Third graders are learning about the damages of oil spills on our environment.
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: March 12, 2021
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, a group of Belmont Day school leaders met in my office for several hours to decide whether to make the call to close school due to the burgeoning pandemic. Ultimately, of course, we decided to. The plan, at the time, was to close campus for two weeks. We would have two days to get our distance-learning plans organized for offsite learning to begin on Monday.
I remember agonizing over the decision and its inevitable impact on our students, families, and colleagues. What about the upcoming musical to be performed that Friday and Saturday night? What about admissions and placement decisions and the opportunities for our eighth graders and newly accepted Belmont Day students to see their next schools before making their important decisions?
We didn’t know then what we all know now in retrospect: campus would be closed to everyone—faculty, parents, summer campers and counselors, and students—for more than six months. At BDS, 187 days after that fateful night, we welcomed students back onto campus at the start of this school year, offering onsite programming five days a week for all students, pre-kindergarten through grade 8. There were exceptions—the weeks between Thanksgiving and Winter Break, the occasional quarantine of a cohort or grade—but for the most part, we have been able to be onsite together throughout this school year. A luxury not afforded to others and one we have not taken for granted.
Even so, the impacts of the pandemic have been ever-present:
- cohorts instead of grade-wide classrooms
- art intensives instead of the year-long comprehensive approach that contributes to the whole child philosophy that guides us
- physical distancing
- assurance testing
- no parents on campus
- the constant caution and concern about transmission
At one point or another over this year, these impacts have felt staggering for each one of us.
On this anniversary, your naturally optimistic head of school is lifted by hope thanks to vaccines, dropping case rates, promising new data, and 60 degree days. My BDS interview process included the question: “If you could add a core value to the school’s six, what would it be and why?”
My answer: courage. At the time, of course, I had no idea just how relevant that answer would be in 2020-2021. This year has been a 365-day exercise in courage for our students, their teachers, and our families. It has been courageous for our students to accept that learning looked different than it had before. Courageous for our teachers to step into classrooms and trust that the protocols we put in place to mitigate risk would be effective. Our parents expressed courage by believing in our protocols and trusting that BDS would be there for their children.
For my part, I sincerely believe (and yes, I am knocking on wood as I write this) that we will never face a more challenging or more demanding calendar year. Never. And here we are, with our eyes trained on a bright horizon of hope. One of the rewards of courage is that we often emerge stronger for our effort of endurance and bravery. Belmont Day is stronger today than it was on March 11, 2020. Thank you for believing in us and for your courage along the way.
March 15 to March 31
March is Alumni Giving Challenge Month
Monday, March 15
Trimester 3 Begins
Wednesday, March 17
7 p.m., Storytelling in the Age of Climate Crisis with Julie Dalton P ’08 ’12 ’15 ’19; Zoom Gathering
Thursday, March 18
7:30 p.m., Kindergarten Parent Mixer; Zoom Gathering
Friday, March 19
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly; Zoom Gathering
Saturday, March 20
7 a.m.–7 p.m., BDS Quest Scavenger Hunt
Monday, March 22
Spring Athletics Season Begins
Tuesday. March 23
Middle School Student Reports Released
Online Parent Conferences: School Closed
7–8:15 p.m., Anti-racist Allyship Group for White-identified Parents; Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, March 24
Online Parent Conferences: School Closed
8–9:30 a.m., Finance Committee, Zoom Meeting
Friday. March 26
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, March 31
7:30 p.m., March Madness Celebration and Performance by Alisa Amador ’10
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
March Madness Events
Our annual March Madness Alumni Giving Challenge encourages our alumni community to join us for exciting virtual events and challenges them to contribute to the annual fund. March Madness is all about participation—every gift of every size makes a difference. We hope you will join us as we create opportunities to engage with our alumni. All community members are welcome! Click here to RSVP!
The upcoming events are:
Wednesday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Storytelling in the Age of Climate Crisis with Julie Dalton P ’08 ’12 ’15 ’19
Wednesday, March 31 at 7:30 p.m., March Madness Celebration and Performance by Alisa Amador ’10
Layering Up for Winter/Spring in New England
At this time of the year, it’s always tough to prepare for significant changes in the weather. Despite the warm, sunny days we’ve enjoyed this week, winter is not done with us yet, and temperatures are expected to drop again to start next week. So in the days ahead, please make sure your students are prepared to enjoy more time outdoors as the weather varies, even within each day. Rain and snow boots are a must and so are some layers. And don’t leave those hats and mittens at home just yet!
Lunch & Snack Menu
March 15 to March 19
Snack: applesauce; pita chips; Goldfish crackers
Lunch: macaroni and cheese; pasta with marinara on the side; peas; tabouleh salad; Mandarin cups; milk and water
Snack: bananas; granola bars
Lunch: beef taco; veggie taco with corn and quinoa; corn taco shell; flour tortillas; shredded cheese; sour cream; guacamole; salsa; greens with tomatoes and ranch dressing; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: clementines; Cheez-Its
Lunch: roast turkey; roast tofu; potato wedges; green beans; ketchup; spinach salad with cranberry, pumpkin seed, and sherry vinaigrette; apple slices; milk and water
Snack: pears; Cape Cod Chips
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; Caesar salad; fresh fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: apple slices; pretzel twists
Updated COVID Pool Testing Plan
We will be making two important changes to our pool testing protocols starting this upcoming week. Please watch the accompanying video for all the details explained by head of school Brendan Largay.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
We had a great week with all negative pool and individual test results! Looking forward to our new testing schedule next week. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at email@example.com.
