Pre-kindergartners plant potatoes in the garden with Ms. Solomon.
A View From My Window
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: May 28, 2021
For those new to BDS this year, the location of my office has changed. For my first four years here, I occupied the office at the end of the administrative hallway in the Schoolhouse, where Ms. Parfit, our director of admissions, now resides. The path there is marked by blue handprints, emblems of a tradition that honors the arrival of each new student to the school. Each one dips their hand in blue paint and adds a handprint to the mural that is equal part art and community statement. In September, we will have a backlog to attend to as two groups of students add their prints to the wall—those who joined in 2020 and those joining in 2021.
My new space that looks out on the main circle also carries traditions and history. The dark paneled walls and the slate stone facade are part of the original farmhouse, purchased by the school in 1933, that stands at the heart of the Schoolhouse. In this COVID year, it has given me a window, quite literally, on the daily arrivals and departures and a chance to stay connected to our parents whose time on campus has been limited by the pandemic.
However, there is another benefit to having this perch: it looks out on our flagpole. Most days, I watch sixth grade social studies teacher Dean Spencer, sometimes with students from his cohort, occasionally alone, raise and lower the flag. There is something rather Zen-like and beautiful in its simplicity to watch the flag unfurl from its trifold from my window. Mr. Spencer has taught students the proper folding technique, and the flag is carefully raised without touching the ground. Sometimes, it will be raised to full height and then down to half-mast, a direct response to national guidance, and thankfully, on most days, it is raised and flown at full height. At the end of the day, rather quietly, Mr. Spencer brings the flag down, folding it properly so that the ritual can be completed again the next day.
As we reach Memorial Day, an important day of remembrance of those who have given what Lincoln famously named “the last full measure of devotion” to their country, my view of our flag feels especially meaningful. As we move closer to the end of what has been a long year and enjoy the unofficial start of summer, I hope that you take a moment to reflect on those who have lost their lives in service to our country and honor their memory. When you are back on campus on Tuesday, take a moment to acknowledge the power in the flag flying high at the front of the school each day.
May 31 to June 11
Monday, May 31
School Closed for Memorial Day
Grade 6 Freedom Week
Tuesday, June 1 to Friday, June 4
Tuesday, June 1
8:15 .am., PA Enrichment Committee, Zoom Gathering
6–7 p.m., Parent Forum on Fall Planning, Zoom Gathering
7 p.m., Grade 6 Freedom Week Session 1, Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, June 2
7 p.m., Grade 6 Freedom Week Session 2, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, June 3
7 p.m., Grade 6 Freedom Week Session 3, Zoom Gathering
Friday, June 4
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sports Assembly, Zoom Gathering
4:30 p.m., Grade 6 Freedom Week Session 4, Zoom Gathering
Saturday, June 5
5–6:30 p.m., Family Fun Event
Spirit Week, June 7–11
Monday, June 7
7–8:30 p.m., Board of Trustees, Zoom Meeting
Wednesday, June 9
9–11:30 a.m., Grade 3 State Celebration, Zoom Presentation
10 a.m., Parent Book Club, Zoom Gathering
Thursday, June 10
10 a.m.–12 p.m., Grade 4 Greek Festival, Zoom Gathering
Friday, June 11
Spirit Week Culminating Event
For all Zoom meetings, gatherings, and presentations, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Drop-Off and Pick-Up Procedures
With only a few short weeks left in this school year, we want to remind and encourage all families to continue with our established pick-up and drop-off procedures. We know as the weather gets better it is tempting to park close to the campus and walk over to meet your child. Please do not park at pick-up and drop-off times along Pinehurst Road or in the cemetery. We appreciate your understanding as we respect our neighbors and surrounding properties. Thank you!
Parent Forum: Planning for Fall 2021
Please join us for a presentation by Brendan Largay, head of school, on Tuesday, June 1 from 6 to 7 p.m. on the school’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and planning for the fall.
Zoom link for the presentation is available on the Parent Portal.
Registration Extended for Family Fun Event!
Join the parents’ association on Saturday, June 5, from 5 to 6:30 p.m., for an at-home edition of Family Fun Night: Pizza and Origami.
Families who register will be provided a Family Fun Night In bag of goodies including pizza dough, cheese and sauce, activities, and paper for origami folding while the pizzas cook. The parents’ association is sponsoring this event so there is no fee. However, families will need to purchase any additional toppings for their pizza.
Registration required by Wednesday, June 3. Click the button below to register.
