Pre-kindergarten students took a trip this week to the magical world of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Message from Head of School
Thriving on Growth
Brendan Largay, Head of School
– Guest writers: Liz Gray, Middle School Head, and Minna Ham, Lower School Head
Post Date: May 10, 2019
Liz Gray, Middle School Head
A few weeks ago at a parent coffee, a parent who had attended last year’s coffees on middle school program design asked this question that has made me pause.
“Last year, we talked about building the Barn and beginning enrollment growth and how those would affect the middle school program. What have been the greatest rewards and challenges that the middle school has faced since then?”
I have been kicking this question around in my head daily.
When I think back to May 2018, we were surveying students to gather their “burning questions” about what they could expect this year and the questions poured in.
How will we fit everyone in the lunchroom? How many teachers will there be in sixth grade? Are we going to be required to be on an athletics team? Will we have to walk outside every time we go to the Barn? Will things go back to normal?
That final question was something that was on everyone’s minds last spring. Faculty and students alike were all wondering, Will we ever be able to get to a “new normal” and find our footing again? If this year has taught me anything, it’s that the answer is yes.
In one year, we have transitioned from a fifth-through-eighth middle school to a sixth-through-eighth middle school. Our staffing structure changed and our sixth grade teaching team more than doubled in size. We welcomed thirteen fabulous new students and families to the middle school. A group of middle school faculty worked hard over the summer to plan a brand-new middle school orientation program, which welcomed new students last August, introducing them to everything from what to expect academically to touring the Barn in its early construction phase. And we added Latin to our languages slate, and sixth-grade classicists have now just finished building replicas of a Roman bath, complete with a hypocaust, the hollow room beneath the baths that warmed them with fire from below.
The sixth grade delivered an amazing Freedom Night performance this week, embracing the new class size, structure, and musical collaboration. Their exhibits graced the sixth grade classrooms this week and were shared for visitors to learn more about civil rights throughout time and cultures.
Seventh and eighth graders are traveling daily to and from the Barn, where they are tinkering and investigating in the gorgeous science lab and innovation studio, creating in the art and woodworking studios, and practicing and competing on the shiny new gym floors. Our athletics program has expanded with all middle school students joining in the camaraderie and leadership of our teams. And our arts program is introducing sixth graders to a new foundational arts experience that more smoothly and effectively paves the way for our seventh and eighth grade arts electives.
The challenges we faced have been mostly behind the scenes. They include the meticulous planning, the spirited debates, the physical labor of moving classrooms, and the nuanced work and care involved in working as a member of a new team of colleagues. The reward from that hard work has emerged—the life of the middle school is more vibrant than ever.
I celebrate everyone involved in this success. Our outstanding faculty always have their hearts and minds on what is best for students and never stop working to provide it. Our families have listened, provided their wisdom and feedback, and trusted us through significant changes. Most importantly, our students continue to rise above whatever we may imagine, and make us proud with their brave voices that bring both laughter and seriousness of purpose to every day of our work with them. While this may be the “new normal,” we all know that BDS does not stop moving, so look and listen carefully, as the best will keep coming.
Minna Ham, Lower School Head
Every school has a heart. The heart is the room, the nook, the office that reverberates with the pulse of the school. I realized quickly that the heart of BDS is the Erskine Library. This year it served as my classroom as I taught a first grade reading group and I have witnessed the power it has to bring comfort, joy, and wonder to our community.
This summer the Erskine Library will be fully renovated thanks to a community effort with parents and faculty working on research, design, and funding. School librarian, Amy Sprung has spearheaded these efforts. Her expertise and passion are moving the renovation forward.
For me, libraries can be the quintessential models of equity and inclusion work. They are a haven of free information and are open to all—a place where both young and old can find laughter, tears, adventure, and enlightenment. When appropriately curated and maintained, a library’s collection provides valuable windows and mirrors, giving readers opportunities to see themselves and to learn about others. Libraries can be places where one finds validation, as well as question ideas that once seemed like fact. Books are valuable teachers with words communicating new ideas and information, opening both minds and hearts. Stories and characters transport us to unfamiliar places and teach us empathy and life lessons we may never realize in our everyday lives. Libraries have the power to both fuel and satiate one’s curiosity.
