The Nobles School History Project by Bob Henderson, Head of School
The philosopher/critic George Santayana once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." As a history teacher, I have often asked my students to consider and challenge this assertion, yet I do believe revisiting our heritage allows us to remember and affirm what has sustained us and to avoid the encumbrances that once impeded us.
As Noble and Greenough School approached its centennial celebration in 1966, one of the truly remarkable figures ever to grace this campus, Richard Flood Sr. ’23, undertook to write the first comprehensive history of the school. Mr. Flood for many years had been the confidant and collaborator of Nobles’ dynamic third headmaster, Eliot T. Putnam, who served for 38 years in that role. As a graduate and leader of this community, Mr. Flood was uniquely positioned to develop perspective on the origins and development of the Nobles enterprise, and he researched the project extensively. The result was the 1966 publication of The Story of Noble and Greenough School. Particularly fascinating elements of this tale pertain to the very early years of “Noble’s Classical School” in the Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston, the inspirational influence of James Greenough on the faculty as the school entered the new century in 1900, the move to the Dedham campus in the 1920s, and the struggles of the school in the Great Depression and war years. The book is a bit dated in its narrative style, yet remains a good read for anyone curious about our roots, and especially for those interested in the close links between this school and the evolution of Greater Boston between 1866 and 1966.
The next major chronological milestone for the school is fast approaching: our sesquicentennial in 2016. The last 45 years of the history of this school have seen exponentially greater growth and change than the preceding century. The major themes include (but are not limited to) coeducation, remarkable diversification (in every regard) of the student body and faculty, bold expansion of and improvements in curriculum and program, nearly total transformation of the physical plant, and the professionalization of many of the functions and offices of the school. Yet, despite all this change, there are elements of the culture and experience of this community that remain immutable and which are indelibly impressed on all generations of students. Even as we highlight rapid and positive change, we need to celebrate that which is unique, essential and transcendent about the Nobles experience throughout our history.
That is the charge that I gave to Joyce Eldridge, former communications director of Noble and Greenough School, when I asked her to take on the task of writing our sesquicentennial history. She has embraced the endeavor with energy, passion and wisdom. I want to share a couple of anecdotes from her work that illustrate the importance of her undertaking.
The African-American students who entered Nobles in the 1970s faced a literal trek from the inner city to the Spring St./Route 109 bus stop in Dedham, which for most of them required a long train ride, followed by two tedious public buses. For some students who then missed the school shuttle to campus, walking from Spring Street to Nobles through white neighborhoods is remembered as frightening to the point of being overwhelming. Furthermore, once they arrived at school, there were few of the support services (clubs, faculty with whom they could identify, programming, inclusive philosophies) that exist today. Yet that brave transition to Nobles was transformative for this school, and is allegorically powerful in regard to the era of critical, broadening and sometimes painful changes that the school had entered.
Among the powerful sustaining elements of the Nobles experience is the permanence of faculty-student relationships, a cornerstone of a Nobles education since George Washington Copp Noble opened his tiny Harvard preparatory school at 2 ½ Pemberton Square in Boston in 1866. The lifelong relationship that a teacher may maintain with his former students continues ad infinitum, as is illustrated in a story regarding retired teacher and administrator Chris Mabley about his connection to his former student, current Board of Trustees President Jeff Grogan ’74. One morning in 2004, 30 years after Grogan had graduated, Mabley left a box of donuts on the stairs of Lawson House with a note: “For my advisees.” Grogan took one because, he said, “Mr. Mabley was my advisor 30 years ago and is still my advisor today.” This closeness continues frequently into the next generation as longstanding faculty find themselves now happily teaching the children of their former students.
I eagerly anticipate the publication of the new volume in 2016, and from time-to-time over the next few years I look forward to sharing with you some of the wonderful things Joyce Eldridge has and will continue to uncover and explicate in her research and writing.
Frozen Fenway: Nobles vs. Milton
On Wed., Jan. 4, Nobles fans will head to historic Fenway Park in Boston to watch the boys' varsity ice hockey team take on Milton Academy during the Winter Classic. Check www.nobles.edu for updates from the game, and make sure to follow @NoblesAthletics on Twitter for up-to-the-minute score updates, plays and highlights.