Have a wonderful weekend!
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
More Authors Stop by for a Visit
At the end of last month, the first, second, and third grades had a wonderful visit from Heather Lang, author of The Leaf Detective. Ms. Lang was joined by Dr. Meg Lowman, the tree canopy scientist who the book was about! The author and scientist encouraged students to think about the conservation of rain forests and might have even inspired a few to become arbornauts themselves.
Our fourth and fifth graders also recently enjoyed a visit with author Jodi Lynn Anderson. Her book, The Memory Thief, the first book in the Thirteen Witches series, was celebrating its book birthday that day! Ms. Anderson chatted with the students about ghost stories, the power of words, and the importance of telling the story you want to tell. She also read an excerpt of the new book and talked about some old favorites that inspired her.
A huge Thank You to our friends at Belmont Books for their help in coordinating both of these author visits. If you’re interested in picking up these authors’ books, Belmont Books should have copies available or can order them for you.
Next Up …
Sam Wedelich will visit with grades pre-kindergarten to first to talk about her new book Chicken Little and the Big Bad Wolf. We’re excited to welcome an author/illustrator to discuss this funny tale with us on March 25. If you’d like to own a copy of the book and get a signed bookplate to go in it, copies can be purchased here. Please indicate in the order comments that it’s for the Belmont Day School author visit.
BDS Summer Camp Is Hiring!
Belmont Day Camp is looking for staff for the summer. Do you have friends or family who are 16+ and great with kids? Encourage them to spend the summer working at BDS! We are especially looking for college-age (18+) counselors with childcare experience. Summer camp runs from June 28-August 20, with training the week before. Interested applicants can apply by clicking here, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Capstone Project Seeks Contributions to Protect Children
My name is Milly Noble, and I am a student in the eighth grade. My Capstone topic is how child labor affects children around the world, why does it happen, and what is being done to stop it. (Click here to visit my project website.) While writing my paper I learned a lot of new information about my topic. I learned about where child labor takes place, how child labor can be dangerous, and how it applies in the garment industry. Currently, I am focusing on my project. The main purpose of my project is to raise money for foundations that are part of UNICEF. The money collected will be split and donated to the two foundations below:
Child Labor in Madagascar
This money will help abolish poverty in the places that need it most. Madagascar is one of those places. Poverty is why children in developing countries are victims of child labor. Children in Madagascar are being put through certain types of physical labor that put them in danger.
Child Trafficking in America
Child trafficking is a type of forced labor, which means children are forced to do an action against their will. This money will specifically go to prevent child trafficking in the U.S, which is an overlooked problem.
How to Donate
How can you donate?
There are two ways to contribute.
You can contribute virtually by donating any amount of money to the Venmo account I created specifically for my project. I will be tracking and updating the amount of money raised.
The Venmo account for my project is: milly-noble-capstone. This money will be split evenly, and I will donate it to the two foundations.
I have provided donation boxes at the front door of the Schoolhouse and in the Kiva for cash donations.
Why should you donate?
Child labor is a large-scale problem in the world currently, and many people are unaware of the impacts of this type of work. There are several types of child labor: forced labor, physical labor, and labor that prevents children from experiencing their childhood and getting an education. For example, children are being employed in sweatshops for the garment industry where they work with dangerous machinery. They can also be victims of human trafficking. Many organizations, such as UNICEF, are taking a stand and working together to abolish this problem. Even though this is a problem that is rarely thought about, many people are putting in efforts (including this project!) to create a sustainable solution to child labor. Thank you!
Third Graders Learn about Cleaning up Oil Spills
Third graders have been learning about ocean ecosystems, the harm that can come to them when an oil spill occurs, and the creative engineering efforts that are used to clean up after an oil spill. After some research, students designed and built oil spill clean-up tools inspired by those that are used by real oil spill clean-up crews. Twenty-five millimeters of oil was deposited into each of their ocean ecosystems, and they were given 10 minutes to use the tools they constructed. Next, they used their data to determine which clean-up tool worked best. The amounts of oil collected ranged from 3 to 18 mm per tool. The next phase of this project includes models of animal rescue centers students created and figurines of the ocean animals they chose for the study. This project, from start to finish, draws upon the third graders’ prior knowledge of animal adaptations and integrates measurement, problem-solving skills, engineering, and environmental science. Each student’s empathy for the animals they are caring for heightens their engagement and deepens their sense of responsibility as stewards of the environment.
– Leigh Twarog, grade 3 teacher
Athletics Update: Badminton Returns!