Lunch & Snack Menu
May 31 to June 4
School Closed for Memorial Day
Snack: applesauce; harvest cheddar Sunchips
Lunch: pasta with creamy basil pesto; pasta with marinara on the side; broccoli; crusty rolls; butter, Romano cheese; garden salad; fresh fruit cup; milk and water
Snack: bananas; granola bars
Lunch: turkey tacos; veggie tacos; corn; guacamole; sour cream; salsa; cheese; flour tortillas; black bean salad; sliced peaches; milk and water
Snack: golden apples; Lay’s BBQ chips
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; Caesar salad; apple slices; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: sliced apples; pretzel twists
Resources, Support Offered At Time of Rising Anti-Jewish, Anti-Muslim Hostility
We are a school that affirms the essential interaction between knowing well (academic excellence) and caring well (empathy, compassion, standing up for others). As we approach the sixth grade’s Freedom Week program, we are reminded that our community continues to stand as a bulwark of knowing well and caring well against the forces that lead people to mistreat others on the basis of misguided and malicious beliefs.
From our least biased pre-kindergartners to middle school students engaging in Honoring Differences Seminars, and curricula across the developmental spectrum, we are continually fostering intellectual curiosity, upholding the need to honor differences, and encouraging meaningful contribution to make BDS and any part of the world BDS interacts with smarter and more loving.
In parallel with providing curricula that foster knowing and caring abilities, we are sometimes called upon, often directly by students, to be responsive to situations in the world that intensely reflect in real-time the complicated dynamics of human interaction we study in our classrooms. The volatile dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict lead us, on behalf of students who are aware and wish to learn, and on behalf of community members for whom the dynamics have significant resonance, to offer the following acknowledgments.
Hostility against Jewish-identified and Muslim-identified people has been on the rise in our country for some time, and, concurrent with the escalation of tension and violence in the Middle East, it is spiking.
As with the medical health crisis of the coronavirus, we have been brutally reminded again and again that the public health crisis of racism can and does spread and mutate to afflict so many people categorized as members of groups seen by some as deserving of mistreatment, hatred, discrimination, and violence. This virus of the mind—anti-black, anti-AAPI, and anti-Muslim sentiments; gender discrimination; and anti-Semitism—has spread with no less ferocity than the coronavirus but there is as yet no vaccine available to keep us all safe.
We deeply regret that our children have to witness and try to make sense of the multiple, overlapping, and upsetting incidences of social bias playing out across our country and the world. We remain deeply committed to responding to students with candor and caring. We encourage them to be the change they and we all wish to and need to see in the world, whether they are members of the amazing graduating class of 2021 going out into the world or members of the class of 2030 arriving here in the fall.
If there’s anything we can do to support you and your family through these challenging times, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us. In case it might be useful, here is a link to resources for understanding and talking with children about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
For the leadership team, Brendan Largay, Deborah Brissenden, Liz Gray, Minna Ham, Heather Woodcock, and myself,
Dr. Carlos Hoyt, director of equity and inclusion
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Weekly COVID Testing Update
With two more testing weeks to go, we have had yet another week of all negative results! Our last day of all-school testing will be Wednesday, June 9. Check this week’s dashboards for more details on our testing results.
Travel and Protocol Reminder
Families are reminded that overnight car travel to New England states is now allowed without a need to quarantine or test on return.
If your family plans to travel outside of New England over the long weekend, please contact School Nurse Liz LaRocque.
We continue to consider large indoor gatherings such as sports competitions, tournaments, and large family events as high-risk activities.
If your student travels to attend any of these events, in any location, our travel restrictions remain in place: Your child must quarantine on return and be tested on day 4 or 5 after the return. Once they have a negative PCR test result, they may return to school.
Four Sessions Scheduled for Sharing Student Projects
Sixth grade students are putting the finishing touches on their Freedom Week projects, and look forward to sharing them with the community throughout next week. As they designed these projects to wrap up their study of civil rights, students had several degrees of freedom themselves.
Students could select any topic related to the civil rights issues studied in class. The range of their interests is vast: historical events we studied like the Freedom Rides, Birmingham, and Selma; contemporary issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights, the rise of hate crimes targeting people of AAPI heritage, anti-Semitism, and bias in standardized testing; and everything else from the Black Panther party and diversity in television and books to civil rights music, the pay gap in women’s sports, the Armenian genocide, and the story of the first Black NASCAR driver.
Students also chose their own project formats, such as graphic novels, websites, poetry, paintings, models and dioramas, slide shows, and even some research papers. Students set their own work schedules and deadlines over the last five weeks, relying on help from their peers in project support teams and some structured guidance and feedback from faculty.
