Middle school art from the drawing elective with Ms. Solomon.
Learning the Lessons of Today & Taking Steps Toward Tomorrow
By Liz Gray, Middle School Head
Sarah Merrill, Director of High School Placement
Post Date: May 8, 2020
Listening for the Lessons of Today
One of the things I enjoy most is listening. Whether listening to personal stories of adventure, discovery, or hilarity, podcasts about human behavior, science, and history, or the owl and other bird calls in my backyard, this spring offsite has afforded me many opportunities to practice what I love. As has been the case for us as educators this spring, when there is no road map or tested waters for a journey, listening and empathizing become key. While some of our senses may be dimmed or easily overwhelmed as we physically isolate ourselves, in our uncharted new teaching and learning territory, listening is heightened. Our research these days lies not in reading the map or recorded narratives that have been written by those before us, but in reading each other closely while we learn together, apart.
The world is speculating about how this time of quarantine will change us—in work, socially, emotionally, academically, you name it. Schools are no different. We ask ourselves about our new practices daily. We are listening for the answers to these big questions:
- What barriers to teaching and learning that may have been there all along are suddenly revealed to us now?
- What opportunities has this new platform afforded us?
- What have we learned from this time that will inform and continue to shape our future teaching and learning for the better?
- What is the purpose of education, of the content and skills we teach, and of gathering in creative and diverse ways?
- How can we provide a more equitable and inclusive education for both our students and our families?
And in our weeks offsite, we have learned these lessons:
- There is nothing that can replicate the in-person human connection. We have designed school, and specifically, Belmont Day, for a reason, and that is comforting.
- Tremendous growth and learning happen when we are forced to adapt. We have proven ourselves to be resilient, dynamic, indomitable, and quick studies as we have climbed a steep learning curve this spring.
- We are no longer hesitant to try something new. Jumping onto new online tools, collaborating with our tech team and each other to trade tricks and tips, and using each other as sounding boards for wild ideas that become great opportunities have become second nature for us.
- Some students prefer this learning lifestyle, as it offers them a later wake-up time, more flexibility in what they accomplish, and when, the opportunity to enjoy a bike ride or cook for themselves in between classes, and to find freedom and agency in more choice and differentiation.
- We can bring the essence of our curriculum into the light. We need to ask and answer, “Who cares about this topic?” and “Why should we care?” for all that we are choosing to devote our time and attention.
- We recognize and honor what it takes for parents and teachers to be true partners in the education of our students. The background of a video chat or class opens a window to learning about and listening to each others’ diverse and unique homeworlds. The surprise appearance of a pet on-screen, or the sounds of family, increase our understanding of where we come from and what matters most to us as individuals.
- Our empathy radar has been sharpened. We are mindful of those going through tough times. We try to read the expressions of our students through the screen. We are hungry to gather the perspectives of parents and families. We support colleagues with whom we continue to forge ahead in the lifelong process of learning.
This spring feels different as we head into the home stretch of the school year. There is so much to celebrate. While it’s new territory, the students and their accomplishments have only become more remarkable—they are facing this spring with bravery, humor, optimism, and creativity, and appreciating the beauty in the small things that life has to offer at the moment. I am fascinated to see what we will all bring back from this experience when we gather again on campus to learn in one another’s company. When we know we don’t have to do all of our meetings on Zoom, will we look forward to using it to connect sometimes? I hope one of the things we will hold dear and remember to do is to continue to listen to each other, to read each other’s faces carefully for signs of how we are feeling and what matters most to us, and the questions we are yearning to explore.
– Liz Gray
Celebrating Our Students’ Next Steps
The COVID-19 crisis has created a new reality and life certainly looks different than it did before March 12 when BDS announced it would be closing. The abrupt halt to the old “normal” and the practice of adjusting to new social distancing protocols find us participating in birthday parade trains, donning colorful face masks, and jumping on Zoom calls to connect with work colleagues, students, and family members.
In the midst of all this change though, two things at Belmont Day have remained constant–a call to celebrate the significant annual eighth grade milestone of high school placements and the continued excellent quality of the placements themselves.
