Pre-kindergarten students enjoyed visits recently to a nearby pond.
On What Would Have Been Friday Night Lights
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: October 23, 2020
For the sports fans out there, the sub-narrative of the first months of the pandemic was the absence of the games we love. If you don’t know this about me yet, I am a rather rabid fan of sports. It was only during the pandemic—on nights when I couldn’t sleep that I found myself watching Korean baseball games or reruns of competitive cornhole tournaments—that I realized just how important sports are to my everyday life. (Yes, professional cornhole tournaments are for real; and, yes, I seriously found myself watching them.) The bottom line here: I missed sports desperately.
Then, just as they had disappeared, the sports world came back to life with play for all four major leagues happening … at the same time! The timing was somewhat unfortunate for me with a mountain of work to get the school ready for reopening. But still, it was a welcome distraction when I had a moment fit for distraction. The Bruins and Celtics were in the playoffs, the Red Sox were back (on the field and in uniform, at least), and the Brady-less Patriots were back as well. My school reopening filter of health and safety led me to question some of the decisions made by these leagues about fan and player safety; nonetheless, I appreciated the return of game action. And I realized that there will likely never be another moment when all four leagues are playing at the same time.
At a school that promises a whole child education, one of the great challenges we faced planning for this fall was determining how to offer robustness in each of our programs, including, of course, middle school athletics. With the creative thinking and hard work of Abbey Nyland, John O’Neill, Eric Ridore, and Alex Tzelnic, in conjunction with Deborah Brissenden and the program task force, we have successfully struck a wonderful balance of preserving our safety protocols while honoring our students’ need to get the physical exercise that is critical to a full and challenging educational experience. So why, on October 23, am I feeling compelled to draw attention to the connection between our program and the world of competitive sports beyond our walls? Tonight would likely have been our annual Friday Night Lights event at Harvard’s Jordan Field against the Meadowbrook School of Weston.
In years’ past, on the day our boys’ and girls’ soccer teams are to compete at Friday Night Lights, this column has recognized why the love of sport and, closer to home, a commitment to physical education and athletics is such a critical part of a whole-child education. Friday Night Lights holds real magic for our community. Belmont Day, as they say, ‘travels well.’ We arrive at Jordan Field in full blue-and-gold regalia, cheer our hearts out, and witness students enjoy a thrill that will last with them forever. It is a celebration of so much of what we value at BDS about our athletics program, and our community, and this year, it is an experience we will acutely miss.
As with so many things, it took a pandemic to prevent us from participating in the magic of Friday Night Lights. Its absence is made sharper by the contrast of the professional sports world’s return to some degree of normalcy. However, in its absence, I remain so proud of our teachers and students for their continued commitment to excellence in their own physical education as a critical and preserved underpinning of our program. As the saying used to go in these parts, “we’ll get ‘em next year.”
Have a great weekend, everyone. Go BDS!
October 23 to November 2
Friday, October 23
Online Book Fair Begins; Runs Until November 1
Saturday, October 24
11:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., Trustee Coffee; Zoom Gathering
Tuesday, October 27
School Closed for Parent Conferences
Wednesday, October 28
School Closed for Parent Conferences
Thursday, October 29
6–7 p.m., Head of School Office Hours; Zoom Gathering
Friday, October 30
Middle School Interim Grades Released
8:50–9:35 a.m., Sharing Assembly; Zoom Gathering
Monday, November 2
8 a.m.–1:15 p.m., SSAT Administered or Grade 8
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Book Fair Is Open!
Now Through November 1
The annual Parents’ Association Book Fair is now open for your orders! Please visit the Book Fair page in the PA section of Parent Portal for full instructions including book recommendations from librarian Amy Sprung and many Belmont Day families. You can also purchase books as donations for the Erskine Library, classrooms, and the birthday books program from a special wishlist on the site.
Belmont Day will receive a portion of all purchases of in-stock books made using the code BELFAIR2020 online or in person at Porter Square Books between October 23 and November 1, and we will also be supporting a treasured local business. Visit the Parent Portal for all details and links. The Book Fair is a great way to stock up on books to have on hand during remote learning this December and to get a head start on holiday shopping for readers of all ages!
