Happy Holidays and have a wonderful winter break! We’ll see you in 2021!
Turning the Page: A Challenging Year and a Stack of Unread Books
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: December 18, 2020
Happy Holidays everyone!
I am so pleased to send you off into winter break with the knowledge that together, we have successfully and safely navigated these unique and challenging times and made it to the cusp of 2021. Of course, that is a testament to you, your belief in our school, our excellent faculty’s commitment, and our students’ resiliency. Thank you for everything you have done to help get us here.
As we look to the new year, there are many things I am left to reflect on and reckon with, among them, the mounting pile of books on my bedside table. As some of you know, I begin each summer with the goal of reading a book a week. This summer, not surprisingly, I only managed to finish three books. I learned from a good friend and fellow BDS parent that the pile has a name—tsundoku—a Japanese expression for the unread books that one acquires over time. I am taking this moment to share my tsundoku with you, hoping that something on the list might be appealing to you to enjoy during winter break.
Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
It feels appropriate to start this list with a YA lit sequel. The dystopian fantasy follow up to Children of the Blood and Bone is one that I’ve been eager to read since I finished the original, and with three teenaged readers in my house, I’d better get to it before one of my kids borrows it from my stack!
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
I have powerful feelings about Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. For a time, I believed it to be the most important American novel ever written. Today, I believe it prompts one of the most critical literary debates in middle school English classrooms across the country. Furious Hours is a documentary-style novel about Lee’s passion for true crime drama and her ability to write about it—a little known fact is that she was Truman Capote’s writing partner and primary editor of In Cold Blood. Casey Cep manages to preserve the beautifully sluggish southern pace that Lee mastered as an author.
The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
Almost every book on this list, I am realizing, came my way as a recommendation or gift, and Coyle’s Culture Code is no different. Culture Code is about organizational leadership, effective teamwork, and how to build an effective team culture in your organization. I feel like I’ve got a leg up on the competition, given how excellent the team already is here at BDS!
The Searcher by Tana French
Mystery/suspense is my favorite fiction genre, and that is due almost singularly to the writing of Tana French. Few authors can put you on a dimly-lit street corner in the driving rain quite the way she can. The Searcher is her latest, and I cannot wait to be transported again.
Rebel Talent by Francesca Gino
This book is not here because the author is a BDS parent (although it’s pretty cool all the same). No, Rebel Talent is a roadmap for leaders to excel and drive innovative and powerful change in the evolving and demanding organizational leadership landscape. My author-inscribed copy asks a simple question: ‘Brendan,’ it reads, ‘ready to break some rules?’ My answer: I can’t wait.
Deacon King Kong by James McBride
A gift from a colleague, this novel by the author of The Color of Water and The Good Lord Bird provides a critical reminder: nothing beats excellent writing and a story well told. I’m glad for some fiction on this list. This story of the deacon responsible for ridding his Brooklyn neighborhood of a drug dealer in the late 60s is sure to have the trademark lyricism, wit, and incisiveness that McBride typically delivers.
Edison by Edmund Morris
This one has been on my shelf since the pandemic began. This biography waits for me—challenges me?—to immerse myself in the life of one of the country’s greatest innovators and the circumstances that led to the invention of some of today’s most taken-for-granted conveniences. Sure, everyone knows about the light bulb, but what do you know of Edison’s 1,093 other patented inventions? And do you know that he was nearly deaf as he invented them?
Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
Subtitled, “A Novel of the Plague,” O’Farrell’s novel sits at the crossroads of many of my interests and influences—Shakespeare and a pandemic to name the two most significant for this review—that it may be first in my reading queue this winter. The novel is set in England in Shakespeare’s time (1580) and titled after Shakespeare’s only son, who died in 1586. Shakespeare would write Hamlet, arguably his most famous play, four years after Hamnet’s death. O’Farrell takes the reader back to those streets, to that time, and showcases a mother’s love and the power of language all during a pandemic.
Over the next months, there are many more books that I will undoubtedly add to my tsundoku stack. Indeed there are no fewer than four more published authors in our parent community whose latest publications will be right at the top of the stack come summertime.
My wish for you and your family is that you will find comfort, joy, and peace this winter season in abundance. Thank you for your faith and support of our effort to deliver a meaningful and excellent education to your children. The effort has been a partnership all the way, and we could not ask for better partners than you.
We look forward to seeing you back on campus in the new year. Have a wonderful break.
December 21 to January 8
Winter Break: School Closed from December 21, 2020, to January 1, 2021
Monday, January 4
School Closed for Professional Development Day
Reentry COVID testing for Pre-k to Grade 4
Tuesday, January 5
Reentry COVID testing for Grades 5-8
Extended Day Program Semester 2 Begins
Wednesday, January 6
7:45–8:30 a.m., PA Executive Committee, Zoom Meeting
7–8:30 p.m., Finance Committee; Zoom Meeting
Thursday, January 7
6–7 p.m., Grade 8 Parent Forum; Zoom Gathering
Friday, January 8
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association; Zoom Meeting
8:50–9:35 a.m., Enrichment Assembly; Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings and meetings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Save the Dates for BDS Quest!
