Second graders created terrariums this week as part of their study of the water cycle in nature.
Thanksgiving in All Its Many Forms
Minna Ham, Lower School Head
Post Date: December 3, 2021
What a difference a year makes. Last November, the world was still learning to function while in a pandemic. Although we feared what would happen with health protocols, most were very safe, and many families had an altered Thanksgiving dinner at home with just their immediate families.
With vaccinations for adults and older children, boosters, and first shots for younger children, this November holiday seemed to bring hope. I have heard from faculty members and students about the diverse ways the holiday was observed in a world still grappling with the pandemic, and we are all looking forward to a brighter future.
As a child of Korean immigrants, a Thanksgiving meal represented a quintessential American experience. In my mind, this was a large dining table full of extended family with a male patriarch at the head carving a massive, glistening turkey. The table was full of side dishes of stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and an assortment of other foods only seen on this one Thursday in November. Afterward, an array of pies were presented with a choice of pecan, pumpkin, apple along with ice cream and heaps of whipped cream. At least that was the image I had.
Even though most meals my parents cooked were Korean, my mom loved providing an “American Thanksgiving.” She made a delicious stuffing from a recipe borrowed from her Austrian sister-in-law. Although we had canned cranberry sauce, the other side dishes on the table were uniquely Korean American. Like other traditional Korean meals, we had a table of small side dishes called banchan that sat side-by-side with our American turkey. So even though I had a serving of turkey and a slice of cranberry sauce, I also had a helping of white rice with kimchi. We didn’t pass platters of food around the table. Instead, we used our chopsticks to grab the banchan. My childhood Thanksgiving didn’t quite live up to the tableau in my imagination, but it lingers in my memory. Every fall, I still crave eating salty Italian sausage stuffing with sticky white rice.
This Thanksgiving may have been the most unique Thanksgiving of my life. My children all spent this holiday with their alternate parents and my husband and I decided not to travel to New York to visit my parents since they are in poor health. Instead, we drove to New Hampshire and spent the holiday with some of his relatives. This motley crew represented a family gathering that was uniquely representative of the various constructions of family.
The gathering consisted of only adults; perhaps the youngest was 18. As are the times we’re living in, we all reported our vaccination status and took a rapid test before arriving. My husband and I came with his half-sister. We went to the house of my husband’s cousin and her new partner. There to celebrate were her two sons and one of his daughters. Also in attendance were my husband’s uncle and his wife, along with his ex-wife, the mother to the hostess. We had roasted turkey, stuffing, and a vegetarian entree served buffet style. Everyone ate randomly and disparately—some sitting, some standing. After everyone ate (and ate some more!), we went outside and sat around a campfire while my husband’s uncle and his ex-wife told stories of their married youth in a small New Hampshire town. We smiled and laughed in the twinkling light of the fire as we got lost in the stories of model-T’s and a ’53 Chevy. I couldn’t help but wonder at the ability of family to love and accept one another as we enjoyed each other’s company, even if it was unexpected. Sometimes family chooses itself, even if convention would say otherwise, and we are all better off for that.
My whole life I tried to recreate that tableau in my mind, but what I’ve learned is it only exists in a painting, and my real life doesn’t have to reflect it as much as I might have thought. It is time we reimagine that Norman Rockwell painting of Thanksgiving, and we allow our children’s experience to color a new tableau of the perfect feast for family and friends.
Whether you scrapped the holiday meal for a hot pot or rented an AirBnB in Maine so your whole family could stay in one house, every Thanksgiving is unique and this year accentuated the importance of being thankful for family, no matter who that consists of and how or where you gather.
December 7 to January 2
Tuesday, December 7
7–8 p.m., Admissions: Parent Perspectives with the Belmont Day Community, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, December 8
8:15 a.m., Friendraiser Walk & Talk, Belmont Day School
3:30 p.m., Fencing at BB&N; Wrestling vs LCA
6:30–7:30 p.m., Parent Learning Forum: Singapore Math, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, December 9
9 a.m., Parent Learning Forum: Supporting Your Child in High-intensity Moments, Dr. Julia Martin Burch, Zoom Gathering
12 p.m., Enrichment Committee, Zoom Gathering
3:30 p.m., Girls’ Varsity Basketball at Park; Boys’ Varsity Basketball vs Park
Friday, December 10
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association Meeting, Zoom Gathering
8:50–9:35 a.m., Cross-graded Partners, Belmont Day School
Monday, December 13
6:30 p.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
7:30 p.m., Parent Book Club, Zoom Gathering
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
11:15 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
For all Zoom meetings, gatherings, and presentations, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Parent Learning Forums
RESCHEDULED: Singapore Math
Wednesday, December 8, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
All lower school parents are invited to learn more about Singapore Math, the basis of our lower school’s math curriculum, during a presentation by math consultant Kevin Mahoney.
