Building a castle in pre-kindergarten!
Verses of Inspiration
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: January 22, 2021
Amanda Gorman, a young, Black-identified woman, and the first National Youth Poet Laureate was one of the brightest lights of the Presidential Inauguration this week. She recited her powerful poem, “The Hill We Climb,” and her mastery of language at 22-years-old is inspiring. I only recently learned that she grew up with a speech impediment, which, based on her performance, makes it all the more remarkable.
I was an English and theater major in college and spent the first eighteen years of my educational career teaching English to middle school students. I have always been drawn to the power of language and the great poets—Angelou, Brooks, Collins, Frost, Gluck, Hughes, Oliver, Shakespeare, Shihab Nye (the list gets long)—who use language to inspire something within us. They allow us to discover something, perhaps, that only needed their language to unlock. Like jazz music, we’re likely to hear something we hadn’t before, even though we are working with the same notes. Certainly, Gorman’s artistry and command of language helped us hear something new.
As I reflect on “The Hill We Climb” and her performance, I return to the notion that diverse, powerful voices like Amanda Gorman’s are, in no small part, what draws so many of us to teach. There, before a national audience of 40 million, a young woman full of hope stood with grace, confidence, and elegance to express a perspective of her generation. She spoke with a voice informed by the fortunate educators who guided her along the way.
I imagined what it was like for Amanda’s fourth grade poetry teacher to watch her at the podium, recalling when a younger Amanda asked what the difference between a metaphor and a simile might be. What was the moment like for the middle school English teacher whose homework assignment asking students to play with the forms of sonnet and sestina helped spark and nurture a keen talent?
Of course, I thought about the Belmont Day teachers who inspire and challenge our students to achieve their vast potential. Who among our students might see themselves in Amanda Gorman—holding the hope of a generation in her words, in her hands?
Belmont Day teachers see and nurture the possibility in every student. They see:
- the next great inventor inspired by their playful construction of a rocketship of sticks and stones in the Courtyard;
- a distinguished orator who discovered their voice as the god Hephaestus during the Greek Festival;
- an agent for justice who learned to command the stage on Freedom Night;
- the next National Youth Poet Laureate who refined their voice by performing in Poetry Slam; or
- a talented jazz musician who redefined excellence as a student performing at the Winter Concert.
It can be challenging to name what inspires us; sometimes, it is enough to simply say that we were inspired. On Wednesday, I was deeply inspired by Amanda Gorman. If you haven’t seen the recitation yet, I encourage you to watch it. I trust that you will be inspired, too.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
January 25 to February 5
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
Tuesday, February 2
7–8:30 p.m., Investment Committee, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, February 3
7–8:30 p.m., Lower School Parent Workshop with McLean School Consult Service, Zoom Gathering
Friday, February 5
8–11 a.m., Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day
Friday, February 5 from 8 to 11 a.m.
This year we will be hosting our Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day as an online event. Invitations have been mailed directly to our guests. If you have not provided contact information for a grandparent or special friend or if you prefer to register your guests yourself, please click here and fill out the form. Registration will be open through Wednesday, February 3. If you have any questions, please email Nina See for more information.
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 be available on the Parent Portal.
Lunch & Snack Menu
January 25 to January 29
Snack: apples; Sun Chips
Lunch: bowtie pasta; marinara; meatballs; vegan meatballs; broccoli; crusty rolls; butter; mixed green salad; diced peaches; milk and water
Snack: pears; chocolate chip granola bars
Lunch: Asian chicken and basmati rice bowl; Asian vegetable blend; tofu and basmati rice bowl; fortune cookies; spinach salad with Mandarin oranges and Asian dressing; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: bananas; pretzel twists
Lunch: crispy fish; vegan nuggets; French fries; carrot coins; coleslaw; diced pears; milk and water
Snack: fruit; Simply Cheezy Puffs
Lunch: turkey and cheese croissant; ham croissant; cheese croissant; lentil soup; steamed broccoli; Caesar salad with Romano; Cape Cod Chips; fresh fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: dried cranberries; Baked Lays chips
Support Available After Tragic Death in Belmont
Last night I sent a note to my colleagues about the lethal assault of Belmont resident, Henry Tapia. As explained in this Boston Globe article, Tapia was the victim of what, by all accounts, was a mixture of racism, rage, and violence.