Scavenger Hunt Challenge: March 20, April 10, May 1, 2021
Community Event and Auction: Saturday, May 15, 2021
Traditionally, the Belmont Day Parents’ Association hosts an auction event every other year to support the school’s initiatives. As the planning began for the 2021 event, the major consideration was how to bring our community joy while keeping safety front and center. BDS Quest will offer a new twist, featuring a series of scavenger hunts, an auction, and a community event. A formal invitation will be sent in the new year, but for now, please mark your calendar!
Get excited about BDS Quest! For more information, visit bdsquest.org.
Reminder: Please Review January Reopening Plan
We ask that everyone in the Belmont Day community take a few minutes to review the plans for our return to campus at the beginning of the new year. We’re excited to return to in-person learning and know from our experience in the fall that that can be a great success when we all work together.
The plans for our return to campus were detailed in a video message from Head of School Brendan Largay. We are also providing a publication version that can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF as well as a text-only version that can be easily printed.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
January Assurance Testing Schedule
Testing will be held in the Schoolhouse Gallery. Please enter and exit through the main Schoolhouse doors. Siblings are welcome to come together. If your allotted time does not work for you, please email Nurse Liz LaRocque.
Monday, January 4 | Returned from travel on or before December 31
- 9 to 9:30 a.m. – faculty and staff
- 9:30 to 10:15 a.m. – pre-kindergarten
- 10:15 to 11 a.m. – kindergarten
- 11 to 11:45 a.m. – grade 1
- 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – grade 2
- 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. – grade 3
- 1:15 to 2 p.m. – grade 4
Tuesday, January 5 | Returned from travel on or before January 1
- 11 to 11:30 a.m. – faculty, staff, and lower school students returning January 1
- 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – grade 5
- 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. – grade 6
- 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – grade 7
- 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. – grade 8
- 3:30 to 4 p.m. – faculty, staff, and lower school students returning January 1
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Liz LaRocque: firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-932-3901.
Flu Immunization Required for MA Students by December 31
All school children in Massachusetts must receive immunization against flu before December 31 in order to return to school in January. This is a state-mandated requirement; we are not able to waive it or ignore it. As of December 2, twenty percent of BDS students have not provided documentation of this immunization. You will receive notifications from Magnus if this documentation is due. Beginning Tuesday, December 8, if you receive a notification that flu immunization is due for your child that you believe is in error, please contact Liz LaRocque at email@example.com. Otherwise, please ensure your child receives the immunization, and documentation is provided to the school prior to December 31. To upload the form to Magnus, please follow these instructions. From the Magnus home page, go to Student Health Tracker > Immunizations Tab > Edit. From there you can upload a new form. If you run into any issues, you can submit an electronic copy to Nurse LaRocque.
New Middle School Club Sends Out Goodwill
Members of the new middle school club, Mail Art: Spreading Hope and Joy, have been creating postcards using various media to send to those who might need a little cheering up. At the beginning of each meeting, we decide on the recipients of our postcards. One week, it was a friend at school with whom we hadn’t been able to connect. Another week, we created cards for a person who helps us at school. Next, we spent a few meetings making postcards for children in hospitals. Lately, we have been sending our creations to friends and family. The art on our postcards has included doodles, drawings, and collage. This past week, club member, Lila, taught us how to make pop-up cards! And after we return from winter break, Ms. McQuilton, director of communications and marketing, will join us to share her experience as part of an international postcard exchange program.
– Susan Dempsey, theater arts teacher and club advisor
Technology Form Reminder
Thank you to those who have submitted their child’s RUP/COPPA form to the tech office. There are still several parents who have not returned their child’s form. This form must be filled out for all students in pre-kindergarten to grade 8 in order for the school to be in compliance. Please be on the lookout for a third notice from firstname.lastname@example.org if I do not have your form. Wishing you all very happy holidays and a joyous New Year.
– Dolly Ryan, director of technology
BDS Giving Day a Huge Success
A huge thank you for the tremendous outpouring of support on BDS Giving Day! Because of you, we reached new milestones, well surpassing our goal of 100 gifts in 24 hours, ending the day with 145 gifts. This has increased our current parent participation to 84% overall. As promised, for all classes that surpassed 80%, we will provide a treat for the entire grade! Stay tuned for more details in January. As we continue to celebrate our community, please look for a package in the mail soon. Congratulations to everyone and thank you!
