First grade students explore colors and tones in Ms. Armstrong’s art class.
Message from Head of School
The Art of Gathering
Brendan Largay, Head of School Post Date: November 22, 2019
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
This summer, I asked the programmatic leadership team of Liz Gray, Minna Ham, Carlos Hoyt, Heather Woodcock, and Deborah Brissenden to read Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering. The book, which is described as both “a journey and a guide” to meaningful gatherings, helped us to consider the many ways we invite folks to gather—for a faculty meeting, in the classroom, for a book group, or even over a coffee—and focus on making meaning rather than meeting for meeting’s sake.
As we head into this Thanksgiving holiday, Parker’s principles of gathering are especially relevant. I cherish this holiday. For me, Thanksgiving has always been a celebration of the love of family and friendship, and a chance to reconnect with the loved ones who helped to shape the person I am today. My memories of the day itself are pictures extracted from a cookbook— golden brown turkey with all of the requisite fixings—mingling with recollections of laughter and good cheer around the table, and appreciation for a rare, explicit opportunity to offer gratitude.
As I look out at the world beyond my own family’s kitchen table and beyond the everyday here at Belmont Day, I am struck by media messaging that advances the trope “Brace yourself, the holidays are coming.” This sentiment gives me pause. The implication is that we must “make it through” holiday dinners—with the potential for conversations that uncover differing political views or social values, or simply a relative’s umpteenth telling of the same story—biding time until we might be “saved” by the numbing tryptophan of our turkey dinner or football.
The art of gathering is rooted in the benefits, both relational and neurological, of celebrating the differing perspectives of those that gather around your table. Parker offers that we rely too much on routine and the conventions of gatherings when we should focus on the distinctiveness and individuality of the people involved. Holidays bring people bound by their relationships to one another, and to you, together. At this cultural moment when coming together is more important than ever, I urge you to gather in the spirit of honoring differences and find the joy in them.
Gathering with purpose and intention really is an art, and also a bit tactical. It starts with knowing your purpose: why are you meeting in the first place? My hope is that for each of you, the purpose of gathering for the holidays is rooted in love and joy, and I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.
I look forward to seeing you all at the Thanksgiving Assembly on Tuesday, but for anyone I miss there, have a wonderful break.
Some reading time on a gray fall day for seventh grade students.
Saturday, November 23 Middle School Model UN Conference, Northeastern University
Monday, November 25 Athletics Mud Week 5:30–7 p.m., Alumni Panel for Grade 8, Coolidge Hall and Palandjian Arts Center
Tuesday, November 26 Athletics Mud Week After School, Extended Day, and Enrichments: Trimester 1 Ends 2:25–3:10 p.m., Thanksgiving Assembly, Palandjian Arts Center
Wednesday, November 27 School Closed: Thanksgiving Break
Thursday, November 28 School Closed: Thanksgiving Break
Friday, November 29 School Closed: Thanksgiving Break
Monday, December 2 After School, Extended Day, and Enrichments: Trimester 2 Begins Winter Athletics Season Begins 3:30 p.m., Winter Athletics Tryouts
Tuesday, December 3 3:30 p.m., Winter Athletics Tryouts
Wednesday, December 4 Author Visit: Lee Bacon 3:30 p.m., Winter Athletics Tryouts
Friday, December 6 School Closed: Professional Development Day
Lost & Found Items on Display at Thanksgiving Assembly
The Lost & Found bins, located in the cubbies across from the faculty room, are overflowing. If your child is missing any items, we strongly advise you to check those bins. All the items will be on display before and after the Thanksgiving Assembly on Tuesday, November 26. Shortly after the assembly, all unclaimed items will be donated to Cradles to Crayons.
Professional Development Day
Please note that on Friday, December 6, the school will be closed for a professional development day for all faculty. There will be no childcare program offered to allow all of our faculty and staff members to engage in professional development experiences that are vital to our core mission. We appreciate your support and understanding.
Winter Trimester Enrollment Ends Soon!