Save The Date!
Parenting Seminar: Developing the Whole Child
Tuesday, November 17, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The Ko Family and Wellesley Toyota Speaker Series presents an evening discussion with Rosalind Wiseman, author, and founder of Cultures of Dignity. Wiseman will speak on learning and inspiration for raising curious, confident, and resilient children. Keep the date free and look for an email invitation to this special event. Advance registration is required. If you would like to register now or if you have any questions, please email Nina See, director of the annual fund.
Lunch & Snack Menu
October 26 to October 30
Snack: applesauce; granola bars
Lunch: turkey and bacon wraps with ranch dressing on the side; cheese wraps; seasoned tofu wrap with hummus; Lay’s chips; pickle spears; mixed greens salad; cut fruit cups; milk and water
School Closed for Parent Conferences
School Closed for Parent Conferences
Snack: Cheez-Its; pears
Lunch: chicken tenders with sweet and sour sauce; breaded soy nuggets with sweet and sour sauce; steamed broccoli; spinach salad with carrots and Asian dressing; cut fruit cup; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: clementines; saltines
Late Arrival and Early Dismissal Procedures
There has been some confusion around pick-up and drop-off when students arrive late or leave early. Here are the procedures for students arriving late or dismissing early.
Parents need to email all dismissal changes to [email protected] and copy the cohort teachers on that email by 9:00 a.m. so that teachers know the student will be leaving early that same day or arriving late the next day.
For students whose cohorts are in the Schoolhouse:
- Students are to check in at the front desk when arriving late and check out at the front desk when leaving early. Parents will wait in their cars at the front circle and the child will be sent out.
For students whose cohorts are in the Barn:
- Students are to wait in the Barn circle to be picked up by the parent when leaving early or dropped at the Barn circle when arriving late. When arriving late, students can let themselves into the Barn.
Students on sports waivers will follow the same procedures. Thanks for your attention to this policy. Please call the front desk if you have any questions.
– Barbara Carey, receptionist
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
As schools in our area grapple with positive COVID-19 cases, we have been exceptionally fortunate to not have a case in our community. This is due in large part to our multiple layers of mitigation strategies–assurance testing, daily attestations, mask-wearing, distancing, hand hygiene, and being outside. The students, faculty, and community have done an outstanding job working together to keep us all safe and healthy.
We continue to have excellent testing results, as you can see from this week’s dashboard.
With no school on Wednesday, testing will move to Thursday next week. All classes that usually test on Wednesday will test at the same time on Thursday so no testing will be missed.
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.
The Very Best Way to Start the Day!
My days are full—full of joy and laughter, students and staff, treating and talking, problem-solving, and teaching. I love it all. And yet, the very best part of my day has become the time before my day officially even starts—from 7:20-7:40 a.m. On any given day if you walk by the Polygon during that time, you can see me doing Qi-Gong, trying yoga, playing Red Light, Green Light, or laughing at my computer. What is going on?
I am part of Mindful Mornings, a program run by Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher and athletics coach. A long-time student of mindfulness, Alex is a graduate student in Mindfulness Studies at Lesley University. He has crafted this wonderful early morning mindfulness program for Belmont Day students. It offers, as Alex says, “a virtual space for students to gather for games and grounding activities geared towards priming them for a meaningful and joyful day of school.”
Our small but inspired group meets each morning for intriguing mindfulness activities, intentional movement, and games that have quickly become fan favorites. It is an exceptionally fun and calming start to the day, indeed bringing meaning and joy. If you would like to join the very best part of the day, email Alex at [email protected].
– Liz LaRocque, school nurse
Supporting Operation Gratitude this Halloween
Although the annual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF drive organized by sixth grade will not be possible this year, there is still a way to make service a part of your Halloween celebration.
Operation Gratitude’s Annual Halloween Candy Give-Back Program has been connecting communities with military personnel and first responders since 2008. Americans across the nation share a portion of their Halloween candy with Operation Gratitude, and the program donates it to deployed troops, veterans, and first responders with the goal of forging strong bonds between the civilian and service communities nationwide.
Ways to participate:
- Your family can be a sponsor candy care package with a donation of $15—this amount covers the cost of shipping one care package.