In celebration of the library renovation, student summer reading selections share the broad theme of books and libraries. As you can imagine, this theme can encompass many other sophisticated concepts such as access to information and education, diversity of thought and also embrace the more basic ideas of welcoming places, love of books and reading, and even friendship. Summer reading for faculty will be to find a book of our choice from our local library.
Having spent most of my year listening to books in my car, I am looking forward to checking out a book from my hometown library. Entering the stacks, looking for just the right summer companion, I know the shelves will not fail me. Among the plastic coverings and colorful bindings, I will find the book that is just right for me, the book that will quench whatever thirst I may have at the moment. It might be a mystery to give me a thrill, a memoir to inspire, or a debut novel from an upcoming author. My feelings of satisfaction and anticipation will be mirrored by students when they find their perfect books on all new shelves this fall.
The girls’ lacrosse team was jumping for joy during a beautiful spring week.
This Coming Week at BDS
May 13 through May 17
April 22–May 18 – Cradles to Crayons Donation Drive
Monday, May 13
8:15–10:00 a.m., Erskine Library Committee Meeting and Cleaning/Inventory
10:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m., Grade 5 Field Lab, Belmont Public Library
6:30–8:30 p.m., Parent Forum: Lower School Math Review, Coolidge Hall
May 14–May 16 – ERBs for Grades 5 & 6
Tuesday, May 14
8–9:00 a.m., Parent Forum: Middle School Math Review, Coolidge Hall
8:15–10:00 a.m., Erskine Library Cleaning and Inventory
8:45 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Grade 4 Field Lab, Northeastern University Marine Science Center
9:00 a.m.–1:45 p.m., Grade 1 Field Lab, EcoTarium, Worcester
Wednesday, May 15
8–9:30 a.m., Grade 6 Parent Coffee, Coolidge Hall
8:15–10:00 a.m., Erskine Library Cleaning and Inventory
10–11:00 a.m., Pre-k and Kindergarten Field Day
3:30 p.m., Boys’ Lacrosse at Carroll; JV Tennis at Nashoba; JV Ultimate vs CFS; Track & Field at Fessenden; Varsity Ultimate at Arlington; Girls’ Lacrosse vs Carroll; Varsity Tennis at Beaver
5:30–7:30 p.m., Diversity Committee, Barn Conference Room
Thursday, May 16
3:30 p.m., Varsity Tennis at Charles River; Boys’ Lacrosse vs Park; Girls’ Lacrosse vs Park
6–8:30 p.m., Annual Corporation Meeting and Reception, Palandjian Arts Center
Friday, May 17
Community Service Day
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association, Barn Mezzanine
8:50–9:35 a.m., Community Service Day Assembly
6–8:30 p.m., Parents of Students of Color Group
Cradles to Crayons Donation Drive Sorting Event
Saturday, May 18
Please keep those donations coming in for Cradles to Crayons! We are collecting gently used toys and clothing until this Saturday. The donation box is located next to the Barn.
Volunteers are needed for the sorting event from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Barn. Join local families for a fun afternoon of hands-on service inspecting, sorting, and organizing children’s items. To register for the sorting event email [email protected] or [email protected] org.
Presentations on Mathematics Review
Grades Pre-k-5: Monday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Grades 6-8: Tuesday, May 14 at 8:30 a.m.
Please join us on Monday for an overview of the math curriculum review process and the launch of our pre-k to grade 5 Singapore Math program. Please join us on Tuesday for an overview of the math curriculum review process and the launch of our Connected Mathematics Project program for grades 6 to 8.
We hope that many of you will take the time to participate in the annual parent survey. Your honest and specific feedback is valuable to the school and will help us to better serve our students and families moving forward. The survey is open until Friday, May 17.
