Fifth graders worked on a ‘mind mapping’ project this week.
The Show Will Go On Now
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: December 10, 2021
There is a Broadway stage tradition known as the ‘ghost light’‚—a single incandescent bulb that shines on the stage when the theater is otherwise dark. That constant light serves two purposes: practically, it helps anyone backstage or on stage see where they are; but more importantly and symbolically, it serves as a reminder that someday, the actors, the set, and the performances will be back.
On March 11 of 2020, one of the most painful results of our decision to close the school due to the oncoming pandemic was the cancellation of the seventh and eighth grade’s production of Seussical, the Musical. On March 13, that show did not go on, and Belmont Day’s beautiful Palandjian Arts Center stage went dark for a very long time. While we do not have a ghost light of our own at BDS, suffice it to say that if we did, we would have turned it on that March day as a promise that the stage would be alive again with our talented young performers.
This past week, our sixth graders took to that stage and opened the curtain on a new performance and what seems like a new age. With casts of seven or eight students each, the students gave us multiple performances of “Frankenstein Slept Here.” As it happened, the performance I attended included a visit by first graders who joined me in front row seats! The play, complete with all of your favorite monsters—werewolf, invisible man, the bride of Frankenstein, mummy, vampire, Igor the Humpback, and Dr. Frankenstein herself—was a hilarious hit. And you haven’t truly experienced theater until the peals of six-year-old laughter have surrounded you.
But more than that, it was a moment—even as rising infections and the Omicron variant seize headlines and our headspace—of a safe and delightful return to something we remember from before the pandemic. It was a chance to switch off the ghost light, for the actors to rediscover themselves, and for another aspect of community to be restored. It was a moment of hope, and theater, I find, is quite good at delivering hope to its audience, no matter the show.
I couldn’t help but imagine the symbolic ghost light of this pandemic’s demands that continue to both stretch us and keep us on hold due. Indeed, in the realm of education, we have turned on the ghost light and changed the way we must teach and learn to accommodate the unwelcome guest of the pandemic. Yet, as I reflect on the past four months of school and how teaching and learning are starting to resemble what we knew them to be before March 2020, it seems we are slowly getting closer to turning that ghost light off again.
All of which is to say: it was good to be back in the theater for more reasons than I might have imagined when I took my seat with my first grade friends. And bravo to our wonderful sixth grade actors and their outstanding directors, Mr. Parsons and Ms. Dempsey!
A note to the reader, if, perchance, you find yourself reading this on Saturday, December 11, I wish you a very happy palindrome day (12.11.21)! Your next and last chance for a palindromic date will be December 22 and then there will not be another one until the next decade.
December 13 to January 7
Monday, December 13
6:30 p.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
7:30 p.m., Parent Book Club, Parent Home
Tuesday, December 14
BDS Giving Day
7–9:30 p.m., Board of Trustees, Belmont Day School
Wednesday, December 15
8:15 a.m., Friendraiser Walk & Talk, Belmont Day School
3:30 p.m., Boys’ Varsity Basketball at Charles River; Girls’ Varsity Basketball vs Charles River; Wrestling at Milton Academy
7–8 p.m., Admissions: An Evening with the Head of School, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, December 16
3:30 p.m., Fencing at ISB
6:30–7:30 p.m., Winter Concert, Zoom Gathering
Friday, December 17
11:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m., Send-off Assembly, Belmont Day School
School Closes at 12:30 p.m. for Winter Break
School Closed for Winter Break: December 18 to January 2
Monday, January 3
Tuesday, January 4
6:30–7:30 p.m., Grade 8 Parent Forum, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, January 5
3:30 p.m., Boys’ JV Basketball at Meadowbrook; Girls’ JV Basketball vs Meadowbrook; Boys’ Varsity at Rashi; Girls’ Varsity Basketball vs Rashi; Wrestling vs Roxbury Latin
Thursday, December 6
3:30 p.m., Fencing at Beaver
7 p.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
Friday, January 7
8:50–9:35 a.m., Middle School Sharing Assembly, Barn Gym
For all Zoom meetings, gatherings, and presentations, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Winter Concert 2021
Thursday, December 16, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
As one of the final gatherings before winter break, the Winter Concert is always a favorite celebration of our community and the wonderful music and young musicians who bring us together. We will enjoy performances from the orchestra, ensembles, and choruses. The Zoom link to the event will be emailed directly to families prior to the concert and will be available on the Parent Portal. Here’s a preview list of what you’ll see and hear this year:
- Wind Ensemble: “March Onward” by John Reilly and Mark Williams
- Drum Ensemble: “Gone to Jamaica” by Will Schmid
- Guitar Ensemble: “All Blues” by Miles Davis
- Orchestra: “Blue Danube Waltz” by Johan Strauss II
- Lower School Chorus: “When You Wish Upon A Star” by Leigh Harline
- Middle School Chorus: “White Winter Hymnal” by Robin Pecknold
Pajama Day and Send-off Assembly
Friday, December 17
Assembly, 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
We will close out our last day of learning together joyfully! Parents are invited to join us for our annual Send-off Assembly to mark the end of the year and the start of the school’s winter break.