Registration for our winter trimester will close on Tuesday, November 26. Registration, if available after that, will incur additional fees. Registration forms can be dropped off to Barbara Carey at the front desk.
Click here to see class descriptions and download the registration form.
Tuesday is a regular school day. Middle school athletics, after school, and enrichment programs will all run. If there will be any change to your child’s regular schedule—early dismissal, not attending after school, etc.—please email the change by 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
We look forward to hosting you at the annual Thanksgiving Assembly from 2:15 to 3:15 p.m.
To be prepared for this busy dismissal day, please read the following carefully.
Students will be dismissed from the assembly as a class and head to their classrooms to collect their belongings.
If you are attending the assembly—please wait to be dismissed, then walk to your child’s regular dismissal spot to collect them.
Please be particularly cognizant of keeping the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten hallway clear for after school pickup lines.
Once you have collected your child, make your way safely to your car using the sidewalks and crosswalks.
Traffic flow may be slow at first, so please be patient and polite to our B&G team as they work to move traffic safely and as swiftly as possible.
If your child is participating in an enrichment share, please make your way to the gallery and wait there until the start time of the share.
If you are not attending the assembly—please follow the usual process for 3:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. dismissals.
The Boston, Cambridge, and WAM buses will depart campus at their regularly scheduled time of 4:30 p.m.
Share the Warmth Drive Monday, December 2 to Thursday, December 19
Once again this year, fifth grade is organizing the Share the Warmth clothing drive to benefit Cradles to Crayons. The annual drive is a longstanding community service commitment and leadership opportunity for our oldest lower school students. Cradles to Crayons delivers necessities to underprivileged families in Massachusetts. This includes clothes, hygiene products, and winter gear. To learn more about Cradles to Crayons, visit their website.
We will be accepting the following donations in sizes for infants to middle schoolers:
You can bring your donations to the boxes in the lobby or the fifth grade classroom, room 247. We hope you consider donating and helping children in need!
Photo caption: Some of the community donations became “leaves” on a symbolic mitten tree that was displayed during the Share the Warmth Assembly in 1993.
The History of Share the Warmth
Share the Warmth is an enduring tradition that was established in 1992 thanks to the inspiration of parent Kathy Knight P ’99, ’00, ’06. The tradition is an example of the home-school partnership that is a hallmark of the learning community at Belmont Day.
In the early years of Share the Warmth, donations went to Shelter, Inc. More recently, in support of our long-standing relationship, the donated items are delivered to Cradles to Crayons, an organization that provides everyday essentials for children and families who face the challenge of clothing insecurity. On Community Service Day in May, a student group travels to the program’s Giving Factory to clean and sort donations that come from individuals and families all around Greater Boston. Belmont Day also serves as the collection site for the Town of Belmont’s drive for Cradles to Crayons and hosts community volunteers for a sorting day in the spring.
Classical Basics for Grade 2 Students
In second grade music classes, students have been working on practicing resting and playing positions, pizzicato-ing and identifying the cello strings, as well as writing the bass clef. They have also been starting to work on the Winter Concert songs, “Snow is Falling,” “Penguin Song,” and “Tick Tock.”
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Checking Students for Lice
There have been a few cases of lice reported at school over these past weeks. The five-day Thanksgiving break is a great time to do a thorough lice check/conditioner comb out. You don’t want to share any extra visitors with family and friends—and you will have the peace of mind knowing your family is in the clear, or plenty of time to treat a case caught early!
Unsure what to do? You can find information on lice on the Parent Site under Health Resources and in the folders outside the nurse’s office.
A Thank You from BDS on Giving Tuesday
Over the past seven years, Giving Tuesday has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. At Belmont Day, we celebrate Giving Tuesday by saying thank you to our community of families and faculty.
Look for a team of volunteers at morning drop off on Giving Tuesday, December 3, who will be spreading cheer and handing out thank you gifts. Please accept this gift as our way of saying thank you for all that you do as a member of our community.