Lunch & Snack Menu
May 13 to May 17
Snack: granola bars; fruit cup
Lunch: creamy pesto gemelli pasta; whole grain rolls; chef’s choice vegetables; greens with balsamic
Snack: saltines; bananas
Lunch: meatball submarine sandwiches and potato chips; chef’s choice vegetables; coleslaw
Snack: Tostitos; raisins
Lunch: chicken quesadillas; cheese and bean quesadillas; sour cream, salsa, and guacamole; chef’s choice vegetables; taco salad with avocado
Snack: pretzels; pears
Lunch: cheese pizza; pepperoni pizza; chef’s choice vegetables; spinach salad with goat cheese, cranberry sherry vinaigrette
BRAIDING DIFFERENT STRANDS
Wednesday, May 22, 6:15 to 8:30 p.m., Coolidge Hall
Come enjoy a festive evening of food, drink, and conversation as we toast another successful year with participants of our equity and inclusion groups—parent SEED, faculty SEED, and race-based discussion groups—and all interested parents. Incoming Director of Equity and Inclusion Carlos Hoyt will be our special guest. All are welcome and encouraged to attend!
Please RSVP and let us know if you are able to bring something and what it will be. Don’t forget that BDS is a nut-free school. Complimentary childcare will be provided for school-aged children. Thank you! RSVP here.
-painting by Nico Rimer ’19 answering the question “What’s My Story?”
CORPORATION MEETING & PROXY VOTING
Thursday, May 16
Cocktail Reception at 6 p.m. Honoring Mary Merrill
Annual Meeting at 7 p.m.
All parents are members of the Belmont Day School Corporation and the Parents’ Association and are invited to be part of this special annual event. We hope you will plan to attend this important evening! Whether or not you will be there, please take a minute now to submit your proxy, which will help us reach a quorum for the meeting and corporation vote. Click here to complete your proxy.
Doubles Pairings Lead Varsity Tennis to 4-4 Tie
After a disappointing 7-1 loss to Meadowbrook on Wednesday afternoon, the varsity tennis team rebounded the following day against Fessenden with a 4-4 tie. Belmont Day needed a pair of wins from their double pairings to fight back to even in the match. Milly Noble and Everett Dalton had a gutsy performance at fourth doubles, winning 7-6 in a tie-breaker. At second doubles Eli Burger and Eden Lewis jumped out to an early lead and closed out their opponents for a solid 6-3 win. Head coach Jim Walker was proud of the way the team responded against Fessenden and hopes to close out the season on a high note over these next two weeks.
More Athletics News
- The track & field team toppled Meadowbrook 60-29 this week behind Miles Sandoski’s 5-minute mile and Toby Gauld’s first place finish in the 800m. The team improved to 4-2 with the win.
- Yareh Constant scored the winning point during JV ultimate’s dramatic 8-7 victory at Shady Hill this week. Thierrence Mathurin and Isaac Frehywot played well for the victors.
- The boys’ lacrosse team fell to 2-4 on the season after a pair of losses this week. Henry Buckley-Jones and Jacob Gregor led the way for the Blue & Gold in both contests.
- Jazmin Cruz and Maya Gregor were active on the field during girls’ lacrosse’s losses to DCD and Meadowbrook. The team will look to rebound with a pair of games next week.
- Squaring off against Shady Hill for the second time this season, the JV tennis team improved on their early season performance and received strong play from Aviva Pearlmutter-Bearson.
- After entering the week undefeated, the varsity ultimate team dropped back-to-back games this week. Orion Schrag, Jack Abruzzi, and Theo Wallach highlighted the losses.
Fifth Graders Combine Technology and Woodworking
Fifth grade students are putting the final touches on their projects from the combined woodworking and technology class. The students are adding either a MakeyMakey or micro:bit to their wood projects which will allow them to interact with the code they wrote in Scratch. From alarm clocks that display the weather, to game controllers, to musical instruments, the students have created an impressive array of unique projects.
