Recently DCD 8th graders experienced what it’s like to be a U.S. senator during their visit to the Edward M. Kennedy Institute where they participated in the Senate Immersion module. The Institute simulates the legislative process where a bill gets turned into a law and where a President’s nominees for cabinet offices are confirmed. During their visit in the full-sized replica of the senate chamber, DCD students (senators) were tasked with addressing the Affordable Care Act. Advanced preparation for the day involved reviewing a brief of the Act and understanding the role and requirements of a senator.
Wednesday was designated a National Day of Mourning to reflect upon the life and contributions of former President George H. W. Bush. Democrats and Republicans joined together in praising President Bush’s commitment to both public service and family, providing us with a less partisan moment than what we’ve experienced over the past months.
What are you curious about? That was a question asked of faculty and staff earlier this fall, which prompted visits to nearly 30 schools and organizations, both public and private, on their professional development day, Monday, November 26, a day that was dedicated to teaching and learning.
Dedham Country Day School recognized its middle school student athletes for their performance during the fall 2018 sports season. Coaches presented awards for field hockey, soccer, flag football, and cross country at two all-school morning assemblies held on November 13 and 19.
On Monday, November 19,DCD Dedham Country Day School donated 25 Thanksgiving baskets complete with all the fixings for a wonderful holiday meal for families in need of some extra help at this time of year.
On Saturday, November 10, Dedham Country Day hosted the 2018 AISNE Middle School Diversity Conference drawing 300 students from grades 5 to 8 from 35 independent schools throughout New England. It was a day of connection, camaraderie, and discovery as students moved between 17 different workshops and came together as a larger group for two special keynote sessions and shared meals. The theme of this year’s conference, “Use Your Voice,” enabled students from many different backgrounds, ethnicities, and orientations to explore the many different strands that define diversity, culture, and identity and to reflect back on their own stories and how they might activate their own voice.
Master storyteller Willy Clafiln captivated the attention of DCD students during his visit on Monday. He had middle schoolers belly laughing as he talked about the serendipity that brought him to his career as a story-teller and that augmented and enhanced his stories along the way.
New for the 2019-20 academic year, DCD’s Hawk Scholarship has been created for highly motivated middle school student applicants who embody the values of DCD’s mission. This very selective, merit-based opportunity recognizes new applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic, athletic, or artistic promise and a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the community at DCD.
DCD Grade 4 and 5 students in the Alternative Music Ensemble explore free improvisation and instant composition, playing any instrument or sound-generating device that takes their fancy. In a creative playground atmosphere, students develop deep listening skills through an egalitarian, collaborative process.
Tara Westover’s memoir Educated considers the role formal education plays in our lives, as well as the many ways we learn about the world through our experiences outside of school. Westover was not enrolled in formal schooling during her elementary years. Much of Educated focuses on what Westover learns outside of the classroom, whether exploring the Idaho mountainside where she was raised, or the lessons she is required to learn because of the challenging – sometimes traumatic – circumstances of her upbringing.
Are you thinking of changing careers? Ever thought about what that might entail? That’s what Boston Globe columnist Nina MacLaughlin did nine years ago when she gave up journalism for carpentry. She spoke to DCD students at a special assembly on Thursday, October 11, about her experience, chronicled in her book Hammerhead: The Making of a Carpenter.
No question about it, kids love summer, but they also seem to love Day One at DCD. The energy and smiles throughout the halls and classrooms and on the playgrounds and fields were endless as we welcomed 268 students to campus today.
At the end of the school year, the DCD Olympics is always a favorite community tradition. What was hatched as a student idea in 1928, the DCD Olympics has had a 90-year tradition of athletic competition, camaraderie, and connection. Students in grades 1 through 8 are divided into three teams, becoming life-long members of either the red, white or blue team. The entire day is filled with events where students can test their athletic abilities, support their classmates, leverage their agility, and yes, enjoy some friendly competition. This year, the white team emerged victoriously.
The youngest members of our community in pre-K and kindergarten participate in the Critter Olympics where they cycle through their own pint-sized events!