Call for Grandparents and Special Friends Contact Information
As we prepare for a very special virtual event for grandparents and special friends in February, “A Day in the Life at BDS,” we need your assistance with updating our contact information. We want to make sure to include your student’s grandparents and special friends in our invitation mailing. If you would like to add or update a grandparent or a special friend, please click here and complete the form by January 4. If you have any questions, please contact Pati Fernández at email@example.com.
Tuition: Update Regarding Two-Payment Plan
The finance office would like to alert parents who make tuition payments on the two-payment (60%/40%) plan that you have either received or will soon be receiving an email from FACTS Management indicating an adjustment or payment has been applied to your account. To alleviate any confusion, this is the application of the enrollment deposit to the second payment as outlined in the enrollment contract. If you have any questions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Fred Colson, director of finance
Arts Update: First Graders Get in the Rhythm
First graders are exploring rhythmic patterns using lightweight rhythm sticks at home. They have also been doing a lot of singing outdoors, in class, and online. In class, the songs took the form of hand motion interpretations and speaking the words while their teacher is singing along on a recording and accompanying the song live on the guitar. There is more than one way to sing a song, and first graders have found some creative, safe ways to do so.
– Frank Toppa, music teacher
Second Grade Learns About H2O
In science, second graders have been learning about the water cycle and the three states of matter. We discussed stages of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection and watched a video to help us see the cycle in action. To demonstrate their understanding, students labeled each stage and explained how the cycle worked in their own words. Some of us even created motions to describe each stage!
– Sunny Lee, grade 2 teacher
Seventh Grade Learns About COVID-19 From Expert
Seventh grade started off this week with a fabulous presentation from Dr. Ingrid Katz P ’22, associate faculty director at the Harvard Global Health Institute. Dr. Katz spoke with the class about the latest news and developments in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. We learned about everything from scientists’ current understanding for why teenagers are less prone to develop severe COVID-19, to looking at cutting-edge infrared technology showing aerosolized droplets leaving a persons’ nose and mouth, with and without a mask. Students also enjoyed the chance to work in groups to discuss the issues that real policymakers are grappling with today, including determining who should be first in line for the vaccine. This presentation sparked some intriguing conversations in science class this week as we continued to look at the structure of viruses, the mechanism by which they infect organisms, as well as how the immune system fights back.
– Leal Carter, grades 7 & 8 science teacher
Fourth Grade Starts Pyramid Construction
The fourth grade pyramid architects, builders, and scribes have been hard at work during these past three weeks to construct model pyramids. Most students chose to make a true pyramid, which has the four triangular faces and a square base that many of us are familiar with. Some requirements for this project were that the pyramid needed to be no taller than 9 inches, made of recycled materials, and include at least one burial chamber. Students used many skills such as measurement, art (for drawing tomb paintings), geometry (for figuring out dimensions for the faces of their pyramids), and above all, creativity! To culminate this project, students contributed videos to a Flipgrid describing their pyramids and the process.
– Mary Norman, grade 4 teacher
Spanish Classes Celebrate Learning About the Holidays
It is a festive time in our Spanish classes filled with the joy and happiness of the season. Sixth grade students learned vocabulary related to the holidays, family members, family traditions, and Mexican celebrations at this time of the year. Click here for a video message to the BDS community: ¡Felices fiestas!
We also invite you to learn about some of the seventh grade students’ best moments of 2020 and various Hispanic countries’ traditions for the holiday season. Please click here to see the traditional music and watch cultural videos that the students’ in eighth grade have put together. We hope you enjoy the presentations.
– Ana Maria Restrepo, middle school Spanish teacher
Parents’ Association News
Friday, January 8
8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
All are invited to join us for our next meeting. The Zoom link is available on the PA page in Veracross.
The next book club selection is Villa of Delirium by Adrien Goetz. Please join us for our Zoom gathering on Wednesday, January 13 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. The Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
Faculty & Staff Appreciation Thank you!
Thank you to the many that contributed to the faculty holiday appeal. Your gifts allowed for the purchase of a $100 gift for every faculty and staff member. Everyone had the choice of a gift card to Belmont Books, Craft Beer Cellar, Dunkin’, Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge, Quebrada Baking Company, a spa experience, Starbucks, and Westcott Mercantile Shop. Thank you again for your support and generosity, the faculty and staff are certainly feeling the love!
Globe Columnist to Speak at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration
Renée Graham, Boston Globe columnist and WBUR contributor, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Graham will speak on “Rejecting Normal, Embracing Radical Change: Can we build a democracy that finally lives up to its ideals?” This free event will be held via Zoom on Monday, January 18, 2021, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. All are invited to attend. Click here to register for the Zoom link. This event is co-sponsored by the Belmont Human Rights Commission, Belmont Against Racism, and The Belmont Media Center.