Debbie Silverman, Grade 5 Teacher
Debbie Silverman has spent six years teaching fifth graders math and science and being an advocator for social-emotional learning through her role as a homeroom teacher. In addition to teaching, Debbie has been an avid coach and valuable mentor teacher to associates—having started her own Belmont Day career as an associate teacher—and to eighth graders as a Capstone mentor. A passionate science teacher, Debbie was an early adopter of innovation and technology in her classroom. Debbie also served as a member of Braiding Different Strands and has provided insight and perspective to our equity and inclusion work.
Debbie has decided to combine her passion for anti-bias work and her talent as an educator in a new way and has accepted a position with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). We will miss Debbie’s boundless energy and enthusiasm as well as her keen ability to connect with students. Although leaving full-time classroom teaching, Debbie will continue connecting with students by facilitating an ADL peer-to-peer training program in middle and high schools across New England around anti-bias and anti-bullying curricula. We hope our paths cross again as BDS continues its relationship with the ADL. We wish Debbie good luck in her new role!
Sunny Kim, Grade 2 Teacher
We are thrilled to share the news that Sunny Kim will be joining Nancy Fell as a second grade co-teacher in the fall. Sunny comes to Belmont Day after completing a master’s degree in language and literacy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Most recently she served as an instructional aide in a first grade classroom at Morse Elementary School in Cambridge. Sunny graduated from Vanderbilt University summa cum laude and in her senior year received the Dorothy J. Skeel Award for her exceptional professional promise in the elementary education field.
During her visit to Belmont Day, we saw Sunny’s teaching philosophy come to life. As she explained her “teaching philosophy revolves around student-centered inquiry, which highlights the need for the teacher to know how to guide students in rigorous investigations of content.” Her positive energy and engagement with children showed us her commitment to socio-emotional learning. Sunny is excited to share her love of Korean pop culture, guitar, and creative computing.
Sally Emery, Middle School Learning Specialist
We will enthusiastically welcome Sally Emery to Belmont Day this fall as our new middle school learning specialist. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Sally received a master’s degree in mild-to-moderate special education from Lesley University. Sally’s experience in middle schools in Colorado and Massachusetts includes teaching and designing math and reading curriculum for small groups of students; working closely with classroom teachers to develop scaffolds and implement interventions; leading faculty professional development sessions; and coordinating, communicating, and analyzing testing data.
As well as teaching, Sally’s most recent experience at the Brooke Charter School has provided many opportunities to reinforce her deep commitment to developing strong relationships with middle school students, their parents, and their teachers. In her words, “As educators, it is our responsibility to help our students to acquire the skills necessary to be thoughtful citizens, both academically and socially.”
ANNUAL GIVING NEWS
Let’s “Make it in May” for 100% Participation
With only four weeks left in the school year, 181 families have already made their commitment to the 2019 Annual Fund. That means that we’re only 25 families short of 100% participation. In the coming days, we will be reaching out to you by phone and mail to personally ask for your support.
The annual fund supports our school’s operating expenses and makes it possible for us to include many things as a part of our tuition, such as lunches in Coolidge Hall, class trips, and athletics programs. Gifts of any size are greatly appreciated. So, make your gift today and bring us one step closer to making it to 100% family participation.
– Beth Sousa, Associate Director of Development and Annual Giving
Roots and Shoots Volunteers at Room to Grow
Kudos to the middle school Roots and Shoots Club that volunteered this past Saturday morning at Room to Grow in Boston. Club members sorted more than 500 books recently donated to the organization. The books sorted by the students will be distributed soon by Room to Grow to local families with children under three years old.
