Welcome our newest alums! Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Class of 2020: Onward To Writing Your Own Headlines
By Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: June 12, 2020
Happy summer everyone! Nice to have made it through what will be the most remarkable stretch in school history. For many of us, the work continues as we plan for fall, but for everyone else, it is my sincerest hope that this summer brings rest, reflection, and an abundance of joy.
Below are my remarks to the amazing Class of 2020 delivered at their graduation ceremony this morning:
Class of 2020, I don’t know how much of the news you are watching or reading these days. If the answer is none, first of all, congratulations. I wonder if there is room beneath that rock for someone like me. If you have not been reading the news, don’t sweat it. I’ve got you covered. In short, it has offered a few repeated headlines that we are all supposed to internalize in this pandemic-infused celebration. And, excuse me if I offer a bit of guidance on how you might interpret them.
Headline #1: “It wasn’t supposed to be this way for our graduates.”
In graduation week, this headline has been out there quite a bit. I’m sure you know this. Feel this. How could you not? But I would love to take a moment and think a bit more critically about this suggestion. I am not here to underestimate just how unusual a global pandemic is. It is so unusual that we will hopefully never experience it again. It has been 102 years since the last pandemic swept the nation, and may it be another 102 until the next one.
By way of offering a bit of wisdom as you walk across Belmont Day’s virtual stage, I have some news to share. There really isn’t a way that “it is supposed to be.” At no point in human history have things been changing so quickly. This spring cast the speed of change into a brighter and starker light, but it has always been there. As I look into a group of thirteen- and fourteen-year-old students, I am reminded that the iPhone was invented right around when you were born. Alexa, the voice of Amazon that brought artificial intelligence into our homes, and your lives, emerged in the fall of your third grade year. I dare say, there are countless moments when the notion that “it wasn’t supposed to be this way” stood in the way of innovation. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be this way, but in the eyes, hands, and minds of a powerful group like yours, maybe that’s precisely the way it needed to be to unlock the power of the Class of 2020. You are innovators, critical thinkers, entrepreneurs, communicators, and visionaries. The headline may read that it wasn’t supposed to be this way, but I like to imagine that you all can see opportunity while everyone else runs for cover.
Another headline that I can’t escape is the “think of all you’ve lost” headline.
It is everywhere and we are inundated with it. This can be a tough one to navigate past, but again, I am here for you.
You see, a headline like this one is rooted in a fixed mindset. Like the first headline, the “think of all you’ve lost” headline may prevent us from seeing the possibility of the future. What is perhaps even more corrosive about the thinking of all you have lost is that it actively tries to take something away from you. What you have lost? Let’s not reduce ten years of gains into three months, shall we? You are so much more than three months of Zoom calls. For some of you, BDS has been home for ten years. Don’t let three disquieting months change that. Yes, you will carry this period of time like a badge of honor as you grow up, but so, too, should you carry the entirety of your BDS education. Three months of Zoom cannot take away your years growing up in these hallways with these incredible teachers. It should not take away any of those culminating experiences that mark another year’s growth or maturity…trips through the woods, poems in your pocket, hundred day celebrations, reading for seeds, state fairs, greek festivals, water bucket challenges, Farm School and Freedom Night, the Mods trials and, of course, Capstone. It also shouldn’t take away the countless moments in between with friends and teachers. The pasta Mondays, the inception of several brand new athletic teams like volleyball and wrestling, the Field Day magic, or the cross-graded love. No, you are not reduced to three months. You are countless years and memories. Don’t let someone else establish your narrative! Don’t think of all you’ve lost. Remember all you’ve gained and cherish it.
Another headline…and the last I’ll speak of today because this is the one we should be reading: it regards the violence of racism amidst a time of disorienting isolation. It is a time when many in our country and our world are left to feel alone either because they have been hemmed in by the virus or because they have been hemmed in by our nation’s inability to reconcile with its history and the toxicity of racism that continues today.
