Grabbing an “I Voted” sticker after casting a ballot in third grade!
A Valuable Message From an Unlikely Movie
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: November 6, 2020
I’m a big Morgan Freeman fan. The Shawshank Redemption is among my all-time favorite movies, period, and it is my all-time favorite ‘movie-for-which-I-would-stop-flipping- channels-to-watch’ movie. Something about the timbre of his voice, its resonance perhaps, feels comfortable, compassionate, and understanding. That may be why the creators of Evan Almighty decided to cast him as God. Granted, Evan Almighty does not come close to living up to the Driving Miss Daisy or Shawshank moments that defined Freeman’s career. However, during a week in which we here at Belmont Day faced our fair share of uncertainty, it was to Evan Almighty that I found myself turning for some of Freeman’s comfort.
A brief note about the film: it is a comedy featuring Steve Carell (of The Office) as Evan, a newly elected congressman who finds himself torn between work and family, and under pressure from his new political colleagues to pass a bill he doesn’t believe in. To complicate matters, God (Morgan Freeman) visits him, demanding that he build an ark with his family. Shenanigans ensue, and as you might suspect, it all turns out for the best in the end. I’m not much of a movie reviewer (there’s a reason I have this job and not that one!), but Evan Almighty is a thoughtful and entertaining tale, worth the two-hour investment.
The movie’s merits aside, there is a moment towards the end of the film when Evan is essentially challenging God’s methodology: Why me? Why this? Why now? And, regardless of one’s faith or how one might view the world, Freeman’s character responds with something that I have come back to time and again this week:
“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, do you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for their family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”
As someone who marvels at the deep and rich conversations about faith traditions and practices had by sixth graders during the world religion unit led by Dean Spencer, rest assured that I offer this anecdote agnostically. For me, its significance comes from the essence of the questions posed by Freeman’s character. Whether conveyed from a religious, spiritual, agnostic, or atheist perspective, these profoundly human questions call on us to be engaged and take action, often in ways that challenge us.
While the moments we are experiencing this week—an undecided election, positive COVID tests, quarantine, and remote learning—are unsettling and destabilizing, they are the very moments that test the fabric of something greater within our community and ourselves. As we always do, we rise stronger and healthier for it.
These are the moments for our community to be patient, courageous, and more loving, and I have been so proud to see our community seize them for the opportunities they are. And if you have the time or the inclination to reread this, you can replace my voice with Morgan Freeman’s if it helps.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
November 9 to November 14
Monday, November 9
12–1:00 p.m., Lunch and Learn: Update on Massachusetts Contact Tracing
Tuesday, November 10
7–8:30 p.m., DEI Parent Group; Zoom Gathering
7–9 p.m., Investment Committee; Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, November 11
School Closed for Veterans Day
Thursday, November 12
8:30 a.m., Lower School Parent Forum: Singapore Math
7–8:30 p.m., State of the School; Zoom Gathering
Friday, November 13
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly: Zoom Gathering
12–1 p.m., Parents Independent School Network (PIN) Meeting; Zoom Gathering
Saturday, November 14
1–3 p.m., Admissions Open House for Middle School Families; Online Event
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
State of the School 2020
Thursday, November 12, 7 to 8:30 p.m.
The State of the School 2020 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. Please check recent emails from the school or visit the Parent Portal for the Zoom link to this event.
Lower School Parent Forum: Singapore Math
Thursday, November 12
Join us for a presentation by Kevin Mahoney about Singapore Math and supporting your child at home and while offsite. The link to attend the presentation is now available on the Parent Portal. The presentation will be recorded and posted on the Parent Portal for those unable to attend.
Lunch & Learn: Update on Massachusetts Community Contact Tracing
Monday, November 9 at 12 noon
All are invited to join us as our community partner, Partners in Health, will present an Update on Massachusetts Community Contact Tracing by Dr. John Welch. Dr. Welch is the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Community Tracing Collaborative and the Director of Operations and Partnerships for the Partners In Health MA COVID Response. Click here to pre-register for this event.
Lunch & Snack Menu
November 9 to November 13
Snack: clementines; Cheez-Its
Lunch: penne with meat sauce; plain penne; penne with marinara; crusty roll; broccoli; Romano cheese; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: local apples; chocolate chip muffins
Lunch: chicken wrap (lower school); chicken Caesar wrap (middle school); falafel wrap with hummus; sliced cucumbers; Cape Cod chips; chickpea salad; cut fruit cups; milk and water
School Closed for Veterans Day
Snack: pears; PopChips
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; roasted cauliflower; Caesar salad; confetti corn and bean salad; cut fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: applesauce; Baked Lays chips
Date Change for Thanksgiving Assembly & Start of Break
Assembly: Tuesday, November 24, from 8:50 a.m. to 9:35 a.m.
Join us to celebrate our community and express gratitude for one another at our annual Thanksgiving Assembly. The assembly will be held virtually via Zoom and children should not be brought to school on that day. The link for the event will be available on the Parent Portal.