On that Friday, students are invited to wear their coziest, comfiest, school-appropriate pajamas, slippers, and optional robes. Parental consent to proposed outfits is appreciated.
As a reminder, in order to attend an in-person event on campus, parents must provide proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test within 72-hours.
December Friendraiser Walks
Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m.
One last Friendraiser Walk for 2021! Join us for a fun, brisk walk before we all go our separate ways for the winter break. Meet at the front circle of the Schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m. and then journey through the woodland trails. Duration: about 40 minutes.
Lunch & Snack Menu
December 13 to December 17
Snack: apples; PopCorners
Lunch: Asian noodles with chicken; Asian noodles with veggies; broccoli; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; fortune cookies; apple slices; milk and water
Snack: bananas; granola bars
Lunch: Breakfast for Lunch: pancakes; scrambles eggs; bacon; syrup; fresh fruit; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; milk and water
Snack: clementines; Simply Cheese Puffs
Lunch: beef tacos; veggie tacos; cut corn; salsa; guacamole; sour cream; cheese; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: bananas; BBQ Lay’s potato chips
Lunch: cheese pizza; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; applesauce; milk and water
Snack: dried cranberries; Lay’s potato chips
MESSAGE FROM THE HEAD
Return from Winter Break: COVID-19 Testing Schedule
The current rise in COVID-19 cases in local communities, several positive cases this week here at Belmont Day, and the holiday gatherings and travel that will happen over winter break have prompted a change in our plan for return-to-school testing.
We will host back-to-school PCR testing on campus administered by our testing partners before school reopens. We are still confirming the details with our testing partners. More information and sign-up will be available by Monday, December 13.
Thank you for your understanding and partnership.
– Brendan Largay, Head of School
Help Support BDS On Giving Day 2021!
Tuesday, December 14
150 gifts in 24 hours. Help us sustain our mission to inspire and challenge! Be a Part of the Future!
On Tuesday, December 14, we invite you to celebrate the many ways Belmont Day students are inspired and challenged every day by making a gift to the annual fund. Every gift—no matter its size—will be a joyful expression of support for:
- Health and wellness
- Faculty professional growth
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Curriculum development
- Financial aid
- The arts, and more!
Your gift will further secure the future of Belmont Day, and support every student to reach excellence. Our goal is to receive 150 gifts in 24 hours, and we need your help to make it. There will be challenges announced for grades, trustees, faculty, alumni, and more!
Click here to learn more and make a gift on Tuesday!
For more information, contact Pati Fernández, director of development at 617-932-3890 or [email protected]y.org.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Daily Symptom Checks
With COVID-19 cases on the rise and the season for the common cold and flu upon us, we remind the community of the Daily Health Check. Please monitor for symptoms every day.
Anyone with any of these symptoms should stay home and contact their health care provider about the need for testing.
Parents, please DO NOT SEND YOUR STUDENT TO SCHOOL with any of these symptoms—they will be dismissed to you as soon as we learn of them.
- Fever or chills (temp over 100 is considered a fever)
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Weekly COVID Testing
Our weekly testing on Wednesday, December 8 identified a positive case of COVID-19 in a middle school faculty member. Close contacts have been identified and notified.
Vaccinated close contacts will be closely monitoring for symptoms and may attend school if symptom-free. Unvaccinated close contacts will also be closely monitoring for symptoms, may attend school if symptom-free, AND will be participating in the Test and Stay protocols.
Of the remaining 47 pools, 46 returned negative results and one pool was not tested by the lab. The individuals in the untested pool self-administered rapid tests Thursday morning which all returned negative results. Please see the accompanying chart of our ongoing testing results.
Email [email protected] if you have any questions.
Rachel Nolan who has been working at BDS in a variety of capacities for the last year and a half will be moving on to focus on their career in publishing. Mx. Nolan worked with our youngest learners in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, after school, and most recently joined our middle school literary magazine club, Echo. Their joy, wisdom, and caring will be greatly missed by the students, faculty, staff, and the community at large. They’re an extraordinary team member, colleague, and teacher. We wish Rachel the best of luck on their next adventure!
