Kindergartners had a fun field trip to the Belmont Fire Department this week!
Message from Head of School
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: April 26, 2019
As we near the day of the fourth grade Greek Festival, I have been doing my homework on the Greek myths. One, in particular, always catches my interest: the story of Sisyphus, the king who is forced to push a boulder up a mountain only to watch it roll down the other side and have to begin again.
Whenever I think of this myth, I am left to wonder what Sisyphus feels right at the tipping point? Is it relief for those few moments before the rock rolls down the other side? Frustration at the prospect of having to start over again? Is there any sense of accomplishment? After all, pushing a boulder up a mountain is no small feat.
In some ways, the myth is a metaphor for the work of Sarah Merrill, as she leads our eighth grade students and families through the process of high school placement from late spring of seventh grade through mid-April of eighth grade. Along the way, she employs the help of countless teachers, advisors, and administrators to help guide each family along their journey towards the school that best fits each child as a scholar, an artist, an athlete, and a citizen. To be sure, Sisyphus could have used this kind of help with his boulder.
The placement process is as thorough as you can imagine. In seventh grade, a practice SSAT test is followed by a panel of high school admissions officers from a variety of high schools—single gender, co-ed, boarding, and day—each with a unique mission and philosophy. The panel is representative of the relationships that are well-nurtured over years of dialogue and open feedback between Belmont Day and the schools that receive our students.
With Sarah’s guidance, each student and family shape a list of ‘right fit’ schools to explore through open houses and campus visits. For families who know their child will attend public school, the process offers critical conversation and support around navigating the transition. As a student visit schools, what starts out as an expansive list begins to winnow down to include their right fit schools for application. Teachers and the placement team write recommendation letters and applications are submitted in January.
On March 10, just as Belmont Day announces admissions decisions, so, too, do our eighth graders hear the news from the schools to which they have applied. Students revisit prospective schools, and by April 10, most have decided which high school they will attend. The process is an arduous, yet joyous journey as students mature into young adulthood and experience their agency. As parents we celebrate their growth, sometimes taking shape in ways we might never have expected along the way.
The covenant between school, parent, and student is strengthened with each milestone reached. This is no accident. Your child makes important discoveries about him or herself, and the process itself is designed to continually pressure-test the idea of best fit. We are fortunate to live where school choices are abundant. Our students really can find a school that fits them without the need to compromise something fundamental to them.
This year, we celebrate a banner placement season where our students saw the highest percentage of acceptances and the lowest percentage of denials in school history! This success is a testament to the hard work of our students, the support of their families, and the excellence of our faculty. [See the list of school acceptances and matriculation for the Class of 2019.]
As hard as it will be to bid this the Class of 2019 farewell, we will do so knowing that where they are each headed to their right fit school. And as the boulder rolls down the backside of the mountain to begin the process for the Class of 2020, unlike Sisyphus who did not stop for a moment to mark a job well done, we have 33 very good reasons to celebrate.
Have a great weekend, and congratulations to the Class of 2019.
Eighth graders are hard at work in their math class learning about parabolas.
This Coming Week at BDS
April 27 through May 2
April 19–27 – Passover
April 22–May 18 – Cradles to Crayons Donation Drive
Saturday, April 27
Varsity Ultimate Frisbee, Tournament, Shady Hill School
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Volunteer Clean-Up Day, Lone Tree Hill, Belmont
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Grades 7 & 8 Play Rehearsal
Sunday, April 28
7:45 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Model UN Conference, Commonwealth School
Monday, April 29
8–10:00 a.m., Development Committee, Head’s Office
8:15–9:00 a.m., Grades 6 & 7 Parents’ Library Coffee, Erskine Library
7–8:30 p.m., High School Admissions Director Panel for Grade 7, Palandjian Arts Center
Wednesday, May 1
8–10:00 a.m., Finance Committee
3:30 p.m., Boys’ Lacrosse at Fenn; Girls’ Lacrosse at Nashoba; JV Tennis vs Nashoba; Track & Field vs Fenn; Varsity Tennis vs DCD
Thursday, May 2
3:30 p.m., JV Ultimate Frisbee at Carroll; Varsity Ultimate Frisbee vs Fayerweather
Friday, May 3
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly, The Barn
9:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Grade 5 Field Lab, Mosesian Center for the Arts, Watertown
10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Grade 4 Greek Festival, Grade 4 Classrooms & Annex
Volunteer Clean-Up Day
Tomorrow! Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
In the spirit of fostering conservation and supporting our neighbors, Belmont Day will be taking part in the Lone Tree Hill Volunteer Day. Organized by the Belmont Citizens Forum and the Judy Record Conservation Fund, this seventh annual event will include cleanup along the Coal Road area, trail maintenance, and tree planting along Pine Allee.