In the independent school world, March 10 is notification day. So, as the BDS doors closed in mid-March, new doors were opening for our eighth graders. Students and parents were receiving exciting news about possibilities for the future. After a month of connecting with representatives from many different schools in this area and beyond, our eighth grade students have finalized their plans and formalized their decisions. We announced the impressive class of 2020 matriculation list last week, and I hope you will join me now in celebrating the hard work of these wonderful young students and their families.
The receiving schools are excited to welcome our future BDS alums to their communities. The students were respected throughout the application process for their academic, athletic, and artistic strengths, of course, but they were also celebrated for their strong self-advocacy skills and impressive qualities of character. We wish them well in their next adventure and know that they will be tremendous ambassadors for Belmont Day School!
– Sarah Merrill
Our youngest learners seem to have been replaced by masked superheroes!
News & Updates
Capstone Presentations Set for Week of May 18-22
Our eighth grade students haven’t missed a beat while working on their Capstone projects since we’ve transitioned to remote learning! It has been impressive to see each student as they finished the project phase and then zoomed (pun intended) thoughtfully and with great gusto into the presentation phase. With their scripts and slides finalized, they have been rehearsing with Madame Friborg, Capstone coordinator, and their mentors. The next step is to share what they have learned with the community!
Capstone Week will be held Monday, May 18 through Friday, May 22. As we have done in previous years, we will have groups of 3-4 students present in blocks. This year, all presentations are being pre-recorded and presented via Zoom. Each presentation will be followed by a live Q&A with the students. See the dropdown below for a full list of Capstone projects and the presentation schedule.
Please check your email over the weekend for a message with the Zoom invitations to the Capstone sessions.
Capstone Projects & Schedule
Please note presentation order is subject to change.
Monday, May 18, 9 to 11 a.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Miles Sandoski: How the Brain Affects Endurance | Mentor: John O’Neill
- Ashley Luo: Consumerism: Are You Sure You Want to Buy That? | Mentor: Tara Lightbody
- Scott Abbott: Hydroponics: Food Without Soil | Mentor: Heather Woodcock
- Anni Taylor: Get Up, Stand Up: A History of Protest Music | Mentor: Nathalie Pellenq
Monday, May 18, 3 to 4:30 p.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Xander Lightbody: Technology and Food Security: A Step Into the Future | Mentor: Jim Walker
- Kiki Friedbauer: Influential Artists Through the Ages | Mentor: Catherine David
- Cole Sparks: How Title IX Has Affected Women’s Sports | Mentor: Fred Colson
Tuesday, May 19, 9 to 11 a.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Michelle Meija-Levy: Latin American Immigration: The Hard Truth | Mentor: Anne Armstrong
- Piper Morris: Gene Therapy: An Ethical Dilemma | Mentor: Julia Juster
- Orion Schrag: Nuclear Energy: Is It a Potential Energy Alternative? | Mentor: Corrado Paramithiotti
- Theo Wallach: Hip-Hop Culture | Mentor: Brian Laskowski
Tuesday, May 19, 3 to 4:30 p.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Elizabeth Amaratunga: Am I Normal? Understanding Teenage Anxiety | Mentor: Lana Holman
- Owen Khanna: The Business of Football | Mentor: John O’Neill
- Aaniya Riddick: Perspectives on Abortion | Mentor: Abbey Nyland
Wednesday, May 20, 9 to 10:30 a.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Noah Burd: Behavioral Economics | Mentor: Erik Smith
- Theo von Gottberg: The Impact of Climate Change on Skiing | Mentor: Beth Sousa
- Miranda Harlow: Ballroom Culture and Community | Mentor: Elisabeth Klock
Wednesday, May 20, 6 to 7:30 p.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Julia Clayton: The Modern Educational System: What Could Change? | Mentor: Julia Juster
- Camille DeStefano: Sugar: The Sweet and Salty Truth | Mentor: Anne Armstrong
- Lauren Kopperl: Truly American? Japanese American Internment | Mentor: Ellie Brennan
Thursday, May 21, 9 to 10:30 a.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Owen Finnerty: What Is Sneaker Culture? | Mentor: Andy Rentschler
- Lynn Lewis: Bananas: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Fruit | Mentor: Alice Henry
- Michael Timmins: Comedy’s Benefit to Our Health | Mentor: Liz Gray