We are pleased to welcome Greg Paquette to the B&G team as the Buildings and Grounds Supervisor. Greg comes to us by way of his work in a similar role at the Walnut Hill School, and he is excited to join the B&G team. Greg will begin working with Lino and Anderson in January after the winter break.
BDS IN THE NEWS
Middle School Spanish Lesson Featured in Article
Spanish teacher Ana Maria Restrepo’s lesson from earlier this fall with seventh graders was recently featured in an article online by Teaching Central America. The lesson, taught as part of Teach Central America Week in early October, focused on clothing design in Guatemala and the influence and history of Mayan culture. Click here to check out the article, which highlights many of the students’ beautiful clothing designs incorporating Guatemalan traditions and the students’ own style preferences.
Upcoming Parent Social Identity Discussion Groups
Black/African American-identified or Hispanic/Latino/Latinx-identified
Monday, December 13 at 7:00 p.m.
We apologize to those who attempted to log on for last evening’s discussion group for Black/African American-identified or Hispanic/Latino/Latinx-identified parents. A technical issue prevented the meeting from taking place.
Parents of Children of Color
Thursday, December 16 at 7:30 p.m.
If you have questions or wish to RSVP for either group’s meeting, please contact Sharra Owens-Schwartz P ’25, chair of the board of trustees DEI committee, at [email protected]
Links for both discussion groups are available on the Parent Portal.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
Fun Inside and Out!
After school students have been enjoying a variety of artistic and cultural activities over the past few weeks. Last Friday, students created a chalk gallery walk, where each grade worked together to design and fill a square of chalk art outside by Big Blue. Afterward, we got our bodies moving with an African dance workout, borrowing from the middle school P.E.A.K. team curriculum. After school students have also been busy creating drawings, leaf rubbings, and other two-dimensional works of art for our After School Art Wall on the garden level of the Schoolhouse.
Fifth Grade Explores Mind Mapping
In fifth grade humanities, we just completed a unit in which we read and analyzed the novel Morning Girl by Michael Dorris. At the end of Morning Girl was a primary document from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Students learned the difference between dominant and counter-narratives by exploring different perspectives of Columbus’s arrival portrayed in Morning Girl, The Encounter, Christopher the Ogre Cologre, It’s Over, and A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus. With these perspectives in mind, their culminating project was the creation of two Mind Maps. Mind Maps express a student’s understanding of someone else’s perspective. It represents both the inside and the outside of a person. Students depicted either Morning Girl or Star Boy in one Mind Map and Christopher Columbus in the other, using evidence from the different texts to support their creative choices. The “internal” drawing included an illustration of the person/characters, three descriptive words or phrases, two thoughts that person/character has at some point in the book, and one thing that character/person does or says at some point in the book, all with supporting page numbers.
– Vaniecia Skinner, grade 5 teacher
Athletics Update: Varsity Hoop Teams Split Openers
The varsity basketball teams opened up the winter season on Thursday with a pair of games against Park. The boys came out of the gates slow, yielding four straight buckets to open the game, and trailed at the half by over 20. The girls flipped the script and jumped out fast, taking a commanding 12-point lead into the break. Both teams played their best basketball in the second frame, as the boys played Park even and the girls doubled down on their lead. The boys were led by sixth grade rookie point guard Andrew Green who topped the stat column in points and assists. Teammate Brendan Bandar provided the energy on both ends of the floor and helped breathe life into the team following their listless first-half performance. The girls were led by eighth grade veteran Emma Kass who recorded a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds) and controlled the paint on both ends of the floor. Teammate Colby Morris chipped in with some aggressive defense and some easy buckets in transition. Both teams will be back at it next week against Charles River as the boys will look to even their record at 1-1, while the girls will look to remain undefeated at 2-0.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
More Athletics News
- Rookie wrestlers Kaden Flummerfelt, Alexander Meredith, and Quinn Clark are off to a great start on the mat and are eager for their first matches next week against Milton.
- Yara Ibrahim and Audrey Chuang have found a new home on the volleyball team and are working hard to learn the fundamentals of the sport.
- A program record 13 sixth grade athletes are fencing this winter. Duncan Beirne is looking forward to his first athletics action of the year after being sidelined this fall.
- Maddie Cutie and Emme Taylor have been working hard in practice for the girls’ JV basketball team and will be counted on to contribute on the court this winter.
- Relatively new to the sport, Oliver Gottesman and Anurag Mujumdar have been eager learners during practice for the boys’ JV basketball team.
