Eighth graders were working on their Capstone projects during Studio Week.
Reaching Beyond Ourselves to Help Others
Carlos Hoyt, Director of Equity and Inclusion
Post Date: March 5, 2021
“As of January 2019, Massachusetts had an estimated 18,471 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that total, 3,766 were family households, 917 were veterans, 480 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 2,370 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2017-2018 school year shows that an estimated 23,601 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the year. Of that total, 192 students were unsheltered, 6,787 were in shelters, 1,524 were in hotels/motels, and 15,098 were doubled up.”
I think about the way we tend to do social justice advocacy. Quite naturally, we tend to pay attention to issues, hardships, inequities, and injustices that affect us and folks like us, where “like us” tends to mean look like us, share experiences with us, come from where we come from… It seems so logical, imperative even to ask, “Who’s going to look out for us if we don’t look out for ourselves?”
I am fortunate to not be in the 18,471. My children were never among public school students experiencing homelessness. Homelessness is not MY problem. Homelessness is not a problem that affects anyone in my family. Homelessness is not a problem that affects anyone in my close social networks. I’m guessing it’s accurate to assume that that’s true for most members of the BDS community.
When I arrived at Pine Street Inn this past Saturday to drop off the thousands of items you contributed as part of the MLK Jr. Pine Street Inn Outreach Kits service project, I was greeted by Matt, our partner there, and Lena, another PSI volunteer. They were astounded by the amount that you contributed. They were deeply grateful for your efforts to help them in their efforts to combat homelessness.
Why do they work and volunteer at Pine Street, I wondered. Do they have personal connections to this challenge? What motivates them to do this work? I observed how reflexively my mind sought reasons that had to do with the me-and-mine logic of social justice work.
As early as 1675, one historian reports, sixty-two refugees from a conflict in Rhode Island arrived in Boston. They were not well-received. They were blamed for their plight. Their struggle was seen as THEIR problem, not the problem of those fortunate enough to have homes. Regarded as “troubled and troublesome individuals,” they were “warned away and removed.” Over time that cruel and inaccurate construction of why people are homeless has changed but the truth is it hasn’t completely gone away.
The history of homelessness, like the history of xenophobia, like the history of racism, like the history of gender inequity, like the history of heterosexism, like the history of classism, and ableism, and ageism, and lookism, and worldview intolerance is characterized by the social justice myopia that afflicts us all. It’s hard to see that social bias is social bias no matter if it manifests in a way that bears down on one directly or in a way that spares one but bears down on someone else. A blinkered approach to social justice that begins and ends with folks who look like me will never lead to an end of injustice. It’s crucial to see that there but for a change in circumstance go I.
The most important results of our MLK Jr. service project for Pine Street will be the warm hands, feet, and heads, and the skin that can resist the damaging effects of prolonged exposure to harsh winter weather, of the people—people just like us, despite any ways in which they don’t “look” like us—who are better equipped than they would otherwise be to move through and beyond the circumstance of homelessness.
The other value we hope is derived from this project is the development or strengthening of an empathic-coalitional view of social justice, a view that understands our school values—excellence, responsibility, respect, honesty, caring, and joy—as mandates to resist social justice myopia.
On behalf of Matt and Lena, and everyone at Pine Street Inn, and with gratitude to the members of the MLK Jr. Observance Committee (Koreen McQuilton, Betty Chu Pryor, Dean Spencer, and Heather Woodcock), Anderson Santos, Lino Medeiros, Mike Faretra, Pati Fernández, and the BDS leadership team, thank you for your service.
March 9 to March 26
March is Alumni Giving Challenge Month
Tuesday, March 9
5:30–7:00 p.m., Diversity Committee; Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, March 10
10 a.m., Parent Book Club; Zoom Gathering
Friday, March 12
Trimester 2 Ends
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association; Zoom Meeting
8:50–9:35 a.m., Cross Graded Partners; Zoom Gathering
Monday, March 15
Trimester 3 Begins
Tuesday, March 16
7–8:15 p.m., Anti-racist Allyship Group for White-identified Parents; 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
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
For all Zoom meetings and gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
March Madness Has Begun!
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 are welcome! Click here to RSVP!
