Our middle school athletes were back at it this week!
The Lessons I’m Carrying Into 2021
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: January 15, 2021
There is a tradition that carries with it a delightful bit of mysterious folklore in our sixth grade at the turn of each year. Since arriving at Belmont Day fourteen years ago, sixth grade teachers Dean Spencer and Kaleen Moriarty encourage their students to think about the things from the past year that they would like to leave in the past and to then symbolically move on from them. The practice involves students writing their memories down on small pieces of paper, and then, in a highly controlled and entirely safe manner, they build a small bonfire into which they throw those papers. The result is a clean slate for the new year and a reminder that not everything ended up in the fire—there are some lessons, ideas, friendships, new interests, and moments to be carried forward into the new year.
Folks may well be concerned about the size of this year’s bonfire as there is so much from which we’d like to move on. However, even as I have my fair share of pieces of paper ready for ignition, I believe that it is often the years that are the most disruptive, the most frustrating, infuriating, or sad that carry with them the most salient lessons.
So what then will be spared the bonfire? What moments might I hold onto with the hopeful confidence that the new year has to be better than its predecessor? Here are three lessons I am eager to take from 2020 and apply to 2021:
Innovation never rests, and to see the way the world responded to the pandemic has likely changed the way we think about the pace and process of innovation forever. The development, authorization, and distribution of vaccines worldwide is more than just a great emotional and psychological relief; it is a marvel. The pace of that particular innovation across so many different domains—medicine, science, supply chains, and distribution strategies—speaks to the power of urgency as a critical element of the innovative process. While we may not be designing vaccines in our IMPACT lab (at least, not yet!), 2020 showcased the extraordinary power of innovation.
Heroism has long been the stuff of Marvel superheroes and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In 2020, our definition of heroism came down to earth. Heroism, we learned, lives in character, not in accomplishment. I know I frequently turn back to our core values, but have you ever seen them more visibly or universally displayed than in the past ten months by so many of the everyday folks with whom we interact?
2020 reminded us of the power and importance of simplicity. Each in our own way, we have yearned for what was missed—the birthday party, night out at a restaurant, or live performance—yet we gained something essential: the chance to reconnect with those closest to us. Family dinners, game nights, and even holiday Zoom gatherings provided simple joys and reassurance that there is hope in connection.
Rest assured, I am most eager to bid 2020 adieu. Truly, my pockets are full of pieces of paper ready for a bonfire. May there never be another year like it. Yet, given all that 2020 has taken from us, I still encourage you to see if there is a little something for you to carry along as we welcome a brand new year. Happy New Year, Belmont Day! Here’s to an inspiring 2021!
January 18 to January 27
Monday, January 18
School Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Tuesday, January 19
5:30–7 p.m., Diversity Committee; Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, January 20
9:30 a.m., Auction Meet and Greet & Info Session, Zoom Gathering
Friday, January 22
Middle School Interim Grades Released
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly; Zoom Gathering
9–11 a.m., Development Committee: Zoom Meeting
Monday, January 25
8:30–10 a.m., Committee on Trustees, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, January 27
6–7 p.m., Parent Conversations: Self-care, Self-reflection, Session I, Zoom Gathering
7:30–8:30 p.m., Parent Conversations: Self-care, Self-reflection, Session II, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Family Film Festival Starts Today!
Love movies? Looking for something special to do during these chilly winter weekends? Then check out Belmont World Film’s Family Festival, Virtual Edition, from January 15 to 24!
Belmont Day has been a longtime sponsor of this annual festival that provides children ages 3 to 12 and their families the opportunity to see some of the world’s most remarkable current films for children. There are also multiple workshops, including:
- Junior Film Critics Workshop with Joyce Kulhawik and Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr: January 16 & 17
- Learn to Model Gromit or Shaun the Sheep with Aardman Animation’s Senior Model Maker: January 23 (three sessions available)
Click here for a full schedule and ticket information.
Save-The-Date! Virtual Ensembles Celebration
Wednesday, February 10 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Please join us for our annual celebration of the talented musicians and singers who participate in the ensembles program. We promise an evening of great music and highlights of our accomplished young musicians.
The link for this event will the available on the Parent Portal.
