Ms. Klock and Ms. Coyne-Doyle delivering flowers for Capstone Week and catching up with some alumni. Great to see you, Jordan Clayton ’18 and Jayson Clayton ’15!
Capstone 2020: Tradition and Innovation
By Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: May 22, 2020
When learning offsite began in March, and when it became clear that we would not be able to return to campus, my mind, like so many others’, turned to our eighth grade students and what it would mean for them to experience the rituals of closure from a distance. For many schools, of course, those rituals include experiences like graduation. Still, I do not know of any others whose rituals include something as meaningful and important as the Capstone presentations.
In the past ten weeks, I have watched our eighth grade under the remarkable leadership and vision of Capstone Coordinator Jen Friborg, along with the dedicated care of social studies teacher Suzanne Caruso and many faculty mentors, respond to this unforeseen and unimaginable challenge with energy, conviction, and grace. As in previous years, each Capstone enriched the mind and the soul, and the students delivered them with an excellence that could rival the most popular of TEDTalks. Here, by presenter, is a bit of what I have learned from each of our experts this spring:
From Miles S.: It’s never easy to go first unless you’re used to it the way Miles has been throughout his running career here at Belmont Day. That is due, in no small part, to Miles’ understanding of the brain’s relationship with the body in endurance sports and what it takes to push through the psychological barriers that stand in the way of excellence. Look out world; Miles has learned yet another way to pick up speed.
From Ashley L: The principles of sustainability extend into the realm of fashion and clothing design and have a real and meaningful impact on everything from the global economy to the climate. I also learned that I should save up a few dollars to invest in eterniti fashion when it hits the market. The owner, founder, and CEO of the brand is soon to be a BDS alumna who could already impress her peers in the industry with her business plan.
From Scott A: In a world where climate change is having a meaningful and adverse effect on crops, the benefits of hydroponic crop growth—food produced without the need for soil—can make a real difference for the earth’s health without compromising quality or taste. I also learned that Scott has the curiosity of a microbiologist and the passion of a craftsman. The greenhouse industry may soon have a new player in its midst, and he is a force to be reckoned with!
From Anni T: I learned that music has been and continues to be more than an expression of art alone as it has been the vehicle by which the oppressed and underrepresented have discovered and used their voices for change. I also learned that whether composing, singing, playing, or producing music, Anni has a career as a musician waiting for her should she choose to pursue it. Her beautiful bilingual protest anthem can prove it.
From Xander: In a world where technology has disrupted and transformed every facet of our lives, Xander has seen the opportunity to leverage that disruption to stabilize the global food insecurity. It is also nice to see that apples don’t fall too far from their trees, especially when your mother is the head chef at a school that regularly utilizes its garden as a food source.
From Kiki: The history, influence, and impact of art has power that extends far beyond its time and modality. I also learned that we might have one of the world’s next great artists within this Class of 2020. Kiki not only understands what makes art powerful but can walk her audience through her stunning process, stroke by masterful stroke.
From Cole: I learned that meaningful change does not happen overnight, and even in 2020, we still see evidence of the inequalities between men and women in the world of athletics with Title IX. I also learned that it will take voices like Cole’s—clear, well educated, and compassionate voices—to further advance our aspirations towards gender equity.
From Michelle M-L: I learned that Bryan Stevenson’s suggestion that the issues closest to our hearts and those that carry the greatest emotional demands are often the most rewarding to learn about. I learned that the world is open to Michelle in any direction she might choose—reporter, policymaker, immigration lawyer, professor, author—the list is a long one.
From Piper M: Piper taught us all that the advances in gene therapy start closest to our heart and our kinship with those who may have rare genetic disorders like Angelman Syndrome. I learned about the synthesis between 3-D artwork like a tape person, the medical understanding of a genetic disorder, and the instruction of fifth graders captures the whole child education that Piper showcases at Belmont Day.
From Orion S: At a time when many are searching for cleaner energy sources, one was made crystal clear for the Capstone audience by Orion as he discussed the power and possibility of nuclear energy. I also learned that one of the key inhibitors to nuclear energy’s progress is the storage of nuclear waste. Anyone have a rather sizable desert they are willing to donate to help the cause?
From Theo W: I learned that hip-hop is more than just music; it is culture, art, self-expression, dance, and power. I also learned that Theo might have a career waiting for him in the music video production industry if his rap career doesn’t work out.