Members of the Class of 2018 are ready! They’ve completed their final exams, they’ve toured Washington, D.C. to wrap up their studies of U.S. History, they’ve consumed their special lunches and breakfasts, they’ve watched their DCD journeys summarized in the 8th grade slideshow, they’ve competed against their teachers in the 8th grade volleyball match, and they’ve painted their hands to take part in the cherished tradition of leaving their mark on the walls of DCD.
After 115 years, DCD finally has a school mascot: the hawk! The outcome of the voting over the past month was announced at the DCD Olympics on Friday, June 1. Votes came in from alumni and past parents as well as current parents and children.
Children’s book author and illustrator Peter Reynolds visited DCD on Wednesday, May 23, to introduce his latest book, The Word Collector, and to talk to students about the creative process. He met with two groups of students in two separate sessions, kindergarten through second grade followed by third through fifth grades.
Dedham Country Day School celebrated the arts over two days May 21-22, with a showcase of the performing arts on Monday evening and the annual Visual and Performing Arts Assembly on Tuesday morning. Middle school students gave parents and the whole school a glimpse of all the projects they’ve been working on throughout the year in both the visual and performing arts.
Whales used to walk on land! How could that be? DCD 5th grade students have been studying whales and this was a fact that recently garnered deep discussion in class. As a follow-up, the children Skyped with Audrey Kelly, a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently doing research on "how interactions between populations and species can affect evolution, and how those interactions are themselves influenced by the environment." To illustrate this, Audrey showed the children two species of spadefoot toads that she is observing in her study.
Even though I’ve been a New Englander my whole life, I’ve never developed a true love of winter. I’m filled with delight as soon as the signs of winter’s end come into sight, and no harbinger of seasonal change makes me happier than the rise of the daffodils. Just the other day I was walking around Stoney Lea and saw a full hillside of daffodils. It filled me with a moment of delight and awe.
DCD received 12 awards from the Small Independent School Art League annual juried show. All 39 pieces submitted by DCD are on display at Brimmer and May School, the host of this year's exhibit. A complete list of the award winners by category is given below:
Dedham Country Day School second grader Ivy Glenn, a member of the Stoughton Barn Bums 4-H Club, was one of the winners of this year’s Visual Presentation Day held on April 14. She received a Second Place rosette in the Junior Rabbit/Cavy category for her presentation, “Pig Problems: Common Health Care Issues of Guinea Pigs.” It is her first year in 4-H, as well as her first Visual Presentation.
Eighth graders left their Facing History and Ourselves class on Friday, April 20, to walk out of school in protest of gun violence and to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre. Their action was part of the National School Walkout scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in schools across the country.
Last Friday, DCD welcomed over 375 grandparents and special friends to our campus. From Pre-K to grade 8, classrooms were bursting at the seams as grandparents and special friends had an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a student at Dedham Country Day.
Whether working in watercolor, wood, metal, or any of the many other media available through our more than 40 arts electives, our young middle school artists find myriad ways to express themselves through the visual arts.
The snow-covered fields are no hindrance to the spring athletic season at DCD! On the first day back from spring break, middle school students hopped out of their cars armed with lacrosse sticks, baseball gloves, and tennis racquets. Taking advantage of our gym spaces and area indoor tennis courts, teams began prepping for interscholastic competition set to begin in just a few weeks.
Sixteen Dedham Country Day Middle School students received awards for their performance in sports during the winter term. Coaches recognized student participation during the season and presented coach’s and most improved player awards for hockey, squash, and basketball at two all-school assemblies, February 26 and March 5.
On Saturday, March 3, Dedham Country Day School hosted a special day of service to benefit children in the greater Boston area served by the Cradles to Crayons organization (C2C). C2C’s mission is to provide children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive at home, at school and at play.
Dedham Country Day School, is partnering with the Making Caring Common (MCC) Initiative, a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. MCC’s mission is to help educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. This involves ensuring that a climate of respect, kindness, and caring exists at partner schools like Dedham Country Day that share these values.