“Choice is a powerful learning tool. The magic of these projects comes from combining choice with structure, giving the students enough time, and drawing from a rich curriculum that resonates in some ways with everyone. Every year I learn new things from the students, and every year many of them create things I could only dream of,” observed Dean Spencer, sixth grade social studies teacher.
Freedom Week Sharing Sessions
All student projects will be available for viewing digitally through the Freedom Week website.
In addition, students will be available to talk informally about their projects in four 45-minute sessions next week:
Session 1: Tuesday, June 1 at 7 p.m.
Session 2: Wednesday, June 2 at 7 p.m.
Session 3: Thursday, June 3 at 7 p.m.
Session 4: Friday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m.
In each session, 10- 12 students will present a brief project overview and host Zoom breakout rooms to discuss and answer questions about their work. Links to the sharing sessions are also available on the Freedom Week website.
Please contact Dean Spencer if you have any questions regarding the sharing sessions.
Seventh Grader Publishes Story in New York Times
Before April Break, students in Mr. Drummey’s seventh grade English class took up a writing contest held by the kid’s section of The New York Times. The prompt asked students to write a personal essay about a time in their life when they were stressed about money. The class spent time conceptualizing and working on how to write a personal narrative and students were encouraged to submit their finished essay to the contest. Mr. Drummey incentivized students to submit their writing by promising that he would teach in a banana costume if any student was published. Well, sure enough, Lila Abruzzi’s essay was one of five selected across the county and will appear in this Sunday’s print edition of The New York Times Kids section. Congratulations to Lila and the time, attention, and care she put into her writing.
Reaffirming Our Commitment to Reduce Vehicle Idling
We as a community have agreed to only idle our cars as we are moving through the pick-up and drop-off lines. If you arrive early, please turn off your engines and open your windows. At BDS we turn off our car engines to help conserve energy, promote good health, and model good citizenship. Not only that, Massachusetts has an anti-idling law that states:
“No person shall cause, suffer, allow, or permit the unnecessary operation of the engine of a motor vehicle while said vehicle is stopped for a foreseeable period of time in excess of five minutes.”
- Every time you turn off your car engine instead of idling you will:
- Make the air healthier by cutting down on hazardous pollution in your town or community.
- Help the environment. For every 10 minutes your engine is off, you’ll prevent one pound of carbon dioxide from being released; carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to global warming.
- Keep money in your wallet and save fuel. Save between 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon of fuel for every hour of not idling.
Thank you for being a steward of the environment AND keeping us healthy.
– Kathy Jo Solomon, art teacher and sustainability coordinator
BDSRemote: Arranging for Return of All BDS Devices
As the school year draws to a close, families of BDSRemote students must arrange to return all school-owned technology by Friday, June 17. This technology includes iPads, headphones, chargers, stylus, etc. that were issued for students to use at home.
Registration Open for Online Math Course for Parents
We are pleased to collaborate with Kevin Mahoney, our Singapore Math consultant, to provide an opportunity for Lower School parents to learn the philosophy of modern math approaches and ways to create a nurturing math environment at home.
This self-paced virtual course will engage parents in supporting their child’s mathematical development, build background knowledge, and provide effective teaching and learning strategies to help them to develop:
- the ability to solve problems logically
- mental flexibility, independence of thought, and self-esteem
- the ability to persevere
Please reach out to Deborah Brissenden to participate in this complimentary course.
Fifth Graders Write, Perform Two-Voice Poems
In humanities class, students are finishing up the novel Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. As one of their projects for this novel, students had to write a two-voice poem. A two-voice poem is a poem that is written from two different points of view on the same topic. Students wrote a poem of 20 or more lines that showed how Esperanza and another character responded to challenges. Some lines were spoken independently as individual characters and other lines were spoken together by both characters. Students worked with a partner to create a poem that used details from the text, figurative language, and descriptive language. In the end, students performed these poems with their partner in front of the class. The poems students wrote were filled with emotion and exemplified their knowledge that there are always different perspectives for every situation.