Thanksgiving Break will begin immediately after the assembly. There will be no academic programming for students for the remainder of the day. Faculty will dedicate that time to preparing for offsite learning.
Monday, November 23
Students and faculty are invited to joyfully kick-off Thanksgiving week. School-appropriate pajamas, slippers, and optional robes are welcome. Dress-code applies for middle school students. Parental consent for proposed outfits is appreciated.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Community Responds to First Positive Tests
As we all know, this past week BDS had its first three positive tests for COVID. We learned a lot from them–primarily of the need to care for those affected while also caring for the health and safety of the community. We also leaned heavily on the hard work of our community over the course of the past six months to ensure that our protocols would hold up in a situation like this. As Brendan reported on Tuesday night, we are glad they did. Thank you again for your continued care and support. A heartfelt thank you to the leadership team and everyone who made thoughtful decisions, kept safety at the forefront, adapted quickly, stepped in to help, and went above and beyond for students, families, and colleagues. We truly are stronger together as a community. If anyone has any questions, please let the nursing team know at any time.
If your child is home ill on a testing day, they are welcome to come to get tested in the car. Please notify Liz LaRocque to make arrangements: [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].
Instructions on How to Safe-List Email Addresses and Domains
Ensuring that information from the school reaches each household in a timely manner is important to the tech team and our entire faculty. One very important way that you can help in this process is to check your email accounts and ‘safe-list’ Belmont Day as a sender. Safe-listing Belmont Day will ensure that emails sent from the school are not directed to email inbox folders that may not get your regular attention, such as promotions and junk folders.
We have drafted step-by-step instructions on how to safe-list the Belmont Day email address and domain in Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! Mail systems. Click here for those instructions. We ask that you specifically safe-list emails coming from our Veracross email provider (@veracross.com).
If you have any questions or would like assistance with this process, please email [email protected].
– Erik Smith, associate director of technology
Seeking Expertise from the BDS Community
Would you like to be involved in the Capstone Program? Take a moment to check out the research topics of our eighth grade students. You’ll be amazed by the variety! Do you or someone you know have expertise or experience in one of these areas? If so, we’d love to hear from you!
Eighth grade students are hard at work on their Capstone papers. The papers represent the first part of the “triathlon” that is the Capstone experience. They have crafted research questions about topics that are of personal interest to them, and they are showing lots of determination and pride as they refine their research into thoughtful papers.
Starting just after winter break, students will embark on the second leg of the triathlon. They will design a project that grows out of the knowledge they have gained during the research and writing phase, as well as what they still want to learn. In this phase, students take charge of their own active learning. One aspect of the project phase is an interview, and this is where YOU come in! If you have contacts who could prove useful to students during the project phase, please be in touch with the Capstone Coordinator, Jennifer Friborg. The eighth grade thanks you in advance for your interest and support.
– Jennifer Friborg, Capstone coordinator
An Evening with Rosalind Wiseman: Developing the Whole Child
Tuesday, November 17, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
As parents navigating a continually changing environment, the one thing we are certain of is the relationship with our children. Rosalind will use her publication, “The Distance Learning Playbook for Parents,” to give parents concrete skills to support their children’s social, emotional, and educational needs.
Emotional well-being and social skills directly impact young people’s education while they are virtual or hybrid learning. These skills are not soft skills—they are essential for young people to engage in their education and become responsible and positive members of a community.
Topics to be covered:
- Strategies to raise resilient children during uncertainty
- Know when and how to be involved in your child’s education
- Concrete skills to increase communication, especially in conflict or anxiety
- Understanding the importance of social media in your child’s life while putting healthy boundaries around screen time
This live Zoom event is open to Belmont Day School parents, alumni, and friends. Advance registration is required. Click here for more information and to register.
This event is sponsored by the Ko Family and Wellesley Toyota.
If you have any questions, please email Nina See, director of the annual fund and alumni relations.
MIDDLE SCHOOL NEWS
Author Talk With Lilliam Rivera
Thursday, November 12
All middle school students will have the opportunity to meet with Lilliam Rivera via Zoom next Thursday to discuss the writing process and her new young adult book Never Look Back, a modern retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the Bronx. This opportunity comes courtesy of Belmont Books. If you would like to own a copy of Never Look Back, please consider ordering from the local store. Click here to order. Students will also be able to borrow a copy of the book from their English class.
More author visit news for pre-k and kindergarten and grades 4 and 5 in December and pre-k, kindergarten, and grade 1 in January coming soon!
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Physical Education: Grades 3-5
Throughout the fall, fifth grade students have been introduced to Belmont Day’s sport-specific offerings. In an effort to provide exposure, develop skills, and allow students to make informed decisions about their middle school athletics selections, fifth graders participate in two-week mini-units of each sport with one week of instruction followed by one week of competition. So far, students have played field hockey, soccer, and cross country, and will finish off the season with flag football. Every Monday afternoon, fifth graders also take to the local trails for a 45-minute hike.