The upcoming events are:
Wednesday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m., Partners In Health Conversation
Wednesday, March 17 at 7 p.m., Storytelling in the Age of Climate Crisis with Julie Dalton P ’08 ’12 ’15 ’19
Parent Conference Days
The spring conference days will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 23 and 24. All conferences will be held via Zoom and there will be no synchronous classes on those days.
Lower school parents should check their email for a note from their student’s classroom teacher with a link for conference sign-ups. Middle school parents, please check your email for details on conferences from Liz Gray, middle school head.
Lunch & Snack Menu
March 8 to March 12
Snack: apple slices; white corn cheese puffs
Lunch: cheese lasagna; pasta with sauce on the side; garlic bread; primavera vegetables; Romano cheese; garden salad with dressing; diced peaches; milk and water
Snack: clementines; NutriGrain bars
Lunch: pan-fried teriyaki chicken; teriyaki tofu; veggie-fried rice; broccoli; fortune cookies; Asian spinach salad with Mandarin oranges; fresh fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: bananas; pretzel twists
Lunch: crispy breaded fish; roasted chicken; veggie nuggets; French fries; carrot coins; garden salad with honey mustard; Mandarin oranges; milk and water
Snack: apple slices; whole-grain Rice Krispie Treats
Lunch: ham and cheese croissants; cheese croissants; chips; Caesar salad; minestrone soup; Romano cheese; fresh fruit cups; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: Real Fruit Gummies; Cape Cod Chips
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 email@example.com for more information.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
During this first full week back after the February break, we had one inconclusive pool. On subsequent testing, all tests thankfully came back negative.
Always, if you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
RJ has spent this year healing and in recovery from his bout with cancer. While his prognosis looks good and he continues to improve, he has made the decision not to return to the middle school math classroom next year. We will celebrate and fondly remember RJ’s passion for teaching mathematics, his devotion as an advisor and Capstone mentor, his kind heart, unbeatable sense of humor and hearty laugh, and love for all things middle school. A beloved member of this community, we will miss RJ greatly and wish him the very best as he embarks on his next adventure.
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. 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!
Students Attend Model UN Conferences
February and March saw a return to Model UN activities for two committed students. During February break, seventh grader Betel Zewude participated in a three-day conference with a focus on climate change. She represented the country of Tanzania at this conference. Betel says that some highlights included, “getting to work with people from all over Massachusetts and even other countries. Another thing I enjoyed was the virtual tour of the United Nations. I got to learn a lot more about the parts of the United Nations and how it works. The last thing I enjoyed about the conference is writing up resolutions. It was really fun interacting with kids my age and figuring out solutions for real-world problems. I learned that teamwork is really important when it comes to solving problems. Each person’s ideas can come together and form something amazing. When we were writing our resolutions we all put forward our ideas and even combined teams to share ideas.”
On February 27, sixth grader Sahana Miduturu took part in a one-day conference focused on world hunger. She was a delegate for Vietnam, and she particularly enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a speech in a short amount of time and collaborating with other students. Her research focused on how to reduce food waste and improve access to food.
Betel and Sahana both jumped at the opportunity to develop confidence in collaborative situations and to learn more about the world. Thanks to their curiosity and commitment to excellence, they are admirable representatives of the BDS community.
– Jennifer Friborg, French teacher, Capstone coordinator, and Model UN advisor
Cyber Security Update
Over the summer the tech office partnered with a cybersecurity training firm to ensure that our community is getting regular up-to-date training on how to keep our devices and accounts safe. In this hybrid learning environment where home networks do not have the level of security and filtering the school network has, it is an important mitigation step toward keeping home and school networks secure. This involved running simulated phishing scams that would initiate remedial training of certain skills based on a user’s computer habits. The education industry’s phish-prone average is 17.3%. Our first simulation reported a 39% phishing risk score. Over the past 6 months, we have dramatically dropped our risk factor down to 3.1%.
New Warning For Windows Users
There is a new Ryuk Ransomware strain that can worm into Windows Local Area Network (LAN) devices. Reportedly, the most successful mode of hackers transporting this latest virus into a device/network is through phishing emails. To help keep you safe we are once again providing the link to a Home Internet Security Course provided by our security partner. The passphrase is homecourse.
