Siblings teaming up to make “BDS” pancakes!
Freedom Week and Life Itself
By Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: May 29, 2020
Education isn’t preparation for life. Education is life, itself. – John Dewey
The democratic ideals of Dewey have long been at the heart of my ideology of education. Dewey’s quote opened the educational philosophy statement that accompanied my application to become Belmont Day’s 13th head of school. When moments in our everyday lived experience provide evidence of the truth of Dewey’s sentiment, I am inclined to make them visible for others when I can.
After last week’s Capstone success, sixth graders took the virtual stage to unveil their civil rights projects this week. We have affectionately come to know the culminating event to showcase this work as Freedom Night. This year, due to the pandemic, we find ourselves in Freedom Week, coordinated by social studies teacher Dean Spencer with the help and guidance of the sixth grade team. Freedom Week makes space to honor the excellent work our students have done as researchers, artists, performers, public speakers, and scholars.
As someone who was able to drop in on several of these presentations, I can tell you with a considerable amount of pride, that these sixth graders know their stuff. Whether I was learning about six-year-old Ruby Bridges and the four armed guards that chaperoned her to and from school every day to preserve her safety or the project that examines the story of the Freedom Riders, chosen because “it wasn’t just one singular event, but a series of events that happened over a longer period of time,” I found myself in the company of young scholars, confidently sharing their knowledge.
As I pause for a moment here, I acknowledge that this Scoop article should be a singular celebration of the sixth grade students’ work. However, as it sometimes does, the world beyond Belmont Day’s walls has intervened. Education became life itself with the death of George Floyd, a black man who died at the hands and knees of four police officers in Minnesota. Suddenly, the work of our students is cast in far starker relief and takes on an urgent degree of importance. The work is no longer just about history. How are we still here? Why does the story of Emmitt Till ache with urgency in 2020, 65 years after his death? How can the very phrase, “I can’t breathe,” be an eerie echo of Eric Garner in 2014?
We are forced to endure another inconceivable moment of loss that highlights the great distance our country still has to travel in its effort to reconcile its dark history of and continued proclivity towards racism. At this moment, having more time than usual with family can be helpful.
If, as I hope, education is life, then I hope also that you find a way to engage in dialogue with your family about the world outside your doors.
At a school that promises through its mission to honor differences, how might we find space to acknowledge some devastating truths about our country and its irreconcilable relationship with racism?
The image of a black man with a white man’s knee upon his neck is an image that should revolt us in the pages of history books or in a Freedom Night presentation, and it should devastate us in 2020.
How are your children and our students who identify themselves as the same race as George Floyd dealing with the profoundly frightening impact of this moment?
These are the kinds of questions that our sixth grade students have been grappling with; questions that should be reminders of a different time in our nation’s history with lessons we should all carry forward with us today. How I wish they weren’t reminders of the news of the week. But, education is life, and clearly, we still have a considerable amount of work to do.
If you are looking for resources on how to have these conversations at age-appropriate levels, I turn you to the compelling wisdom of our own Dr. Hoyt. He has let me know that if parents would like to gather to discuss this situation, he will organize a discussion. Please feel free to contact him if you’re interested in such a gathering.
Through online presentations and a new website, sixth graders shared their Freedom Week projects.
News & Updates
Celebrating the Class of 2020
We are excited to honor our graduating eighth grade students with a virtual graduation ceremony in two weeks, on Friday, June 12. While this event is limited to the graduates, their loved ones, and faculty and staff, we invite the entire BDS community to join us in congratulating this remarkable group of students. If you would like to send a note to a graduating eighth grader, or the class as a whole, please take a moment to complete this form. We will share your kind words with the students on graduation day. If you have any questions, please contact Andy Rentschler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Graders Take Their Class Outside
The second graders went on a nature walk this week close to their homes. Using their senses, they were asked to make scientific observations of the natural world. To take their learning about nature in another direction, students then looked at their observations with the eyes of a poet. These observations served as the inspiration for their writing of Haiku poems.
– Nancy Fell, grade 2 teacher
Seventh Grade Latin Students Create Mosaics
Students in seventh grade Latin are wrapping up their final unit of the year. In addition to diving into the use of the pluperfect tense, memorizing vocabulary, and working with noun-adjective pairs, student interest was piqued when studying the mosaics found in Romano-British villas in the first century CE. Distance learning provided students with a unique opportunity to travel virtually to Fishbourne Roman Palace and walk the grounds, viewing hypocausts, reception chambers, and the gardens. Students then got the opportunity to recreate their own Roman-inspired mosaics digitally.
– Nicole Buck, middle school Latin teacher
Arts: Sixth Graders Dive Into Improv & Voice Acting
The sixth grade theater arts class recently focused on some improvisational work. Students warmed up by participating in a one-word story exercise in which each student added one word during several rounds to create a cohesive story with a beginning, middle, and end. Next, students learned what it’s like to post edit their voice by timed lip-syncing, just like in the movies. Students were given several famous phrases from past movies with two tones preceding the phrase recording. Their job was to match their voices and personality, as well as their facial expression and attitude to the tenor of the phrase.
– Christopher Parsons, theater arts teacher
Eighth Grade Science Erupts With Learning
Students in eighth grade science, gold group, have been learning all about chemical reactions. To dive deeper into this topic, we completed a lab in which students were given a variety of chemical reactions and selected one of these reactions to perform at home. Students caused eruptions, created “invisible ink”, made lava lamps, explored different substances to retard fruit browning, dissolved eggshells, and made bubbles, to name a few. Students had a blast performing their reactions and uploading videos of themselves explaining what they observed.
– Leal Carter, Grades 7 & 8 science teacher
Belongings Pick-Up on Saturday, May 30
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. You can review the important instructions here. If you are unable to pick up your child’s belongings, they will be stored on campus until the fall.
Food Drive for Belmont Food Pantry
Families are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the Belmont Food Pantry. The school will deliver your donations to the pantry in early June. To see a list of most needed items, visit the Belmont Food Pantry website.
And Don’t Forget Those Library Books!
When you come to school to pick up your child’s belongings, please bring back any BDS library books you may have at home. If your student(s) would like to keep any of those books over the summer, that’s fine too. Please email librarian Julie Saidenberg the titles and she will change the due date to the start of the 2020-21 school year in September.
Order Student Photos Before End of the School Year
There is still time to order your child(ren)’s photos from the school’s picture days last fall. If you want to see them again and make a purchase, please follow these directions:
To sign in to see and purchase photos, please go to Porter Gifford Photography. Enter your email address and the case-sensitive password: bds2019.
- Your email address will only be used for identification and ordering purposes.
- Photos are organized by grade. Scroll down to just beneath the all-school collage for the menu bar where you can select your child’s grade. Students are not identified by name.
- Click on a photo’s shopping basket to see the sizes available and their prices.
- You may purchase just one or an assortment of your child(ren)’s photos; there are no photo packages.
- Purchased photos will be mailed directly to the address you provide during ordering.
- If you have any questions, please contact porter@portergifford. com.
Thursday, June 4, 7–8 p.m.
The athletics department invites the entire Belmont Day community to join us for the 2020 Athletics Banquet where we will recognize the accomplishments of our interscholastic teams and celebrate our eighth grade athletes. What has traditionally been a “middle school only” event has been opened up to the entire school community this year due to the virtual setting. Please check your email early next week for the Zoom invitation.
Book Club Meeting
Wednesday, June 24 at 3 p.m.
Please join us as we discuss The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah. In The Great Alone, a desperate family seeks a new beginning in the near-isolated wilderness of Alaska only to find that their unpredictable environment is less threatening than the erratic behavior found in human nature. 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 email@example.com to be featured in the Scoop and BDS social media. #BDSPride #GSyAy! #wickedproud
Fun at Home
From the Kitchen
Easy Recipe for Delicious Chicken Gnocchi
When is the right time for gnocchi? Right now, of course! The kitchen crew keeps feeding our minds with great menu ideas, and this week it’s for a classic: chicken gnocchi. Check out the recipe here and happy cooking … and eating!
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.