A New Year’s Resolution for Parents by Ben Snyder, Head of Upper School
The "new year" for a career educator begins with the arrival of students and faculty in late summer. Each year one of my goals is to find something to challenge me in new ways—and over the years Nobles has presented myriad opportunities for that. This year, however, something quite unusual happened for me.
In September, Dan Halperin asked the faculty to let him know if any of us were interested in playing adult roles in Romeo and Juliet. Sarah and I wrote back to say that though we had some trepidation, we’d be up for a small part. Dan gave us the roles of the Montagues, Romeo’s parents. These were not big parts—perhaps a dozen lines in three different scenes—but given that I had never been in a play before, there was certainly a touch of hesitancy on my part. As we began rehearsals, I quickly discovered a few things I had to become at least somewhat skilled at. First, memorizing lines was hard (even with the few I had, the Shakespearean language kept tripping me up); the intonation, cadence, rhythm and projection of each line was critical to my being able to be understood. Second, I had to "fight" Peter Raymond (Capulet) and develop and learn not only the choreography of a fight scene but the attitude, approach and sound that were needed to make it appear real. Third, I had to go to "crying class" to be taught how to cry on stage—not easy for someone used to keeping his composure. Finally, I realized that everything I did on stage—the way my feet were positioned or the angle at which my head was tilted—sent a message; and often what I did instinctually was not the message I needed to be communicating.
To say that my learning curve was steep would be an understatement. But the remarkable team of adults and veteran student actors "coached us up" with positive encouragement, productive advice, high standards, a belief in one another and the ability of the team to pull together to create a quality show for the Nobles community.
Beyond the basic challenge of acting, however, I walked away from this experience even more convinced of a few things I’ve believed for years.
First and foremost, the best and most meaningful learning comes when one is confronted with an unfamiliar challenge. It is easy for us to find "the next level" in things we are good at—a higher level of math or better competition in sports. What is most valuable, however, is putting oneself into a completely foreign environment and learning how to respond and grow in positive ways. That is where character is tested, resilience developed and new perspective gained.
Second, the significance of "team" experiences was reinforced. The cast, crew and directors of Romeo and Juliet formed the bonds of the best teams I’ve ever been a part of. The most memorable and meaningful experiences happen when Nobles students and faculty are working together toward shared goals—and these critical lessons of hard work and putting group goals over individual needs have been gained at Nobles for years.
Finally, in a "results-oriented" culture such as ours, the importance of the journey towards the destination became abundantly clear. Yes, having five strong performances was crucial—but what was as important was getting the most out of the process of being ready for opening night. The discipline required, the mutual support needed and the standard of excellence expected were necessary every day; and there was so much to be learned from that.
So as we head in to a new calendar year, I challenge all Nobles parents to make a resolutions for their children to help them find that completely new experience and to get them to take the risk of trying. Whether it is auditioning for a play, taking a class simply to explore a new field, setting out to a different part of the world, engaging in a new kind of service project or testing out a new sport—the value gained from taking that chance will probably be greater than simply doing more of what we’re already good at.
Wishing you all the best for the new year,
Opening Mon., Jan. 9, "A Girl and Her Room: Photographs by Rania Matar." This exhibition features selections from an ongoing body of work by photographer and Nobles parent Rania Matar in which she collaborated with girls from both the United States and the Middle East to make photographs that depict the girls in their bedrooms.
In her own words, “This project is about teenage girls and young women at a transitional time of their lives, alone in the privacy of their own personal space and surroundings: their bedroom, a womb within the outside world.”
Matar is represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston, Mass. She was recently awarded a 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant.
Please join us for a public reception on Thurs., Jan. 19, from 5-7 p.m. On Fri., Feb. 3, Foster Gallery will host a Parents' Association coffee event with Matar from 8:15-9:15 a.m. For more information, go to www.fostergallery.org. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/fostergallery.
From the Nobles Theatre Collective
Greetings from the Nobles Theatre Collective (NTC). We hope you had a wonderful holiday and relaxing winter break and wish you a very happy new year. The winter months are a very busy time for the NTC, so please mark the following dates on your calendars.
