The second graders were reaching great heights on the climbing wall this week!
The Exhausting Effort of Trying to Bend the Future to Our Will
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: February 12, 2021
Maybe it’s the time of year. Mid-February often feels this way in schools. Perhaps it’s the relentlessness of this virus and the frustration that—for all of the medical advances we hear about each day—our lived experience hasn’t changed in the ways we have hoped for. Maybe it’s cabin fever, the piles of snow amplifying that we have been cabin confined since last March. Whatever the reason may be, I find myself now, in conversations with others and in my mind, actively trying to bend the future to our collective will.
In considering the environmental exhaustion we are experiencing—that ‘I-don’t-know-why-but-I’m-spent” feeling—I have concluded its source has to do with the energy we expend trying to control an uncertain future. Increasingly, I hear from parents who are especially tired of the absence of a visible goal line, which, when reached, will bring some semblance of the known experiences we had pre-pandemic.
As someone in the daily habit of digesting the latest vaccine rollout news, who has countless bookmarks dedicated to the coronavirus and tries desperately to reactivate his crystal ball, I empathically offer my shared frustration. If you can, I encourage you and your child to find ways to relax this February break. Of course, I don’t mean relaxing any of the protocols that will continue to keep us safe. I suggest relaxing by giving your minds and hearts a break. For me, finding a relaxing space begins with some degree of acceptance of what we cannot control and resisting the understandable desire to set a finite timeline on the pandemic.
I have learned that the virus doesn’t care all that much about timelines, schedules, calendar years, or my feelings. Thus, the energy we dedicate to trying to overlay our timelines upon it become exercises in frustration more than anything else. I see this break as a chance to reset our expectations of the virus. Think of it as getting a bit more Zen to relieve some of the emotional burden and exhaustion you have been carrying.
My wish for you all this break is that you give yourself one. We all deserve it. When we return, we will be a week further along in our fight against the virus, which is good news indeed.
Have a wonderful break, everyone.
February 15 to February 26
Monday, February 15
School Closed for Presidents’ Day
School Closed for February Vacation Week: February 16 to February 19
Tuesday, February 16
5–6 p.m., Summer Camp: Future Leaders Information Session; Zoom Gathering
Monday, February 22
Testing Day for All Students and Faculty: No School
8:30–10 a.m., Committee on Trustees, Zoom Meeting
Tuesday, February 23
Offsite Learning for All Students
6:30–8 p.m., Black- and Brown-Identified Parent Affinity Group, Zoom Gathering
7–8:15 p.m., Anti-racist Ally Group for White-Identified Parents, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, February 24
Onsite Learning Resumes
7:30 p.m., Whiskey Tasting Event, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, February 25
Winter Athletics Season Ends
8–9:30 a.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
5–6:00 p.m., Summer Camp: Future Leaders Information Session; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Introduction to High School Placement, Zoom Gathering
Friday, February 26
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sports Assembly, Zoom Gathering
9–11 a.m., Development Committee, Zoom Meeting
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Summer Camp: Future Leaders Program Info Sessions
Tuesday, February 16, and Thursday, February 25, both from 5 to 6 p.m.
Join our summer camp team to learn more about applying for the Future Leaders program at Belmont Day. The program offers eighth and ninth graders the opportunity to gain leadership skills, train to work with children, and develop basic job skills all within the exciting and joyful environment that is Belmont Day Summer Camp. Adults and students can register to attend either info session by emailing [email protected]
Preparing for High School Placement
Thursday, February 25 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Seventh grade parents are invited to join Director of High School Placement, Sarah Merrill, Middle School Head Liz Gray, and Head of School Brendan Largay for an introduction to the high school placement process.
The link for this event is available on the Parent Portal.
Lunch & Snack Menu
February 22 to February 26
School Closed for COVID-19 Testing
School Closed: Remote Learning for All Grades
Snack: apples; Baked Lay’s chips
Lunch: cheese ravioli with marinara on the side; penne with marinara on the side; broccoli; crusty rolls; Romano cheese; butter; green salad; apple sauce; milk and water
Snack: bananas; Smartfood
Lunch: teriyaki salmon; pan-fried chicken breast; teriyaki tofu; basmati rice; edamame; Asian coleslaw; fortune cookies; soy sauce; fresh fruit cups; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: dried cranberries; Nutr-Grain bars
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly Covid Testing Update
As you learned last evening by email, we have had a positive case this week that was detected by an individual test. We will resume pooled testing as we return from February break on Monday, February 22. Please see the full schedule for testing below. Wishing you a peaceful and restful break!