This is a headline I know you have been paying attention to, and it is one that I hope you continue to pay attention to. Because this one is yours to help rewrite. With the help of Ms. Caruso, Dr. Hoyt, and all of the middle school humanities teachers, I was reminded recently that for all of the primary sources we have taught to our students over the years, this is the first time we should give pause to realize that, in fact, you are primary sources. Years from now it will be you that students are learning about and studying. How did you endure the pandemic? How did you respond when the world made clear its injustices? Class of 2020, this headline is yours to rewrite as agents of positive change. As students who honor differences with excellence and respect. As young people empowered to make meaningful contributions to a more equitable and just world. This headline is yours to rewrite, and I have every confidence that you have already begun doing so and that there is nothing that will prevent you from continuing to do so long after today. As someone who will likely read whatever history book awaits me in 20 years about the 2020 pandemic of the coronavirus and the pervasive disease of racism and injustice, I will not be surprised to read your names as some of the key players in creating a healthier, stronger, more inclusive and equitable world.
Take these three headlines at once and you get this: There is a risk in supposing things are supposed to be a ‘particular way.’ The world is changing too quickly to be one way. You have the agility to take whatever the world throws your way in stride. Don’t reduce a life well-lived to a three-month anomaly. At a time that is dominated by soundbites and 280 character tweets, the world will try to force you away from the longview…take it anyway. You get a great perspective and there is much to cherish. And the world needs you. We are faced with a systemic and deeply rooted historical injustice that will require you for all your skill, passion, understanding, empathy, problem-solving, and relentless spirit to change it. You’ve got this, 2020. We believe in you.
Congratulations on your graduation today, and know that we cannot wait to welcome you back when we can gather in person. Until then, know that Belmont Day School is with you wherever you are, and we know that soon enough, the headlines will be yours to make.
On Thursday, we celebrated our students during our annual Moving Up Day ceremonies. Each student was officially welcomed to their next grades. The day of celebration was wrapped up with these closing remarks and a musical performance. Have a great summer!
News & Updates
June is Pride Month
Although we couldn’t march together to mark the 50th anniversary of Boston Pride this year, our community is still acknowledging and celebrating the social justice movement for LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied) communities.
In our work as educators dedicated to honoring differences and creating learning spaces that are equitable and welcoming, we know that social justice is intersectional and that representation matters, especially for marginalized communities.
The flag presented here, a redesign of the iconic rainbow flag and known as the Progress Pride Flag, went viral on Twitter recently as nationwide protests over police brutality continued across the country. The Progress Pride Flag was designed in 2018 by Portland-based designer Daniel Quasar. The redesigned flag includes the colors of the trans flag, as well as black and brown stripes to represent the queer and trans identities of black and brown people. The design attempts to integrate the full scope of all queer and trans folks’ identities and account for their multifaceted histories, including representing the HIV/AIDS crisis—those who died, those living with HIV/AIDS, and the overall stigma that remains today.
What began as a reboot of the Pride Flag has become an initiative to give back to those most in need within LGBTQIA+ communities. Quasar’s Progress Initiative provides funding to organizations and charities that directly affect the lives of trans people of color, and other marginalized individuals.
Check out our Pride Month Gallery and enjoy the original artwork by two members of Belmont Day GSA. Thank you Kendree Chen ’21 and Aviva Pearlmutter-Bearson ’21!
Honoring Differences and Showing Care
Soon after the horrible and tragic incident in Minneapolis, we invited families to share questions they have about the situation, with the promise that we would provide responses from faculty in the format of a Zoom video. I am deeply grateful to my fellow faculty members, Joe Jean-Mary, Suzanne Caruso, Minna Ham, and Dean Spencer, for sharing thoughtful, fact-based, authentic, and ever-encouraging responses to the brave and important questions we received.
The video is available here and we hope you and your children will feel empowered to take in what’s on the recording in whatever way, at whatever pace, as many times as might be helpful. If it might be useful to contact any of the faculty who responded to the questions, please feel free to.
We’ll offer two synchronous gatherings for students who want to talk about this situation on Monday, June 15:
- 3 to 3:30 p.m. for students in rising grades 3-5
- 3:30 to 4 p.m for students in rising grades 6-8 (this year’s graduating 8th graders, please attend this attend)
Please check your email for the Zoom invitations to these sessions.
– Carlos Hoyt, Director of Equity and Inclusion
Students’ G Suite Applications To Be Turned Off June 17
Next Wednesay, June 17, all G Suite applications will be turned off for the summer for students entering grades 4-7 this fall. However, students will still be able to use their school G Suite account to sign in to certain apps/sites that use Google single sign-on, such as Typing Pal and BrainPOP. Other applications may be turned on/off at the discretion of the technology department.