Lunch & Snack Menu
January 18 to January 22
School Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Snack: apples; Cheez-Its
Lunch: penne with marinara; plain penne; edamame; Romano cheese; crusty rolls; butter; green salad; Mandarin orange cups; milk and water
Snack: bananas; chocolate chip muffins
Lunch: turkey subs; cheese subs; Sunbutter and jam sandwiches; tomato soup; pickles; tortilla chips; green salad; fresh cut fruit; milk and water
Snack: fruit; Pita Chips; animal crackers
Lunch: pizza; breadsticks with marinara; carrot sticks with ranch dressing; Caesar salad with dressing; apple slices; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: applesauce; Baked Lays chips
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Covid Testing Update
What great news—since we returned to campus, we have not had a single positive COVID test to date! We are getting used to twice-a-week testing for all students, faculty, and staff. For these two weeks, all testing has been individual PCR tests; next week we begin pooled testing.
Some things to note:
- Pooled testing uses a different database and software. All results will come directly to the school; families and faculty will not be notified of individual results. As soon as all results are in, an email communication will be sent out about negative results. If there is a positive test in a pool, that cohort will be personally notified by our school nurses and then the school community will be notified as has been our protocol. Once pooled testing begins, there will also be a weekly dashboard of results here in the Scoop.
- If there is a positive result in a pool, all members of that pool will be tested individually through drive-up testing on the next testing day (Monday, Wednesday, or Friday). The members will each need to isolate pending those results. Our nurses can walk anyone through what this means if you have questions. Any individual tests will go through Labpass and will be available to you if you have a Labpass account.
- Drive-up testing will still be available on testing days (M-W-F) for students who are absent due to being symptomatic.
- We aim to have each pool tested twice a week. If school is closed on a testing day (for example, Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 18) pools scheduled to test that day will only test once that week. Unfortunately, our testing partners are not able to accommodate make-up testing days.
If you have questions, please reach out to me at email@example.com
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Flu Immunization Update
Thank you so much to all of you who worked so diligently to get your students immunized before December 31, 2020. Just as the end of the year approached, the state moved the deadline to February 28. 2021. If you have not yet immunized your student for flu, you will be hearing from the school nurses in the coming days. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Registration Opens Soon for February
We are offering limited programming for the month of February for students in pre-kindergarten and grades two, four, and five, and a Friday-only program for middle school students. Please reach out directly to Joe Jean-Mary, associate director of auxiliary programs, and Blair Fross, director of after school and enrichment programs, regarding enrollment. Registration for this period begins on Tuesday, January 19, and closes Friday, January 29.
SUMMER CAMP NEWS
New Director Hired
We’re pleased to welcome Zach d’Arbeloff as the new director of summer programs. Prior to joining the Belmont Day team, Zach was most recently the executive director of Mass Audubon’s Blue Hills Trailside Museum and before that the assistant director of Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary. He had been with Mass Audubon since 2009. Since 2017, Zach has also been a member of the American Camp Association Accreditation team and on the ACA’s Planning Board. Zach brings a wealth of knowledge regarding outdoor and environmental education and has a clear vision for how to maintain the excellence that has defined Belmont Day Summer Camp for over 60 years and broaden our already rich programming. Zach attended St. Lawrence University where he earned a bachelor of arts in English and creative writing. Zach also has a background in athletics, as a player, manager, and coach. Please join us in welcoming Zach to the BDS family.
A Message From Zach d'Arbeloff
Dear Belmont Day Families,
I am very excited to join the Belmont Day team as the new director of summer programs. I come from a long history of working at environmental education summer camps for Mass Audubon—at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln and Blue Hills in Milton.
For me, summer camp is one of the most special social spaces where staff and campers from all walks of life can come together and truly be themselves. Camp is a vital social-emotional learning space and should be a place where we are free to be who we want and to follow our passions.
What I am most thrilled about in joining Belmont Day is the passionate community surrounding the summer session and the long history and traditions of summer fun that I now get to be a part of. Camp is a joint effort between staff, campers, and families, and together we will continue to make Belmont Day Summer Session a place where children find a place of their own that feels like home.
We’re very excited that after not operating during the summer of 2020, we plan to be open for a full season this summer. Registration for our general sessions is currently open, and you can go to our website to register. There you will find information about our summer safety protocols. Registration for specialty camps will open in the next month or so as we solidify the schedule.
