Yoga time for eighth graders in the fall athletics training camp program.
Offering Gratitude (Pandemic-style)
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: November 20, 2020
A year ago, in this space, I wrote about the tips I had learned from Priya Parker in her book, The Art of Gathering, as we looked ahead to gathering with family and friends to celebrate all that we are thankful for. Since then, this invisible virus has tainted the idea of gathering itself, requiring us to weigh the merits of coming together in person against the health and safety of ourselves and those we love. So, what to make of this year’s celebration? Knowing that it would break my parents’ hearts, I nonetheless had to tell them that we’d rather be safe than sorry, and so we’ll be apart this Thanksgiving. I have been giving considerable thought now to how we might recover what makes the holiday special, even from a distance.
Every tradition starts somewhere. As with the classroom experience, the pandemic has forced new and innovative ways of thinking about approaching the simple rituals and traditions that we celebrate year after year. That can be true for you and yours as you consider the holidays, too. Is this the year that far-away family members who usually cannot make the journey can join in the festivities via Zoom? Does that traditional family board game or puzzle have an online equivalent that could include more people than when playing in person?
There can still be a ‘kid’s table.’ Trust me on this: if your children are old enough, if you ask them to set up a call with their cousins so that they can celebrate the holiday together, not only will they do it, but they will find joy in it. No one should read this and assume that I believe a digital connection is better than the real thing. Still, any connection is better than none, and—especially after the year they’ve already had—the children will connect without missing a beat. Encourage them to make space for this connection if that is an important part of your holiday traditions. They’ll be grateful for the nudge in that direction.
Gratitude works remotely, too. This is the season of giving thanks, and while the opportunity to do so over a turkey leg is undoubtedly better in person, that doesn’t mean that gratitude can’t travel. So, back to Priya Parker’s advice: be intentional about the gratitude you give—not just to whom you give it, but how. Have you considered the card you might send? Have you scheduled the family Zoom call? If not, I encourage you to do so. The absence of family and friends will feel especially pronounced during the holidays, so anything you can do with intention to connect will be welcome by all.
This, too, shall pass. I have been buoyed this week by the reports from Pfizer and Moderna. It would seem that the news we have all been craving—a viable vaccine that the venerable Dr. Fauci thinks may be available to the general public around April—has arrived, and for that, we should all be grateful. The pandemic is an unforgettable moment in time, and our children are primary sources that will be studied for years to come. I’m not advocating that anyone offer their turkey dinner as an anthropological study—even if your family’s meal might make an excellent case! Instead, I suggest seeing the importance in your togetherness through this most difficult time, even if that ‘togetherness’ doesn’t look the same as it usually might or will again.
The truth: this will be a different and likely a challenging holiday season for everyone. I hope that despite the challenges the pandemic has created that you will still find room for the spirit of the season to enter your home and your heart and enjoy it together, even as we have to be apart.
November 23 to December 4
Monday, November 23
Tuesday, November 24
School Closed for Students
Professional Development Day for Faculty
8:50–9:35 a.m., Thanksgiving Assembly; Zoom Gathering
11:30 a.m., Seesaw Learning Session for K-Grade 3 Parents; Zoom Meeting
School Closed for Thanksgiving Break
Monday, November 30
School Reopens for Offsite Learning
Winter Athletics Season Begins
Thursday, December 3
7–8:30 p.m., State of the School; Zoom Gathering
Friday, December 4
Middle School Reports Released
7:45–8:30 a.m., PA Executive Committee; Zoom Meeting
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly, Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Parent Conversations: Self-Care and Self-Reflection
Wednesday, December 9
Two Sessions: 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Join school psychologist Dr. Leesa Mercedes to focus on your self-care and self-reflection. There will be two sessions to keep groups intimate and to allow for conversation. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for our parent community to focus on their self-care and learn a few new tips on ways to do so! Space is limited. Please click here to reserve a spot.
State of the School 2020
Thursday, December 3, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The presentation will include remarks from Head of School Brendan Largay and introductions to the various board committees by members of the board of trustees. Participants will be invited to join breakout rooms for further conversation with board committee chairs. Check the Parent Portal for the Zoom link to this event.