The note began with this sentence: “Please be aware of the tragic incident that occurred here in Belmont on Tuesday, January 19. Racism, rage, and deadly assault have combined again—and this time here in the town where many of our kids and some of us live.”
The note ended with this sentence: “I’m very sorry to have to ask you to carry this in addition to all else. I’m grateful knowing you’ll support our students through it if the need arises.”
I’m also grateful to know that we are a community of caring parents who will feel sorrow for Mr. Tapia’s family, and will want to help. Belmont Against Racism issued a statement on this atrocity that includes information about how to provide support to the family.
Please feel encouraged to contact me if you’d like to discuss how to support your children in moving through this situation.
– Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion
Launch of Contract Process on Veracross
With February right around the corner, we are about to launch the re-enrollment process for the 2021-2022 school year. We will be using Veracross for this process which we hope you will find easy to access and use. Please watch your inbox on the weekend of January 29 for an email to start the process.
When you receive the email, you’ll be asked to:
- Review and sign the contract for your child(ren).
- Choose a payment plan for the year:
- Single payment option
- Two-payment option
- 10-payment plan
- Pay this year’s deposit.
- Update your family’s contact information.
If your family is receiving financial aid in 2021-2022, your financial aid award letter will be included with your contract.
In addition to completing your contract through Veracross, you’ll be able to pay your deposit online through a Veracross system called VC Pay. VC Pay gives parents the ability to use their existing Veracross login to coordinate all payments—deposits, tuition, incidentals, and more. It offers an easy checkout with the option to save accounts for future use. It provides parents with a secure, online payment experience. Since we are moving to VC Pay for payments in 2021-2022, we will stop using the FACTS Management system at the end of the current school year.
Your signed contract(s) and deposit must be finalized by 11 a.m. Friday, February 12. Please note that each of your household’s parents/guardians must sign the contract.
If you have any questions, please be in touch with Catherine David, Assistant to the Head of School and Registrar.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly Covid Testing Update
Our testing dashboard will look a little different moving forward. It now lists the total number of pools tested for the month, as well as for the entire testing time we will be pool testing. Today’s graphic reflects Wednesday’s testing of 48 pools; today’s pools are not included as we do not yet have the results. As you know, we had a positive pool in the sixth grade on our first day of pool testing; that positive pool is reflected here.
A reminder that with the new pooling database, testing information does not go to parents. Our plan is to alert you about the results after each day of testing. Hopefully, that communication will be that all tests are negative. In the event of a positive in your child’s pool, you will be notified personally by the school. If you have any questions or concerns, always feel free to reach out to me by email.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Keep Those Donations Coming in for Pine Street Inn!
Thank you to everyone who has brought or sent in donated items! We’re one week into our three-week campaign (through February 5) to support the work of Pine Street Inn and the momentum is building! This year, we’re collecting as many outreach kit items for their clients who are experiencing homelessness as possible. These simple items are always in need during winter and especially now as we combat the health and economic effects of the pandemic. The outreach items include:
- Hats, gloves, and socks
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Granola bars and individual snacks
- Bandages and first aid kits
- Hand and foot warmers
Click here to see the full list of items 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!
Please contact Dr. Carlos Hoyt with any questions.
February Vacation Camp Canceled This Year
Unfortunately, we are not able to offer a February Vacation Camp program in 2021 due to health and safety concerns. We are hopeful that we will be able to offer programming during the week of our April break. We will make a determination and provide information on that after March 1.
BDS Quest Corner: Get Lost in the Search
Scavenger Hunt and Event Registration Now Open
We’re excited to announce that registration is officially open! Click here to visit the event website to register and learn more about the scavenger hunts, community event, and auction.
Thank you to those who were able to join us at the meet and greet on Wednesday morning! Not able to make the meeting? Not a problem! If you are interested in volunteering, please review volunteer opportunities on the Parent Portal. And please contact Pati Fernández, director of development, for more information.