Alumni in Action Speaker Series: Josh Troop ’09
Tuesday, May 28 at 3:30 p.m., Kiva
Join middle school students, alumni, faculty, and friends for this year’s Alumni in Action Speaker Series event. Josh Troop ’09 returns to campus to talk about his post-BDS story and what led him to pursue a career in politics. Josh has held a wide variety of positions in campaigns at both the local and national levels, including most recently serving as regional field director on the Jay Gonzalez for Governor campaign. His talk will focus on the many ways for people, including students, to get involved in public affairs. He will highlight the importance of having a core set of values or beliefs to guide you in whatever line of work you chose.
To help us with numbers, please RSVP to Andy Rentschler if you are interested in attending. We hope to see you there!
BUILDINGS & GROUNDS NEWS
Complete the Universal Design Survey
A sub-group of the buildings and grounds committee has formed to incorporate the principles of universal design—a framework for the design of spaces that benefit the widest range of people in the widest range of situations without special or separate design—at Belmont Day.
The seven principles of universal design are Equitable Use; Flexibility in Use; Simple and Intuitive Use; Perceptible Information; Tolerance for Error; Low Physical Effort; and Size and Space for Approach and Use. Learn more about universal design.
The group’s goal is to develop a layered plan to address physical, sensory, visual auditory, ambulatory, or environmental challenges at our school so that every student, parent, faculty member, and visitor is welcome and fully able to participate.
We invite you to complete this survey to help us identify elements of our campus and learning spaces that may impede the principles of universal design.
Your input will help us develop a prioritized list of challenges, identify remedies and costs, and create a timeline.
We value your input and thank you for your help.
-Corrado Paramithiotti, Director of Operations
GAY STRAIGHT ALLIANCE NEWS
Boston Pride Parade
Saturday, June 8
Members of the middle school Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) invite the BDS community to join them to march in Boston’s Pride Parade as a school. Boston Pride is a fun, affirming event—hundreds of community groups, faith groups, non-profits, schools, and businesses gather to celebrate LGBTQIA+ communities. Participating in Pride is another way to celebrate our diversity, encourage diversity in the wider community, and enjoy each other’s company! Anyone and everyone are invited to march with us on Saturday, June 8. The details are in the dropdown below.
Pride Parade Details
- Our BDS Parade Marshals are two of our GSA advisors, Koreen McQuilton and Liz LaRocque. We are officially registered to march as a group.
- This is a family-friendly, multi-generational event. All are welcome—current families, alumni families, friends, neighbors—invite whomever you wish!
- Wear your BDS gear and join us!
- Scooters, wagons, and strollers are encouraged—it is a long walk for little feet.
- The parade happens, rain or shine! Bring water, dress for the weather, wear sunscreen—and be aware that police and security staff may search bags and backpacks.
- We will meet along Boylston St., likely between 11 and 11:30; we will be assigned our exact time and location on June 5. We will let you know this information in an all-school communication as soon as we know!
- There is a staggered start to the parade this year; we will be marching toward the beginning with other school groups.
- The parade begins at noon. The route winds through downtown Boston, ending at City Hall plaza. The route is 2.27 miles long and takes about an hour. Folks are welcome to join in and opt out at any point along the route. You can see the route and get other important information here: http://www.bostonpride. org/parade/
- We will gather at the end of the parade route at City Hall plaza and take a group picture, then disperse as a group. There are food and organization booths on the plaza or you can circle back out and watch more of the parade.
- The Boston Pride Parade draws about half a million participants and spectators annually—using public transportation is strongly encouraged.
- PLEASE NOTE: Students grades five and under must be accompanied by an adult; middle school students must have their parents’ permission to participate unsupervised. BDS faculty and staff will not assume responsibility for students at this event.
Calling All Library Books
Please check your bookcases at home, under the bed, in those backpacks, and even in the freezer! This summer we will be renovating the Erskine Library and we’ll be packing up every book in the collection. All books are due back by Friday, May 17.
Although circulation has ended for the year, if your student would like to check out a book after May 17, or if students are interested in taking out books to read over the summer, please make arrangements with Ms. Sprung.
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Community Service Day 2019
Friday, May 17
Thank you for the generous donations in support of community service day! We are looking forward to an excellent day of joyful service and we need your help.