The student-directed plays will be presented Thurs., Feb. 2, and Fri., Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m.. The line-up of plays includes If Girls Asked Boys for Dates written by Anne Coulter Martens and directed by Julia Brosseau '12; No Exit written by Jean-Paul Sartre and directed by Isabella Kursh '12; and Wanda’s Visit written by Christopher Durang and directed by Julianna Wright '12.
Feb. 15 and 16 brings the Middle School production of Drop Dead Juliet written by Allison Williams.
The winter mainstage play, Museum, by Tina Howe, will be directed by Todd Morton and performed on Wed., Feb. 22, through Fri., Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m., and on Sat., Feb. 25, at 2 p.m.
More information regarding these productions will be included in the February newsletter. We hope to see you at these winter events!
Maureen Norment, firstname.lastname@example.org
Miguel Urena, email@example.com
NTC Parent Reps
Cleaning out the Drawer by Bill Bussey, Provost
I’ll spare you the details, but over the summer, and to my soul-searching horror, I found out that my youngest daughter was watching World Wrestling Entertainment on the sly. So I trumped her, and against all reason, took her to a packed Garden to see it live and up close. While I will never get those three and a half hours back, here’s something that floored me and, given my preconceived notions, left me more than a little contrite: The folks cheering on the body slams and choke holds were far more thoughtful and well-behaved than any crowd that I have encountered at any professional sporting event. No foul language, no drunks, no leering, no aggression. We might as well have been among the Disney On Ice fans.
Despite the lack of acrobats, the next four long Assemblies show some dexterity just the same:
Jan. 11: E.O. Wilson, the legendary “father of social biology” and theorist, not to mention a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Click here to check out last November’s Atlantic Monthly article about him.
Jan. 25: Musician and activist Chad Stokes. Stokes' band, Dispatch, made independent music history on two occasions: in 2004, the band attracted well over a 100,000 fans at the Boston Hatch Shell and in 2007, Stokes and his band reunited for one show at Madison Square Garden that turned into three sold-out shows.
Feb. 8: Isabel Wilkerson. Wilkerson is the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for journalism and the first African American to win for individual reporting. Her widely celebrated book, The Warmth of Other Suns, won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award. Click here to read more about Wilkerson.
Feb. 22: New Orleans returns (we kicked off the year with Zeitoun ) to Nobles with music legend Buckwheat Zydeco—just in time to kick off Mardi Gras. If you want to catch what the New York Times calls “one of the best bands in America,” Buckwheat and his band will be performing at the Regattabar, located in the Charles Hotel, Cambridge, the night before (Tue., Feb. 21).
A few other things on my mind:
“Five Lessons Learned from Living in Paris” was written by an American exchange student. In this brief article, the author passes on some interesting cultural observations that are worth consideration. Click here to read the article.
A panel of writers at the New Yorker Festival—Jhumpi Lahiri, Jeffrey Eugenidas and Nicole Krauss—were asked to select their “writer’s writer.” Lahiri chose Mavis Gallant and Gina Berriault, among others. Kruass centered on Polish writer Bruno Schulz. All of them agreed with Eugenidas that the reclusive Denis (“Tree of Smoke”) Johnson was among the very best of all living authors.
If you are looking for a great coffee table book, may I recommend Henry Louis Gates’ just released Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History 1513-2008. The book, a wonderfully accessible work and a labor of love for Professor Gates, is dedicated to his father who recently passed away.
Two movies that I enjoyed as much as any last year made nobody’s “top ten” list: 1. Project Nim. This documentary chronicles Colombia University’s early 1970s experiment “which aimed to show that a chimpanzee could learn to communicate with language if raised and nurtured like a human child.” Tough to watch, but a very important film.2. The Guard. Made and set in Ireland, starring the great Don Cheedle and Brendan Gleeson. Dark, but smart, nuanced, funny and surprisingly poignant.
Just got to say it: Chris Collins-Pisano '12 and Belle Tuttle’s '13 rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside during the final 2011 Assembly was, like many of this year’s student Assembly performances, something special and sent us off in great spirits.