If you are interested in being a part of the Giving Tuesday volunteer team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your continuing generosity and support.
– Beth Sousa, associate director of development and annual giving
Garden Workday a Great Success!
We had a wonderful crew of staff and families working together to do amazing work in the school garden. We pulled up the annuals after harvesting the remaining swiss chard, carrots, beets, and radishes that were still growing. Volunteers covered the beds with salt marsh hay. We raked leaves and also used this as mulch for garden paths and perimeters. The perennials in the pollinator garden were cut back to get ready for next spring and summer flowers. Finally, we repaired the garden fence and added new wire fencing around the entire garden. Thanks go out to all who participated! Save the date for the spring workday on April 11, 2020 when we will wake up the garden!
CORI/SORI Process for Parent Volunteers
From its founding in 1927, Belmont Day School has been enriched by the strong involvement of parents in the community life of the school. To this day, we value and appreciate the many hours of service given by parents to further the educational experience of our students. We thank all of our parent volunteers and wish to encourage that practice in the years to come.
Since 2007, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has required schools to conduct background checks on all employees, volunteers, and independent contractors who may have direct and unmonitored contact with children, including any individuals who regularly provide school-related transportation to children. Today the process is known as a CORI check, or Criminal Offender Record Information check, utilizing a database maintained by the Commonwealth. Additionally, Belmont Day School also conducts a check of the Sex Offender Registry (SORI) Information system. The checks were mandated for the protection of all members of the school community. You can view the school’s CORI Policy here.
We are asking all adults in the community who are currently, or who may be in the future, volunteering for parents’ association activities, supporting community service efforts, or helping in classrooms to complete a CORI Acknowledgement Form. Having this information on file in advance will streamline the process of volunteering when opportunities arise. Please use the link to download a fillable form.
To Complete the Process:
Bring the CORI Acknowledgement Form to school along with your government-issued ID. Designated faculty members will help you complete the process by verifying your ID and the information on the form.
Opportunities to submit the form are as follows:
PA Meetings – Designated faculty will be present at select meetings of the parents’ association to receive CORI forms.
7:30 to 8:15 a.m. – Stop by Early Birds when dropping off your child. Most days either Deborah Brissenden, assistant head of school or Fred Colson, director of finance are on duty. Both Deborah and Fred can help you with the process.
8 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Stop by the business office where Sarah Barrow, Dale McGhee, or Fred Colson are available to receive your form and check your ID.
4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Stop by the front desk where Blair Fross or Joe Jean-Mary should be available to receive your form.
These drop-off points will be available to you most days. However, on rare occasions, you might find that a designated faculty member is not available. We do apologize in advance should that happen.
If you have any questions about the CORI process, please contact Bea Rooney, director of summer programs or Fred Colson, director of finance.
The PA is pleased to announce that we now offer a PA-dedicated online payment portal that can accept payments for PA dues and other PA activities by credit card, debit card, and eCheck (ACH). Thank you for your patience as we completed this project.
If you have not paid your PA dues yet, please consider making your payment via this convenient, easy-to-use portal instead of writing a paper check.
Thank you to Stephanie Kadnar ’84 for the bright fall centerpieces in Coolidge Hall. They are providing great cheer on these dark, cold days.
Baby Book Collection
The PA is now collecting baby books for a baby who will soon join the community! Please consider dropping off a new book (unwrapped is ok!) for librarian Amy Sprung. Books are being collected in Pati Fernández’s office, located opposite the PAC. Please join us in this wonderful tradition of welcoming faculty babies!
Friday, November 29 at 5 p.m. Tricon Church, Concord Center
Belmont Books is hosting acclaimed best-selling children’s author Jan Brett on Friday, November 29. Concord is the first stop on the tour for her new book, The Tale of the Tiger Slippers. Brett will be reading, drawing, taking questions, and signing books. It’s a ticketed event and there is limited seating. You can find more information on the Belmont Books website or purchase tickets or through Eventbrite.