Ms. Pryor and Ms. Vitale’s kindergartners enjoyed a nature hunt in the woods and meadows near the school.
Justice Ginsburg’s Enduring Lessons
Brendan Largay, Head of School
Post Date: September 25, 2020
The news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing last Friday has provoked vivid memories of the spring of 2017. That June, members of the eighth grade class, now high school seniors, traveled to Washington, D.C., and had the opportunity of a lifetime—a personal visit with Justice Ginsburg.
As educators of children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, the students we guide to graduation are “unfinished,” and appropriately so. Yes, they have learned the critical skills that will be foundational for their future discoveries. And yes, the skills of problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication are solidly in place when they move on. However, where those skills will lead them and what passions and pursuits will take shape in high school, college, and beyond are yet to be determined.
The grace, advice, and wisdom Justice Ginsburg shared at that meeting undoubtedly stamped the Class of 2017’s Belmont Day journey. As tributes pour out across the world, I will share the guidance she provided to our students with you.
Fight for the things you care about, but do so in a way that will lead others to join you.
Throughout her 60-year career as a lawyer and 25 years as a Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality in our nation. The deftness of leadership and unwavering perseverance that effort has required might not seem as gargantuan as it was to our students today. Of course, that is due mainly to the fight that she led and all that she helped to accomplish. So, too, will it be for our student leaders as they head into a world where some challenges remain crystal clear while others are yet undiscovered. Where better to be working on the skills that will be required to meet unknown challenges than here at Belmont Day?
I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.
Justice Ginsburg may not have uniquely offered this piece of wisdom—I can imagine that every teacher and parent here at Belmont Day shares this belief. What makes the statement so powerful is its delivery to young people by a woman sitting on the country’s highest court—a leader whose education, critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical skills set policy for our entire nation for decades to come. This counsel is an extraordinary reflection of the humility of a leader that the country has listened to and learned from.
Ginsburg shared the power of the ‘conference handshake’ with the Class of 2017, a Supreme Court tradition that dates well before Ginsburg’s time. Before deliberations on any case, the justices shake hands with one another as a reminder of the importance of relationships and the knowledge that, no matter how bitter the discussion might be, they will continue to work together and respect one another. I always marveled at the well-chronicled relationship between Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Ginsburg and Scalia occupied seats at either end of the political spectrum. As the story goes, they fought long and hard to preserve their perspective when in deliberation, often to the other’s frustration. And yet, when deliberations ended, they considered each other the dearest of friends. Our world could use a bit of that perspective today. As we seek to educate our students about the world that awaits them and prepare them with the skills necessary to navigate that world, I hope that we give them the perspective and courage to engage in a conference handshake or two along the way.
When asked in an MSNBC interview in 2015 what she would like to be remembered for, RBG answered, “Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.”
As our in-process young people travel through their elementary and middle school years, their Belmont Day teachers stand ready to inspire and challenge them to discover their authentic voices and the talents and passions that will flourish in high school, college, and beyond.
September 28 to October 2
Monday, September 28
Virtual Pumpkin Patch Sale
Onsite Learning Begins for All Grades
Full-Day Kindergarten, Extended Day, and After School Begin
Tuesday, September 29
Virtual Pumpkin Patch Sale
6–8:15 p.m., Middle School Curriculum Night; Zoom Gathering
Wednesday, September 30
10:00 a.m., Parent Book Club; Zoom Gathering
Thursday, October 1
6–7:45 p.m., Lower School Curriculum Night; Zoom Gathering
Friday, October 2
8:50–9:35 a.m., All-school Assembly: Summer Book Sharing: Zoom Gathering
For all Zoom gatherings, please refer to the Parent and Faculty Portals for links and passwords
Middle School: Tuesday, September 29, 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
Lower School: Thursday, October 1, 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
All parents are invited to join us for the curriculum nights this upcoming week. These events are a great way to engage with your student’s classroom teachers and specialists and look ahead at the academic year.
Both evenings will be held as virtual events via Zoom and will start with one gathering for all parents. Afterward, parents will then join a separate Zoom gathering by grade. Parents will then hear from class teachers and specialists.
All links will be available for you on the Curriculum Nights page on the Veracross Parent Portal.