Bringing Down the Temperature: Supporting Your Child in High Intensity Moments
Thursday, December 9, 9:00 a.m.
We are very pleased to welcome Dr. Julia Martin Burch, a clinical psychologist with the McLean School Consult Service, for a 90-minute, interactive webinar focused on concrete tools and tips for supporting children (and parents!) during difficult emotional moments.
Both learning forums will be held online via Zoom. Links for both will be available on the Parent Portal.
Parent Social Identity Discussion Groups
Black/African American-identified or Hispanic/Latino/Latinx-identified
Thursday, December 9, 7-8 p.m.
Please RSVP to Sharra Owens-Schwartz P ’25, chair of the board of trustees DEI committee, at email@example.com
Asian/Asian American Parent Social Identity Discussion Group
Thursday, December 9, 7-8 p.m.
Please RSVP to Lower School Head Minna Ham at firstname.lastname@example.org
Links for both discussion groups are available on the Parent Portal.
December Friendraiser Walks
Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m.
It’s getting chilly out there, but what better way to warm up than a brisk walk in the woods with friends new and old! 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 6 to December 10
Snack: apples: Smartfood
Lunch: pasta and marinara on the side; steamed cauliflower; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; crusty rolls; Romano cheese; butter; pineapple; milk and water
Snack: bananas; banana chocolate chip oatmeal rounds
Lunch: chicken tenders; veggie nuggets; sweet and sour sauce; sunshine bean blend; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; ketchup; chips; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: clementines; Cheez-Its
Lunch: herb-roasted salmon; herb-roasted chicken; steamed broccoli; basmati rice; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; applesauce; milk and water
Snack: apple slices; Lay’s potato chips
Lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches; tomato alphabet soup; Sunbutter and jelly sandwiches; chocolate chip cookies; apple slices; milk, chocolate milk, and water
Snack: fruit cup; tortilla rounds
A Message from the Head
Our world continues to provide challenging news from which we have much to process and learn as a nation and a school community. Notably, conversations about the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, the guilty verdicts in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, the fines in response to violence in Charlottesville in 2017, and the American judicial system took place around the dining room tables of many over Thanksgiving weekend.
As we reconcile continued stories of racist violence and its aftermath in the headlines, our responsibility as an institution is to provide our students with the opportunity to debrief these moments with trusted adults in the community, as some did this week in seventh grade social studies, and to remind everyone that Belmont Day is a school committed to honoring differences and naming and addressing how the world’s injustices impact each of us.
Further, we have created a DEI faculty committee dedicated to supporting students and helping to imagine what work the next director of DEI—in partnership with the board of trustees, faculty, and families—will be tasked with. Families will be engaged in that hiring process which will begin early in the new calendar year.
– Brendan Largay, head of school
The following resources are intended to support you and your children and to help guide any discussions you may have at home.
We are grateful to the Gordon School for generously sharing these resources with us.
Tips for How to Talk to Kids About Racism and Social Justice (Save the Children)
5 Ways to Help Kids Deal with Disturbing News (Common Sense Media)
How Young People Perceive and Are Impacted by the News (Common Sense Media)
Talking to Children about Racial Bias (American Association of Pediatrics)
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
Hooray! We’re back from Thanksgiving and we are very thankful to report that this week’s testing returned with zero positives—all 48 of our 48 pools returned negative results. Great work coming out of the break! We look forward to more good news as we finalize vaccinations for our 5- to 11-year-old students. We do not have a chart to share this week but will update and publish it again in next week’s Scoop.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Artwork by Quincy Treisman ’23
A Song for the Season
One of the highlights of last week’s Thanksgiving Assembly was a beautiful performance of “Autumn” from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Under the direction of Meghan Carye ’91, orchestra members rehearsed and recorded a video performance of the piece. The Four Seasons is one of the earliest examples of tone painting and is a staple of the orchestral repertoire. This energetic movement depicts a hunt on a crisp fall morning and is full of terraced dynamics, hooked bowings, and dotted rhythms. Performing were violinists Zach Cash, Emily Chen, Eidan Kulman-Tamanaha, Nicky Mattox, Nora O’Brien, Grace Sullivan, Harper Treisman, Quincy Treisman, and Jovana Zivanovic; cellists Alden Largay, Bella Lightbody, Clara Min, and Sunday Mitzenmacher, and bassist Theo Kelman. Click the video to watch and listen to the performance.
