Thank you to everyone who supported the parents’ association pumpkin sale!
Making the World More Beautiful
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: October 16, 2020
As a young and aspiring school leader, I was very fortunate to have a great mentor. He was the head of my previous school for 31 years–a remarkable tenure by any measure. Through that time, he always preserved the key ingredients in pre-k to grade eight leadership: the energy of a child and the ability to see possibility in each and every student. Among the many things I have taken from the years of working with him, I hope that I have managed to instill those key ingredients in my work at Belmont Day.
Once a year, I have my own quiet opportunity to pay homage to his lessons by reading a story to kindergarten that he loved to read as well: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Miss Rumphius has been around for a while, first published in 1982. The story, for those who may not know it, begins with the ‘Lupine Lady,’ who we quickly learn is the elderly Miss Rumphius herself, telling her great niece the story of her life. In the story, a young Miss Rumphius (Alice is her name), explains to her grandfather that she wants to do two things when she grows up: travel to far away places and live beside the sea. Her grandfather thoughtfully adds one more thing to her list: “Do something to make the world more beautiful.”
As the story unfolds, the elderly Miss Rumphius tells her story of visiting far away places and meeting the Bapa Raja, the king of a fishing village on a tropical island, and climbing tall mountains where the snow never melts. She ultimately comes to rest in a home by the sea, just as she had hoped. But soon, she realizes that she has not yet made the world more beautiful (though one might argue that in her cultural exchanges she made both herself and others a bit more beautiful for their connection), and so she decides to plant lupines outside her window. Soon, she notices that the seeds of the lupine have blown throughout the town and before long there are lupines everywhere. Miss Rumphius is then known only as the ‘Lupine Lady’ who carries seeds of lupine in her pockets and spreads their beauty everywhere, thus completing the third task put to her by her grandfather those many years ago.
I love reading this story to the kindergartners. I love the students’ quick inclination to advise me of all of the flowers that they, too, have seen or planted. And with the help of Mrs. Pryor and Mrs. Hartvigsen, our two kindergarten teachers, and Ms. Metta and Ms. Vitale, their teaching associate and assistant, I get to have my first real conversation with our kindergarten students. As I do each year, I ask them a simple question: how would you make the world a more beautiful place?
Here, in no particular order, are a few of their answers:
- “Drag all the cars into my garage and destroy them. Make them into electric cars to stop pollution.”
- “Take care of the rainforest and all of the animals that live there.”
- “I would destroy all non-electric cars and motorcycles, then get all electric cars, then plant a lot of seeds, maybe in a garden. I love lettuce!”
- “I would plant tulips and lily flowers.”
- “Make some more fields, plant some lupines.”
And, of course, with BDS students I should know to expect as much, one boy had his hand raised high and as I called on him to ask how he would make the world more beautiful, he answered, “I want to know how you would make the world more beautiful?”
[Can we all take a moment to appreciate this student and his question. How BDS can you get?]
My answer: I get to make the world more beautiful every day with your teachers. Because I get to work with you. That’s my answer. I get to work with you, and you are certainly going to make this world a more beautiful place. You already have.
I am so grateful to my mentor for inspiring me to bring Miss Rumphius into my annual routine with kindergarten, and I am equally grateful to the class of 2029 and their teachers for inviting me to be a Mystery Reader again this year.
October 17 to October 23
Saturday, October 17
9:30–11:30 a.m., Admissions Open House for Lower School; Online Event
Sunday, October 18
1–3 p.m., Fall Gathering for the Class of 2021 and Families; Belmont Day School
Tuesday, October 20
7–8:30 p.m., Grade 3 Family Social; Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, October 21
10–11 a.m., Parent Book Club; Zoom Gathering
Thursday, October 22
6–7 p.m., Head of School Office Hours; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Grade 7 Family Social; Zoom Gathering
7–8:30 p.m., Grade 2 Family Social; Zoom Gathering
Friday, October 23
Online Book Fair Begins; Runs Until November 1
8:30–9:30 a.m., Parents’ Association Meeting; Zoom Gathering
8:50–9:35 a.m., Cross-graded Partners; Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Admissions Open Houses
Lower School Open House – virtual event
TOMORROW, Saturday, October 17, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Middle School Open House – virtual event
Saturday, November 14, 1 to 3 p.m.