Virtual Pumpkin Patch Sale
Now Through Tuesday, September 29
The parents’ association is pleased to announce that the Pumpkin Patch Sale will run virtually this fall! The sale is open now through next Tuesday, September 29.
Families can order field pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, mini pumpkins, and mums to be picked up on Tuesday, October 13 at drop off or pick up. And NEW this year, families may choose to donate a mini pumpkin to help show appreciation to the faculty and staff for all the work they have put into the reopening of school this September.
For more information and the order form, click here.
Lunch & Snack Menu
sSeptember 28 to October 2
Snack: Cheez-Its; local apples
Lunch: grilled chicken with Italian pasta; Italian pasta; Romano cheese; carrots; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: blueberry muffins; bananas
Lunch: roast beef submarines; hummus and veggie submarines; pickles; Lay’s potato chips; mixed greens with peppercorn dressing; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: nectarines; pita chips
Lunch: roasted turkey; roasted potato wedges; roasted tofu; cranberry sauce; green beans; cut fruit cups; milk and water
Snack: apples and pears; chocolate chip granola bars
Lunch: bagels with muenster cheese; cucumber slices; Sun Chips; edamame salad; cut fruit cups; chocolate milk, milk, and water
Snack: apples; saltines
Updated Student Arrival Times
We knew that flexibility would be the name of the game as we got this new school year underway. We greatly appreciate your willingness to adapt with us as we learn where tweaks need to be made to ensure the safety of our community and establish best practices for the school day.
This coming Monday, September 28, we will welcome all grades back to campus for in-person learning. From our experience over these past two weeks with the lower and middle schools separately, we’ve decided that we need to slightly alter morning arrival times. Here are the changes:
- Pre-kindergarten to grade 3 should arrive at 8:15 a.m.
- Students in grades 4 to 8 should arrive at 7:55 a.m.
For families whose students begin school at both of these times, kindly park and wait in your vehicle or students may wait outside independently for their time to enter the buildings.
Thank you for accommodating these changes.
HEALTH & WELLNESS NEWS
Of Masks and Iterations
An Update from School Nurse Liz LaRocque
What a joy it has been to watch even our youngest students take to wearing masks so naturally! One pre-k student gently reminded a friend to pull her mask up over her nose; a first grader helped a classmate remember to replace his mask after a water break. Moments like these are happening all over school, becoming a new part of our caring and responsible culture.
As we live into this new reality, we are finding what works in real time—and making iteration after iteration to our plans in order to keep our community safe. In a new online report from the CDC, it is clear that disposable surgical masks are superior to cloth masks for virus mitigation and prevention. Working with Dr. Ingrid Katz, our school consulting physician, we have decided to make surgical masks available to students, faculty, and staff. The masks have been ordered and will be available beginning next Wednesday, September 30.
What does this mean for everyone? Students, faculty, and staff will have surgical masks readily available in each classroom and are encouraged to wear them and to change them if they become wet or soiled. If a student or staff member prefers to wear their own cloth mask, that is their choice. Teachers in early childhood and certain grades will continue to wear clear masks, and clear masks will continue to be available to students to use in those grades when needed for classroom conversations. We are confident that all of our masks are safe, and that combined with our other safety protocols, we are doing what we can to keep our community healthy.
Great Success for Our Testing Program
Our assurance testing program continues to go exceptionally well. Beginning September 28, all students will be tested during their school day on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday at the same time each week. A huge thanks for your flexibility and support during these weeks of online learning and testing appointments!
If your student is absent on their testing day, our policy is to test them on the next testing day. If a student becomes ill at school on a testing day, we will test them before they go home. If a student is home ill on a testing day, we will ask them to come to campus and remain in their car in the parking lot to be tested in their car.
To date, we have had no positive tests. Most tests have come back negative; some tests have come back inconclusive (see chart for specific numbers). 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.
Finally, we know there have been issues with the reporting software. We are working with the software company and have learned some workarounds. If you have had trouble, you should hear from Liz LaRocque this weekend. If problems persist, please email email@example.com.