Lone Tree Hill spans 119 acres of permanently protected conservation land—bounded by Concord Avenue, Pleasant Street, and Mill Street—and is open to everyone. It is stewarded by a public/private partnership with the town of Belmont and McLean Hospital and is managed by the Land Management Committee. Click here to see a detailed map of the area.
Spring Camp Community Event
Saturday, May 4, 2 to 4:00 p.m.
Join us for an afternoon of fun—face painting, crafts, an obstacle course and animal experience, and refreshments. The ever-popular Jeff Jam will perform at 3 p.m. Reconnect with summer friends or meet new ones and enter a raffle for $400 off camp tuition (open to those in attendance.) This event is free and open to the public so invite your friends and neighbors!
Lunch & Snack Menu
April 29 to May 2
Snack: Tostitos; fruit cups
Lunch: ravioli and marinara; steamed seasoned broccoli; crusty French rolls; Italian salad
Snack: saltines; pears
Lunch: grilled chicken Caesar salad; corn on the cob; warm garlic bread; lo mein sesame noodle salad
Snack: apple muffins; bananas
Lunch: hamburgers and veggie burgers; pickles, sliced tomatoes, onions, and ketchup; primavera mix; BBQ potato chips; broccoli salad
Snack: granola bars; raisins
Lunch: cheese pizza; pesto chicken pizza; chef’s choice vegetables; romaine with bacon, egg, and honey mustard
Community Service Day 2019
Friday, May 17
Community service day is an important opportunity for our community to put our values into action. Students in pre-k to grade four will each engage in a whole-class activity while students in grades five to eight will choose from several on- and off-campus project options. We are looking forward to an excellent day of joyful service and we need your help.
For Furnishing Hope – Gently used, clean, and in good condition, or new
- Bath towels and washcloths
- Shower curtains and hooks
- NEW shampoo, conditioner, bars of soap (preferably unscented), and liquid soap (unopened)
For Room to Grow
- NEW board books, especially Spanish/bilingual board books
- NEW infant and baby toys; check out their wish list on Amazon
For Grandma’s Pantry – please check the use-by dates on items before donating
- non-perishable food items; sugar-free and no-salt items welcome
Donations can be dropped off in the Schoolhouse Gallery or in the communications office. Thank you for your generosity!
ERBs for Grades 3 to 6
- Third and fourth grade classes will be taking the ERB assessments on May 7, 8, and 9. Students will have a practice session on Monday, May 6.
- Fifth and sixth grade classes will be taking the ERB assessments the following week on May 14, 15, and 16. Students will have a practice session on Monday, May 13.
Please contact Mary Ellen Coyne-Gordon with any questions.
PARENT LEARNING FORUM
Strategies for Helping Anxious Students
Tuesday, May 7, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m., Palandjian Arts Center
Kathryn D. Boger, Ph.D. and Julia Martin Burch, Ph.D., both clinical psychologists at McLean Anxiety Mastery Program (MAMP) will join our own Dr. Leesa Mercedes for a presentation on Supporting Anxious Students: Focusing on What Works.
Lewis’ Five Goals Lift Girls’ Lacrosse to Win
The girls’ lacrosse team continued its upward trajectory this spring with a commanding 15-8 win over Lexington Christian Academy this week. Seventh grader Lynn Lewis led the way with five goals while eighth grade co-captain Elena Dainora Cohen added four. The team also received strong play from goaltenders Vivian Danahy and Kenna Schneider who split time in net and combined for eleven saves. The girls’ will look to build on their momentum on the road next week against Nashoba Brooks.
More Athletics News
- Eight different players scored during boys’ lacrosse’s dominant 9-1 win over LCA. For Alexander Colangelo, Aaron Radke, Owen Finnerty, and Quinn Foley it was their first goals of the season.
- A strong Carroll School team outran the Blue & Gold track & field squad, 62-38, this week. Co-captains Piper Morris and Miles Sandoski swept the 800m and 1600m. Cody Casanave ran a great 400m.