Thursday, May 21, 6 to 7:30 p.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Jack Abruzzi: Synesthesia: What Is It? and Why Does It Matter? | Mentor: Kathy Jo Solomon
- Quinn Foley: Getting Hooked on Fishing | Mentor: Nicole Buck
- Davin Roy: Reparations: What Are They and How Can They Impact Society? | Mentor: Dean Spencer
Friday, May 22, 9 to 10:30 a.m. – Zoom Presentation
- Elena Ferrari: Stem Cells: The Miracle of Regeneration | Mentor: Nancy Fell
- Evan Seymour: The History and Evolution of Video Games | Mentor: Jonathan Drummey
- Maya Gregor: In and Out of Black Holes | Mentor: Brendan Largay
Delivering a Lesson in Plant Care for Fourth Grade
Although the annual plant sale had to be canceled this year, we still wanted the fourth graders to have the opportunity to grow plants from seed. We gave the students the choice to grow an herb, a flowering plant, or a vegetable. I was able to get the seeds, and other supplies, from Corliss Brothers garden center near where I live. The garden center generously donated over 100 free seed packets from 2019 in addition to the 2020 seed packs we got for each student. Over the spring vacation week, I delivered a small bag of soil, four seed packs, and two small peat pots to 28 of our 31 fourth graders, and mailed out and made arrangements for delivery of the others. It was a long day in the car, but it was worth it to see all the smiling faces! (Check our Facebook page to see all the photos Ms. Norman snapped while making the deliveries.)
– Mary Norman, grade 4 teacher
Seventh Grade Math Digs Deep Into Linear Relationships
In math, grade seven students have been exploring linear relationships through graphs and tables. This investigation continued the theme of our first exercise (walkathons) and helped students deepen their understanding of patterns of change. The students learned, for example, that the constant rate of change between two variables as well as the y-intercept is formalized, and students were are now being introduced to the linear form of an equation ( y = mx + b).
– RJ Parsons, middle school math teacher
Arts Update: Photography Elective Captures Repetition
Grades 7 and 8 students in the photography arts elective were recently given a challenge. They were asked to explore their own homes or spaces nearby to see and capture repetitive shapes and forms. The students took to this different way of seeing to make interesting photos out of the seemingly mundane patterns all around them.
– Kurt Robinson, innovation and art teacher
Special deliveries, Morning Meetings, and Superhero Training …. OH MY!
After the April vacation week, the pre-k class broadened its synchronous learning with the addition of bonus special lunch bunches, small group morning meetings, and activities.
At morning meetings, groups of 6-7 students and their teachers gather to greet each other with bird calls, report on “local” weather, and share our drawings, projects, and constructions. We show how each one of us in our own homes can be connected through weather, backyard birds, and most of all, friendship.
During the April break, all of the students received a surprise package delivered by their teachers, and inside was a cape and mask! When we next gathered online our students had been replaced by superheroes-in-training! They started their training by sharing their superpower and learning our pre-k superhero theme song. This week they brought materials to create a new part of their ensemble.
– Kate Oznick and Alice Henry, pre-kindergarten teachers
Physical Education Works the Brains and Bodies
– Alex Tzelnic and Abbey Nyland, physical education teachers
Middle School Forums
The Seventh Grade Experience
Monday, May 11 from 7 to 8:00 p.m.
The Sixth Grade Experience
Monday, May 18 from 7 to 8:00 p.m.
The Eighth Grade Experience
Tuesday, May 26 from 7 to 8:00 p.m.
What lies ahead for students and parents as they enter or move up a grade in middle school at Belmont Day? Please join us for a parent forum previewing what lies ahead in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Each “experience” forum is designed for parents of students who will be advancing to that grade in the fall.
At each forum, parents will hear from grade faculty and Liz Gray, middle school head, about the highlights of the programs. There will also be time for questions and answers. Please check for recent email from the school with Zoom invitation.
CORPORATION MEETING & PROXY VOTING
Thursday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s Parents’ Association and Annual Meeting of the Belmont Day School Corporation will be held by Zoom this next Thursday evening. Please check for the email from the school with the Zoom invitation link and password, or contact Catherine David to request the invitation.