Adam Brewer, most recently an after school teacher, moved on from BDS earlier this fall. Adam served in a variety of positions at BDS over the past five years. He is pursuing a degree at a local institution and continues his work in the fencing world. We wish him the best of luck in those endeavors.
Mike Faretra, who has been making the commute from Franklin to Belmont every day, has decided to start his own shop much closer to home. Mike will be with us until winter break and will start his next chapter in the new year. We are grateful to him for his time at BDS and wish him well.
Erik Smith, our resident Veracross expert, has, in fact, been scooped up by the folks at Veracross for his expertise and excellence. Erik will begin working with Veracross on December 13 and his last day at BDS will be Friday, December 10. Erik successfully oversaw the school’s transition to the new student information system and has been an invaluable support to so many throughout his work.
Emina Kadric joins Belmont Day as an admissions associate. As the school continues to experience record-breaking admissions interest that is outpacing last year’s exceptional year, Emina will provide administrative support for the admissions office. Welcome, Emina!
Alicia Siekman ’13 joins Belmont Day as alumni coordinator. Alicia will help on a part-time basis with alumni outreach and event planning. Welcome back, Alicia!
‘Dream Street’ Author and Illustrator Visit Lower School
Today the lower school participated in a virtual multi-school event with author Tricia Elam Walker and illustrator/artist Ekua Holmes to share their new picture book, Dream Street, a tribute to the Roxbury neighborhood where these two cousins grew up, went to school, and nurtured their dreams.
As a child growing up in Roxbury, Ekua Holmes dreamed of becoming an artist. Tricia Elam Walker dreamed of becoming a writer. They want students to know “that dreams do come true (with lots of hard work along the way)!” And they want students to know that there are people in their communities who can support them in pursuing their dreams.
Ekua Holmes is currently having an exhibit of her children’s book illustrations at the Museum of Fine Arts through January 23. Click here to learn more about the exhibit at the MFA. Scroll down on that page to watch a wonderful six-minute video of Ekua Holmes talking about her work and the people who encouraged her to be an artist. And click here to learn more about acclaimed author Tricia Elam Walker.
The virtual author visit was organized by Belmont Books in partnership with Roxbury’s Frugal Bookstore. You can order the book online or visit in person if you’d like to purchase a copy of Dream Street. And please see information on a book donation program in the “Beyond BDS” section below. We hope this visit with Tricia Elam Walker and artist Ekua Holmes will inspire students to believe in their own dreams and to meet special people and explore special places in our communities.
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Understanding Diversity and Media
“The media we consume plays a critical role in shaping how we understand and make sense of ourselves, our identities, and the world around us. It can perpetuate stereotypes and bias, exacerbating injustice and inequities. But it also presents an opportunity to reduce bias, end division, and be a gateway to a more inclusive future.” – CommonMedia
Check out CommonMedia’s research on The Inclusion Imperative: Why Media Representation Matters for Kids’ Ethnic-Racial Development.
– Dolly Ryan, director of technology
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM
Meet the Team: Sam Staples
Meet our fourth grade after school teacher, Sam Staples. Sam joined the BDS community this past summer as a camp head counselor. Sam brings a wealth of experience to our fourth grade students from his previous work as an outdoor environmental educator, skiing instructor, and English as a second language teacher. In his free time, Sam likes to play ultimate and he plays drums in a band with his dad called Labor and Vain. How cool is that!?
Eighth Grade Latin Students Translate a Bear of a Tale
This week, eighth grade Latin students gathered in a circle to begin the activity of translating a story together with only minimal teacher guidance along the way. They teamed up to discuss and translate a story called ‘rex spectaculum dat’ (The King Puts on a Show). This oddly funny tale involving a bear and a party is from their textbook and is set at Fishbourne Palace in Roman Britain around 80CE. The story, although fictional, provides students with examples through both fictional and historical characters to better understand various features of life in the ancient world. At this level of Latin, eighth graders are becoming familiar with a variety of sentence structures, verb tenses, vocabulary words, and are using all of their accumulated knowledge to work on independently sustaining longer reading passages.