Rob Thacher, Middle School History and English Teacher
By Rob Thacher, Middle School Teacher
I teach grade 7 history, according to our school’s staffing documentation, but I prefer to consider myself a teacher of social studies to your middle school “tweeners” – caught in the difficult interstitial moment of growth between 6th grade freshness and 8th grade responsibilities. To me, “social studies” aptly conveys the multiple threads that the subject demands in its teaching. It is my job not only to provide historical data – events, outcomes, causes, dates – but also to add layers to students’ geographic understanding of the world; to cultivate their familiarity with our civic institutions and fundamental economic principles; and to empower thoughtful reflection on the nature and reliability of information itself.
“Of course, there’s a relationship,” a DCD 4th grader would say!" The curriculum in 4th grade involves the study of Medieval times, a theme that enriches assignments in math, writing, and research. In one project, students are charged with securing land from the king and queen by writing a letter explaining their plans and strategy for their fiefs and castles. Once they are granted their land, students must then design castles creating blueprints with realistic measurements.
The animal kingdom dominated the landscape of DCD’s annual spelling bee on Thursday, March 1, with words ranging from the canine world to the zoo, desert, and jungle. Twelve students representing grades 3 through 8, finalists from spelling tests conducted in each classroom earlier in the week, went many rounds in this year’s challenging competition.
This piece of wisdom is one that resilience experts and psychologists offer as guidance for parents and educators. On Friday, February 16, during our Professional Day, DCD faculty and staff spent the morning with anxiety expert Lynn Lyons. Her three-hour workshop deepened our understanding about why it is so critical for children to engage in the messy, non-linear, and sometimes challenging process of learning how to navigate “the path” rather than having it cleared for them.
Fourth graders had an opportunity to experience the power of poetry in a whole new way in class on Thursday morning, February 15, the beginning of the Vietnamese New Year known as “Tet.” Poet Kevin Bowen, a veteran of the Vietnam War who writes poetry based on his life experiences both as a soldier and later as a friend to the Vietnamese, shared some of his works with this class of fledgling poets. “Poems are there to capture moments,” he explained to the children.
Dedham Country Day 5th grader Edna Etienne-Dupie experienced first-hand what it means to sit at the top of the Massachusetts judicial system. On Thursday, February 8, Edna spent the day with the Chief Justices of Massachusetts.
Third graders are learning about what it means to create designs for solving specific problems and addressing real-world needs. In a recent science unit, lower school science teacher Sue Shirley challenged the students with design problems that required them to brainstorm, collaborate, plan, and test.
During Advisory period, sixth graders have been grappling with what it means to come to consensus. For them, it’s called the Consensus Project. Students are given a hypothetical situation and need to form and build consensus on how to best handle and proceed as a group in a particular situation given the facts and conditions set in front of them. This year’s class dealt with the aftermath of surviving a plane crash in an uninhabited, rural area, trying to determine the best course of action to get rescued. Should they stay put or try to make it to the nearest town, which happened to be 45 minutes away, in the dead of winter?
Ten students competed in DCD’s annual Geography Bee, sponsored by National Geographic, on Thursday, January 25. Middle school head Nate Buffum presided over the contest in which two representatives each from grades 4 through 8 vied for the coveted spot of school-wide geography whiz kid.
I wrote in my last blog post about peak moments and all they do for a child’s memories and well-being; last week we had a peak moment for both children and adults at DCD. Mr. Clifford, wearing a top hat and tails, led a parade of students and penguins through the Lowell Center, which was packed with students and families.
Primary school students paraded on stage the toy penguins they made in the woodshop at a special assembly on Thursday, January 18. Dressed in a tuxedo to mimic the iconic black and white birds, woodworking teacher Gerry Clifford led his gaggle through the school and onto the stage in the Lowell Center, waddling all the way together with their new penguin friends.
When audiobooks are suggested to students, the first thing that is often asked is: But isn’t that cheating? Audiobooks are not cheating. They are a wonderful, multi-sensory avenue for children to access reading material, particularly when the audio is paired with the written word.