Knock on wood: Hate to jinx things but…if this past fall semester at Nobles is any indication of the months to follow, we are all in for a real treat.
Middle School Reps: (from left) Leslie Del Col, Sarah Paglione, Brooke Sandford, Carol Taiclet
Welcome back from the holidays! We hope your family found some time to relax and enjoy the break. The new year has begun and it is time for our kids to get back to their education.
Maryanne is making steady progress but unfortunately she will remain out of school until mid-February. We miss her greatly. This newsletter submission was written late because she wasn’t here to remind us. Maryanne is phenomenal at keeping everyone informed and on schedule. We’ll all have to work a bit harder to keep ourselves informed about school happenings while she is away. We miss her dearly and wish her a speedy recovery.
A tradition at the both the Middle School and the Upper School is for families of the Nobles faculty and students to participate in a community service program on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This is a wonderful opportunity to work alongside your children on a service project. You can bring friends or siblings to work with you as well. Please register at the following link: http://www.nobles.edu/calendar/MartinLutherKingServiceDay.cfm. On Jan. 16, everyone will meet in the Middle School Forum at 8 a.m. to get their assignments for the day. Afterwards they will go to their various sites until 2 or 3 p.m.
On the morning of Jan. 18, there is a PA meeting. Michael Denning, director of college counseling, will be the guest speaker. It isn’t time for our kids to worry about college, but it is great opportunity to hear what we will soon be encountering. It is also a good time to get a cup of coffee and meet with other parents.
Nobles is hosting a special event for Middle School parents the evening of Jan. 18. Maria Trozzi, M.Ed. will speak to parents about raising resilient children. Trozzi is the assistant professor of pediatrics at BU School of Medicine. Her speeches include topics such as helping our children deal with life disappointments, helping children deal with too many choices and whether parents should push or not push. Trozzi is a well-respected speaker and the event should be very interesting and informative. Please write Jen_Hamilton@Nobles.edu if you’d like to attend—space is limited.
Important Dates for January:
Thurs., Jan. 12: Parent Book Club at 8 a.m. in the MAC conference room
Mon., Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service
Wed., Jan. 18: Parents' Association meeting at 8 a.m. in the MAC Lower Lobby
Wed., Jan. 18: Middle School parents event with speaker Maria Trozzi, M.Ed. in the Middle School Forum at 6:30 p.m.
Please contact us if you have any questions.
Class V Reps
Carol Taiclet, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brooke Sandford, email@example.com
Class VI Reps
Sarah Paglione, firstname.lastname@example.org
Leslie Del Col, email@example.com
Dear Class I Parents/Guardians,
Happy Holidays! I hope you all had a fun and restful winter break. I can’t believe that it is already January. In typical Nobles fashion, the first semester went by very quickly and your sons and daughters have matured into their roles as leaders of the school. They had a lot on their plates, from juggling schoolwork with college applications and supplements to afternoon activities, club and sport leadership responsibilities, family commitments and time with friends. Some have heard back already from schools, and I know that there was both good news and some disappointing news. We spoke to your sons and daughters about the importance of maintaining dignity, humility and compassion throughout the process—to treat one another well, regardless of the outcome of their own application(s). And I want to commend them for respecting their peers during the past few weeks. This class has done a great job as role models for the school and this is just one example during which they have demonstrated their maturity and shown themselves to be leaders.
As college applications are wrapping up, the third quarter is an opportunity for Class I students to think about doing a Class I Project (guidelines/forms are on the Nobles website). These projects will begin in earnest in the fourth quarter, and the deadline for the preliminary proposals is Mon., Jan. 23, 2012. I spoke to the class in December about the requirements for doing a project, but for those of you who are new to the concept of Class I Projects, here is a brief introduction.
