We were back on campus and in classrooms this week!
The Violence in Our Capital Brings Challenges, Lessons to Our Doors
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: January 8, 2021
How I had hoped this would be the space where I might share my reflections on the important lessons to be taken from 2020, even as we rush into the new year with renewed hope and optimism. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share those reflections next week. The world beyond our walls has intervened once more, this time with violence and an assault on our democracy. So I will take time now to address it and clarify why such an assault matters to the work we do at Belmont Day.
Since the inception of our middle school, our eighth grade students have traveled to the nation’s capital each June. In many ways, their time in Washington, D.C. was a symbolic affirmation of all they have learned here at Belmont Day about civic engagement, civil rights, social justice, equity, inclusion, communication, and collaboration and how they might make use of this knowledge in the future. I hoped our eighth grade students experienced our capital city and the Capitol Building as the symbols of hope and the promise of democracy they are intended to be.
On Wednesday, the city and the Capitol were the opposite of those things. We watched an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated in a building regarded as ‘The People’s House.’ We witnessed a symbol of white supremacy—the Confederate flag—weave its way through the Capitol halls for the first time since before the Civil War. We watched in real-time as the experiment of our democracy was pressure tested from within its walls, by its citizens. We witnessed the stark difference between the way those sworn to protect and defend chose to respond to the protests surrounding the deadly shooting of George Floyd and the response to the assault on the Capitol that temporarily disrupted the confirmation of our next President. The symbolism was devastating.
On Thursday morning, we invited conversations among our middle school students and also guided several that occurred organically in the upper elementary grades. From our students’ impressive level of engagement, we witnessed their empathy, care, concern, and the ease with which they could make connections to lessons they had learned in the Honoring Differences Seminar or a given social studies class. We also heard several students express a sense of inevitability about these events—these students perceived them to be almost a natural consequence of other social and political unrest they have witnessed unfolding in recent months. This impression is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of this for us.
In a letter to the faculty on Wednesday night, I noted my belief that teaching is an act of courage, and certainly, in the age of COVID, that belief has been affirmed. Teaching is also an act of freedom, and freedom in our country is a right guaranteed by our Constitution. This week, I have watched teachers exercise that right even as they reconciled their disbelief at having to do so. They answered questions that include:
- “Could they really overturn the election?”
- “Why did some people get safely taken from the building and others left on their own?”
- “Why weren’t more people arrested?”
- “Why did people feel the need to take selfies while they were there?”
- “Why don’t people understand that breaking into the Capitol is not ok?”
- “Will this continue, and will it get more violent?”
- “Why did the response to the Black Lives Matter protests this summer look so different from this one?”
- “Will the President be removed from office?”
- “Why did it take so long to get them out of the Capitol? Why didn’t they stop the people from breaking in sooner?”
- “Why would people do something so wrong?”
- “Do the politicians involved see the hypocrisy of this?”
One can only assume that the unspoken part of that last question is: “the way we do.” I take great comfort in the knowledge that these questions—questions that are possible because of the freedoms of expression guaranteed by our Constitution—are encouraged by a courageous faculty willing to engage with students on issues of social justice, equity, and inclusion. Their teachers help them to think critically and interpret a world coming at them at unfathomable speed, who see them as agents of powerful change who will contribute to a brighter future for our nation and our democracy. And, my heart breaks that we have students as young as eight years old who find themselves needing to ask these questions at all.
It is hard to imagine, given all the challenges we have already experienced this school year, but Wednesday’s events may be among the most difficult to process. I could not be prouder of our faculty and our students’ work in response.
January 11 to January 22
Monday, January 11
7–9 p.m., Board of Trustees; Zoom Meeting
Friday, January 15
8:50–9:35 a.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Assembly; Zoom Gathering
Monday, January 18
School Closed for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Tuesday, January 19
5:30–7 p.m., Diversity Committee; Zoom Meeting
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
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
New Dates and Times for Two Events
Please note that we have recently rescheduled two of our parent events. We hope you will join us on Wednesday, January 27 for “Parent Conversations with Dr. Mercedes: Self-care and Self-reflection.” There will be two sessions, one from 6 to 7 p.m. and another from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Please RSVP for either on the Parent Portal.
We have also rescheduled the “Lower School Parent Workshop with McLean School Consult Service” to Wednesday, February 3 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The link for this event will the available on the Parent Portal.
Bundle Up! Be Ready For Winter Weather
Even with winter upon us now, students and teachers will continue to be outside as much as possible. So, please be sure your child comes to school with these items every day or keeps them at school:
- a warm hat
- gloves or mittens
- warm socks
- an extra set of clothing
We’ve always emphasized a connection to nature and outdoor learning at BDS. Now, with the increased health and safety benefits of fresh air, we are excited to embrace winter in New England more than we ever have, and we want to ensure that every student is fully prepared to enjoy that journey. Thank you!