After a successful run as an interscholastic offering during the winter season, badminton was replaced by wrestling and volleyball in the winter of 2018-2019. Despite no longer having a seat at the middle school athletics table, badminton has remained an integral component of the lower school physical education curriculum. This year, as a result of COVID protocols, badminton has made a triumphant return to the middle school program and has been welcomed with open arms by students seeking an alternative to the fitness-based focus of this winter’s other offerings. Each afternoon, athletes can be found spread out in the Barn with badminton racquets in their hands and smiles on their faces (under their masks, of course)!
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
First Graders Put a Stamp on Letter-Writing Lesson
First graders are finishing their writing unit on correspondence letters this week. They have written many letters, including a letter to the class to convince others to try a different Choice Time activity, a letter to a classmate sent through the mail to their house, and a letter to the author Kate Messner, who visited earlier this year. They have been busy writing to family and friends, practicing the structure of a letter and how to address an envelope. The first grade “post office” has been hard at work processing all of the letters and the first graders have delighted in learning about this lifelong skill!
– Cicely Gibson, grade 1 teacher
Sixth Graders Go Beyond the Myths of Montgomery
Sixth grade students have reached the Montgomery bus boycott in their study of the civil rights movement and spent some time this week getting beyond the over-simplified story that is often told. Did you know that Rosa Parks was not the first, or even the second, black woman arrested in 1955 for not giving up her seat on the bus? That Mrs. Parks had been active in the NAACP for years before her arrest, or that she told the police she didn’t think she should have to give up her seat before they arrested her? That JoAnn Robinson of the Women’s Political Council in Montgomery made 35,000 flyers overnight by mimeograph to get the boycott started? That the boycott was originally planned for only one day, and that it ended up lasting over a year? That boycotters organized a carpool system to serve the 50,000 members of the black community … and it ran without cell phones?! That it took a Supreme Court decision to get the City of Montgomery to finally desegregate? That within two years after the boycott Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had been unknown before the boycott began, literally became a comic book hero? Sixth graders are eager to share their knowledge with you and to learn more about the ways ordinary citizens were able to change the world around them for the better.
– Dean Spencer, grade 6 social studies teacher
PE Update: Video Highlights
Over the past couple of weeks, physical education classes have been filled with a diversity of great activities including fencing, badminton, pillo polo, net games, and group games. All grades are working hard and having fun. Be sure to check out the video to see our students in action!
– Abbey Nyland, physical education teacher
Parents’ Association News
The next book club selection is Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir by Elizabeth Miki Brina. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, April 7 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.
The friendraiser committee invites you to an early evening shopping outing on Sunday, March 28, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. at The Hive in Winchester. Come shop in person or online and receive a special discount for the BDS community. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you plan to come in person.
On Thursday, April 8, we are also planning a “Walk and Talk” after morning drop-off. Come to reconnect with friends and meet new ones! Meet in the grass circle in front of the Schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m.
Cradles to Crayons Spring Event
Starting to clear your child’s closet? Are they growing out of everything these days? Well, please keep Cradles to Crayons in mind! Although we will not be able to host our traditional donation drive and sorting event on campus, in April, we will host a Jam-A-Van donation drive as we did in the fall to collect children’s clothing and shoes. We’ll announce a weeklong drop-off schedule very soon. Stay tuned for more details.
Appeal for PA Dues!
Thank you to all who have already contributed your annual PA dues! Despite the global pandemic—or perhaps especially so—the dues have helped the PA support BDS in ways we could have never imagined a year ago. We have hosted socially-distanced grade events and modified but engaging enrichment assemblies and activity chairs and grade parents are helping our children have a marvelous year regardless of the pandemic. If you have not paid your dues yet, please consider doing so now as we plan for the remainder of the year, and beyond. The suggested annual dues is $50 per family. (Any additional amount may be tax-deductible.) You can make payment conveniently online with a credit card, debit card, or eCheck (ACH) via the secure BDS PA Payment Portal. Although not preferred, you can also pay by paper check by contacting the PA Treasurer, Alex Min. For that matter, you can contact Alex with any questions regarding the annual PA dues at all.
Thank you for your support!
Calling All Hat Makers
The baby welcoming committee is busy collecting books and creating baskets to welcome faculty babies this spring and summer. We are looking to build up an inventory of handmade baby hats, so one can be included in each basket. Whether knitting, crocheting, sewing, or another skill, please share your talent and show your appreciation to our wonderful faculty and staff by contributing a hat. Please contact Jeana Colangelo with questions.
Committee Volunteers Needed for 2021-22
We are looking for volunteers to oversee the fabulous roles and committees such as the family fun event, book fair, and friendraiser committees, among 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 the Parent Portal. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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@example.com.
Support Waltham Fields Community Farm
Waltham Fields Community Farm is dedicated to the mission of food assistance and farm education in our area towns and cities. For the second year, the farm’s major fundraiser, Sprout!, has been transformed into a virtual event. The online silent auction will be held April 8-11. For information on registering to participate in the auction, donating items, or making a donation in support of Waltham Fields, visit the Sprout! event website.