The Class I Project, an option open to members of Class I during fourth quarter, is designed to allow students to pursue areas of interest that fall outside the School's formal curriculum. These projects are an opportunity to explore educational or potential career interests. In addition, the school hopes that projects will further the students’ growth in areas articulated in the mission statement: intellectual growth, self-esteem, curiosity, self-reliance and a commitment to others. We hope that students will choose projects that enlarge their understanding of a particular area, seriously engaging students in new experiences and fundamentally deepening skills in previously declared areas of interest and expertise. Project proposals must reflect detailed and well-considered planning. In the past, projects have included: internships within a variety of professions; creative undertakings; volunteer work; travel and language study; and practical work in computers, film, art, crafts, and music. Students are not permitted to earn money—remuneration would, in the opinion of the Class I Project Committee, compromise the spirit and intent of the educational objectives of the project. In addition, students may not pursue an internship with a business or organization owned/operated by a family member, or have a family member as an off-campus supervisor.
Please feel free to open the discussion as to what he or she might pursue or, of equal importance, whether a Class I Project is an appropriate choice as a final, capstone experience. If your son/daughter decides to pursue a senior project, think about contacts that he/she will have to make to do a project as well. If you have any questions about Projects—or anything else Class I related—don’t hesitate to contact me at any time.
And lastly, I know this is several months from now, but please mark your calendar for Class I Parents Transition Night on Tues., April 24. We have invited Maria Trozzi, assistant professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine, director of the nationally renowned Good Grief Program at Boston Medical Center, consultant to the Child Development Unit at Children's Hospital and author, to speak to parents about student/parent transition away from Nobles into college. I know that in years past, the evening was very informative and helpful for many parents, whether it was their first child or last child. We hope you can join us. I will give you more information about the event and Maria Trozzi as we get closer to the date.
In the meantime, happy new year and thanks again to all of you for your work and care.
Class I Dean
(Meghan Hamilton will be returning after March break)
Class III Reps: Hillary von Schroeter (left) and Lyndsay Charron
We hope you all had a wonderful and restful holiday break.
On March 31, Bob Henderson will host the Class III Head of School Dinner Dance. This is a semi-formal, no date, dinner dance attended by Class III students only. This special event is organized by Class III parents and we would really like to have your help! We will need to get creative this year, as we can not have the Dinner Dance in the Castle due to construction. Please come to our first planning meeting on Jan. 12, at 8:15 a.m., in the MAC Parents' Lobby on the second floor. (Bring your own coffee!) If you can not attend but would like to help in some way, please email Lyndsay Charron at Charronl@comcast.net.
Tues., Jan. 3: School reopens
Thurs., Jan. 12: Class III parent volunteer meeting, MAC Parents' Lobby, second floor. Please come to help plan the Class III surprise lunch in early February and the Head of School Dinner Dance. We need your help!
Mon., Jan. 16: MLK Day; school closed/optional day of service
Thurs., Jan. 26: Class III Parent Forum, Navigating the Long Path to College, 7-8:30 p.m., in the Morrison Forum. Check website for further information.
As always, please contact us if you have any questions or comments.
Lyndsay Charron, 508-736-4208
Hillary von Schroeter, 857-272-6280
Class IV Reps: Anna Abate (left) and Marca Katz
Happy 2012 and welcome back! We hope everyone had a fun and restful break, and the students have recharged after some home/family time. We’re looking forward to full steam ahead with a busy month of winter sports, a class coffee, PA meeting, and the highly anticipated Class IV surprise lunch next month. Listed below are some important dates to keep in mind.
Jan. 11: Class IV Coffee (rescheduled from the 18th)
Jan. 12: Parent Book Club
Jan. 16: MLK Jr. Day, school closed
Jan. 18: Parents’ Association Meeting with guest Michael Denning
And, a glance ahead:
Feb. 9: Parent Book Club
Feb. 15: Parents’ Association Meeting with guest Bill Bussey
Finally...Shhh! Feb. 16 - Class IV Surprise Lunch. We will have our first planning meeting on Jan. 5. If you’re interested in helping out with this event, contact either Marca, Anna or Dana DeAngelis. Whether or not you can make this meeting, your help is always appreciated.
We look forward to seeing you at school in the coming weeks!
Marca Katz and Anna Abate
Looking for more Nobles news? Check out the school's presence on Facbook, Twitter and YouTube. Visit www.nobles.edu/socialmedia to learn more.