There is still time to contribute:
For Furnishing Hope: bath towels and washcloths; shower curtains and hooks (gently used, clean, and in good condition)
For Room to Grow: board books, infant and baby toys (new)
For Grandma’s Pantry: non-perishable food items; sugar-free and no-salt items welcome
Donations can be dropped off in the Schoolhouse Gallery or in the communications office. Thank you for your generosity!
Honey and Garden Greens Sale
Friday, May 17, 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Look for our limited edition all-natural raw honey and freshly harvested greens for sale during community service day in front of the school.
Wednesday and Thursday, May 22 and 23
Plan ahead for the ever-popular fourth grade plant sale! Students are now growing a variety of wonderful plants, from artichokes to sunflowers and lavender, which will all be available for purchase. The sale, now in its seventh year, will take place before and after school with all proceeds going to a charity chosen by the students.
Parents’ Association News
Parents’ Association Meeting
Friday, May 17, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Barn Mezzanine
Please join us for a special thank you breakfast for our PA and auction volunteers. We’ll have a light agenda with a focus on celebrating the end of another wonderful year. All parents are welcome to join!
Faculty Luncheon Sign-up
Show your gratitude to the hard-working faculty and staff by contributing a purchased or homemade dish to the faculty appreciation luncheon on May 31. Beverages, food, tablecloths, and more are all needed and appreciated to make this event a success. We still have lots of items on the list, so please consider helping. Instructions for where and when to drop-off are available here.
Library Cleaning & Library Committee Meeting
Monday–Wednesday, May 13-15
Lend a hand to dust, wipe, do inventory, catalog, and pack books and shelves to keep the Erskine Library in tip-top shape and ready for the renovation. Drop in any time during the cleaning and stay for as long as you are available. Any time you can give is greatly appreciated. Refreshments will be provided.
Monday, May 13 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
Tuesday, May 14 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
Wednesday, May 15 from 8:15 to 10 a.m.
*Please note that the library committee will be meeting at 8:15 a.m. prior to Monday’s cleaning. All welcome! Come to hear about the latest library news and initiatives.
Cradles to Crayons Sorting Event
Saturday, May 18, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Barn Gym
Parent Book Club
Wednesday, May 29, 8:15 to 9:30 a.m., Erskine Library
Book Selection: Naamah by Sarah Blake
Friday, May 17, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Barn Mezzanine
As a special thank you to our auction volunteers we are hosting a celebratory breakfast at the last parents’ association meeting of the year. The final results from the auction will be announced the evening before during the at the corporation meeting on May 16. Early signs indicate that the event was a great success! We hope you can join us to celebrate.
Science on Saturday
Saturday, May 18, 10 to 11 a.m.
Join Lincoln Laboratory for Light, Sound, Vibration, and their Remarkable Relationship, a fun discussion of photon-to-phonon interaction, photoacoustics, and laser vibrometry. Lincoln Laboratory will use light to create sound and vibration in objects at distances from a few inches to a kilometer. Then they use light as a microphone to measure sound and light from far away. This provides ways to find damages in bridges or jet engines from a safe point on the ground and helps surgeons perform ultrasound without touching the patient.
WGBH Seeks Students for Children’s Program
WGBH is casting children for short video segments for the PBS television series Pinkalicious and Peterrific.
The segments will feature kids engaged in activities relating to dance, music, theater, and visual arts. Children ages seven to nine who are interested in participating should sign-up to attend the tryout being held at the WGBH studios on Saturday, June 1. For more information and to sign up, please visit this website.
If you have any questions, please contact Belmont Day parent Julie Rosenberg at [email protected].
Tuesdays, May 28 to July 2
First Parish of Westwood
This six-session workshop is geared to middle school students who want to learn the basics of robotics. Lessons will include engineering challenges, programming, design, and case studies. For more information and registration, email [email protected]
You can share a link to the entire newsletter here—or share individual articles using the icons to the right of each article.