Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

February 2012

Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter February 2012

What's New at

February marks six months of the redesigned Nobles website. We've received great feedback and, based on helpful suggestions from our users, will be making a few minor changes to the site in order to provide the best possible experience for all audiences.

The first area affected is the web calendar. When you are not logged into the site, more community events will be visible without the need to filter. This means visitors, prospective families, etc. will get a better sense of what's happening with a quick glance at the main calendar.

When you are logged on to the site and visit the calendar, your previously saved preferences will automatically load. We've eliminated the need to click "Filter Calendar," "Load Prefences" and "Apply Filter" each time you log on. Visit the "My Events" tab on the parents community page to set your preferences up once, and they will load each time. You still have the ability to filter, but we hope this small change makes calendar viewing more efficient.

Keeping the “I” Out of Team by Ben Snyder, Head of Upper School

In the run up to the Super Bowl, there have been the usual plethora of articles about trivial aspects of players lives—but one article caught my eye. The article was about Tom Brady and his time as a multi-sport high school athlete in California. One might think that someone as famous and successful as Tom Brady would not remain connected to his high school and his high school’s sports program. Yet he can be found signing footballs for hours at his high school to raise money for student efforts. He stays in touch with his high school coaches and can be found texting today’s football team: “I am so proud of (you) and how you represent our school. This will be the last game many of you will ever play. You will remember it for the rest of your lives.”

Brady’s fond reminiscences of his high school experiences resonate with me given what we try to accomplish at Nobles with our teams—especially in the context of the increased specialization that is taking place in youth sports. Nobles teams provide a unique experience in the lives of our student athletes for many reasons. First, Nobles teams operate in a context for which more than simply the team members and their parents care about the team. At Nobles (as in any good high school) the fact that classmates, teachers and graduates are interested in the team is a unique experience and something that lends import, accountability and context to one’s commitment to team. Being part of an athletic program that underscores effort, sportsmanship and team before self highlights the process of being on a team as much or more than it stresses final results. Those broader contexts place particular emphasis on an individual’s responsibilities within the team and provide opportunities for young people to develop valuable roles in that environment by getting feedback and support not just around athletic performance but around leadership, hard work, attitude and approach.

At Nobles, we continue to place emphasis on the relationships built between Nobles teachers and students outside of the classroom. This decision to adhere to the model of "teacher/coach" (with the broadest definition of coach—from the athletic fields to Vinik Theatre to community service) distinguishes Nobles from peer schools—and especially day schools around the country. Every day, faculty members share with me and with each other theirs insights gained about a young person from working collaboratively with him or her outside of the classroom. When we have concerns about a student, we bring not only their classroom teachers into the discussion but also their coaches, directors and service mentors.

Over the last 20 years there has been a proliferation of "club" sports—and many Nobles teams have been the beneficiaries of the training our student-athletes get in those contexts. When our daughter played club soccer, our primary criteria for choosing a team had everything to do with the kind of person who would be her coach—and the life lessons we felt she would learn. Too often those who are full-time coaches become more concerned with the development of a young person as an athlete rather than her or his development as a person. College recruiting has pushed down into the younger grades, and the emphasis on specialization, individual accomplishment and college outcome often supersedes the broader lessons learned in the context of school sports teams.

In a recent conversation with a Nobles graduate who is currently a professional athlete, he said, “My time playing at Nobles was by far the most fun, satisfying and meaningful athletic experience I’ve ever had.”

I think Tom Brady has it right when, even on the eve of the Super Bowl, he recognizes the enduring value of high school sports.

Go Pats!

Still Making Summer Plans? Save the Dates!

While many of you may be familiar with our traditional Nobles Day Camp, you may not know about our programs for older camper. These programs offer a concentration in a specific area. Many are attended heavily by Nobles students. We are extremely excited about the highly qualified staff (many of them Nobles faculty) who will be running the following programs:

  • Nobles Basketball Camp for Girls June 25–June 29, 2012
    Alex Gallagher, Head Coach Nobles Girls Varsity Basketball
  • Nobles Theatre Collective, Summer Intensive July 9–20, 2012
    Dan Halperin, Nobles Performing Arts Department Head
  • Nobles Summer Service August 6–10, 2012
    Sandi MacQuinn, Nobles Coordinator of Service Activities
  • Nobles Soccer Camp August 20–24, 2012
    Mass Premier Soccer Coaches

Click here for program descriptions and contact information. Applications will be available online Feb. 15.

We hope to see you this summer!

Emily Parker
Director of Nobles Day Camp

From the Nobles Theatre Collective

Greetings from the Nobles Theatre Collective (NTC). We are very excited about the productions in February and hope to see you at one or more of our events.

Three student-directed plays were presented Thurs., Feb. 2, at 5 p.m., and Fri., Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m., in Towles Auditorium. The line-up of plays included 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 bring the Middle School production of Drop Dead Juliet by Allison Williams.

The winter mainstage play, Museum, by Tina Howe, will be directed by Todd Morton and performed Wed., Feb. 22, through Fri., Feb. 24, at 6:30 p.m., and on Sat., Feb. 25, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., in the NTC Atelier Theatre. Join us for this theatrical event during which 17 actors play 40-plus characters in an intimate theatre space constructed solely for this production. A link to purchase tickets will soon be posted in the calendar at

Here is a short description of the play published in the Village Voice:

“…the most enchantingly tesserated play ever written. A little mosaic of events and incidents that crisscross one another in the contemporary gallery of a medium-sized art museum, Howe’s play has actions, but no “dramatic action” or “dramatic structure” as those things are normally understood. Its shape is musical, with the themes tossed back and forth from one set of gallery-goers to another, while its two climaxes-one high and transfiguring, the other a low despoliation of the gallery’s content-are treated with the same gently satiric tone of amused, compassionate detachment as everything else. If Mozart had been a TV producer, this is what a Candid Camera segment on art might have looked like.”

The NTC welcomes you to these exciting theatre productions.

Maureen Norment,
Miguel Urena,
NTC Parent Reps

Class IV Reps: Anna Abate (left) and Marca Katz

Dear Parents/Guardians,

This month we hope to break up the long winter stretch with a surprise lunch on Thurs., Feb. 16. Many parents have been hard at work planning this festive event. Please be sure to contact Martha Thompson at if you would like to help that day.

Save the date: Fri., April 27, for our Spring Class IV Parent Social. We are so grateful to Marion and David Mussafer who have kindly offered to host this evening. Watch for more details in the months to come.

Other dates to keep in mind:

  • Thurs., Feb. 2, and Fri., Feb. 3—Winter Student-Directed Play, Towles Auditorium
  • Fri., Feb. 3—Parent Gallery Talk, Foster Gallery
  • Tues., Feb. 7 through Thurs., Feb. 9—Spring Musical Auditions, Lawrence Auditorium
  • Wed., Feb. 15—PA Meeting, MAC
  • Wed., Feb. 15 and Thurs., Feb. 16—Middle School Play, Lawrence Auditorium
  • Mon., Feb. 20—Presidents’ Day, School Closed
  • Tues., Feb. 21—Faculty Retreat, School Closed
  • Wed., Feb. 22, Thurs., Feb. 23, