Kindergarteners had a soapy good time working on a wet felting project in their art class this week.
Message from Head of School
My Summer Reading List
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: May 31 2019
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” – Charles Eliot
Each summer, I try to read a book a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thirteen weeks, thirteen books. It is a goal I set that I never reach—11.5 is my record—but not for lack of trying. I have a deal with friends to read 25 pages a night during summer; if we don’t, we contribute $1 to a charity chosen by the person who missed the least number of reading days from now until then. All in the name of broadening horizons and celebrating the lazy pace of summer. A beach chair, a good book, and a slow-moving clock—it simply cannot get better than that.
It is a good thing I am making the time, too. Several parents have approached me with book recommendations, and I am eager to get to them all. My wife regularly suggests that my bedside table may crumble from the weight of each new novel accrued over the year, and summer comes just before the whole thing gives out. That said, I am always up for a new recommendation and if anyone has a title that they don’t see here, let me know!
Since several folks have asked what books I’m reading this summer, I figured this would be a good place to share this summer’s list.
Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi
YA fiction connects me to students and what may be populating their summer reading lists (look for this title on one of our middle school lists). It has also become as compelling a genre as any social science book (see Range, below) or biography (see Frederick Douglass) I might read. In this case, the story is a dystopian one—how much more middle school can you get?—set in a world of fantasy where magic has been expunged from the world, one maji at a time. Until it hasn’t. Children of Blood and Bone is my Memorial Day week read, which means I needed a head start (I’ve been chipping away at it since April break), but it has been worth it. A diverse author, diverse protagonist, and diverse storyline.
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood
Having taught Shakespeare’s The Tempest this year to seventh graders, I was thrilled to learn of a collection of Shakespeare’s plays retold as novels by modern-day authors. Hag-Seed is Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest, a nod to the name Prospero uses to call Caliban, the son of a witch on the island where they have been shipwrecked. I have every confidence that other retold novels like Vinegar Girl (Taming of the Shrew) and The Gap of Time (The Winter’s Tale) will follow shortly thereafter.
Range, David Epstein
This social science nonfiction narrative may jump the line to be my next read of the summer. I have a sneaking suspicion that it will confirm much of what I believe education is all about: that generalists—those with a broad and diverse series of experiences as opposed to those who grow up in a specialized world—will be better served in the long run. Plenty of confirmation bias for me here, admittedly, but Range may be a text you will find me quoting for the better part of the 2019-2020 school year.
The Witch Elm, Tana French
My guilty pleasure of the summer, Tana French is the best mystery/suspense writer in the business in my humble opinion. An Irish writer who can set you in the dark and smoke-filled alleyways of Dublin in a matter of a few words of prose, French’s new novel currently sits as the longest book on the shelf in terms of page numbers, and it will probably be the one most quickly read.
Exhalation, Ted Chiang
A BDS parent put Ted Chiang on my radar as a science fiction writer, and I have been desperately awaiting his newest collection of stories. Those who remember the film Arrival in which aliens and humans try to communicate have Chiang to thank for it. That story, adapted from his last collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, was one of three that were among the best short story sci-fi I have read since Bradbury.
Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, David Blight
First off, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in history feels like a pretty good place to turn this summer in my search for an excellent biography. The story of Douglass has not been revisited for nearly a quarter century by any biographer; the dog days of summer will be well-occupied by this renewed perspective.
Educated: A Memoir, Tara Westover
I have lost count of the number of people who have recommended this memoir about a woman who left her family in rural Idaho to pursue a degree at Cambridge University. To borrow a description from Donna Orem, President of NAIS, Educated is “a coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.”
Team Human, Douglas Rushkoff
Directly across from the table in my office are three words in all caps and bolded: Communication, Communication, Communication. They are there to remind me that we can always be communicating more frequently, more effectively, in a more timely manner, and more comprehensively. Team Human is a nonfiction look at striking a balance between leveraging the benefits of technology without compromising the personal and intimate act of human communication that pulls us together where technology alone can allow us to drift apart. I am grateful to the BDS parent who put this one on my list as well!
Circe, Madeline Miller
Following this year’s reimagined fourth grade Greek Festival, I couldn’t help but find a copy of Circe by Madeline Miller and set it aside for summertime. The Odyssey provides the archetypal journey in literature. Its richness lies in the characters that Ulysses meets along the way—the menacing Cyclops, the Sirens and their song, and countless others including Circe, the goddess who turned Ulysses’ men to swine. What might the story look like through her eyes? The fourth grade has inspired me to find out.
Whiskey When We’re Dry, John Larison
Blair Fross, director of after school and enrichment programs, puts my ambitious reading list to shame—she is on book #25 for the calendar year already—and knows great literature when she finds it. Whiskey When We’re Dry is the convention of a traditional Western that shatters both convention and tradition, and what would summer be without a little true grit to pass the time?
What School Could Be, Ted Dintersmith
Years ago, Pat Bassett, then the president of NAIS, traveled throughout the country to find the twenty-five things that all great schools were doing and he shared his findings at an annual conference and then again in an article that I find myself returning to quite frequently. Dintersmith has done something similar. He has visited fifty different schools to see where the most innovative practices, designs, and models of education are happening and offers a roadmap on how we might employ them in our schools. If Range isn’t enough, What School Could Be should do the trick.
Wherever you are this summer, I hope you find comfortable shade, a cool glass of refreshment, and a great book to read.
Josh Troop ’09 returned to BDS this week to share with our middle school students his experiences working on local, regional, and national political campaigns.
This Coming Week at BDS
June 1 through June 7
Saturday, June 1
Track & Field – Massachusetts Championships
7–8:15 p.m., Grades 7 & 8 Play, Palandjian Arts Center
Sunday, June 2
3–4:00 p.m., Entering Pre-k and Rising Kindergarten Popsicle Party, Big Blue
Monday, June 3
7:30-9:30 a.m., Grades 7 & 8 Play Cast and Crew Breakfast, Coolidge Hall
9–9:45 a.m., Students Visit the Next Grade
2:30-4 p.m., Car Wash, Coolidge Way
5:30–7:00 p.m., Athletics Banquet and Dinner
Tuesday, June 4
8:45–9:30 a.m., Grade 2 Curriculum Showcase, Barn Mezzanine
5–7:00 p.m., Camp Staff Orientation, Kiva
7–9:00 p.m., Board of Trustees, Barn Science Classroom
Wednesday, June 5
Grade 8 Trip to Washington, D.C.
8:30–9:30 p.m., Kindergarten Poem in Your Pocket Sharing, Kiva
8:45 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Grade 3 Field Lab, Massachusetts State House
Thursday, June 6
Grade 8 Trip to Washington, D.C.
12:45–3:00 p.m., Grade 2 Field Lab, Gaining Ground, Concord
4–5:00 p.m., Enrichment Share: Will It Float, BDS Pool
Friday, June 7
Grade 8 Trip to Washington, D.C.
Trimester 3 Ends
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association, Coolidge Hall
Grades 7 & 8 Play
Performances: TONIGHT, Friday, May 31 and TOMORROW, Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m.
Palandjian Arts Center
You won’t want to miss this funny and thought-provoking production—Babka Without Borders! Tickets are free and available on a first-come, first served basis on our ticket website.
During intermission, be sure to try some babka offered by the middle school community service club, Roots and Shoots. Slices of babka will be $2 each with all proceeds supporting the club’s future activities.
Class of 2019 Car Wash Fundraiser
Monday, June 3, 2:30 to 4 p.m.
The eighth grade class gift is an annual tradition in which our soon-to-be graduates organize and host a fundraiser, and then donate the proceeds back to Belmont Day as their first official gift to the school. Come support this wonderful group of students, and leave with your car looking as good as new. There is a suggested donation of $5 per car—please bring cash or check.
Please note that Monday’s 3:25 p.m. dismissal will be slightly affected by the car wash, which will take place along Coolidge Way. If you arrive just before or during dismissal and would like to get your car washed, please keep left when the driveway splits and follow instructions from our building and grounds team. Also, families that are able to come earlier (between 2:30 to 3 p.m.) are encouraged to do so as it will further help with the flow of dismissal. Thank you!
Please contact Andy Rentschler with any questions.
Lunch & Snack Menu
June 3 to June 7
Snack: animal crackers; fruit cups
Lunch: ham and cheese paninis; green beans; Italian salad
Snack: saltines; bananas
Lunch: grilled chicken with Caesar salad; summer blend vegetables; garlic bread; balsamic with greens
Snack: Tostitos; carrots
Lunch: Breakfast for Lunch: waffles, eggs, bacon, syrup; vegetable of the day; baby arugula and roasted tomato
Snack: Cheez-Its; apples
Lunch: grilled cheese; chef’s choice vegetables; romaine with honey mustard, bacon and egg
Snack: field day
NEW SCHOOL YEAR
Students Visit Next Grade
Monday, June 3, 9 to 9:45 a.m.
Monday morning will be an exciting time for our pre-k to grade 7 students as they look ahead to the 2019-2020 school year at BDS by visiting their next grade. Students will tour the classrooms and be introduced to their next grade-level teachers. Also during the visit, each student will receive their summer reading book. Be sure to ask your child(ren) about the visit to their next grade and what book they’ll be reading this summer!
Track & Field Sends Six Athletes to States
This spring, a program record six athletes qualified for the Massachusetts Middle School Track & Field Championships. Scheduled for Saturday, June 1, the championship meet will pit Belmont Day’s best against the most elite runners in the state. Amazingly, this year’s group of Blue & Gold athletes includes three veterans and no eighth graders. Seventh grade classmates Kiki Friedbauer, Piper Morris, and Miles Sandoski are all returning for their second time, while fellow classmates Elena Ferarri and Cole Sparks earned spots for the first time this year. Joining the handful of seventh grade teammates is newcomer Bree LeGrand, who came on strong this year in the 400m. Congratulations to all six athletes on a successful season and good luck this weekend on the track!
More Athletics News
- The athletics program will celebrate another successful year at the Athletics Banquet, which is scheduled for Monday, June 3. This is a mandatory event for all middle school athletes and families are strongly encouraged to attend.
- The final chapter of this year’s Coaches vs Grade 8 showdowns will be written on Tuesday, June 4 as the two groups square off on Far Field for a game of ultimate. The entire community is invited to come out to see the action.
Third Grade Ensemble-Building
As theater educators, we all talk the talk of “ensemble,” and we tout the virtues of “working together” and the “value of teamwork.” We stress that everyone is important. We put phrases such as “no small parts, only small players” and “we are all equal parts of a whole” on a loop and recite them instinctively. The truth is though, building an ensemble takes time. When we work on building an ensemble we are also working on building the individual. Students involved in this process learn to work with others, gain experience with interpersonal communication skills and problem-solving, practice active listening and empathy, take risks, and grow in self-confidence.
As part of their theater arts curriculum, the third grade class recently embarked on an ensemble-building activity known as “newspaper islands.” In this activity, small groups of three to four students are asked to stand on a newspaper-page island. After every round, the island gets smaller and smaller (the newspaper is torn in half, then in half again, and so on). Whichever team remains on the island the longest while still standing on the newspaper without falling off is the winner. In the end, all the students are winners because they have learned to work together!
Not Too Late to Order Your 2018-19 Pictures
Some families have recently shown interest in purchasing their child(ren)’s photos from the school picture days back in the fall. If you want to see them again and/or make a purchase, please follow these directions:
Login: your email address
If you have any questions, please contact Catherine David.
Melissa Paravati, Kindergarten Co-teacher
We are thrilled that Melissa Paravati will be joining Betty Pryor as a kindergarten co-teacher in the fall. Melissa received a master’s degree in literacy education, birth through sixth grade, and most recently was a preschool teacher at the Radcliffe Childcare Center. We are excited for Melissa to bring her experience working with diverse settings and families to her work here. Melissa has worked in an Early Head Start classroom as well as a Reggio Emilia-based private school. Her energy, enthusiasm, and love of children and early learning were evident in her work with our kindergarteners during her visit. She is eager to build relationships with families and plans to use technology to strengthen and promote frequent touchpoints throughout the year. Melissa understands the value of movement in a kindergarten classroom and hopes to bring her love of Zumba into her work with our young learners.
AFTER SCHOOL & ENRICHMENT NEWS
Schedule for End of the School Year
Please be aware that enrichment classes have ended for this school year. The after school program will run until Monday, June 10 and children will be covered in after school on days their enrichment classes normally ran. If you would like to pick up your child earlier due to this scheduling change, please coordinate with Barbara Carey at the front desk. We will assume all students are staying unless we hear otherwise from a parent. Thank you!
FOURTH GRADE NEWS
Plant Sale Raises Money for Make-A-Wish Foundation
The fourth grade students and teachers would like to express their great appreciation to everyone who helped support last week’s plant sale. Sales this year totaled more than $950! All funds raised will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
LOST & FOUND
Check for Items Before School Year Ends
On the day of the Moving Up Assembly (Tuesday, June 11), all items from Lost & Found will be on display in the Barn with the hope that we can reunite these items with their owners. Immediately after school closes that day, the remaining items will be donated to Cradles to Crayons. Currently, there are unclaimed items in athletics, in the Barn and in the Lost and Found area in the hallway across from the teachers’ lounge. Please have your students check these areas or stop by yourself if you are missing anything. Best wishes this summer and please consider ordering personalized labels from Mabels Labels and using them to label students’ items for camp and for school in the fall.
Parents’ Association News
Call Out For Receipts
If you have incurred any PA-related expenses this school year and have not yet been reimbursed, we ask that you please submit your receipts as soon as possible. The deadline for submitting all receipts is June 17. Receipts can be given to Tyl Pattisall, outgoing PA treasurer or they can be left in the PA mailbox near Barbara Carey’s desk. Thank you!
Parent Publishes Debut Novel
Wellesley Booksmith will host a book release event for Belmont Day parent Jennifer Blecher’s first novel, Out of Place, on Tuesday, June 4 at 7 p.m. Blecher’s debut novel is for middle-grade readers and is the story of 12-year-old Cove Bernstein. Cove’s best friend, Nina, moved from Martha’s Vineyard to New York City, and Cove is now the target of a bullying campaign at school. Escape seems impossible. This accessible and beautifully written novel explores actions and consequences, loneliness, bullying, and finding your voice. For more information on the book release, visit the bookstore’s website.
Girls Who Code 2-Week Summer Courses
Girls Who Code’s newest summer program is Girls Who Code Campus. Each campus course, for girls ranging 10- to 18-years old, is two weeks long and explores topics like iPhone App Development (ages 13-18) or Wearable Tech (ages 11-15).
Campus courses in the Boston area are at Winsor School in Boston and Meadowbrook School in Weston. For more information on the courses and schedules, schedule, visit the Girls Who Code website. Registration is open now. Full scholarships are available for families that qualify. Email [email protected] with questions.
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