Flu Shots Mandatory for All Massachusetts Students
Immunization against the flu is mandatory for all Massachusetts students this year. Students must receive a flu shot before December 31, 2020 and provide documentation to the school in order to attend school in 2021. Flu shots can be obtained at your pediatrician’s office, local pharmacy, or town flu clinic. As soon as your child has received their flu shot, please upload that documentation to Magnus under “Immunizations”. Please email the nurses at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you have any questions.
Does your student have a sibling ready for pre-k next year?
We welcome parents of current Belmont Day students who have a child who will be four years old by September 1, 2021 to participate in our early admission to pre-kindergarten process. The preliminary application and parent questionnaire must be submitted by Friday, October 30 for your child to receive this priority consideration.
Families with pre-k sibling applicants should visit www.ravenna-hub.com, create an account (or add an additional student to their existing account) and then add Belmont Day School. When you select the Pre-k Sibling/Faculty Child Application option, you will see detailed information about the necessary steps, required video recordings to be done at home, and other deadlines. If you have any questions, please contact Liz Parfit, director of admissions.
Please Support the Community Give Back Challenge
Through the COVID-19 Relief Campaign, we seek support for Belmont Day and continue to be mindful of our broader community needs. As our mission states, we are committed to “making meaningful contribution,” and this commitment is especially relevant as communities world-wide respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are excited to announce that we have partnered with Partners In Health for the Community Give Back Challenge. With the help of an anonymous donor, your gift to Belmont Day will now have double the impact! Our anonymous donor is committed to donating up to $25,000 to Partners In Health now through October 4. To truly make an impact at Belmont Day and our broader community, we challenge you to be inspired by this generosity and make a gift today.
For many reasons, we are excited and thankful for this opportunity. We invite you to click here to learn about Partners In Health, the ways your gift will make a difference, and how to contribute. Thank you!
Please Complete the Allergy and Dietary Restriction Form
In the past two weeks, the kitchen team has been working hard to get the systems down to feed our students and faculty safe, wholesome, and tasty lunches and snacks. It has been going well and we appreciate the community effort and everyone’s patience as we get accustomed to new processes.
Thanks to the many of you who have already filled out the Allergies and Dietary Preferences form that was sent out just before school started. We ask that every family please fill out the form even if your child does not have any allergies or dietary preferences.
AFTER SCHOOL NEWS
Meet the After School Team!
Welcome back, friends! On Monday, our After School programs for the 2020-21 school year will start up. Before we get rolling, our leadership team of Ms. Fross and Mr. Jean-Mary, want to introduce the After School team to the community. Whether you’ll be participating in After School this year or not, it’s important that these teachers are all familiar faces to everyone on campus. Check out the video for an introduction to the team.
We have missed you all so much and we can’t wait to have a fun, safe, and healthy time with you this school year. If you have any questions regarding the After School programs, please contact Blair Fross or Joe Jean-Mary.
VERACROSS PARENT PORTAL
Reminder to Use Directory On Parent Portal
As of this week, our use of DirectorySpot has ended and parents will no longer be able to access the school directory there. The school directory is now available on Veracross Parent Portal. On the Parent Portal, the tab for Directories is located in the top-level navigation bar. You can search there for students, households, classes, cohorts, and more. If you have any questions regarding the directory, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
School Communication Email Groups and Third-party Email Communications
As a reminder, all of the school’s parent email groups include all parents and guardians related to each student. So in the case of two-parent households, both parents’ email addresses will always receive communications that are sent through the Veracross student information system. This includes communications sent by the communications office, teachers/advisors, and grade parents.
In exceptional cases when the school uses third-party vendors, those vendors may only allow a single email address for communications. The communications office maintains a list of the preferred email for each household to use for these instances; parents may specify the preferred email address by contacting email@example.com.
Author Visits Fourth and Fifth Grades
On Thursday morning, fourth and fifth grade students had the opportunity to meet with author and illustrator Remy Lai from Brisbane, Australia. She gave us a tour of her home studio and talked about her brand new book Fly on the Wall and how the editing process works with words and illustrations. She even did a live drawing demonstration. Students came up with some excellent questions for Remy and learned all about the sources of inspiration for her work.