Many of you reading this likely enjoyed a previous BDS open house and understand their value in finding the right school for a child. While this year’s open houses will be held online, we know that they will be greatly helpful for parents in their school search process.
If you know of parents who are looking at independent schools, please invite them to join us at an open house.
And thank you to all the families who are displaying one of our lawn signs at your home!
Book Fair Starts Next Week!
The annual Belmont Day Book Fair organized by the parents’ association is just one week away! This year, the book fair will be held online from October 23 to November 1. Please be on the lookout next Friday for a link to the book fair website. We are happy to be partnering with Porter Square Books once again this year and look forward to raising funds to support BDS while also supporting a treasured local business!
Lunch & Snack Menu
October 19 to October 23
Snack: apples; apple muffins
Lunch: BBQ chicken on soft buns; cheese sandwiches; BBQ tofu sandwiches; cucumber slices; Cape Cod chips; mixed greens; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: bananas; white corn cheese puffs
Lunch: spaghetti and meatballs (no sauce); spaghetti; spaghetti and vegan meatballs; sliced red peppers; roll; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: pears; baked tortilla scoops
Lunch: bagels with turkey; bagels with cream cheese; bagels with SunButter; celery; pretzels with hummus; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: clementines; whole-grain chocolate chip cookies
Lunch: cheese pizza; breadsticks with marinara; baby carrots; romaine salad; cut fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: Craisins; Lay’s chips
Preparing for the Weeks Ahead
Cold Weather Clothing
We are making every effort this school year to get outside as often as possible for fresh air and exercise. Please make sure your child has all the appropriate clothing for outdoor recess each school day. We will continue to be outside in all safe weather conditions, even as it gets colder and there’s increased precipitation. Thank you in advance for helping us keep our students healthy and well prepared for outdoor activities.
In light of all of the precautions in place for our community’s health and safety, especially those to minimize cross-cohort activity and to avoid large group gatherings, we have decided to not hold a Halloween parade this year. We realize that missing this tradition this year will be disappointing, yet we hope you support our focus on safety in making this decision. We also ask that students not wear costumes to school on the Friday before Halloween, since each classroom will be provided with some fun choices for everyone to wear. If you celebrate Halloween, we sincerely hope you can discover ways to do so safely and joyfully with your family on Saturday, October 31.
Lunch and Snack
This past Sunday, parents were sent an email detailing the enhancements being made in the lunch and snack program for grades 1-8. It is certainly a unique and challenging year for the kitchen team and they are excited by the feedback they have been receiving and the opportunity to offer more options and choices for students and their families. Please review that email and complete the included forms as soon as possible. Thank you!
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Testing Is Routine!
Testing has become part of our weekly routine at Belmont Day. Everyone, from our youngest pre-k student to our oldest eighth grader, has become adept at the process—waiting on the blue dots for social distancing, giving their name, blowing their nose, being tested, using hand sanitizer, and waiting for their friends to finish. An entire cohort tests in just 10-15 minutes. It has been an exceptionally smooth process, thanks to the testers from Cataldo and the grace of our students and faculty!
With the holiday on Monday this week, testing seamlessly moved to Tuesday. With two upcoming planned Wednesdays where we will not be in school (October 28 for conferences and November 11 for Veterans Day), testing will move to Thursday of that week.
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@example.com or 617-932-3901.
We continue to have excellent testing results, as you can see from this week’s dashboard.
To date, we have had no positive tests. Most tests have come back negative; some tests have come back inconclusive. An inconclusive result means that for some reason—a testing error, an inadequate sample, or not enough DNA on the sample for a definitive diagnosis—the lab cannot render a negative result.
Everyone must test negative to be in school. In the event of an inconclusive test, we ask that person to remain home from school until they test negative. We are able to have them come in to test 9 a.m. on the next testing day and will get that test right to the lab in hopes of same-day results to minimize time out of school. You will receive a direct call if your child’s test results are inconclusive or positive.
If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Magnus Health App
App Updates Available
Magnus has been working to improve the timing out and latency issues many have faced recently. Magnus reported that this week, app traffic returned to much more significant levels after the holiday weekend.
In Case You Missed It!
This morning, we were thrilled to hold not one but two outstanding enrichment assemblies. Our youngest learners in pre-kindergarten to grade 2 enjoyed the morning with Big Joe the Storyteller. Big Joe drew on his years of experience as a pre-school teacher to share stories focusing on multi-culturalism and world folktales. Students in grades 3 to 8 met Claire Marie Lim, a music technologist and electronic musician, who performed for them. Both assemblies were recorded—click here to access the videos on the Parent Portal.