Virtual Beer Tasting
Monday, December 7 at 8 p.m.
Whether you are a beer devotee or interested in learning more, we encourage you to join the parents’ association for their upcoming friendraising committee event: a virtual beer tasting featuring Revival Brewing, Co. The event will be held via Zoom. Parent Owen Johnson, dad of Kingland (grade 3), and Sky (pre-kindergarten) will be sponsoring and co-hosting the event! The event is free of charge, but spots are filling up quickly so RSVP today! Click here to RSVP.
Lunch & Snack Menu
November 23 to November 27
Snack: craisins; baked Tostitos with salsa
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; chocolate chip cookies; cut peaches; apple slices; milk and water
School Closed: Professional Development Day for Faculty
School Closed for Thanksgiving Break
School Closed for Thanksgiving Break
School Closed for Thanksgiving Break
Seesaw Learning Session for Parents
Tuesday, November 24 at 11:30 a.m.
In anticipation of December’s offsite learning period, the tech office is offering a session for parents of students in kindergarten through grade 3. The focus will be on understanding Seesaw so parents can help their children achieve independence during offsite learning. The Zoom link for this session is available on the Parent Portal. We will record the session and post it on the Parent Portal.
Tech Office Hours Offered
Once remote learning begins after Thanksgiving break, we will host tech office hours for parents with students in pre-kindergarten to grade 3. If questions arise, please pop in while members of the tech team are on hand to troubleshoot with you. The tech office hours will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. on Mondays, November 30 and December 7, and Wednesdays, December 2 and December 9. The Zoom link for the office hours is available on the Parent Portal. If questions arise that cannot wait for office hours, please contact your child’s teacher first as they will know if it’s a quick fix on their end or if support from the tech department is required. If this isn’t possible, you can email the tech office at [email protected].
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Testing Volume Creates Reporting Delays
As of late morning Friday, we had yet not received results from our Wednesday round of testing from our partners at CIC Health. The recent surge in COVID cases in the area and an increased volume of testing has slowed the reporting from the Broad Institute which analyzes our tests for CIC. As always, Nurse Liz LaRocque will be in touch if individual results come back positive or inconclusive. We will report on our BDS community testing stats again in the first Scoop after we return from the Thanksgiving break.
If you have any questions or concerns, contact Liz LaRocque at [email protected] or 617-932-3901.
Reminder: Flu Shots Are Required
The school is required to have documentation that students have received their flu shots before returning to school in January. All students must receive a flu shot or submit documentation of a medical reason they cannot receive the immunization. The deadline for receiving immunization to the flu and providing documentation is December 31. 2020. Documentation of the administration of the flu shot can be uploaded to Magnus: Student Health Tracker>Immunizations>Add New Record. If you have any questions, please email the nurses at [email protected] and [email protected].
Smile! School Photos Now Available to Order
The 2020-21 student, cohort, and class photos taken this past month are now available! To sign in to see and/or purchase photos, please go to Porter Gifford Photography. You will need to enter your email address and a password. Please refer to the email you received for the password.
- 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’s/children’s photos; there are no photo packages.
- When you place an order over $30, you may select a free 5×7 class or cohort picture (a $24 value.)
- Purchased photos will be mailed directly to the address you provide during ordering.
- If you have any questions, please contact [email protected].
In Case You Missed It: Fall 2020 Sports Assembly
If you weren’t able to attend this morning’s fall sports assembly, you’ll want to check it out! The assembly was chock full of fun and was a wonderful celebration of our middle school athletes’ determination and leadership. Before you press play though, make sure to change into your workout clothes. There’s a whole lot of challenging trivia questions about our school, sports in general, and the BDS coaches. Get a question right, relax. Get it wrong and you’ll be exercising. The recording of the assembly is available on the Parent Portal. Have fun!
Looking Ahead to More Chilly Days at School
This note was originally sent to sixth grade families. We’re sharing here as it’s a nice reminder to all.