Win Our Pre-Event Raffle Prize
We want to hear from you! What is your team name? Enter your family in a pre-event raffle by registering by next Friday, January 29, and sharing your team name with us. Once registered you will be entered into the raffle. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, February 3. Visit the BDS Quest website to register. Good luck!
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. Visit the website for more information about camp 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.
Athletics Update: Buckley-Jones Dominates First Round of Testing
Middle school athletes completed their first round of winter offerings this week. Included in those offerings are two measuring sticks: the mile run and the beep test. After nearly 120 athletes cycled through the activities, eighth grader Henry Buckley-Jones found himself at the top of both leaderboards. Every athlete will get three cracks at each test before February break, and competitive chatter among the athletes has already begun, so Buckley’s place at the top may not be safe for long. In a year void of interscholastic competition, the healthy competitive spirit displayed during the first round was a breath of fresh (masked) air for the program.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
PE Update: Youngest Learners Advance Their Kicking Skills
Did you know that kicking objects other than a round ball is a great way to practice kicking skills? This past week in physical education, our pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students kicked over plastic cones in a game called “Builders and Bulldozers.” The “bulldozers” would kick down a cone and the “builders” would then use their feet to build them back up. Students exhausted their bodies while practicing these footwork skills.
– Abbey Nyland, physical education teacher
First Grade Takes Away Fun Lessons on Subtraction
First graders have been learning all about subtraction. We began exploring the concept by using pan balances. First graders put the known part on one side, and the whole (or total) on the other side. They quickly discovered that in order to balance the two sides, they needed to take away from the whole so it balanced with the known part. The amount they removed from the whole was the missing part! First graders have also practiced telling subtraction stories and have played games to practice this concept. Armed with this conceptual understanding, we are now working on making the connection between addition and subtraction. First graders are using familiar number bonds to help them translate parts and wholes into addition and subtraction equations.
– Katie Alexander, grade 1 teacher
Sixth Grade Spanish Students Explore Traits, Characteristics
Spanish students in sixth grade recently learned to describe people using adjectives for physical characteristics and personality traits with the verb ser. They also learned the question word for ‘’who’’: ¿Quién?. They continue to work on the México unit, and Frida Kahlo’s artwork inspired them to create self-portraits that we have displayed in the hallway near our classroom in the Palandjian Arts Center.
– Ana Maria Restrepo, Spanish teacher
Second Grade Creates Banner in Honor of MLK
Last Thursday, the second grade class read Doreen Rappaport and Brian Collier’s bold and vibrant pictorial biography, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King Jr. We discussed how powerful words can bring about change. After reading the book, the students are now creating a second grade banner to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and remember what a gift it is that “his big words are alive for us today.” Each student will design a flag that features a prominent word from one of Dr. King’s speeches. We will continue to highlight the importance of equality, love, and understanding in our community as we honor Dr. King’s service to all.
– Marta Trippe, grade 2 teaching assistant
Eighth Graders Graph Ideas on Legacy
In eighth grade math, students have just finished a unit on linear functions. To wrap up this unit students used one of the types of functions we learned about, piecewise functions, to design an image on a graph. Each line on the graph corresponds to a piecewise function. While we worked on this assignment in math, students were also learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. After talking about Dr. King’s legacy students spent time thinking about what they would like their legacy to be one day. They then created graphs to represent their ideas.
– Elinor Hannum, middle school math teacher
Parents’ Association News
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 Fernández, director of development, if you’re interested in helping with this virtual event.
The February book club selection is Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Dalton P ’08 ’12 ’15 ’19. Julie was featured in the 2020-21 issue of the Belmont Day Magazine. Read about her writing journey here. We will meet on Wednesday, February 10 at 10 a.m. A Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on the Parent Portal. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
Cary Library Hosts Nature Photography Sharing Event
Many nature lovers and amateur photographers alike have been spending more and more time in the great outdoors over these past months. Maybe you’re one of them and have a bunch of photos you would like to share and get some helpful feedback on? Join Lexington’s Cary Library on Wednesday, February 17 from 7 to 8 p.m. for “Nature Photography with Dave Ewing.” This online session allows participants to share their images and hear critiques and praise from a pro. Click here to register and learn more about this event.