– Dolly Ryan, director of technology
BDS Quest & Fest Corner
Say Yes to the Quest… and Join Us for the Fest
Thank you for the amazing energy surrounding the BDS Quest and Fest event. We are grateful for how flexible and supportive our community has been this year. We are excited to launch the event series on Saturday, March 20.
For those who are registered, please complete the logistics form no later than TODAY (Friday, March 5) to ensure your team t-shirts are ordered on time. If you have NOT registered and are interested in joining the event, please contact Pati Fernández as soon as possible.
With over 100 teams, we have tallied class participation. The winning classes for the highest percentage of participating families in the lower school is Grade 3 and in middle school is Grade 6. Congratulations to Grades 3 and 6! These classes will receive a special surprise during lunch one day next week from our committee.
This week’s challenge will be an opportunity to receive a BDS gear gift!
Write a poem using the words of the six core values–respect, honesty, caring, joy, excellence, caring, and responsibility. Email Pati Fernández your poem to win.
Still Seeking Sponsorships
Revisits for Grandparents and Special Friends
As promised, we worked with faculty and reviewed feedback from guests to create a revisit plan due to the Zoom difficulties experienced during our Grandparents’ and Special Friends’ Day.
An email was sent last Saturday to all grandparents and special friends who were registered for a class that could not complete their classroom session. The revisit schedule is listed in the dropdown below. If you have any questions or do not see the grade your special guests missed, please contact Pati Fernández. We are looking forward to hosting our guests once again.
- Grade 1 Alexander Cohort on Thursday, March 11 at 2:30
- Grade 1 Gibson Cohort on Wednesday, March 10 at 2:30 p.m.
- Grade 2 Fell Cohort on Friday, March 26 at 10:30 a.m.
- Grade 2 Lee Cohort on Friday, March 26 at 11:15 a.m.
- Grade 4 DeVecchi Cohort on Monday, March 8 at 9:15 a.m.
- Grade 4 Holman Cohort on Monday, March 8: at 11 a.m.
- Grade 5 Skinner Cohort on Monday, March 8 at 8 a.m.
- Grade 5 Nairn Cohort on Tuesday, March 9 at 2:30 p.m.
- Grade 6 Spencer Cohort on Monday, March 15 at 2:30 p.m.
Second Graders Begin Research on Environmental Changemakers
Over the last few weeks, second graders have been exploring what it means to be a changemaker. Through the exciting, vibrant books of our visiting authors Suzanne Slade and Heather Lang, students have been reading stories of people who made the decision to change the world for the better. Now, second graders have the chance to investigate their own changemakers as they embark on their first research project. With the help of librarian Amy Sprung, students have been introduced to the research databases and are excited to learn more about those who dedicated their lives to creating environmental change and inspiring future generations to help protect our planet.
– The Grade 2 Teaching Team
Athletics Update: Fine and Sandoski Lead Fitness Charge
Sixth graders Perin Fine and Aleta Sandoski attacked the agility circuit in athletics this week with purpose. The duo led their classmates through ladders, hurdles, and cones in impressive fashion and set the bar high for the remaining middle school participants. Fine and Sandoski weren’t alone, however, with their impressive performance. Joining the two as top contributors this week were Liam Brodeur, Aria Goodpaster, Ezra Wolfson, and Sahana Miduturu. Collectively, all four of the sixth grade cohorts brought their best to the fitness challenge and should be proud of their effort. The athletics department can’t wait to see this crew in Belmont Day uniforms!
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
Fifth Graders Are Pumped about Studying the Heart
Fifth graders have been studying the circulatory system as part of their year-long exploration of the human body and its systems. Students learned the names and functions of the different parts of the human heart and diagrammed how blood flows through the heart, lungs, and body. Pigs’ hearts are remarkably similar to the hearts of humans, so to apply their learning, students had to identify the analogous structures on a pig heart in our classroom lab space. Students found the left and right atria, the left and right ventricles, the coronary arteries, and the aorta. While a few students were a bit squeamish to touch the hearts, most dove in with zeal. Ask a fifth grader the name of the artery through which blood leaves the left ventricle of your heart!