From Community Service: Two Important Service Events Coming Soon!
During the week of Jan. 8-12, at both the MAC and First Parish Church of Dedham (across from the courthouse) donation centers will be set up for Cradles to Crayons (http://cradlestocrayons.org/). We are hoping to collect children's toys, athletic equipment, school supplies and clothing in good condition for this wonderful Boston charity. Please look around the house; now that the new holiday acquisitions have arrived, won't you find a place for the gently-used ones right here at Nobles? You can drop off the donations when you drop off or pick up your children. We will collect all week and then...
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, we will unpack, sort, clean, and send all the items to Cradles to Crayons. You can be part of it all—see below for your formal, engraved invitation to a great Nobles tradition.
You are cordially invited to join the Community Service Program (both Middle and Upper School) during our annual Day of Service on Jan. 16. We will meet in the Middle School forum at 8 a.m., get our site assignments for the day, and split up to various sites to serve until 2 or 3 p.m. Bring friends or siblings and spend the holiday doing something meaningful with your family. We need you to register soon in order to confirm with our sites and because slots go quickly! More than 75 participants have already responded. Many interesting sites are planned for this year, and an amazing group of parents are spearheading the arrangements and site details. Please consider spending the day with us. For those who would appreciate staying at Nobles, this year we are sorting and and packing donations for Cradles to Crayons. So, what do you say? Isn't it a great day to work alongside your children in the service of others? See below for the link to register. If you have questions, please email or call Sandi MacQuinn at Sandra_MacQuinn@Nobles.edu or 781-320-7262, Linda Hurley at Linda_Hurley@nobles.edu or 781-320-7261, or Thomas Forteith at Thomas_Forteith@nobles.edu or 781-320-7211. We hope to see you on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!
Click to register:
The E-Newsletter is a monthly resource for parents. If you have comments, submissions or suggestions, please contact E-Newsletter Editor Julie Guptill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find the current issue, along with back issues in the archive at www.nobles.edu/parentsnewsletter.
From the PA Co-Chairs
Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a relaxing break. Fri. evening, Jan. 6, is the annual Nobles/Cotting School basketball game, being held this year at the Cotting School. It is the fourth annual contest between Nobles girls’ varsity basketball and Cotting School players. It is a great event with food, fun and lots of action on the court. We hope you will come and cheer on the players!
Our next PA meeting will be on Wed., Jan. 18. Our guest will be Michael Denning, director of college counseling. Please come and hear Michael speak about the college process and answer any questions you might have. It will be a very interesting and informative meeting for all.
Looking ahead to February, please save the following dates:
Fri., Feb. 3, for our very first parent gallery talk in the Foster Gallery. We are excited to have Rania Matar, a current Nobles parent and photographer, come speak about her upcoming exhibit, "A Girl and Her Room." Rania has collaborated with girls from both the United States and the Middle East to make photographs that depict the girls in their bedrooms. In her own words, “This project is about teenage girls and young women at a transitional time of their lives, alone in the privacy of their own personal space and surroundings: their bedroom, a womb within the outside world.” Please come for coffee to hear Rania speak at 8 a.m. Also, please mark your calendars for our monthly PA meeting on Feb. 15. Bill Bussey, provost, English teacher and ombudsman, will talk about tone and culture at Nobles. It's always a great meeting when Bill shares his insight and humor!
All the best,
Pam Notman and Carolyn Harthun
Parents’ Association Co-Chairs
Class I Reps: (from left) Amy Reiner, Jane Rigoli and Lynda Macdonald
Welcome back, Class I!
We hope you all had restful and wonderful holidays. Just so you know, your children will be receiving a surprise gift next week—a little something to commemorate their senior status!
Please mark your calendars for Thurs. morning, Jan. 20, for a Class I Parent winter breakfast at Amy Reiner’s home—an invitation will follow. Also, there are MANY opportunities for you to get involved in making your child’s final months at Nobles special—Valentine’s Day, winter surprise lunch, graduation week activities, etc. Please let us know if you’d like to help out in any way.
Stay warm! Amy, Lynda and Jane