AFTER SCHOOL NEWS
Enrollment Now Open For After School Period Two
Period Two: Monday, November 2 through Monday, November 23
We are still offering limited programming for the month of November for students in pre-kindergarten and grades 2, 4, and 5, and a Friday-only program for middle school students. Period one ends on Friday, October 30, and period two will begin on Monday, November 2. At this time we cannot accommodate students in kindergarten or grades 1 and 3. Please reach out directly to program administrators, Joe Jean-Mary and Blair Fross regarding enrollment for period two. Registration for this period begins on Tuesday, October 13, and closes Friday, October 23.
Sixth Graders Dig Farm School
This week, sixth graders enjoyed spectacular weather, bountiful harvests, uplifting interactions with animals, and nourishing companionship as we made our annual visit to the Farm School in Athol. Condensing the traditional overnight trip into two separate day trips and traveling in separate cohort groups, students weeded, seeded, and prepared vegetable beds for the winter, herded and groomed cows, tended chickens, and entertained goats. We brought home bags full of peppers, carrots, raspberries, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower. Even though masked and working hard to remember our social distancing, we enjoyed a rare taste of a freer, restorative outdoor life that uplifted all of us.
– Dean Spencer, middle school social studies teacher and grade 6 adviser
Pre-kindergartners Explore, Learn Their Wooded Surroundings
We are lucky to have so much open land and woods around our school for children to explore. Within the woods is a place that pre-kindergarten has named Nature’s Playground. Like a playground, there are different features such as a rocky outcropping, a fallen tree trunk, a rotting log, stick houses, and saplings that define the space. For our students, Nature’s Playground is a destination and a part of the woods they know intimately.
Over the past few weeks, we have taken different paths in the woods and approached Nature’s Playground from different directions. Seeing children’s faces light up as they realize that they know where they are by the familiar features they recognize shows teachers that the children are beginning to build a mental map of the area. And much like explorers, with each new discovery, the map grows more detailed.
This week we discovered many limbs and a few trees that were blown down in last week’s storm. This changed the look of the landscape, as will snow later on. While exploring one area of the woods with several treetops lying on the ground, one child emerged through leafy branches, and exclaimed, “Look! It’s Nature’s Playground! Hey everybody, I found Nature’s Playground!”
– Alice Henry and Liza Ziering, pre-kindergarten teachers
Arts Update: Sixth Grade Artists Create Sculptures
After starting the intensive by creating free-standing sculptures from everyday materials—items from their crate of school supplies, and then with 30 index cards—the sixth graders in Ms. Juster’s and Mr. Segil’s cohorts continued with introductory building challenges as they worked to also create an original definition of sculpture. The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston inspired students next as they used an unlikely medium (be sure to ask a sixth grader in the class) to emboss different textures. After creating several embossings, students were challenged to then make a relief sculpture that honored or paid tribute to an important person in their life using the embossed pieces. Family members, famous musicians, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were among those selected; the final relief pieces are as different and unique as the artists who created them. For the last week of this intensive, students will focus on creating wire sculptures inspired by the work of Alexander Calder and Ruth Asawa. While students are documenting their work daily by adding photographs and brief written statements into a Processfolio in their 3D Visual Art Google Classroom, some of their works are also on display in their cohort classrooms!
–Anne Armstrong, visual arts teacher and arts coordinator
Fifth Grade Shares Marketing Advice With LEGO
In fifth grade humanities, students have been talking about their identities. One specific part of identity that the students focused on was gender. Students were very passionate about this topic! Fifth graders read a story called Big Bob, Little Bob, and discussed how these characters broke gender stereotypes and showed ally behavior. Students looked at some gender stereotypes in the way LEGO markets to younger children, and then students wrote a letter to the company with suggestions about how they could improve their marketing. See an excerpt from one letter below:
“I do like that you made more sets that would appeal to girls in 2012 with LEGO Friends, but those sets have many things that also reinforce gender stereotypes like the jobs, the colors (mainly white, pink, blue, and purple), and even what the mini figures wear.”