– Emma Nairn, grade 5 teacher
Pre-kindergartners Count with Their Mittens
Fresh from reading The Mitten by Jan Brett, in which an unbelievable number of animals managed to crawl into a lost mitten, we tried stuffing our own mittens with connecting cubes. After stuffing in the connecting cubes we took them out and counted how many we managed to fit inside. While this is a fun activity for children, it was also an informal assessment of their counting strategies and knowledge of numbers and their sequence. Most children at this age begin to skip numbers or repeat some after 12. This is typical for the developmental stage and will correct itself with repeated practice and modeling to learn the order of numbers. A good counting strategy is lining up the objects and touching each one as you say its number or moving each one as it is counted. Accurate counting of 20 objects is a goal in pre-kindergarten. Many children can count even higher by rote, or from memory. More importantly, linking a quantity with a number is fundamental to building number sense.
– Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teacher
Eighth Graders Participate in Capstone Study
In the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, students in eighth grade used one of their science classes this week to assist Kendree Chen in the completion of a portion of her Capstone project. To do this they became participants in a scientific study designed to look at the correlations between positive affect, optimism, and creativity in a critical thinking challenge. To begin, students completed a short survey related to optimism, and then they were given a small box containing a birthday candle, five paper clips, three push pins, and two binder clips. Using these materials students were asked to attach the birthday candle to a cardboard wall such that the candle was upright and would not drip wax onto the desk when lit. Students enjoyed working on this challenge and it was interesting to see the many solutions that were developed. To find out more about the results of this experiment be sure to attend Kendree’s Capstone presentation in April!
– Sandra Trentowsky, grades 7 & 8 science teacher
PE Update: Third Grade Betters at Badminton
This week in physical education, third grade students worked on skills that will help them become competent badminton players. The young athletes worked their way through several stations that emphasized striking with a racquet, hand-eye coordination, and individual skill work. Each class started with a five-minute jog around the Barn gold court to help increase their heart rates and get them warmed up and ready to perform at their best. After warmups, students were broken up into groups and cycled through all the stations. The “scarf exchange” and “net volley” were the students’ favorite stations. In all, the third grade showed great determination, poise, and focus that will help them transition to playing singles. Great job third grade!
– Eric Ridoré, physical education teacher
Seventh Graders Learn a Lesson on Evolution
– Leal Carter, middle school science teacher
Arts Update: Fourth Grade Learns Musical Traditions of Ghana
Fourth grade students have been working on their drumming and instrumental playing in their current music intensive. Students have been learning about the country of Ghana and the musical traditions of the Ewe people. They have been learning about the traditional instruments: gankogui, axatse, sogo, kidi, and kagan. In this video, you will see a sample of students’ work with faster rhythmic subdivisions, polyrhythmic syncopation, and steady beats.
– Yui Kitamura, music teacher
Parents’ Association News
The next book club selection is Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, March 10 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.
Have you participated in the Birthday Book Program this year? In the program, parents have the opportunity to have a book added to the Erskine Library in honor of their child’s birthday. It is entirely optional. Your child’s name will be put on a special bookplate that is placed in a library book to recognize your gift, and Ms. Sprung will bring the book to your child to checkout. In the past, parents would drop off a check or cash and either browse the new book cart or indicate special requests. This year, we are trying something a little different by regularly updating wishlists at two local independent bookstores, Porter Square Books and Belmont Books. Please consider purchasing a book from one of our wishlists to be added to the Erskine Library collection. If you would like a bookplate added to your donation in honor of your child’s birthday, please email Amy Sprung with the name of the book you donated. If you would prefer to send a check as in the past, please email Amy.
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!
We are excited to welcome the next faculty baby this spring! Please help us welcome first grade teaching assistant Laura Bouchard’s baby with a donation of your favorite book. Books may be dropped off from Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 12 during drop-off or pick-up. There are collection bins at the front circle and the Barn. Thank you!
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Panel Discussion: Race, Justice, and the Law
Join Belmont Against Racism on Thursday, March 11 at 7 p.m. for a discussion on race, justice, and the law with Professor Renee Landers and Attorney Raymond Wilkes with moderator Attorney Dovie King. The discussion will explore the history of legislation promoting civil rights, works of restorative justice to right historical wrongs, and what more should be done to promote true equity. This program is co-sponsored by Belmont Against Racism in conjunction with Belmont Public Library’s reading of Say I’m Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love by E. Dolores Johnson for their Better Through Books: Healing Community Together. Click here to register for this event.