- You can sign up to be a candy donor; this option involves shipping the candy to their candy processing center, postmarked by November 13.
Click here to learn all about the Halloween Candy Give-Back Program.
Initiating Diversity Equity & Inclusion Parent Groups for 2020-2021
There’s never been a more important time for us to draw on our collective BDS community endowments of compassion, strength, and resilience. The confluence of social issues facing us as a nation, as parents, as individuals, as members of social identity groups, and as members of the BDS community are challenging for sure but they also invite us to gather strength by gathering with those who share commonalities.
On Tuesday, November 10, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., we will hold an event to launch this year’s DEI parents groups. We will spend the first twenty to thirty minutes of the gathering all together to welcome everyone and hear remarks from Head of School, Brendan Largay, Sharra Owens-Schwartz, chair of the board diversity committee, and me.
Following the introductory remarks, we’ll shift into breakout spaces where folks will gather by self-selected social identity or interest groups. We’re very pleased to be able to offer facilitated gatherings for folks who identify as members of the following groups or are interested in an interfaith discussion:
- Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino/Latinx.
- White, raising Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino/Latinx children
- Asian or Asian-American
- White allyship
Each small group discussion will provide participants with opportunities to introduce themselves, share their motivation to take part in the group, and generate topics relevant to the group that they’d like to discuss. Each group will discuss what the best schedule and format for ongoing meetings might be (i.e. when would be the best time for members of a given group to meet, for how long, how often, and with what goals in mind). Each group’s facilitator will synthesize the input into a plan for future gatherings.
Please provide your input
Whether or not you are able to attend the opening session on Tuesday, November 10, please feel encouraged to indicate which small group you’d like to join. We’ll use that information to make sure that we include you in future gatherings.
If there is a kind of small group (social identity or topic) that you wish we could provide, please also note that. We can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to facilitate every group requested but we’ll do our best.
– Carlos Hoyt, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion
A reminder for parents that the Veracross Parent Portal is THE PLACE for information. This new password-protected site is the home for Zoom links, forum recordings, directories, parents’ association information, report cards, forms, and more.
Middle School Students Learn Money Matters
This fall, our middle school students are enjoying a new club where they explore introductory concepts and applications of personal finance. Led by new middle school teachers Stephen Bennhoff and Kate Burns, the club introduces students to such basic topics as savings and checking accounts, credit versus debit cards, interest (and in particular the value of compound interest), and the fundamental understandings of stocks, stock markets, mutual funds, and the risk/reward nature of investing. Through the sharing of age-appropriate videos and articles, student-led topic shares, guest presentations by BDS parents, and mini-lectures from Mr. Bennhoff and Mrs. Burns, the club aspires to empower these young students with the knowledge that making, saving, and investing money over many years can build wealth, increase choices, and enhance philanthropy throughout the world.
– Stephen Bennhoff, middle school math teacher and grade 7 advisor
AFTER SCHOOL NEWS
Teacher Spotlight: Meet Ms. Vitale
This weeks’ After School spotlight shines on Camille Vitale! You may already have seen Ms. Vitale during the school day assisting Mrs. Pryor in kindergarten, but did you know she is an After School teacher too?
“Believe in the beauty of your dreams” once said by Eleanor Roosevelt, is Ms. Vitale’s favorite quote. She was born in the month of February. She wants to give a special shoutout to all of our Aquarius friends at BDS! Her favorite book to read as a child was Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister. Although Ms. Vitale loves all of the Belmont Day School core values, her favorite is joy. Did you know that her super, secret, hidden talent is swing dancing? If Ms. Vitale could have lunch with anyone living, or dead, she would invite Michelle Obama.
If you see Ms. Vitale on campus, say hello! Oh yes, she loves when people wave at her with BOTH hands! How awesome!
Athletics: Finding Their Way At Orienteering
This week our Outdoor Adventures athletics teams got to try their hand at orienteering. Orienteering involves a combination of map reading and cross-country running, relying upon speed as well as spatial awareness, ingenuity, and willingness to take the route less traveled. Navigation Games, a local non-profit, was on hand with coaches, maps, and equipment, to teach us the finer points of this fast-growing sport and lead us in drills and races. Our athletes proved up to the challenge, and no one got lost (for very long).