The meeting will include comments by Jill Finnerty ’84, chair of the board of trustees; Matt Kadnar, board treasurer; Crissy Straub, president of the Parents’ Association; and Brendan Largay, head of school
Many thanks to everyone who has already submitted an election proxy! If you haven’t already done so, please take a minute to do so now. Click here to submit your proxy.
Harry Potter Read-Alongs & Book Bundles Available
For Harry Potter fans, or fans-to be: a cast of celebrity narrators will be reading the first title in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in a series of free online videos (or audio files on Spotify), one chapter a week. The first chapter is read by Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played Harry in the movies. Later chapters will be read by Stephen Fry, David Beckham, Dakota Fanning, Eddie Redmayne. Click here to enjoy the read-alongs.
Getting tired of the books you have at home? You may want to try out this offer from Roundabout Books in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Select the age/reading level of your child, and receive an assortment of ten (used) books for $20, including shipping. For all the details, click here.
If you are looking for specific titles or new books, consider purchasing them from our beloved local bookstore, Belmont Books. Belmont Books is also hosting online children’s book events every Saturday morning at 11 a.m. Click here to see a calendar of all their events.
Book Club Meeting
Wednesday, May 27 at 3:00 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 be put on the ZOOM invite.
Time to Order Your 2019-2020 Yearbooks!
The 2019-2020 yearbook includes photos and candids of each grade, as well as pictures of theatrical productions, sports teams, teachers, special events (Halloween parade, middle school class trips, etc.), cross-graded partners, and, of course, pages celebrating this year’s eighth grade. This year, we’ve also included a special section with photos of families’ offsite learning activities.
Please use this form to order your yearbook. Copies are $10 each and will be available for pick up at the end of the school year (details for pick-up will be forthcoming). Parents will be billed for their order by the school.
A couple of things to note:
- Each eighth grade student receives a copy of the yearbook free-of-charge. Some eighth grade families may choose to order additional copies.
- Last year, families in every grade ordered copies of the yearbook. If your family wants a yearbook this year you must place an order using this online form. Unlike previous years when we were able to have copies available for purchase at school, we do not anticipate selling copies at any other time.
Mastering the Clarinet via Zoom
Music lessons have picked up where they left off, switching to all online sessions. A longtime member of the BDS music team, Mr. Baverstam has taught a number of BDS students for years, including with eighth grader Camille DeStefano, a talented clarinet player. Camille has been working this semester on Carl Maria von Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet, opus 26. You can hear her playing the opening passage in this video. Camille has been studying the clarinet with Mr. Baverstam since the third grade at Belmont Day School.
Delivering Delicious Goodness to Healthcare Workers
Christopher Parsons, BDS theater teacher, and husband Niddy Saengsrichan, are feeding more than bodies these days from their restaurant Thai on the Fly in Westford. They are working with a group of local restaurants in the area to support Operation Feed the Soul, which arranges to have hot meals delivered to healthcare workers during this time of crisis. For more information on how to support this great mission, click here.
Virtual Peace March
Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 10
Join Team Belmont for a virtual Mother’s Day Walk online www.mothersdaywalk4peace.org. Belmont Against Racism members have been participating in this walk the past 12 years in honor of Herman Taylor III, Belmont High School student and Roxbury resident, who was tragically murdered on his way home from visiting a friend in 2006. He was a young man with a bright future who decried violence. Members of the First Church in Belmont, Unitarian Universalist, have formed Team Belmont and we encourage you join them in their fundraising goals.
In addition to links to your student’s academic activities and lessons, the Offsite Learning Site offers activity and enrichment resources, including After School at Home.
The COVID-19 News and Resources Page offers links to important resources including Talking With Your Child About COVID-19 and an archive of school communications.
Fitness & Fun Friday, May 15!
One week from today will be our first Fitness & Fun Friday! We want to show the Belmont Day community getting some exercise and fresh air. If you’re out for a walk or a jog with the family or your student is exercising for their physical education class or athletics team, snap a photo or some video. Send to Jim Walker, associate director of communications and marketing, and he’ll share it with the community so we can get inspired and cheer each other on!
Fun at Home
FROM THE KITCHEN
Cooking Up Some Delicious Fried Rice
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.