“Getting out in nature has provided a great start to our week together. Our hikes have addressed both the mental and physical health of our students, and have turned into a highlight of our time together”. –John O’Neill, director of athletics and grade 5 physical education teacher
Fitness is more important now than ever, and in fourth grade, our students have embraced every opportunity to be active. Starting off each class with a sustained jog followed by a daily assortment of fitness skills, the students have increased not only their stamina and endurance but also their confidence. The fourth graders have rotated through the games of soccer, ultimate frisbee, tchoukball, gold rush, and badminton.
“I’m so proud to see our fourth graders developing many healthy habits during PE, but the one that we enjoy the most is the joy of playing and competing with friends.” –Abbey Nyland, grade 4 physical education teacher
This year in third grade, mental and physical health are taught and practiced during each class through a wide range of fitness and teamwork activities. Every class starts with a version of tag followed by an array of fitness circuits focusing on increasing strength and endurance. The third graders have played a variety of games and activities such as soccer, kickball, tchoukball, and obstacle courses. Most importantly, the students are competing, cooperating, and having fun.
“Third grade is a pivotal year in PE. Students have been learning ways to improve their speed, strength, and endurance skills. The importance of communication and sportsmanship is emphasized in all group games.” –Eric Ridoré, grade 3 physical education teacher
Seventh Grade Latin Brings Roman Baths To Life
The past few weeks in Latin, seventh graders have been thinking innovatively on how to bring the ancient structure of the Roman baths to a modern audience. They studied the buildings from antiquity which contain rooms such as the caldarium (hot room), tepidarium (warm room), and frigidarium (cold room) before thinking about the needs and wants of today’s potential bathgoers. Built with popsicle sticks, cardboard, and recycled materials, the additions of gender-neutral changing rooms, child care facilities, food courts, and relaxation stations, the final models demonstrated great creativity, innovation, and a confident understanding of the Roman baths. optime factum!
– Nicole Buck, Latin teacher
Second Graders Explore the Democratic Process in a Mock Election
The second grade headed to the polls on Election Day to cast their ballots. The candidates? The endearing fictional canine-feline duo of Houndsely and Catina. Students began the process by brainstorming a list of characteristics of effective leaders. Some examples include a leader who is collaborative, thoughtful, respectful, warmhearted, and fair. From there, students created platforms for the two candidates and used this information to make an informed decision on Election Day. Although not all the ballots have been counted as we are still awaiting a mail-in ballot and absentee ballot, we will be sure to update you all on the candidate who received the most votes in our 2020 Election.
– Marta Trippe, grade 2 teaching assistant
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.
PIN – Parents’ Independent School Network
Friday, November 13 from 12 to 1 p.m.
All parents are invited to attend the next PIN meeting. Drs. Chen and Katzenstein from the Newton Wellesley Hospital Resilience Project Parents Program will be presenting on “Parenting During Covid-19: Strategies for Coping and Fostering Resilience in Ourselves and Our Students.”
For security purposes, participants must pre-register for this event in order to attend. Please click here to pre-register. After you register, you will receive a Zoom link for the event. Please do try to make it if you can, as we are unable to record the November meeting.
If you have questions that you would like to submit directly to Drs. Chen & Katzenstein in advance of the November 13 meeting, please click here to do so.
Your dues and participation in PA fundraising activities allow 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 donations over the suggested dues amount of $50 are very much appreciated and can be considered a tax-deductible gift to the parents’ association that the development office will acknowledge as such. You can make payment via the BDS PA’s secure online payment portal here.
The next book club selection is A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier. Please join us for our Zoom gathering on Wednesday, November 18 at 10 a.m. to discuss this book. A zoom link will be posted to the PA Fun & Fundraising section on Veracross. Please contact Nareeluck Stephenson with any questions.
Book Fair – Thank You!
The BDS online Book Fair closed at the beginning of the week and was a wonderful success. Thank you to those who contributed to the book recommendations list. And thank you to all who placed orders and supported our school and a fantastic local business. We hope you enjoy all of your new books. Happy reading!
Meeting: Belmont Against Racism
Thursday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m.
All are invited to join Belmont Against Racism for its next virtual meeting. The guest speaker will be Cara Henderson, community outreach program specialist & black affairs special emphasis program manager for the District of Massachusetts US Attorney’s Office. Henderson will share an update on the ongoing efforts by her office. There will also be a post-election conversation for sharing thoughts and concerns. Please email [email protected] for the meeting’s Zoom link.
MUSIC PRODUCTION CLASSES
Want to Learn How to Write and Produce Your Own Music?
Is your seventh or eight grader interested in learning about music production or DJing? If so, you may wish to check out a new class called Music Production being offered by Geoffrey Carter, a Boston resident, and friend of BDS music teacher Yui Kitamura. Carter is a graduate of Berklee School of Music who has been involved in the world of electronic music for the last decade. This class is a great way for students to learn about sound engineering, DJing, and mixing. The class will be $30 per half-hour private session and will meet once a week via Zoom. Please see this flyer for more details and contact information.