Elizabeth A: Teenage anxiety has been on the rise for far too long. Elizabeth provided the voice of a generation as she explained the challenges and consequences of anxiety and its impact. I also learned that I might want to reconsider the start time for students in the morning so that they can get the requisite sleep an adolescent needs to help prevent teen anxiety.
From Owen K: I learned that the business of football in our Division I colleges and universities has been exploiting our student-athletes for a long time. Only now are we starting to see some measure of compensation for the NCAA football player. I also imagine that Owen K is the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell’s worst nightmare as a future agent or player’s rep.
From Aaniya R: I learned a lesson in empathy as her research explored the two polarized sides of the national debate on abortion rights. To help people find common ground in this dialogue, I learned that it will take the leadership and compassion of someone as fearless as Aaniya to do it.
From Noah B: We should pay close attention to our world and how the path around us may be more intentionally tangled than we think! I also learned that I might want to keep a closer eye on my budget if Noah is making requests for $1,000 per eighth grade student for their Capstone participation!
From Theo VG: I learned that for as much as climate change may be a national or global debate, its impact is most acutely on the ground, where industries like skiing and the towns they support feel it most acutely. I also learned that Theo might have helped everyone take one step closer to a solution with the creation of his artificial snowmaker.
Miranda H: I learned that representation not only in terms of gender but of all identities across any spectra is, as she put it, “so, so important” as we seek to inspire a more equitable and inclusive world. I also learned that I should expect a student-led collection of ideas and proposals on my desk to ensure that BDS remains an institution that honors differences long after Miranda graduates this June.
From Julia C: I learned that Clayton Academy, a school designed by students for students, rooted in research and best practices in educational theory, could represent a threat to any other institution that would be competing with it for excellent faculty and strong enrollment. I was reminded (because I already knew) that I should be lucky to have Julia as a peer head of school someday; I know there’s a lot I could learn from her.
From Camille D: I learned a lesson that my parents (and now, my wife) have been trying to teach me for 46 years: sugar is everywhere. While it may provide an initial energy rush, the crash is coming shortly after that, and maybe there’s another option. Camille was also gracious enough to offer healthier alternatives. (Please note: my hand is currently hovering over a bowl of Swedish Fish and a clementine. Will someone tell Camille I picked the clementine, please?)
From Lauren K: I was reminded of the conviction of Lauren’s beliefs and voice as she taught us all of the often overlooked travesty of American history: the internment of the Japanese in the 1940s. I learned of its echo through history as many Asian-Americans today face the same discriminatory treatment due to the origin of COVID-19 in China.
From Owen F: I learned about the advent of sneaker culture and how Nike, Jordan, Adidas, and Run DMC changed the sneaker game forever. I also pre-ordered the ‘Finnerty 1,’ Owen’s first sneaker prototype that will no doubt revolutionize the game once again. (I doubt I’ll look to resell it on the secondary market for sentimental reasons, but if Finnerty goes the way of Jordan, you never know.)
From Lynn L: I learned about the ethically compromised world of the Cavendish banana, the mistreatment of banana plantation workers, and the potential threat to many people’s favorite breakfast fruit. I was also reminded of the diversity of Lynn’s talents as a musical, visual, and digital artist (as well as her sense of humor) in her satirical recreation of the famous Chiquita Banana song.
From Michael T: e.e. Cummings once noted, “the most wasted of all days is the one without laughter.” The great poet has nothing on Michael whose Capstone presentation didn’t merely remind us of the power of laughter, but where we may most easily find it. I also began my search for tickets to his stand-up comedy routine (which was postponed by the pandemic) and cannot wait to laugh my way through his set once he’s allowed back on that stage!
From Jack A: I learned about synesthesia—the condition where people associate sounds or particular words or even people with color—and how remarkable and mysterious the brain continues to be. I also imagined that were I to have an aura, as Jack described them, I can only hope mine would be some combination of blue and gold and that Jack might capture my silhouette with his impressive artwork.
From Quinn F: I learned about the systems and industry of fishing at every level from commercial to recreational, and the negative impact that climate change is having throughout the industry. I also learned that a bluefin tuna is pretty much the same size as an average eighth grade boy, as evidenced by Quinn’s remarkable life-sized paper mache version that was part of his project.
From Davin R: I learned that there is no topic too daunting, too complicated, or too controversial for the Capstone journey as Davin researched and thoughtfully presented his case on reparations. I also witnessed, to my knowledge, the first-ever bill introduced to the BDS Congress. BDS-HR-1 would affect material change for our nation, an early step, perhaps, in Davin’s burgeoning legal career.