Most Google Sites created for remote learning (e.g. PK-2, PE) will continue to be accessible over the summer. Please check with your child’s teacher(s) you are unsure if their class site will remain available.
We recognize that now, more than ever, there is a need for students to remain connected with one another. If your child does not already have a personal (non-BDS) email account and you would like to provide them with one, we recommend that you consider a Google account or Apple ID and decide which is best for your child and family.
Rising eighth graders will have access to their BDS G Suite account over the summer so they may complete work related to Capstone. Applications not required for Capstone work will be turned off.
The Class of 2020 will also continue to have access to their accounts for the time being. Graduates will receive an email later this summer notifying them of when exactly their account will be disabled and how to transfer content if they wish to do so.
If you have any questions about G Suite and/or student accounts, please email Erik Smith, associate director of technology.
FACTS Account Set Up Reminder
Earlier this week all parents who elected the 60/40 tuition payment plan received an email from Fred Colson, director of finance, about the transition for tuition billing and payments to FACTS Management, a service the school has worked with for our 10-month payment plans. A second follow-up email was sent directly by FACTS containing instructions on how to set up your payment plan.
We would like to remind you to set up your plan as soon as possible, by June 15 for a July 1/January 1 payment schedule, and by June 19 for a July 15/January 15 payment schedule.
If you have any questions, please contact Fred Colson.
Sixth Grade French Class Gets Poetic
After studying a poem by a Francophone author, it was time for sixth grade French students to create their own poems in different styles. The poems were then posted to a Padlet board for all to enjoy. Their “faux-acrostiche” display the letters of their name included in a word that represent their interests or who they are. For their diamond poems, they had to choose two opposite words and characterize them using nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Language class is driven by communication and the ability to be understood by one’s peers. The vocabulary used in the poems was either learned in class or researched with an online dictionary. In this latter case, the students had to build a glossary. Please visit the board and leave a compliment for their amazing work (no French needed)!
– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher
Kindergarten Takes It One Letter At a Time
In kindergarten, students celebrated their literacy learning with a collaborative alphabet book! Each student was responsible for one letter of the alphabet. The kindergarteners used their knowledge of letter sounds to brainstorm words that begin with their assigned letter, which they used to illustrate their page. Kindergarteners then demonstrated the work they have done throughout the year on letter formation by writing a sentence that incorporates their assigned letter multiple times. Feel free to read the collaborative alphabet book, found here.
– Missy Paravati, kindergarten teacher
Third Grade Presents A Virtual State Fair
The third grade team reenvisioned their beloved state project this year. With research and other materials created by their teachers, the third graders studied notable people from their state as well as important and interesting places and things. They transformed their work into pieces of writing, videos, and visual models to reflect what they learned and wanted to share. Students also solved and created multi-step word problems that encapsulated what they learned about state symbols and other features of each state. Each third grader studied their state animal and created a model along with a presentation to teach others about the animal’s appearance, adaptations, and place within a foodchain. Several students chose extension projects to further their knowledge about their state. The state project concluded with a virtual State Fair, where guests saw highlights of student work and heard speeches from each student that reflected what they learned about their states and themselves throughout the entire process.
– Leigh Twarog, third grade teacher
Arts: Fifth Graders Record Songs for Hip-Hop Unit
In the fifth grade general music, students concluded the hip-hop unit by submitting a final project song. During this trimester, students worked on concepts about musical loops, audio mixing, and album covers. Students worked on how to write a song using verse, chorus, and bridge with a topic of their choice. Check out these two songs: one by solo artist, Emme Taylor, and the other by the musical team of Daniel Peregudov and Ben Dowers.
– Yui Kitamura, music teacher
Middle School English and Social Studies: The Mods Conclusion
Due to the pandemic, our plans for The Trial, a comprehensive conclusion to the Mods experience for seventh grade students, were disrupted. Instead, our students engaged in an equally rich and interconnected opportunity to showcase their learning. Seventh graders engaged in a story exchange with two of our peer schools – The Fayerweather Street School and Charles River School. A team of our teachers across disciplines designed this story exchange to drive connection and sow empathy amongst our students. This engagement with our partner schools forged collaboration and connection during a time of remote learning. Our students exhibited caring, respect, and excellence in all of their interactions with their peers.