The cold weather this week reminded us that winter will be upon us soon, and even if it warms up a bit for the next few days, we’ll surely face colder temperatures when we return to campus after winter break. If we follow guidelines and leave our windows open as much as possible, we can expect it will be in the 50s in the classroom most of the day. I strongly recommend that students have plenty of warm wool or other warm socks, some comfortable long underwear, and warm hats. I’m already in my lined pants, some students are already in gloves for part of the day, some of us are starting to wear hats, and I’ve seen some scarves in other parts of the building. I mention this now partly because the weather is reminding us, but partly also in case your family traditions at this time of year include gift-giving. When I was sixth grade age or so, we somewhat pejoratively divided gifts into the categories of “toys” and “clothes.” But this year at least these particular kinds of clothing might be more warmly received than usual.
– Dean Spencer, grade 6 social studies teacher and advisor
COMMUNITY SERVICE NEWS
Help Local Campaign to Donate 100,000 Masks for Kids
Our longstanding community service partner organization, Cradles to Crayons, has launched an ambitious campaign to donate 100,000 masks to children. ThreadTech, Inc., a Boston-based company, has joined the effort and set up multiple opportunities to support Cradles to Crayons. On the ThreadTech website, individuals can purchase masks directly for donation or they can click on the ‘donate today’ button which links directly to the Cradles to Crayons donation site. And for every two masks purchased for donation during November, ThreadTech will donate one children’s mask to the campaign.
DEI Parent Interest Groups Launched for School Year
On Tuesday, November 10, we launched this year’s DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) parent groups. We began as a whole group to acknowledge our common dedication to engaging with one another on topics related to social identity and social bias. Following that heartwarming start, folks spent time in groups focused on social identity commonalities.
We are very grateful to those who facilitated the small groups. Each interest group will determine its schedule of meetings going forward. If you were unable to attend the first gathering, please contact the facilitator below to learn when the group you’d like to join will hold its next meeting.
Please note that the interfaith group is a new parent group offering and we are super excited to be able to offer this opportunity for parents to connect in this context.
- Asian- & Asian-American-identified Parents – Please contact Minna Ham at [email protected]
- Black- & Brown-identified Parents –Please contact Dr. Hoyt at [email protected]
- White-identified Parents raising Black- and Brown-identified children – Please contact Dr. Mercedes at [email protected]
- Allyship Group for White-identified Parents – Please contact Suzanne Caruso at [email protected]
- Interfaith Group – Please contact Matt Segil at [email protected]
Athletics News: Historic Fall Season In the Books
It was a fall athletics season like Belmont Day has never seen. The uniforms never came off the shelves. The visiting teams never arrived. The scoreboards never were turned on. But … the coaches showed up, the athletes laced up their sneakers, and athletics continued. Over the course of ten weeks and through three unique offerings, middle school athletes played field hockey, sprinted up Old Concord Road, orienteered through the woods, completed fitness circuits, went on sustained runs, mountain biked on the trails, competed in flag football games, ran in weekly cross-country races, learned how to parkour, squared off on the soccer field, jogged through pine alley, and camouflaged themselves in the trees. Yes, the program looked and felt different, but athletes and coaches found opportunity within the change. It will be a season we’ll never forget.
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
First Grade Designs and Builds Scientific Tools
First graders have been learning about scientists this fall, answering questions like, “What is a scientist?” “What does a scientist look like?” “Who can be a scientist?” “What do scientists do?” After discovering that scientists’ activities include thinking, using their senses, experimenting, exploring, and recording their observations, first graders designed their own science tools. They planned their project on Seesaw by drawing their tool, explaining the type of science it helps them do, and showing the materials they would need to create it. This week, first graders eagerly set to work creating their tools out of recycled materials and craft supplies. After they finished constructing their tools, they recorded videos on Seesaw explaining their tools and how they help do science. We shared our videos with each other to celebrate our first grade scientists!