- After falling behind 2-5, Sarah McPeek and Ellora Roy battled back for a 7-5 win to help secure varsity tennis’ hard fought 5-3 victory over Nashoba. Everett Dalton and Erika Tinmouth won 6-3.
- Sophie Dornstein’s five scores led varsity ultimate to a 12-10 win over Carroll this week. Theo Wallach had a number of key breakups defensively to keep the game close.
- Classmates Yareh Constant, Devon Holman, and Brooks Largay have been bringing consistent effort and good energy to practice recently and are ready for JV ultimate’s first game.
- The JV tennis team squared off against Shady Hill this week. Elijah Allen and Noah Kokinos both played well for the Blue & Gold who look to continue their strong play next week against Nashoba.
Tickets for Grades 7 & 8 Play Available Next Week
The excitement is building for Babka Without Borders and tickets will become available on Wednesday, May 1! Tickets are free and can be reserved by visiting our ticket website. Please note that seating is limited and tickets will be provided on a first-come, first served basis only. Production dates are Friday, May 31 and Saturday, June 1 at 7:00 p.m.
Brianna McDuffee, Kindergarten Teacher
Brianna McDuffee has been with us for four years. She began as a kindergarten maternity leave substitute and then transitioned to co-teaching in kindergarten. Her work has contributed to our strong early childhood program that values play as well as providing the foundation for all future learning.
Brianna has not only taught young children and helped families at this critical developmental time, but she has also mentored adults. She has been a valuable teacher mentor, helping associates understand children’s developmental range and needs in kindergarten. She is a dedicated community member and has served on curriculum committees, the Sunshine Committee, and has been an active and collaborative member of the lower school team. Brianna has decided to stay home full-time with her young daughter. A thoughtful and reflective educator, we will miss her insight and care of young learners.
Mary Merrill, Director of Development
Elinor Hannum, Middle School Math Teacher
We are thrilled to share the news that Elinor Hannum will join the community this fall as our new middle school math teacher. Elinor comes to Belmont Day after serving as a middle and upper school math teacher, eighth grade advisor, and faculty representative to the board of trustees at the Lincoln School in Providence, Rhode Island. Prior to her work at Lincoln, Elinor served as a student teacher at Dimondale Elementary School in Michigan. Elinor received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching and curriculum from Michigan State University, where she was also an NCAA Division 1 athlete, as a member of the university’s varsity rowing team.
Leal Carter, Middle School Science Teacher
We are also excited to announce that Leal Carter will join us as our new middle school science teacher. Most recently, Leal has been teaching physics at Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, and prior to that served as a Spanish teacher at Eastwood Elementary School in Ohio, and an assistant teacher at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, as well as an Outdoor Guide at Canyon Ranch Health Resort and Spa in Lenox. Leal received her bachelor’s degree, majoring in biology and neuroscience and minoring in chemistry, from Oberlin College.
Celebrating a New Tradition at BDS
Today we established a new tradition, the celebration of Founders’ Day, a time for all of us to reflect on our school’s history and community. We began the day by thanking our parents with a special breakfast prior to the parents’ association meeting and enrichment assembly. Belmont Day was founded in 1927 by a committed group of parents, led by Eleanor “Nell” Rand and has grown and evolved into the thriving community it is today. The success of our school relies in no small part on the dedication of our parent community.
Students also joined in to celebrate Founders’ Day. When the Barn opened a few months ago, many of you noticed the large bell that sits near its entrance. This bell has been on our campus since the early 1940s when Henry Wood, the school treasurer, donated it to the school. Many years ago when the playground was located in front of the Schoolhouse, the bell was rung to call students in from recess and to acknowledge the start and end of each day. Over the years, it had become hidden behind greenery. The opening of the Barn provided an opportunity to find a more visible and fitting home for the bell that is a tangible link between our school’s rich history and vibrant future.
Today each of our 280 students was invited to take a turn, respectfully ringing the school bell. A new tradition will begin in June when each graduate will ring the bell at the conclusion of the graduation ceremony. Beginning in September, all new students will begin their BDS journey by ringing the bell, creating a meaningful moment to mark the beginning and end of their time as a student at Belmont Day.