From Elena F: I learned about the incredible advancement of stem cell therapies and how they continue to revolutionize the field of medicine and science. I learned that Boston Children’s Hospital has either a burgeoning artist or a burgeoning pediatric leukemia doctor waiting in the wings for her opportunity to save the world.
From Evan S: I learned that the world of video gaming has made significant advancements since my early days of playing Donkey Kong and Space Invaders and that the video gaming world’s sophistication is profoundly reshaping the ways young people think. I learned, too, that Evan S may be the future of gaming as he has designed (and defeated) a very challenging game of his design!
From Maya G: I learned more than I ever could have imagined: not only about quantum physics or black holes but about the humility with which she approached trying to educate her mentor in things that he clearly did not understand. I also know that Gregor’s Theorem about wormholes and alternate universes may be closer than any of us think. I couldn’t have imagined a more gracious mentor… I mean, mentee.
Congratulations to all of the Capstone presenters from the Class of 2020!
Kindergartners enjoy the butterfly release this week in Mrs. Pryor’s backyard.
News & Updates
Deadline for Participation Extended
Thank you to those who have already completed our parent survey. The deadline for participation has been extended until Friday, May 29. Note: Survey Monkey will be performing scheduled maintenance on May 23, starting at 12 p.m. This maintenance will take approximately 8 hours, during which time the site will be unavailable.
Sixth Graders Plug Into Lessons on Electricity
For the past several weeks, sixth graders have been learning about electricity and the various scientists and their experiments that have contributed to harnessing this incredible force. Students have learned how electricity and magnetism are related and ultimately, how this relationship is what allows us to have a seemingly limitless supply of electricity in our homes. We explored a simple demonstration of Michael Faraday’s discovery that magnetism can be used to induce an electric current simply by moving magnets quickly within a copper coil. We extended this understanding by learning how power plants convert the energy stored in coal to kinetic energy in order to generate electricity. Though students have missed the in-class experimentation, they continue to ask questions and make connections in order to understand these concepts. Next our class will take a look at some renewable energy sources and how they differ from fossil fuels.
– Kaleen Moriarty, grade 6 science teacher
Arts: Choices to Challenge, Connect, and Create!
Lower school art classes have focused on weekly creative challenges since the pivot to offsite learning. Each week, students are presented with a drawing challenge through a video created by Ms. Solomon or Mrs. Armstrong, which are based on observational drawing studies. The challenges have ranged from ‘shoes for different reasons and seasons,’ to ‘a stuffed animal,’ to ‘wheels,’ to ‘taking the perspective of an ant,’ and the choice of drawing tools is the decision of each artist. A second creative challenge, again in the form of a video, highlights and focuses on the work of a prominent artist. So far, students have been challenged to create an original work inspired by a range of artists including Alma Thomas, Nick Cave, Faith Ringgold, Maya Lin, Deborah Butterfield, Amy Sherald, Tara Donovan, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Yayoi Kusama, and Elizabeth Catlett. Connecting to the creative work of others and creating original work as a response has been a terrific opportunity for students to engage in studio work from home!
– Anne Armstrong, visual arts teacher and arts coordinator
Fourth Graders Craft Stories of Heroes
The fourth graders are ending their school year with one last writing project. This spring they learned all about Greek heroes, and now they are creating their own superhero stories complete with a problem, sticky situation, and solution that saves the day! Some of our hero names include Inter Indagatores, the Green Angel, and Dr. Doughnut. Students will share their stories at the Fourth Grade Comic-Con during the last week of school.
– Lana Holman, grade 4 teacher
Second Graders Fly New Flags in French
In French class, the second graders concluded their flag project. First, they learned to talk about sizes, shapes, and colors and how to combine this information using French syntax. As students often notice, “French is backward!” Then, they had to figure out which flag I was describing among a selection, as they played a game similar to “I spy with my little eye.” In this process, they observed many flags that led naturally to the last part of the project, the creation of their own flag along with its description in French.
– Nathalie Pellenq, French teacher
Fifth Grade Wraps Up the Respiratory System
From songs and models to websites and posters, fifth graders have presented their research on the respiratory system in seemingly countless ways! Each student took their own spin on how to explain what they have learned and the results are now available online for all to enjoy. Click here to see all the projects.
– Emma Nairn, grade 5 teacher
Butterflies Take Flight in Kindergarten
It was an exciting week in kindergarten! Not only did we have our final Sheldon Share of the year, but we also released ten painted lady butterflies in my backyard. The butterflies first came to my home as caterpillars and have spent 37 days with me and my family! It was a bittersweet moment as we were sad to say good-bye to our winged friends, but we are glad that they can now sip on nectar from all of the flowers blooming this spring. If you want to relive the journey of their time with kindergarten, you can visit our slideshow here.