Lunch & Snack Menu
January 11 to January 15
Snack: apples; Stacy’s Pita Chips
Lunch: macaroni and cheese; baked ham; macaroni noodles with marinara; peas; mixed green salad; diced peaches; milk and water
Snack: pears; chocolate chip granola bars
Lunch: beef tacos; vegetarian taco; cut corn; hard taco shells; guacamole; sour cream; cheese; salsa; confetti corn and bean salad; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: bananas; pretzel twists
Lunch: roast turkey; roasted tofu; potato wedges; green beans; spinach salad with cranberries, pumpkin seed and sherry vinaigrette; diced pears; milk and water
Snack: fruit; Simply Cheezy Puffs
Lunch: chicken fried rice; vegetarian fried rice; steamed broccoli; green salad with Mandarin and Asian dressing; fortune cookie; fresh fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: applesauce; Baked Lays chips
SUMMER CAMP NEWS
Registration Is Now Open for Summer 2021
We look forward to a safe, healthy, and fun summer with a robust lineup of Belmont Day Summer Camp programs. At this time, 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 drop-down below also contains more details on the camp programs that are open now for registration.
The details on pre-camp and post-camp sessions as well as specialty programs are still being determined and will be communicated here in the Scoop and on our website as soon as plans are finalized.
We were heartbroken by the loss of our summer programs this past summer, and are delighted that we will be able to meet the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic and provide summer programs safely and efficiently in 2021. We will be following the best practices established during the school year, including cohort models, physical distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-hygiene protocols, and an emphasis on outdoor activities whenever possible.
We appreciate your support, enthusiasm, and understanding as we plan for the summer ahead. Any questions related to the Journeys program or general camp registration inquiries can be directed to Associate Director of Auxiliary Programs Joe Jean-Mary [email protected] and incoming Summer Programs Director, Zach D’Arbeloff [email protected].
Camp Programs & Schedule
Pre-camp programs – June 21 to 25
Program to be determined (rising pre-k and K campers)
Program to be determined (rising 1st to 4th graders)
Summer Basketball (rising 1st to 8th graders)
General Camp June 28- August 20
Session A1 – June 28 to July 2
Session A2 – July 5 to 9
Session B – July 12 to 23
Session C – July 26 to August 6
Journeys C1 – July 26 to 30
Journeys C2 – August 2 to 6
Session D – August 19 to 20
Journeys D1 – August 9 to 13
Journeys D2 – August 16 to 20
Post-camp – August 23 to 27
Program to be determined (rising pre-k and K campers)
Program to be determined (rising pre-k and K campers)
Program to be determined (rising 1st to 4th graders)
Journeys (rising 2nd to 8th graders)
Summer Soccer (rising 1st to 8th graders)
Summer Tennis (rising 3rd to 8th graders)
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
In December, you received a save-the-date for BDS Quest, a series of special spring events that will bring out community joy while keeping safety front and center. Traditionally, the parents’ association has hosted an auction event every other year to support the school’s initiatives. As we approached planning, we knew that the 2021 event would need to have a new twist. Our community can look forward to three scavenger hunts as well as a community event and auction. The themed scavenger hunts can be completed with your family, and a winner will be announced at the community event. There will be prizes and lots of fun along with it! We hope you are as excited as we are to participate!
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!
MLK Jr. Assembly & Campaign for Pine Street Inn
Every year is an important year in which to observe, celebrate, and seek to exemplify the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This year, it’s as important as it’s ever been to reflect on his unrelenting and uncompromising efforts to promote social justice and to try to reflect his ethics and energy in our own behavior. With this in mind, we look forward to gathering our community next Friday, January 15, for our annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Assembly.
We are happy and proud to be able to serve in the spirit of Dr. King by once again supporting the work of the Pine Street Inn and its mission to end homelessness. As many of us will recall, the entire community mobilized last year to contribute a small mountain of instant oatmeal to Pine Street Inn. It was amazing to experience our values in action, including the joy with which BDS took part in the oatmeal drive.
This year, our friends at Pine Street have asked that we support their efforts to provide outreach kits to an increasing number of individuals whose basic right to safe and reliable shelter is going unmet in this extremely challenging time. We are confident that the community will answer this call.
The assembly on January 15 will launch a three-week effort (January 15 through February 5) to collect as many outreach kit items as possible. A representative from Pine Street Inn will join us to help students understand homelessness and why it’s so important to support Pine Street Inn’s work. As always, the program will also include reminders about key moments in Dr. King’s life and why it’s important for us to keep his life and legacy at the center of our efforts to be good citizens, a moving musical performance, and details about the Pine Street Inn service project.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions ([email protected]). We look forward to seeing you at the assembly and will soon provide a Zoom link for the event.
For the MLK Jr. Observance Committee—Betty Pryor, Dean Spencer, Koreen McQuilton, Heather Woodcock, and myself—thank you for making BDS a community that seeks to serve.
– Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion
Middle School Climate Group Advocates for New Bill
The middle school student-led Climate Group this week encouraged their peers to write to Governor Charlie Baker and urge him to sign Senate Bill 2995, the ‘Climate Road Map,” which was passed earlier this week by the state legislature. The bill, which calls for aggressive state action to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, is now on Governor Baker’s desk and waiting for his action this week. In the words of group member Sue Kelman ’21, “The bill is really critical, and Governor Baker could go either way. Letters from concerned middle schoolers could really help tip the scales.” Click here to see the email/letter and instructions that they shared with fellow students. If you would like to learn more about this effort, please reach out to grade six social studies teacher Dean Spencer who can connect you with a Climate Group member.
Last Call for Grandparents and Special Friends Contact Information
As we prepare for a very special virtual event for grandparents and special friends on February 5, “A Day in the Life at BDS,” we need your assistance with updating our contact information. We want to make sure to include your student’s grandparents and special friends in our invitation mailing. If you would like to add or update a grandparent or a special friend, please click here and complete the form. If you have any questions, please contact me at [email protected].
– Pati Fernández, director of development
Third Graders State Intentions for 2021
Third graders spent the first days back thinking about their intentions for the new year. We read the book, One Word for Kids: A Great Way to Have Your Best Year Ever, and thought about words that would help guide us for the rest of the school year. Each student then chose a word, explained why they chose it and wrote three action steps we could take to keep this goal at the forefront of our minds. As a culminating hands-on project, we created beaded bracelets that had our word on them to serve as daily reminders. Some of our words were hope, courage, challenge, explore, imagine, and stay simple.
– Larissa Rochford ’93, grade 3 teacher
Seventh Grade Latin Gets Political in Pompeii
In their current unit, seventh grade Latin students are exploring the positions elected throughout the town of Pompeii along with the procedures, propaganda, and bribery that would take place during the election process. This week, students examined remnants and translations of campaign graffiti and discussed what qualities the people of Pompeii would look for in their candidates. Throughout the unit, students will make connections to the election process as it happens in the United States.
– Nicole Buck, Latin teacher
Eighth Grade Science Class Learns About Density
As part of their study of the properties of matter, eighth grade students reviewed the definitions of mass and volume. This allowed them to then look at the relationship between these two properties which is the concept of density. After learning the definition of density and acceptable units for density, students were challenged to design experiments to determine the density of regular and irregular shaped objects using only electronic scales, rulers, graduated cylinders, and water. This work incorporated their understanding of concepts related to volume calculations, measurement accuracy, Archimedes principle, and significant digits which were discussed in the previous unit. Following this, students will look at the concept of intensive and extensive properties and how these terms can be used to further categorize the properties of matter.
– Sandra Trentowsky, grades 7 & 8 science teacher
Kindergartners Learn About Firefighters
The kindergarten cohorts have been learning about community helpers. Every year, students vote for the community helpers that they would like to learn about. This year’s top three choices were firefighter, paleontologist, and dog groomer. Over the last few weeks, we have been learning about firefighters. We have been reading books and watching videos to find out about their uniforms, equipment, training, and duties. We also did a virtual tour of a fire station in Duxbury, Massachusetts. This comprehensive virtual tour was designed collaboratively by a photographer and a firefighter and is meant to mimic an in-person tour since that is not feasible for school groups and other visitors right now. Feel free to visit the Duxbury Fire Station website to take your own tour from the comfort of your home! After the virtual tour, students watched a tutorial on how to draw a fire truck using basic shapes, which is perfect because we just began our math unit on shapes! Next week, we will write notes to the firefighters to express our gratitude for such an amazing experience!
– Betty Chu Pryor, kindergarten teacher
Parents’ Association News
The next book club selection is Villa of Delirium by Adrien Goetz. Please join us for our Zoom gathering on Wednesday, January 13 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. The Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
PIN – Parents’ Independent School Network
All parents are invited to the next meeting of the Parents’ Independent School Network on Thursday, January 14, from 12 to 1:15 p.m. for the annual meeting and heads of school panel. The topic of the panel will be “Successes of and Takeaways from Educating During COVID-19,” and will feature Chris Kolovos, Esq., head of Boston University Academy, Dr. Jennifer Price, head of Buckingham Browne & Nichols, Dr. Catherine J. Hall, head of Noble and Greenough School, and Dr. Sarah Pelmas, head of The Winsor School. Preregistration is required. A link is posted on the Parent Portal to register for the event.
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.
Watertown’s Virtual MLK Day Breakfast
Monday, January 18 at 10 a.m.
Actor and Illustrator Introduce New Children’s Book
Sunday, January 10 at 2 p.m.
Join beloved actor Taye Diggs and award-winning illustrator Shane W. Evans, the writer and artist team that brought us Chocolate Me! and Mixed Me!, as they discuss their newest picture book My Friend! Belmont Books, in conjunction with Macmillan Publishing, is excited to share this free and fun event. Click here to register for this event.
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 [email protected] to schedule a 15-minute screening phone call.
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.