– Lindsay Fitzgerald, grade 5 teaching assistant
Second Graders Raise Nearly $3,000 for Gaining Ground
This spring, both second grade cohorts volunteered at Gaining Ground in Concord. Gaining Ground is a local nonprofit that grows and distributes 100 percent of its fresh produce to local hunger relief agencies. Last year alone, Gaining Ground grew and donated over 127,000 pounds of organic produce! The students pulled weeds, washed storage bins, and mulched beds as they helped the farmers in their work to fight food insecurity. The work at the farm was a culmination of a year-long service-learning project that linked work in our own BDS garden with fundraising, education, and community action. In April, the second graders collected pledges from relatives, friends, and neighbors for the number of pages read during a two-week period. The second graders are proud to announce now that they raised $2,937.80 to donate to Gaining Ground! We would like to thank everybody who supported the second graders by reading alongside them, making a pledge, or joining us on the farm.
– Nancy Fell and Sunny Lee, grade 2 teachers
Athletics Update: Track & Field Stars Emerge
In the third and final three-week mini-season this spring, the eighth-grade class chose from lacrosse, tennis, and track & field. A total of 14 athletes selected track & field, and they brought their “A” game. For the past two weeks, the team has finished up with an intersquad meet on Thursday afternoons, and the results have been impressive. When compared to historical times and distances, this year’s group of athletes would be placing on a consistent basis and collectively they would be a tough team to beat. At the end of a long year of modified sports and no interscholastic competition, the fact that these eighth grade athletes are still competing at this level each and every day is a testament to their character and commitment. Well done, eighth grade. Well done.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
Arts Update: Lessons in Coding for Fifth Graders
The fifth graders are learning how to code using the Circuit Playground Express. They used the infrared sensor to send and receive messages from each other. They later added conditional statements to make certain actions happen, such as turning on/off lights, and playing sounds based on the type of message sent.
– Kurt Robinson, innovation and art teacher
Parents’ Association News
The Friendraiser committee is hosting a walk every Thursday morning after drop-off. We have two walks left before the end of school year. Come discover the trails around BDS, reconnect with friends, and meet new faces. We look forward to seeing you there! Meet in the grass circle in front of the Schoolhouse at 8:15 a.m.
The next book club selection is Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Please join us for our online gathering on Wednesday, June 9 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. The Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on the Parent Portal. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
Over the course of the past year, the Belmont Day School community has rallied together even though we have been physically distanced. While we are not yet through the pandemic, there is hope as our students are beginning to be vaccinated. The PA executive team is leading an initiative to commemorate this time, but we do not yet know what form this will take! We invite all community members to submit suggestions as to what form this commemoration on campus should look like; some suggestions have been a patio, benches, and plaques at six-foot spacing. Email all suggestions to [email protected].
One last opportunity to bring cheer to the classrooms! We are looking for volunteers to donate “centerpieces” for the cohort rooms for June. This is an easy, low-stress way to contribute to BDS and a nice way to brighten the day for students and faculty. Simply bring in 12-14 small plants or seasonal centerpieces that can be placed in the rooms and will last for two to three weeks. Simple is best. Color is nice, but herbs and green plants also work well. All ideas are welcome. Your children may enjoy participating too! Plants can be brought to the main Schoolhouse entrance at drop-off. Click here to sign up for an available slot.
If you have questions, please contact the chairs of the Classroom Flowers committee by email, phone, or text: Tracy Leng, 781-526-8657; Grace Wang, 857-313-8696.
Enrichment Assemblies 2021-22
Join the Enrichment Committee Tuesday, June 1 at 8:15 a.m. to share your ideas and brainstorm for the 2021-22 school year assembly activities. Please email Lia Meisinger ([email protected]) if you are interested in being a part of this discussion and planning for next school year. Also a big thank you to this year’s Enrichment Committee members for all the exciting opportunities we have shared with the students this year: Big Joe The Storyteller; David Hagerman’s Extreme Science; Claire Marie Lim, Music Technologist; Wilderness Classroom and Rainforest Explorers.
Belmont LGBTQ+ Alliance Celebrates 20 Years
Join the Belmont’s LBGTQ+ Alliance in celebration of 20 years of activism with a panel discussion from LGBTQ+ Leaders from the Boston area. The panelists will be Janson Wu, LGBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Grace Sterling Stowall, Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth (BAGLY), Debra Fowler, executive director, History Unerased, putting LGBTQ History in its rightful place-the classroom. All are invited to attend this free online event. Click here to register.
Become a Future Infrastructure Star
Know a student who enjoys drawing bridges, buildings, and windmills! They may be a future star designer of our world’s infrastructure. Bentley Systems is introducing a new contest for students to stimulate and encourage those engineering skills and the power to think BIG. Students can create new concepts for a project in one of four categories: road and rail; buildings and facilities; water and wastewater; cities and mapping; and power generation. For more details on the contest rules and prizes, and how to submit an entry, click here.