were in high gear as our employee explained being attacked by penguins, captured by flying pigs, and trying to resurrect a dead cat with the help of a cult of cat worshipers!
– Susan Dempsey, theater teacher
Athletics Update: Mountain Biking Makes Its Debut
Mountain biking was introduced to Belmont Day seven years ago as a middle school club. The club met once a week and was limited to experienced riders who owned their own bike. Despite its success, the program remained an exclusive activity with limited participation. This year, under the leadership of second-year physical education and athletics teacher Alex Tzelnic, mountain biking has grown into a full athletics offering, and, like the rest of Belmont Day’s middle school sports, is open to all students regardless of experience or equipment.
This evolution of the offering began this fall when Tzelnic coordinated the purchase of a full fleet of 20 mountain bikes. With bikes available, Tzelnic introduced the sport into the fall Outdoor Adventures program, starting slowly on Claflin Field with skills courses and riding practice before heading onto the trails. This spring, mountain biking is a stand-alone offering for the first time in program history, and eighth graders took to the trails this week and are seeing some interesting sites near our campus. The accompanying photo was taken during a ride past a former hospital building in Waltham.
Congratulations to Coach Tzelnic and all of our mountain biking athletes.
– John O’Neill, athletics director
Seventh Grade Advisory Sharing Research with Their Peers
Since the start of the third trimester, the seventh grade Carter/Fogelstrom Advisory has launched a new project in which students are sharing a presentation on a topic of their choice. The students can choose and research any school-appropriate topic that they are interested in and that they feel would be valuable to their classmates.
Students have gone above and beyond with interesting slides, deep topic knowledge, and great use of Q&A time. So far we’ve heard from Nadia Lomelia on “Anxiety and Strategies to Help,” Ella Blecher on “Social Hierarchy of Social Media,” and Chloe Mitzenmacher on “School Dress Codes.”
– Gretchen Fogelstrom and Leal Carter, grade seven teachers
Sixth Graders Get to Where It All Began
Sixth graders used some advisory and resource time to concoct origin stories for a variety of BDS features and traditions, making short videos to tell their tales. The BDS sheep made more than a few appearances. The final products revealed their own origins in past social studies classes about religious creation stories, science class lessons about the life cycles of stars, English work on short story structure and coming of age … and more than a little bit of the Marvel universe of super-hero origin stories. The larger narrative here is some creative outdoor fun that could be shared across the whole grade.
– Dean Spencer, grade 6 social studies teacher
PE Update: Fifth Graders Start Track & Field
This week in physical education, our fifth graders started a heart-pounding track & field unit. After being introduced to every event outside early in the week, students came inside the Barn on Thursday afternoon for an exciting crossfit workout. The workout included battle ropes, agility ladders, med ball slams, jumping rope, farmer’s walks, sprints, bosu push-ups, and box jumps. Check out the accompanying video for a quick look at the students in action!
– John O’Neill, athletics director and physical education teacher
Parents’ Association News
Monday, April 5
8:30–9:30 a.m. and 6:30–7:30 p.m.
All are invited to join us for our next meeting. The Zoom link for these meetings is available on the Parent’s Association page in Veracross.
The PA exec team is offering two meetings to the community and hosting a PA volunteer opportunities discussion in the morning and evening. If you are interested in volunteering in the 2021-22 school year, we encourage you to attend and learn more.
The next book club selection is Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, April 7 at 10 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.
On Thursday, April 8, at 8:15 a.m., the Friendraiser committee will host a “Walk and Talk” after morning drop-off. Come to reconnect with friends and meet new faces. We’ll meet in the grass circle in front of the Schoolhouse. We look forward to seeing you there!
We are excited to welcome the next faculty baby this spring! Please help us welcome fourth grade teacher Mary Norman’s baby with a donation of a favorite children’s book. Books may be dropped off from Monday, March 29 through Monday, April 12 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!
Cradles to Cradles Jam-the-Van Clothing Drive
Starting to clear your child’s closet? Are they growing out of everything these days? Well, please set those items aside and keep Cradles to Crayons in mind! Although we will not be able to host our traditional donation drive and sorting event on campus, we will host a Jam-the-Van donation drive as we did in the fall to collect children’s clothing and shoes.
The Cradles to Crayons van will be on campus to collect your gently-used, like-new donations on Friday, April 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you would like to drop off a donation at another time, you may do so at drop-off from Monday, April 12 to Friday, April 16.
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.
Have you participated in the Birthday Book Program this year? In the program, parents have the opportunity to have a book added to the Erskine Library in honor of their child’s birthday. It is entirely optional. Your child’s name will be put on a special bookplate that is placed in a library book to recognize your gift, and Amy Sprung, school librarian, will bring the book to your child to checkout. In the past, parents would drop off a check or cash and either browse the new book cart or indicate special requests. This year, we are trying something a little different by regularly updating wishlists at two local independent bookstores, Porter Square Books and Belmont Books. Please consider purchasing a book from one of our wishlists to be added to the Erskine Library collection. If you would like a bookplate added to your donation in honor of your child’s birthday, please email Amy Sprung with the name of the book you donated. If you would prefer to send a check as in the past, please email Amy.
Committee Volunteers Needed for 2021-22
We are looking for volunteers to oversee the fabulous roles and committees such as the family fun event, book fair, and friendraiser committees, among many more. There are lots of opportunities with varying levels of commitment. A listing and description of activities and volunteer opportunities can be found on the PA Homepage on the Parent Portal. If you are interested in volunteering for something specific or wish to learn more, please contact any of the PA executive team or send an email to [email protected].
Grade Parent Volunteers Needed for 2021-22
We are looking for volunteers to serve as grade parents for the next school year. New parents and those with past experience are welcome! If you are interested in volunteering, please click here to fill out a nomination form. And if have questions about the role of a grade parent and wish to learn more, please contact any of the PA executive team or send an email to [email protected].
Addressing Racial Inequality in STEM Education
Monday, April 5 at 4 p.m.
The compound effects of a long pandemic, a struggling economy, disrupted public education systems, and deepening racial injustice, are having disproportionally devastating impacts on students and families of color. In this panel discussion, hosted by The Boston Globe and sponsored by Biogen, we will learn from local leaders who are using innovative approaches and collaboration to advance STEM equity for the many students historically underrepresented in science across the state. Click here to register to attend.
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.