Always, if you have any questions, please email me at [email protected].
More masks will be distributed to all students, faculty, and staff at return-to-school testing following February break!
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Post-Break COVID Testing Schedule
CIC Health has expanded its capacity so that all faculty and students can be tested on Monday, February 22. This will allow for all students with a negative result to return to campus on Wednesday, February 24.
Monday, February 22
Testing only; there will be no remote programming offered to accommodate students and faculty getting to campus for tests.
Tuesday, February 23
Remote programming for all students
Wednesday, February 24
All students with a negative test result will be onsite
Testing Schedule By Grade: Monday, February 22
9-9:30 a.m. | staff pools
9:30-10 a.m. | pre-kindergarten
10-10:30 a.m.| kindergarten
10:30-11 a.m. | grade 1
11-11:30 a.m. | grade 2
11:30 a.m.-12 p.m. | grade 3
12-12:30 p.m. | grade 4
12:30-1 p.m. | grade 5
1-1:45 p.m. | grade 6
1:45-2:30 p.m. | grade 7
2:30-3:15 p.m. | grade 8
Travel Return-By Dates
If you are traveling over February break …
Thursday, February 18
In order to be tested on Monday, February 22, and return to onsite learning on Wednesday, February 24, all families and faculty need to return to Massachusetts by this date.
Saturday, February 20
Families and faculty who return by this date will be tested on Wednesday, February 24, and must remain remote until a negative test result is received.
Sunday, February 21
Families and faculty who return by this date will be tested on Friday, February 26, and must remain remote until a negative test result is received.
For the last 20 years, the pre-kindergarten program has benefited from the care and excellence of Alice Henry. It is with equal parts gratitude, sadness, and happiness for her that we announce Alice’s plans for retirement at the end of this year. Alice’s passion for outdoor learning has inspired and shaped our current program that emphasizes outdoor spaces around the school including the woods, the garden, and the early childhood Courtyard. In addition to her work in our pre-k program, including establishing a relationship with the deCordova Museum and developing the corresponding sculpture curriculum, she has been an active member of our teaching community. Alice has served as a Capstone mentor, associate teacher mentor, faculty representative to the board of trustees, and has served on numerous hiring committees including one for the head of school. She has not only taught our youngest learners but she has also taught a graduate course to our associate teachers. She ends this year as a Lenesa Leana Endowment for Innovative and Collaborative Education grant recipient. We will always remember Alice with her backpack on leading a group of pre-kindergartners on a woodland walk full of discoveries and adventures. We wish Alice good luck on her next adventure.
Sunny became an integral part of our early elementary team in the short time she has been here. After two years of teaching second grade, Sunny will be moving out of state with her husband. Sunny successfully implemented Singapore Math in second grade and her skill in assessing and differentiating math instruction has benefited our young mathematicians. Sunny also used her passion for new applications/tools and her tech skills to enhance second graders’ remote learning experience last spring and this December. We will miss Sunny’s positive spirit and her deep dedication to her students and families.
So Many Books Circulating & Authors On the Way!
Despite the Erskine Library not being physically open for browsing, we’ve been getting creative with the help of classroom teachers and teaching assistants to get library books into students’ hands. This has been accomplished through a combination of curated carts in classrooms, younger children and parents working together to place requests in the catalog, and older students making requests independently. Since we’ve turned the page on the calendar to 2021, students have borrowed 1474 books (not counting the 47 current book requests waiting to be filled), bringing us to 4460 check-outs for the year so far. Keep those requests coming! Check out the Erkine Library website for information about how to place holds to be delivered to your student and how to access the catalog. There’s also information there about our ebook and audiobook borrowing platform Sora.
That said, we have a growing waiting list of students eagerly anticipating books that are currently checked out. Please consider checking for any BDS library books over the break that might be around your home. You can also log in to the catalog using the same instructions above to see which books you have out. Students can bring books to return to their classroom or English teacher.