If you have any questions about our camp programs moving forward, feel free to reach out to me. I look forward to meeting many of you and continuing the awesome summer traditions at Belmont Day School.
– Zach d’Arbeloff, director of summer programs
Registration Open for Summer 2021
Registration is open for our core summer programs which are the general camp sessions running from June 28 to August 20 as well as sports camps and the Journeys program. Click here to view camp registration options for children in pre-kindergarten to kindergarten (Rambler Group); grades 1 to 3 (Voyager Group); and grades 4 to 7 (Pioneer Group/Journeys). The details on pre-camp and post-camp sessions as well as specialty programs are still being determined and will be communicated as soon as plans are finalized.
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
We are excited to get our registration and full website up and running next week. Please be on the lookout for an Evite with more details!
Meet and Greet & Info Session
Wednesday, January 20 at 9:30 a.m.
Want to learn more about BDS Quest and all ways you can help make this effort a huge success? Join us for a virtual meet and greet and see how to get involved as a parent volunteer. Zoom link for this event will be posted on the Parent Portal. Hope to see you there!
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Campaign for Pine Street Inn Kicks Off!
This morning at our annual MLK Jr. assembly, we celebrated in words and song the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We embraced our commitment as a community to do our part in furthering his mission. If you were unable to attend the assembly, visit the Parent Portal to view the recording.
Most importantly at the assembly, we launched a three-week campaign (now through February 5) to support our friends at Pine Street Inn in Boston. Last year, as you may remember, we collected a mountain of oatmeal to help feed their clients who are experiencing homelessness. This year, due to the increased need at Pine Street, we’re changing it up and collecting as many outreach kit items for their clients as possible. Click here to see the specific items are needed for the outreach kits.
All items for donation can be brought into the school by students and given to classroom teachers. Parents can also drop items with greeters during drop-off and pick-up. Thank you in advance for your part in helping those in need.
Please contact Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion, with any questions.
2020 Oatmeal Challenge Recognized by Parent Organization
The success of last year’s MLK Jr. Oatmeal Drive Challenge to benefit Boston’s Pine Street Inn was a testament to the strength and caring of the Belmont Day community. In total, students, parents, and faculty donated more than 430 boxes of instant oatmeal, a hearty and healthy breakfast item that Pine Street Inn requested as it is frequently in high demand by clients. Hundreds of individual oatmeal boxes were also decorated with joyful messages and designs by students at a cross-graded partners gathering.
We were honored to learn that the Parents’ Independent School Network (PIN) recently recognized the Oatmeal Drive Challenge and our school’s ongoing commitment to Pine Street Inn with a community service grant of $100. Read more about this recognition on our website.
Don’t Forget Your Name Placards
Thank you to everyone who has been displaying their name placards on their vehicle’s dashboard at pick-up times. This is a big help, at a busy time, in identifying families and getting students to their vehicles safely and quickly. If you do not have a name placard or would like a second one, please contact Barbara Carey, school receptionist, and one will be made and delivered to you.
Athletics Update: Athletes Hit the Ground Running
After six weeks away from campus, middle school athletes hit the ground running (literally) upon their return last week. From now until February break, athletes will be rotating through six unique fitness offerings that will challenge their physical endurance and test their mental toughness. Included in these offerings are a timed mile run, a high-intensity spin class, a dynamic cross-fit circuit, and the infamous “beep test”. In previous years, athletes would only participate in each of these activities once per season. This winter, however, every cohort will cycle through each offering at least three times! Nearly through the first rotation, coaches have been impressed with the collective effort the athletes have brought to each class. It may not be on a basketball hardwood, wrestling mat, fencing strip, or volleyball court, but these athletes are still striving for excellence each and every day.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
Arts Update: Third Grade Examines Gender Stereotypes
Third graders enjoyed the opportunity to discuss gender stereotypes and participate in a drama activity that helped them better process this important arena of social justice. We began the class with a read-aloud of the book PugDog by Andrea U’Ren and an enlightening video entitled “Inspiring the Future – Redraw the Balance,” which provided students with the background and motivation for the day’s activity. Students were then assigned groups and asked to come up with one gender stereotype that they could create a frozen acting tableau from. The goal was to break down these stereotypes by showcasing positive examples. They then performed the tableau for the rest of the class and their peers guessed at which stereotype they were breaking down. The rich and in-depth discussion that took place during the activity was an inspiration to everyone who participated!