Middle School French Students Learn about Cultures, Poetry
In both seventh and eighth grade French, students sent off their first letters to a class of middle schoolers in Viroflay, outside of Paris.
Seventh graders just completed a unit that included getting a glimpse of a school in Martinique and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This week they learned a poem about school by the well-known poet, Jacques Prévert. In France students often do recitations. We have watched videos of a few by both students and adults, and our students worked on their own recitations, including memorization, pronunciation, expression, and gestures. It was a day of challenge, drama, and good humor!
Eighth grade French students wrapped up a unit about the culture of Sénégal. They prepared short presentations about a cultural element from Sénégal. We wrapped up the unit by doing mini-presentations about something about our own cultures: an element of family culture, a culture we relate to outside of the United States, or an element of US culture we connect with. It has been a good way for us to build our own sense of community at BDS.
– Jennifer Friborg, French teacher
Worms Wiggle into Kindergarten Lessons
This week was Worm Week in Mrs. Hartvigsen’s kindergarten class! Along with some new wormy class pets, Heather Oliver, our kindergarten associate teacher, led the students through a variety of activities to deepen their understanding of earthworms. Kindergartners sketched observational pictures of our worm farm, read fictional and non-fiction books that revolved around this topic, and engaged with experiments to see the effect that earthworms have on soil. We even enjoyed reinforcing familiar academic skills with a wormy focus! Kindergarteners formed numerals with wiggly worm toys and used tweezers to grasp worm toys in a sensory bin. We had so much fun and have a greater appreciation for all of the wonderful work earthworms do to help our world!
– Missy Hartvigsen, kindergarten teacher
PE Update: Winter Classics Abound
Our highest lower school grades have been getting after it recently with classic winter athletics offerings. We don’t have an ice hockey rink, but fourth grade has been practicing stickwork, passing, shooting, and goalkeeping nonetheless with our pilo polo sticks. The intensity has been matched by joy, and the box scores show zero penalty minutes.
Meanwhile, our fifth graders have decamped to the Downing gym, where they are getting to learn the finer points of volleyball and wrestling. A hallmark of our fifth grade program is the opportunity to learn the sports that they can select as middle schoolers, and they are rising to the occasion. Volleyball, as Coach Ellie Brennan, head coach of our middle school team, can attest, is all about having a stable platform. We like to think of that as not just a fundamental technique but an athletic motto. Our fourth and fifth graders are developing the stable platform of knowledge, skill, and experience, that will carry them into their athletic careers at BDS without missing a beat.
– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher
Parents’ Association News
FACULTY HOLIDAY GIFT FUND
This year, we will once again ask for parent support towards a Faculty Holiday Gift Fund, allowing for the purchase of a $75 gift card for every faculty member. The faculty will be able to choose from several different local vendors to use their gift cards. We did this last year and it was greatly appreciated! Please know this is entirely optional, and we appreciate all contributions to make this initiative possible. Click here to contribute.
The parent book club will meet on Monday, December 13 at 7:30 pm to discuss The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles. All are welcome to attend, whether you’ve read the book or just want to meet up with some fellow parents in the community. Please reach out to Karla Bays immediately if you’re interested in attending. And if you’d like to plan further in advance, in January, we will be reading The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.
LOST & FOUND
Thank you to everyone who stopped by the PAC earlier today to search through all the Lost and Found items. There will be an additional opportunity to get your child’s missing things before the Send-Off Assembly on Friday, December 17. If you have any questions about Lost and Found, please contact Priya Vaidya at [email protected].
Belmont Holiday Market
Looking for some unique local gift items this holiday season? Join the Belmont Gallery of Art and the Belmont Art Association this Sunday, December 12 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the Belmont Holiday Market. The market will be held in the Belmont Town Hall parking lot at 455 Concord Avenue. The market will feature jewelry, pottery, paintings, holiday cards, and more creations from local artists.
Donate Dream Street to Boston Public Schools
Still time to donate a book! Related to last week’s virtual visit by Dream Street author, Tricia Elam Walker, and illustrator, Ekua Holmes, (see Library News above) Belmont Books and the Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, are teaming up for a donation program to get copies of the book to students in the Boston Public Schools. Between now and December 31, all donations to Read It Forward will go towards the purchase of copies of Dream Street for Boston public schools that participated in today’s multi-school virtual event with Ekua Holmes and Tricia Elam Walker.
How does it work? Make a donation of $20, and the stores will deliver two copies of Dream Street to a participating school. Make a donation of $40 and they will deliver four copies to these schools. Or make a donation of any size you want, and they’ll deliver as many books as they can for that amount. The more donations made, the more books will be delivered!