– Katie Alexander, grade 1 teacher
Studying Artist Jacob Lawrence in Fifth Grade
Students have been working on their final projects to end our study of Jacob Lawrence and his artwork as shown in the picture book, The Great Migration. Jacob Lawrence painted a series of 60 panels depicting the struggles and journeys of African American migrants traveling to the North from the South during the Great Migration. Students were enlisted to draw panel 61. Some students chose to show what the next scene in Jacob Lawrence’s vision might have been, while others chose to depict how the Great Migration has influenced people and their lives today. Combined with their studies of Jacob Lawrence and his painting style in their art class, students are creating inspiring pieces of art and we are very excited to see how they all turn out!
– Lindsay Fitzgerald, grade 5 teaching assistant
Lessons Are Sprouting in Kindergarten!
In kindergarten, we recently kicked off our study of plants. We planted lima beans in soil and after just a few days, they have already started to sprout. The stretch of sunshine we had last week undoubtedly helped with their growth. We have been making observational drawings in our journals to track the growth of our lima bean plants. This week, we examined the exterior and the interior of some lima beans. After soaking the seeds overnight, we carefully opened them up and discovered parts inside such as the food supply, the baby plant, and even a leaf using our magnifying glasses! On a frigid day when we really needed our coats, we also learned that seeds have coats of their own for protection too. We will be taking the plants home this week and caring for them during remote learning. We will continue to experiment at home to find out what a seed needs in order to grow successfully. Stay tuned for some updates in a few weeks!
– Betty Pryor, kindergarten teacher
Kindergarten Celebrates ABCs Milestone
Kindergartners in Mrs. Hartvigsen’s cohort demonstrated their expertise with the alphabet this past week, sharing their knowledge on the first half of the letters. Each student used a variety of mediums to create one of the 13 letters learned: molding with clay, using natural materials, and even forming the shape of their letter with their own bodies! They also became the author and illustrator of a page about their special letter in our class alphabet book. Examples of their work can be seen in the hallway where we hang our coats and bags.
– Evelyn Metta, associate teacher in kindergarten
Parents’ Association News
Lost & Found
New Procedure For Locating Lost Items
As the weather cools, our students are bringing more clothing to school. Please remember to label their belongings! If you are missing an item, please complete this form. We will search the Lost & Found bins for the item and it will either be returned to your student or we will be in touch to let you know that we haven’t found it. If it isn’t found at this time, it will stay on the list in case it reappears at a later date.
With the Thanksgiving holiday next week, we would like to express our gratitude to the over one-third of families who have already paid their annual PA dues! Just as a reference point, as a community we reached over 90% participation last year so we’re well on our way to meet that goal again!
PA dues provide the lion’s share of the annual PA operating budget which allows the PA to fulfill its mission of fostering community; supporting the parents of Belmont Day School; promoting communication between parents and the school; and supporting the school through educational, social, and fundraising activities. The suggested contribution is $50. Any additional donation over the suggested dues amount of $50 is very much appreciated and can be considered a tax-deductible gift to the Parents’ Association. The Development Office will acknowledge as such as well. You can make payment via the BDS PA’s secure online payment portal here.
Thank you for considering participating, and our gratitude again to the families who have already contributed! May you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!
The next book club selection is a short story collection entitled Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda. Please join us for our Zoom gathering on Wednesday, December 16 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. The Zoom link is posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
The Friendraiser committee will host their next virtual coffee chat on Wednesday, December 16, from 9 to 10 a.m. Catch up with friends new and old and discuss all things wintry; cozy or cold! Come and learn new recipes ideas, winter games, movies, and more. Bring your own ideas and traditions to share! The Zoom link can be found on the Friendraiser page under the Parents’ Association tab on the Parent Portal.
LOCAL BOOKSTORE EVENT
Holiday Help: Authors Offer Book Recommendations
Monday, November 30 at 7 p.m.
Need to find a few great books to give as gifts or read yourself his holiday season? Join Belmont Books and local first-time authors, Julie Carrick Dalton P ’08 ’12 ’15 ’19, and Nancy Johnson, discuss their debut books, Waiting For the Night Song by Dalton, and The Kindest Lie by Johnson, and hear their many recommendations for engaging reads at this time of year. Click here to pre-register to attend this online event.