– Vaniecia Skinner and Emma Nairn, grade 5 teachers
Fourth Grade Studies Greek Democracy to Compare to Today
For the past two weeks, fourth graders have traveled back in time 2,500 years to ancient Greece, the birthplace of democracy. We watched short videos, had several discussions, used a “brain dump” to take notes (both visually and in words), and voted like the ancient Greeks (which meant A LOT of us didn’t get to vote!). This week we began to make connections with modern-day democracy in the United States. How is it similar and different from that of the Greeks? Are these systems fair? Why or why not? What does “fair” mean anyway? We will wrap up our mini-unit on democracy next week by writing paragraphs about what we have learned and sharing what (if anything) we would change about our modern-day democracy. With this work as our foundation, we will set ground rules as a group for discussing the upcoming elections. And, while fourth graders are too young to vote in our state and national elections, they will get a chance to have their voices heard by becoming informed voters and opting to vote for the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award this winter.
– Lana Holman and Mary Norman, grade 4 teachers
Parents’ Association News
Friday, October 23
8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
All are invited to please join us for our next meeting. We will meet via Zoom. The link and password are available in the Veracross Parent Portal.
The next book club selection is A Burning by Megha Majumdar. Please join us for our next zoom gathering on Wednesday, October 21 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.
As the weather is changing make sure you have your child’s cold weather clothes labeled so the items can be returned if left behind! Check out Mabel’s Labels, it’s an easy solution to belongings that are easily misplaced and one that benefits the PA. Through a simple online ordering platform, they provide customized labels that you can put onto clothing, water bottles, lunch bags, ski gear, gloves, hats, etc. Mabel’s Labels offers a variety of iron-on, stick-on, and stamp label options. And for each order you place, the PA earns 20% of the sale total. Click here to visit the Mabel’s Labels’ site and enter “Belmont Day School” before ordering.
Thank you again to all who placed orders and for the generous contributions toward appreciation pumpkins for faculty and staff during the parents’ associations’ recent pumpkin sale.
Flower Bulb Fundraiser
The Flower Bulb Fundraiser is now closed. Thank you to all who placed orders and helped us reach our fundraising goal! Now all you have to do is plant the bulbs and enjoy what pops up in the spring!
Cradles to Crayons
Thank you for all the donations of clothes, outerwear, and shoes to the Cradles to Crayons Jam-the-Van event last Friday. Together our community collected enough donations to help approximately 380 children!
COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE
Farm School Meat Shares Available
The Farm School in Athol has been an educational partner of Belmont Day for nearly two decades. Each year in the fall, including this year, our sixth graders travel to the farm for a wonderful hands-on learning experience connecting them with nature and our agricultural past, present, and future. The experience also helps bond the class as the students begin their middle school journey. In this time of COVID, the challenges faced by the Farm School are acute. One way to support the continuation of their mission to educate students and combat food insecurity is by ordering a meat share. The farm has various share options and works with each shareowner to accommodate their household’s preferences. To learn more about the Farm School and donation and meat share options, click here.
Setting the Stage for Healthy Eating Habits
Friday, October 23, 12 to 1 p.m.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children is hosting a series of online seminars for parents. The next in the series will be on building strategies that can help your child build a healthy relationship with food. Taylor Le, RD, LDN, CNSC, and Meaghan Alexander, MS, RD, LDN, CNSC, of the Center for Feeding and Nutrition at MGHfC, share strategies for feeding children of all ages. Click here to learn more about the entire seminar series.
Discussing the Presidential Election With Children
Tuesday, October 27, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
The Bank Street College Alumni Association will host “Post-Election Civility,” a virtual panel for talking to children about the upcoming national election. How adults frame and discuss the political landscape and the presidential election is of great importance for a child’s understanding of this divisive time and their relationships in their community. Click here to RSVP for this online event.
LEARNING AT HOME
Webinar: The Sensory-Friendly Classroom Goes Home
Thursday, October 29, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Children and youth spend a majority of their waking hours at school engaging in primary childhood occupations, including education, play, and social participation. In times where remote learning at home or distanced in-person learning is widespread, the demands for participating in school have shifted and children are faced with novel demands. Children with sensory processing differences are faced with new sensory and motor challenges that can impact their school participation. This webinar presents occupational therapy professionals with clinical reasoning behind setting up optimal remote and in-person classroom environments and practical ideas to implement and support parents and teachers. For more information and registration, click here.