– John O’Neill, director of athletics
First Grade Gobbles Up Math Lessons
First grade math is in full swing! This week, we have been reviewing concepts like comparing numbers, sequencing numbers, and counting forwards and backward. Our math sessions always begin with a whole-group lesson and activity, followed by extension work in centers. A favorite center this week was monster squeeze, a game that first graders were able to play with partners using their individual materials. Partner A would think of a number between 1-50. Partner B would try to guess it and Partner A would say whether the number was more or less than the one guessed. Partner A’s monsters would “eat” the numbers leading up to the guess since it couldn’t be any of those numbers. For example, if the number was more than 17, one of the monsters would “eat” the numbers up to 17. If it was less than 42, the monster on the other side would “eat” the numbers from 50 down to 42. First graders are very excited to bring their monster squeeze sets home to play with their families.
– Katie Alexander and Cicely Gibson, grade 1 teachers
Sixth Grade Explores the Distributive Property
This week, students in sixth grade math dug into the roots of what makes up a number. How can we represent a number like 48 as a product (answer to a multiplication problem) and as a sum (answer to an addition problem)? Can we show 48 as the result of both a product and a sum? To answer these questions, students were introduced to the distributive property: an important and fundamental step in breaking down complex multiplication problems, learning algebra, and understanding number theory. In our science classes, we explore the fundamental components of matter (the elements), and in math, we investigate the most basic components of numbers: factors and multiples. Next week, we will be investigating ratios, rates, and proportions!
– Matt Segil, middle school math teacher and adviser
Third Grade French Grows a Lesson in the Garden
During the quarantine in spring, gardening and growing vegetables at home became a trend all around the world. This trend was the starting point for our third grade French intensive. We studied French infographics to learn about places where people like to garden in France and discovered that they are similar to where people garden around here. From windowsills to communal gardens, people in France and the United States took care of their herbs, flowers, and vegetables in many of the same places. After studying pictures of the Belmont Day garden, the third graders drew their own dream gardens. To describe them in French, they learned vocabulary about plants, tools, insects, and other garden friends. You can check their finished projects during the sharing assembly next Friday, October 30. To wrap up our outstanding work, we ended the intensive by designing a healthy sandwich and writing a song for it!
– Nathalie Pellenq, lower school and grade 6 French teacher
Seventh Grade English Class Examines Power of Propaganda
While reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm, students in seventh grade English have been critically examining the role of power as it relates to relationships, conflicts, and values. As the pigs on the farm continue to consolidate power through disinformation and lies, we analyzed how propaganda influences the attitudes, opinions, and behaviors of people by suppressing critical thinking. Students examined competing political advertisements for the 2020 Presidential Election and closely reviewed the propaganda of Squealer from Animal Farm. Students then crafted their own Animal Farm specific propaganda and wrote monologues defending their propaganda directed at the animals on the farm.
– Jonathan Drummey, middle school English teacher and grade 7 adviser
Parents’ Association News
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.
Note: The book is available for purchase at our virtual BDS Book Fair starting today, Friday, October 23.
Does walking in the crisp fall breeze surrounded by amazing sculptures in a beautiful park sound good to you? Come meet old friends and make some new ones at the deCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln on Thursday, October 29 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The plan is to enjoy a stroll and have a picnic, as we all adhere to distance guidelines. Please bring a sack lunch. You will need to purchase a $14 ticket from deCordova ahead of time. Click here for tickets. And please RSVP by Wednesday, October 28 to [email protected]
For those of you who are unable to join us, look for information about a virtual coffee hour coming soon. We will be exchanging some of our favorite New England outdoor fall activities. Bring your suggestions to the conversation and get new ideas for your family.
PIN – Parents’ Independent School Network
All parents are invited to the next meeting of the Parents’ Independent School Network Friday, November 13, from 12 to 1 p.m. The topic will be “Parenting During Covid-19,” and will feature Juliana Chen, M.D. and Tai Katzenstein, Ph.D., directors of The Resilience Project Parents Program at Newton-Wellesley Hospital. A link will be posted on Veracross Parent Portal for the event.
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.
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.
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.
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.