– Christopher Parsons, theater arts teacher
Pre-kindergarten: Revisiting, Revising, and Redefining
The six weeks between November and January spent away from their onsite classrooms was an especially long time for our pre-k students. So when they returned it felt like starting the school year over. Having remote gatherings during December meant students saw one another and this helped with one of a pre-ker’s worries about what might follow time away from school: “Will my friends remember me?” So what do we do to bring our young students up to speed when back on campus? We revisit, revise, and redefine!
First of all, we revisit what they already know, focusing on routines, the daily schedule, and having lunch in the Courtyard. We revisit and reorient students to the many places we use on campus such as the Barn, the trails in the woods, and Big Blue. This week, we took “explorer flags” and found our favorite places to play in the woods, and claimed them for our own.
While our schedule remains the same, there are some changes or revisions as well. We introduced new teachers and specials. We now have music with Mr. Toppa, and school librarian Ms. Sprung returns for our recesses. Dr. Hoyt watches us on Big Blue. We are getting our ”noses tickled”, or tested twice a week. Spotting a change on the schedule becomes a favorite game at the beginning of our morning meetings.
The weather has grown colder over the six weeks away and we have to bundle up because we spend much of our day outside. We needed to redefine our outdoor clothing needs. Outdoor clothing needs to be put on in a particular order so pre-k students learn to dress themselves independently. We make special signs for cubbies that show the order of getting dressed using pictures and numbers. We have new fingerless gloves we wear so we can continue eating snack and lunch outside during warmer winter temperatures.
And now, we hope for snow by reading books about waiting for snow, cutting snowflakes, making special “snowballs” from sparkly pipe cleaners, feathers, buttons, beads, and paper to hang in our classroom. These projects give students practice using tools and develop fine motor skills. Slowly we rebuild our classroom environment and learning together.
– Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teacher
Fifth Grade ‘Suitcase’ Project Furthers Understanding of Immigration
In fifth grade humanities, we started reading The Arrival by Shaun Tan. The Arrival is a wordless graphic novel about a man who is immigrating to America. Since the novel deals with immigration, fifth graders analyzed several primary pictures about immigrants arriving at Ellis Island. Students noticed that many of the immigrants only had one or two pieces of luggage. We then discussed how space on ships was limited and there was only so much a person could bring, and as a result, some belongings were sadly left behind. To help students grasp this idea better, they completed a mini-project: making suitcases out of tissue boxes. Students had to cover and design their suitcases and choose three items of sentimental value they would want to bring with them. They then designed a 3D re-creation of those items and placed them inside their suitcase.
– Vaniecia Skinner, grade 5 teacher
Parents’ Association News
Since our students are eating lunch outdoors or in their classrooms this year, we are looking for volunteers to donate centerpieces for the cohort rooms. 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.
Lost & Found
Now that students are back in person there are items that have been left behind 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 excited to continue the tradition of welcoming faculty and staff babies with baskets of books. Please help us welcome teacher Elisabeth Klock’s baby with a donation of your favorite book. Books may be dropped off on Friday, January 29 during drop off or pick up. There will be collection bins at the front circle and the Barn. Thank you!
Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day
There are numerous volunteer opportunities available to help with this year’s Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day on Friday, February 5. Please contact Pati Fernandez, director of development, if you’re interested in helping with this virtual event.
Watertown’s Virtual MLK Day Breakfast
Monday, January 18 at 10 a.m.
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.
Study on Virtual Reality Seeks Participants
The Northeastern University Cognitive and Brain Health Laboratory is seeking participants, ages 8 to 10, for a study on learning via virtual reality. The study involves one Zoom session and three in-person lab sessions (each session is 1-2 hours). Participants will exercise on a treadmill (or sit quietly) and learn lessons using VR technology, as well as respond to scholastic and computer tasks. As an incentive, participants can earn up to $75. A pre-screening will take place and not all children will qualify for the study. If interested, please contact ClassVR.NUBrainHealth@gmail.com to schedule a 15-minute screening phone call.