– Amy Sprung, school librarian
Physical Education: Out and About
Physical education classes have always been a natural fit for the great outdoors, and given the abundance of space on our campus, we’ve been delighted to move our program outside. The Osborne Tennis Courts, Far Field, and the trails have provided the perfect outdoor gymnasium in which to give our students space to come together, be active, and play. Each cohort has launched into the school year building community and building skills, and our electronic whistles have been quite the attraction. We’ve always appreciated the chance to inspire movement and joy in our students, but that has never felt more meaningful than it does now. If the first few weeks are any indication, BDS is in for an outdoorsy and engaging year.
– Alex Tzelnic, physical education teacher
Second Grade Explores Life’s Little Equations
In second grade, we have been working on building our community both onsite and remotely. This week, we read This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Each student created their own unique Life’s Little Equation. One example is 25 Amazing Students + 4 Wonderful Teachers = 1 Awesome Second Grade Class! On Thursday, we read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz. We admired the vibrant colors that Karen Katz used in her illustrations while following Lena as she travels through her community in the big city. Our class had a wonderful discussion about respecting differences, embracing the beauty of diversity in every community, and learning more about the communities that we are a part of.
– Marta Trippe, grade 2 teaching assistant
Seventh Grade Looks Forward to New School Year
After a short week of offsite learning, seventh graders enjoyed returning to the classrooms–both indoor and outdoor–to get back into learning this week. During their time away, students created “2020 Vision Boards” to bring their inspirations, hopes, and dreams into perspective for the school year. As our classes got rolling, some picked up where they left off in the spring, and others used this week as a springboard for new content. We welcomed a new cohort of students to seventh grade as well as some new teachers! It has been an exciting week of relationship building, laughter, and academics and we can’t wait for the adventures that await us this year!
– Nicole Buck, Latin teacher and grade 7 advisor
Parents’ Association News
Cradles to Crayons Clothing Collection
Friday, October 9
10 a.m. to 1 p.m., upper parking area
The parents’ association is partnering with Cradles to Crayons to host a Jam-The-Van event, collecting new and gently used clothing and shoes for area children in need. Help families in urgent need of essentials by bringing your bagged donations to the upper parking lot for a safe, contact-free drop-off. Accepting donations of clothing, winter outerwear, and everyday shoes.
PA Book Club
Wednesday, September 30 at 10 a.m.
The parent book club will meet via Zoom to discuss the September reading selection, Migrations, by Charlotte McConaghy. All are welcome. If you are interested in joining, contact Nareeluck Stephenson before the event to receive the Zoom invitation.
Flower Bulb Fundraiser
Like to garden? Don’t know a thing about gardening, but like flowers? Have we got a site for you! Click here to browse and buy your bulbs to get started. You get great bulbs to plant now for surprise flowers in the spring, (isn’t it almost like magic when they first come up?) or buy bulbs to bloom inside during the winter. The PA will receive 50% of what you spend. The proceeds will support teachers and grade parents and will help secure great guests for assemblies and more. The last day to place your order is October 15. If you have any questions, please contact Lia Meisinger, Kelly Baker, or Mamie Cantor.
Labeling things, especially masks, is more important than ever! An easy solution to belongings that are easily misplaced and one that benefits the PA is Mabel’s Labels. 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.
Lost and Found
With limited access to campus, we have some challenges around lost and found, with both the items left in 2019-20 prior to leaving campus and anticipating items that will be left behind this year. If your child has items that were left behind in March, parents please contact Sirri Spiesel. The school will be reviewing items and if labeled, they will be returned to your child. If we have unclaimed items after September 30, they will be donated to the Cradles to Crayons Jam-A-Van event.
PA Meeting Recordings
Don’t worry if you were unable to attend the first parents’ association meeting of the new school year today. Each of the meetings this year will be recorded and posted to the parent portal. This morning’s recording is available here.
Dates Throughout the Fall
The Celebrity Series is offering two virtual concert series this fall, including twelve free streaming concerts with local artists who are part of the Neighborhood Arts series and 6 streaming concerts with international artists who were originally scheduled to appear during the 2020-21 season. For details on artists, dates, and prices, click here. Coming up is singer-songwriter Debo Ray on Thursday, September 24 and the Unitas Ensemble on Thursday, October 1!