– Nicole Buck, middle school Latin teacher
Seventh Grade Studies the American Food System
Students in seventh grade social studies have concluded their study of the American food system by presenting their final projects. Tasked with conducting an independent research project on their preferred topic pertaining to the food system, seventh graders chose different mediums to present their findings. Topics ranged from “Food Insecurity and Its Impact on Children” to “Save the Bees” and formats ranged from paintings to skits.
– Charlie Baird, grade 7 social studies teacher
Arts Update: Fourth Graders Learn about Landscape Painting
In art class, fourth graders created tempera landscape paintings. After working on color mixing using only the primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—students learned about foreground, middle ground, and background to create a composition for their painting. Each student worked on a design for a landscape, cityscape, or seascape painting. Using 12-by-18-inch paper, they divided their paper into three sections and added a different base coat color in each part of the painting. As a final step, students layered colors of paint and then added textures and details with small brushes to define each part of their painting, working from the detailed foreground to the more general background.
– Kathy Jo Solomon, visual arts teacher
First Graders Wrap Up Unit on Thankfulness
This week, my first graders finished our thankfulness project and book. Students began the thankfulness project by brainstorming ideas of what they are thankful for. Once they generated their personal lists, they were able to begin writing what they are thankful for and why. First graders focused on writing complete and well-organized sentences, complemented by a picture of what they are thankful for. All the work was combined to create our class Thankfulness Book, and each student brought a copy home. Our work was complemented by an author visit from Elaine Vickers and the read-aloud of her book Thankful, as well as the lower school gratitude paper chain project.
– Geoffrey Fox, first grade teacher
Sixth Grade Receives Many Messages about the Origins of Religions
Maybe you remember that game where someone looks at a drawing and tries to get others who cannot see it to copy it accurately, just by describing it to them. What if the image you were trying to convey was “the Truth” about the universe, and as a messenger, you were trying to convey it to your people without breaking the cultural rules? What if you were trying your best to duplicate the image that the messenger was trying to describe to you, but it didn’t make sense? This week sixth graders used this experience to explore many historical issues and experiences common to world religions.
In each class, “messengers” from four different “cultural groups” carried their descriptions back to their people. We then discussed several questions. Why did almost all of us break the previous rules of our culture to get the drawings right? Why were there big differences in the drawings that we made—not just between the four groups who each heard different messengers, but even among those of us who listened to the same messages from the same messenger? What should we do if the messenger tells us to do something we can’t do—like make a pink square when no one in our group has a pink crayon? Is it enough if we try our best? If we mess up, can we start over? How do we decide whether or not we did well—is it enough to include the major elements of the picture? Of course, we were playing with a very silly drawing—but if we blew this experience up a billion times and looked again at what happened in the wake of inspired or enlightened messages like those of Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed—what would we find?
– Dean Spencer, grade 6 social studies teacher
PE Update: The Power of the Humble Jump Rope
Jump ropes are one of our simplest and yet most versatile pieces of equipment in our magical physical education closet. The functionality is all in the name: 1) it’s a rope; 2) you jump over it. But oh, how varied are the ways we learn to do just that!
For starters, we like to inspire our jumpers with a video of 26-time world-champion Vivien Vajda of Brazil. This video of Vivien has it all: epic moves, incredible scenery, and, most importantly, strong messaging. Vivien mentions picking up the sport at age 10 (so the sky is the limit for our jumpers!), the importance of making mistakes and facing doubt, and the joy inherent in being active. Then we tell our students to go pick up a rope and attempt one of the triple backflips Vivien does.
Just kidding! To get to Vivien’s level, we must work on our fundamental skills. So we practice jumping: single bounce, double bounce, backward, ski jumps, heel-to-toe, spin jumps, you name it, we are doing it. Next, we work on turning the rope and timing our jumps. Then, depending on grade level, we might do all manner of activities to practice our skills—jumping over the “electric rope” that a teacher is swinging in the lower grades, to group jumping, and even rope routines in the older grades. Best of all, the jump rope is an easily transportable piece of equipment, so you can practice at school, at home, or at the playground. It’s no wonder some of the world’s best athletes train with jump ropes. And sometimes they wear Blue and Gold.
– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher
From Garden to Table in Pre-kindergarten
Our pre-kindergartners had an amazing opportunity to see where our food comes from and what it takes to prepare it for eating. It began a few weeks ago when we dug our potatoes out of the BDS garden. The students had a great time getting messy and discovering the buried treasure of the potatoes. We filled two big buckets with our bounty. This was a fun adventure, but that was only the beginning. Once we got the potatoes to the classroom we counted, sorted, and cleaned them. We discussed how some were big and some were small and noticed all the different colors. The potatoes were given to Chef Lightbody so the kitchen team could prepare wonderful meals for BDS. The highlight of this experience was having Chef Lightbody and Chef Hucko bring in roasted potatoes for all of us to sample. Everyone tried the potatoes and most of them asked for second, third, and fourth helpings! We cannot wait to plant the potatoes in the spring for next year’s pre-k class!
– Sharon Gillespy and Nicole Siverls, pre-kindergarten teachers
On the kitchen end, after we received the potatoes from the pre-kindergartners, and had planned a date to later visit the classroom, we decided how we would use them in the meals. The first time we used the potatoes, Chef Hucko made a traditional stew for the faculty. We then used them when we had our own BDS Thanksgiving celebration meal. We roasted them with salt, pepper, olive oil, and some herbs. Across all grades, students enjoyed these potatoes very much and were very thankful to the pre-kindergartners for their work harvesting them. Finally, we kept a few potatoes so that we could visit pre-kindergarten with something delicious. Last Friday, Chef Hucko cut the potatoes into bite-size pieces, tossed them in some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roasted them in the oven. The potatoes got crispy just like french fries. When we visited, we explained to the class how we had cooked the potatoes and answered questions. The cooked potatoes were a real hit!
– Tara Lightbody, chef and kitchen manager
Athletics Update: Wrestling Program Returns in Force
After a year off, the Belmont Day wrestling program returns this winter with a record number of participants. Fifteen athletes will take to the mat for the Blue & Gold under the direction of first-year head coach, Andrew Bolte. An alumnus of The Fessenden School and Brooks School, Coach Bolte has an impressive wrestling pedigree and is excited to share his expertise with our athletes. With only three returning wrestlers from two years ago—eighth graders Nikos Axiotis, Alex Foley, and Matthieu Small— it will be a steep learning curve for the grapplers this winter and a crash course in discipline, determination, and grit.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
Parents’ Association News
The parents’ association would like to express our gratitude to the entire parent community. Every family supports our efforts to enhance the school experience for our children by supporting one another and the faculty. Whether you volunteered for an event, purchased pumpkins and bulbs, supported another fantastic virtual book fair, or helped shelve books in the Erskine Library, all contributions from our families make us stronger. Thank you!
As we go into the holiday giving season the PA is organizing efforts to express our gratitude to the faculty at BDS. Each grade is organizing a group holiday card or small gift for the teachers on behalf of the entire class. If you have any questions, please reach out to your grade parents. You can still submit a note of appreciation for the faculty using this form. We will continue to update the bulletin board as we get new submissions.
The PA is also collecting donations from all parents who would like to contribute money toward a fund for us to purchase gift cards for faculty. The faculty will be able to choose from several different local vendors. We did this last year and it was very appreciated! You can submit your donation using this link.
Mark the date and start reading! 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 as soon as possible 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.
Mark your calendar for the next PA meeting on Friday, December 10 at 8:30 a.m. via Zoom. The link for the meeting will be on the Parent Portal.
LOST & FOUND
Missing some winter gear already? The items in the Lost and Found will be outside for browsing and claiming next Friday, December 10 from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. in front of the PAC. 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@example.com.
The enrichment committee will meet on Thursday, December 9 at 12 pm via Zoom. New members and ideas are welcome! Access the link via the Parent Portal and contact committee chairs, Dan Cantor at firstname.lastname@example.org and Lia Meisinger at email@example.com with questions.
Donate Dream Street to Boston Public Schools
Related to today’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!
Natural Wreath-making at Waltham Fields
TOMORROW! Saturday, December 4, from 1 to 3 p.m.
The Waltham Fields Community Farm at 240 Beaver Street in Waltham will host an afternoon on the farm to learn wreath-making. Come sip hot chocolate and warm herb teas, while learning to weave, twist and tie natural farm items like pinecones, holly, and branches of evergreen into a festive delight for your home celebrations this holiday season.
Using natural wreath forms, participants will design and create their own unique wreath to display at home. Guest Instructor, Jessica S. Herwick, an interdisciplinary artist and WFCF Director of Education, will share the vast history of wreaths across cultures, share cool facts about the natural materials collected from the farm, and assist participants in making a unique design incorporating the gifts nature provides to bring joy during the dark months of winter. Click here for information and registration.