– Betty Pryor, kindergarten teacher
Poetry Ignites Creative Spirits in First Grade
First graders are now delving into the world of poetry. The students began their exploration by sharing their thoughts on the characteristics of poetry. We asked, “How does this poem look and sound? What could it mean?” Students found the joy that playing with words could bring to their writing as they created rhyming poems together in small groups. We met a green queen who saw a green bean and yelled “Oh, drat!” when there was a gnat on a cat. As we shifted to sensory poems, students used their five senses to share experiences with their fellow poets. We all loved hearing their juicy descriptions of canoe-shaped dumplings, soft grass under their feet, the taste of summer, and the loud crashing of waves. As we venture into other types of poetry, we are excited to see them continue to discover new ways to express themselves through their writing.
– Lauren Catalano, associate teacher in grade 1
End-of-Year Belongings Pick-Up at School
Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31
Student work and belongings will be available for pick up at school. Parents and students will stay in their cars—belongings will be packed and ready to be placed in your vehicles. There will be no access to the buildings. More details will be sent early next week with specific pick-up points and times. If you are unable to pick up your child’s belongings, they will be stored on campus until the fall.
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Keeping Feet Comfortable on the Frontlines Against COVID-19
We are in awe of the commitment and expertise of all frontline medical professionals working to save lives from COVID-19. Two third grade parents are on those frontlines, and recently Ms. Twarog discovered a great opportunity to support helpers from the ground up.
A childhood friend’s athletic company, York Athletics, will donate a pair of sneakers to a frontline worker of your choice for each pair of sneakers purchased. After making a purchase, Ms. Twarog directed the donated sneakers to Dr. Jennifer Stevens (Lucy’s mom), a pulmonary disease specialist at Beth Israel Deaconness. Dr. Stevens reported recently that the shoes are quite comfortable, even after working a 36-hour shift in the ICU. We are grateful to the many members of the BDS community who are frontline workers helping others during this unprecedented time.
To learn more about this donation opportunity, click here.
Virtual Front Desk: Start Your Day With Ms. Carey
As we head toward the end of the year, we want to re-engage with the way our students and families start most every day at BDS: with a greeting from Ms. Carey at the front desk!
On Wednesday, May 27 from 8 to 8:30 a.m., Ms. Carey will be at her virtual front desk via Zoom. All are invited to stop by to say hi and share a story, a joke, or a smile. Look for the Zoom link invitation in the email communication from the school at the beginning of next week.
Climate Activism Spans Generations
Middle school students and faculty were joined at their weekly climate lunch meeting by three veteran activists, Michael Sales and Dr. Jane Heinze-Frey of Elders for Climate Action, and Ron D’Addario, a founding member of the Reading Climate Action Group. Everyone exchanged stories about how they became involved in climate activism, what actions can be taken now, and strategies for meeting the challenges of keeping a grassroots group moving. The takeaway? As grade seven student Aviva Pearlmutter-Beason wrote in her notes, “Now we have the opportunity to remake the world; we have to make a change, so we will make a change. We should not hesitate.”
Book Club Meeting
Wednesday, May 27 at 3 p.m.
Please join us as we discuss The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. According to a recent review on Amazon: “[The Dutch House] is an astute psychological study of what it means to be a family and how those relationships—no matter how damaged they may be—ultimately determine who we are as adults. This a 10-star book in a five-star world. Read it. Savor it. It’s a very special book.”
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.
Summer Public Speaking & Debate Courses Offered Online
Newton-based Lumos has responded to the COVID-19 crisis by moving all of its public speaking and debate courses online for summer 2020. They offer courses and activities for students rising into grades 4-10. For more information and registration, visit their website.
Celebrate Pride with BDS!
June is Pride Month and 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Boston Pride. While we won’t be able to march this year, we can still join together as a community to celebrate. There are many ways to show our pride! Join the GSA in observing BDS Pride Week June 1-5.
Take a picture of you or your family celebrating Pride and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in the Scoop and BDS social media. #BDSPride #GSyAy! #wickedproud
Fun at Home
After School at Home
Our after school team has put together a website chock full of wonderful activities for students when school time has ended for the day. These activities continue our program’s mission of fun with the intention of enhancing skills, spurring creativity, and building community. Each week the team will update the site with new options. Click here to visit the site.