Another exciting development this year is the opportunity for author visits for students across all grade levels. Most recently, second graders met with Suzanne Slade as part of their changemakers unit right after her biography of Gwendolyn Brooks, Exquisite, received a Sibert Honor for informational book and illustrator Cozbi Cabrera won a Coretta Scott King Honor for the pictures. We also got a sneak peek at her new biography about June Almeida, the woman who discovered the first human coronavirus.
After the break, on February 25, grades 1-3 will be meeting Heather Lang, the author of the new book, The Leaf Detective. It’s a biography about pioneering tree canopy scientist Margaret Lowman, and we will also get to meet the subject of the book–Ms. Lowman herself–in our virtual event! If you’d like to purchase a copy of the book to be signed by the author, please purchase from Belmont Books by March 1. Please include in the order comments whether you want the author to sign the book and who her note should be addressed to. We’ll also have copies of the book available in the Erskine Library.
Next up, another author visit with middle school students in April!
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Celebrating Our Eighth Grade Musicians
On Wednesday evening, we held a special celebration of the ensembles program. The event was filled with music and memories as our eighth graders each performed a song and recounted their favorite moments of learning and having fun in their ensembles. The evening was capped off with an inspiring performance and Q&A with alumna Alisa Amador ’10. If you missed the celebration or simply want to watch it again, click the accompanying video.
Students, Faculty Attend Middle School Students of Color Conference
On Saturday, February 6, 14 Belmont Day students from grades 5 to 8 attended the daylong Middle School Students of Color Conference. This annual conference presented by the Association of Independent Schools in New England was held virtually this year and hosted by The Rivers School. The conference was packed with a variety of workshops, affinity group meetings, speakers, and even a chance to dance, play trivia games, and socialize with students from other schools. The keynote speaker was Mykee Fowlin (Dr. Michael Fowlin), a psychologist, performer, and poet.
Belmont Day faculty also participated in the conference. School psychologist Dr. Leesa Mercedes facilitated the Latinx affinity group and middle school Spanish teacher Ana Maria Restrepo chaperoned our students online for the day. The students who attended the conference are fifth graders Olivia Dawson, Sophie Jean, William Li, Ayres Planck, and Kalkidan Shiferaw; sixth graders, Natalie Jean, Sahana Miduturu, and Anurag Mujumdar; seventh graders, Anisah Jordan, Juliana Li, and Matthieu Small; and eighth graders Toby Gauld, Alexander Colangelo, and Henry Monroe.
Reflections on the Conference
Students wrote reflections on the conference. Here are excerpts about their experiences:
Sahana Miduturu, Grade 6: “Some things I really enjoyed about the conference were meeting people and hearing their experiences. I also really enjoyed the social meetup at the end of the conference, which was basically dancing and doing trivia. Oh, and I really enjoyed the performance from Mykee Fowlin. It made me laugh and cry at the same time!”
Matthieu Small, Grade 7: “I really enjoyed the experience of being able to go to the conference, even if it wasn’t in person. I attended the Art of Protest workshop, which I found fun. We learned about how important murals and art can be during protests and even got to make our own work of art that supported a cause. I attempted to make one, it did not turn out well because of my lack of artistic ability. I would recommend attending a conference because you learn about these protests and causes while having so much fun doing it.”
Toby Gauld, Grade 8: “I enjoyed attending the Representation and Identity in Politics session. I am very interested in politics in general, so I thought that this would be a good way to expand my knowledge of how identity affects political views. We discussed current events such as the Capitol riots and the Black Lives Matter movement and how people who participated in these events are represented in the media.”
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Donation Drive for Pine Street Inn Was a Huge Success
“Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”*
How should we measure the impact of the over four thousand five hundred and twenty-three items we contributed to support Pine Street Inn in its crucial effort to provide outreach kits to those challenged by homelessness?
It is not enough to solve the problem of homelessness. But it might be enough to keep some people—people just like you and me—alive, fed, warm, and encouraged during this winter during this pandemic. It might be enough to contribute to some people solving some problems associated with homelessness.
Each of our boats is small, but when we join together, so much is possible.
Thank you again and again for coming together to live our values.
On behalf of the MLK Jr. Observance Committee, thank you for your contributions to this year’s service project to benefit Pine Street Inn.
– Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion
*President John F. Kennedy favored this quote from an Old Breton prayer and used it in his remarks at the dedication of the East Coast Memorial to the Missing at Sea, May 23, 1963. He kept a plaque bearing the quote on his desk in the Oval Office.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston, MA
After School Spotlight: Adam Brewer
We’re back with another awesome after school teacher to tell you more about: seven grade assistant teacher, and veteran after school teacher, Adam Brewer. Mr. Brewer was born in the month of July, so his birthstone is a ruby and his zodiac sign is Cancer. Did you know that Mr. Brewer has flown a plane from takeoff to landing? That sounds really awesome! If you see him, make sure to ask him about that experience. His favorite hobby is traveling, so also ask him about the places he’s been and where he wants to go next. His secret talent is photography. In fact, some of the great after school pictures shared in the Scoop were taken by Mr. Brewer. His favorite BDS value is honesty and he loves hiking in the woods as an activity with students. If Mr. Brewer were to complete a Capstone project it would be about the effects that athletics have on the scholastic and professional growth of students. One of Mr. Brewer’s favorite memories from after school is learning how to use lacrosse sticks in the Downing Gym with our middle schoolers. This past summer, something that brought him joy was being able to play baseball. If he could have lunch with anyone living or dead, it would be Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of hit video games like Super Mario and Legends of Zelda. Have you ever played those video games before? If you have, let Mr. Brewer know!
– Joe Jean-Mary, associate director of auxiliary programs
BDS Quest Corner: Get Lost in the Search
Dates to Remember!
Scavenger Hunts: March 20, April 10, May 1
Community Event and Auction: May 15
Cost: Quest and Fest: $100 per family | Virtual Fest only: $25 per family
Looking to sponsor or donate to the event? Contact Pati Fernández for more information.
We are excited our registration and full website are up and running. Register today and join in on the fun!
This week’s Quest Challenge has two parts. Submit your answer for the following riddle for a chance to win our next prize.
“Duck, duck goose! No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to let us loose! Who are we and where are we located?”
If you accept this next challenge you can help move your class toward a win! Sign your family up to participate in BDS Quest before the end of February break (February 21.) The grade with the most people signed up by then will win a prize for the whole grade!
Email Pati Fernández with your questions and riddle responses.
And congratulations to last week’s winner, Dianne Wheeler, who will receive a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.
Reminder: Get Involved
ASSOCIATE TEACHER PROGRAM
Alumni Offer Insights On Teacher Job Search
- Erin Pak ATP ’20 who teaches fourth grade in the Lexington Public Schools at the Maria Hastings School
- Emily Davis ATP ’19 who teaches second grade at Milton Academy
- Sophie Johnson ATP ’19 who teaches fifth and sixth grades at Alexandria Country Day School
- Tatiana Cochis ATP ’20 who teaches kindergarten in the Concord Public Schools at the Willard School
All 2021 Programs Now Open for Registration
We have opened all remaining summer program options for registration including the Swim & Tennis Association, Specialty Camps, and the Future Leaders programs. Also, we still have spots available in our general camp sessions! Join us for a fun and safe summer 2021 whether you are a camper, or a family that needs a place to swim and play. If you have any questions on how COVID protocols will operate this summer, please reach out to [email protected].
Fourth Graders Describe Themselves In French
The fourth grade French intensive was “All About Me!” Students started the six-week intensive by creating a self-portrait using the media of their choice—sculpture, drawing, collage, etc. They created a group song, mastering building sentences with different sentence starters and finishers. They played “Guess Who?” in partners. They polished their inferencing and listening skills when watching videos of native speakers describing themselves or their food likes. Lastly, fourth graders learned how to ask for vocabulary in French; “Comment dit-on?” and built a class list of their favorite activities. In the process, students learned how to describe their physical and personality traits, and how to describe their preferences in foods, drinks, sports, and activities. They used three types of sentence starters: “je suis”, I am, “j’ai”, I have, “j’aime”, I like. To conclude the intensive, students created a poster with their self-portrait and information in French and presented their posters to their classmates.
– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher
Kindergartners Build Up Their Vocabularies
Kindergarteners have been using their knowledge of the alphabet to encode and decode CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. They have been exploring CVC words, such as cat or mop, in a variety of contexts: during academic centers, throughout Fundations lessons, and even during morning meeting. CVC words are all around us! A beloved game for the kindergarteners involves reading a CVC word that is written down, then drawing a picture to represent the word. Take a look at their drawings to see if you can figure out the CVC word the kindergarteners are depicting!