Physical Education: Field Day Scores a HUGE Win
As with much of our learning this spring, Field Day shifted from its traditional on-campus location to an at-home and online experience. Over two days, students platform students were tasked with recording videos of themselves completing six challenges. Throughout those two days, our students showed their true colors (blue and gold, of course), by submitting 780 videos, featuring innovative, inspiring, and often hilarious responses, and encouraging their cross-graded partners. It was, without a doubt, the greatest virtual Field Day in school history! Check out the action here, and should you feel inspired yourself, don’t hesitate to give our challenges your best shot.
– Alex Tzelnic and Abbey Nyland, physical education teachers
Associate Teacher Program
Putting a Cap on a Unique and Wonderful Year
The Belmont Day associate teachers gathered for a socially distanced graduation at the home of Heather Woodcock, director of the associate teacher program. The associates (Lauren Catalano, Tatiana Cochis, Lindsay Fitzgerald, Laurie Mills, Erin Pak, and Kyla Sandock) were celebrated and honored for their incredible year in the BDS community. Each associate received a diploma, a copy of The Courage To Teach by Parker Palmer, and a variety of children’s books that represent their many, many interests. Congratulations to all of the associates as they have now earned their teaching license and masters in education degree. We are incredibly proud and grateful for this dedicated group of gifted teachers!
The New Echo Magazine Is Out!
Creating and collaborating remotely for the past 12-weeks did not diminish the enthusiasm or excellence that the members of the literary magazine club brought to the spring edition of Echo Magazine, the first all-digital issue! This issue is based on the theme of “Consciousness and Dreams” and submissions of various forms of artwork and writing were received from dozens of middle school students. Click here to enjoy their work!
Notice on Compliance With Title IX
As a result of accepting federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funds–made available due to the economic challenges brought on by pandemic–Belmont Day is adopting a Title IX policy for the duration of our loan commitment. Belmont Day has always made it a priority to ensure that all students, employees, and community members are treated in a fair, non-discriminatory manner. Thus, the changes required by these new obligations under federal law are largely procedural, and not substantive. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the school is implementing new additional policies to avoid any questions about the school’s continued compliance with applicable law. We have posted the details about this requirement, the full policy, and supporting procedures on our website.
Book Club Meeting
Wednesday, June 24 at 3 p.m.
Please join us as we discuss The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. In The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature. Even if you haven’t read the book or only read a portion of it, you are encouraged to attend. If interested, please email Nareeluck Stephenson to receive the Zoom invitation.
Message From the Yearbook Team: Thank You, CP!
Missing from the “departing faculty” page in this year’s yearbook, we want to acknowledge Corrado Paramithiotti, Belmont Day’s director of operations, who will be leaving at the end of June. His kindness and dedication have made a difference in all of our lives and we wish him all the best. Thank you, Mr. Paramithiotti, for all you have done for Belmont Day!
Belmont Pride Parade
Saturday, June 13 at 1 p.m.
Join Belmont Against Racism to show your pride and support for the LBGTQI community. To participate in the parade, meet at Wellington Station on the Town Green across from the First Church of Belmont after 12:30 p.m. The parade route is approximately three miles and the event will be held rain or shine. All participants are asked to wear masks and socially distance as appropriate.
Summer’s Here! Let’s Keep In Touch
Well, the summer break is here and maybe you’re setting off for some (somewhat) faraway adventures? Or maybe you’re headed to your backyard or local park? No matter where you’re heading this summer, we hope most of all that you’re safe, healthy, and happy. We also hope that you’ll keep in touch with the BDS community via social media. Share a photo of yourself exploring a new place, reading a great new book, learning a new skill, or just spending time with friends and family. Be sure to tag us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram or send an image or short video to [email protected]. Thank you!
Fun at Home
Summer Send-Off From After School
Ms. Fross, Mr. Jean-Mary, and the entire after school team want to wish all our students a great summer! Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020 and congratulations to the younger students who officially moved up to their next grades! We hope you have loved the many activities, games, letters, Zoom classes, and read-alongs over these past three months as much as we enjoyed continuing to connect with all of you. We’re thinking of you and we’ll miss you and your families over the summer! Thank you to the after school staff for your dedication, expertise, caring, and good humor!
– Joe Jean-Mary and Blair Fross