Reducing Our Carbon Footprint by Adding Solar
The addition of the Barn was not only a decisive undertaking to provide our students with more learning and athletics spaces, but it was also a decisive step on the path to sustainability for our school.
BDS has implemented numerous sustainability initiatives through the years, from our garden and beehives, the elimination of plastic water bottles and the installation of LED fixtures, to composting and recycling. Additionally, with the construction of the Barn, we installed an 80 kW solar array on the roof which feeds directly into the building. It is expected that the array will provide up to 15% of the Barn’s electrical needs.
The new arrays are an exciting addition to our curriculum work in sustainability and we look forward to tracking the savings, exploring the design, electronics, and engineering of solar panels, and continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.
Check out our Solar Kiosk for a live glimpse at the daily energy production and the collateral environmental savings and benefits produced by this installation.
Free Concert & Interdisciplinary Workshop
Something of That Nature
First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain
Saturday, April 27, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Belmont Day music teacher Yui Kitamura will be performing at this free concert featuring a variety of classical and contemporary works. The concert will be a musical journey that explores humanity’s complex relationship with nature. Local performers include Nicole Kootz (violin/viola), Ms. Kitamura (piano), and Destiny Cooper (voice). The concert hopes to encourage our views about nature and how we treat the world we live in. Donations are encouraged, as all funds will be donated to Save The Harbor, a local non-profit organization that centers its mission on restoring and preserving the marine environment in the Boston Bay. For more info, please visit the concert website.
Choral Workshop on Social Justice
Monday, April 29
Middle school students will have the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary workshop with Jason Alexander Holmes, director of educational programming at the Boston’s Children’s Chorus. He will present “Social Justice Conversations through a Musical Lens.” The workshop will be held in Ms. Kitamura’s classroom during resource time. Students who attend the workshop will be invited to sing at a concert at Boston’s Wang Theatre, work with BCC conductors, and listen live to Melinda Doolittle, one of the finalists of American Idol. To participate in this extraordinary opportunity, students must attend the dress rehearsal on Friday, May 17 from 4:45 to 6 p.m. at the Hibernian Hall, and concert on Saturday, May 18 from 4:10 to 8:15 p.m. at the Wang Theatre. Please contact Ms. Kitamura with any questions.
Parents’ Association News
Library Cleaning & Library Committee Meeting
Monday–Wednesday, May 13-15
Lend a hand to dust, wipe, do inventory, catalog, and pack books and shelves to keep the Erskine Library in tip-top shape and ready for the renovation. Drop in any time during the cleaning and stay for as long as you are available. Any time you can give is greatly appreciated. Refreshments will be provided.
Monday, May 13 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 14 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
Wednesday, May 15 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
*Please note that the library committee will be meeting at 8:15 a.m. prior to Monday’s cleaning. All welcome! Come to hear about the latest library news and initiatives.
Parents’ Association Meeting
Friday, May 17, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Coolidge Hall
Cradles to Crayons Sorting Event
Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Barn Gym
Parent Book Club
Wednesday, May 29, 8:15 to 9:30 a.m., Erskine Library
Book Selection: Naamah by Sarah Blake
Science on Saturday
MIT Lincoln Laboratory, 255 Wood St., Lincoln
Saturday, May 18, 10 to 11 a.m.
Join Lincoln Laboratory for Light, Sound, Vibration, and their Remarkable Relationship, a fun discussion of photon-to-phonon interaction, photoacoustics, and laser vibrometry. Lincoln Laboratory will use light to create sound and vibration in objects at distances from a few inches to a kilometer. Then they use light as a microphone to measure sound and light from far away. This provides ways to find damages in bridges or jet engines from a safe point on the ground and helps surgeons perform ultrasound without touching the patient.
Parent Lecture Series on Race
Wednesday, May 1, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.
Chenery Middle School Auditorium, Belmont
The Belmont After School Enrichment Collaborative and the Belmont Public Schools presents the 5th Annual Parent Lecture Series with three speakers in March, April, and May. The topic this year is “Thriving in a Diverse World: Raising Racially Aware Children.” The May speaker will be Alise Wornum, who will discuss, “How to Talk to Kids about Race, Culture, and Racism.” The lectures are free and open to all. For more information, visit the
Summer Farm Shares
The Farm School in Athol is offering two summer farm shares. A weekly vegetable share can be picked up at Iggy’s Bread of the World in Cambridge, and a meat share will be available monthly at the
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