– Missy Hartvigsen and Betty Pryor, kindergarten teachers
Athletics Update: Hannum Advisory Brings Intensity
Without interscholastic teams or consistent coaching, it has been difficult to establish a team culture in athletics this winter. Athletes move from activity to activity on a daily basis with their advisory peers, and occasionally, effort and focus can waver. For the Hannum Advisory, however, it’s a different story. This group of eighth grade athletes has brought its very best day-in and day-out all winter long. Whether sledding outside, spinning in the Downing, or crushing a cross-fit workout in the Barn, this group has set the bar in terms of excellence in athletics.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
Arts Update: Second Grade Creates Bowls and Lanterns
Second grade is in the midst of an art intensive with Mr. Smith. With the woodworking studio unavailable this school year, hands-on lessons take place at student’s desks and where they learn design and building skills and gain familiarity with materials. Currently, the class is using popsicle sticks and shapes—triangles, squares, and hexagons—to create bowls and lanterns. Students started with a form outline on paper to guide the beginning of the build and then tapered and even twisted the forms to a closing point.
– William Smith, woodworking teacher
Video Highlights: This Week in Physical Education
The snowy days are a perfect way to get our students out and active. Every class enjoyed time on the sledding hill—getting in many hill sprints, building jumps, paving trails, and having fun. The action inside the gyms was just as dynamic. Be sure to check out the short video recap to see our students in action!
– Abbey Nyland, physical education teacher
Sixth Grade Math Bakes Up a Delicious Lesson
This week in sixth grade math, students focused on two key mathematical skills: learning how to use estimation to gauge the accuracy of an answer and understanding when to use fractional division and multiplication.
To practice these skills, students were asked to help me figure out how to complete the dinner I was making. For example, if the recipe calls for two tablespoons of lime juice, but the only clean scoop available is 1/3 of a tablespoon (a teaspoon), how many 1/3 scoops do I need to use? This problem can be set up using fractional division to ask how many groups of 1/3 are in two wholes: (2/1) ÷ (1/3) = ?
Later, students were asked to help with a bread recipe. If a baker has five cups of flour and has used 3/4 of it, how much flour has been used? Here we can use fractional multiplication to show 3/4 of 5 cups: (3/4) * (5/1) = ?
Hungry for the answer? Ask a sixth grader!
– Matthew Segil, grade 6 math teacher
Eighth Graders in Latin Study Anatomy
Students in eighth grade Latin have recently started a unit focused on ancient medicine, science, and even some magic. As part of the introduction to the unit, students were presented with a list of Latin anatomical terms and tasked with creating and labeling a body and including an English derivative for each of the parts of their image. Students’ creativity, artistic talents, and flair for the dramatic were on display as they enjoyed both the artistic and linguistic activity of the class. Their cerebral muscles were working hard as they discovered the etymological connection between words like venter (stomach) and ventriloquist, pes (foot) and pedestrian, and cor (heart) and cordial. These words and other topics such as medical tools, math, and science will continue to shape our study of this chapter as we learn about ancient methods of healing and science.
– Nicole Buck, Latin teacher
Parents’ Association News
The next book club selection is Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, March 10 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.
Lost & Found
Have you noticed any missing gear during this snowy winter? There are many student items that have been left on campus. If you are missing an item, please complete this form. We will search the Lost & Found bins for the item and it will either be returned to your student or we will be in touch to let you know that we haven’t found it. If it isn’t found at this time, it will stay on the list in case it reappears at a later date.
We are looking for volunteers to donate centerpieces for the cohort rooms for late February and March. 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 Ms. Sprung 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.
We are excited to welcome the next faculty baby this spring! Please help us welcome first grade teaching assistant Laura Bouchard’s baby with a donation of your favorite book. Books may be dropped off from Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 12 during drop-off or pick-up. There will be collection bins at the front circle and the Barn. Thank you!
Committee Volunteers Needs for 2021-22
We are looking for volunteers to oversee the many fabulous roles and committees such as Family Fun Event, Book Fair, Friendraiser Committee, and 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 Veracross. 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].
BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Belmont Against Racism Offers Schedule of Programs
It’s Black History Month and there are so many excellent events around the Boston area during the days ahead. Belmont Against Racism offers a thorough list of great options for different ages and interests. From movies and music to virtual museum tours and author discussions. Click here to see the list of great events!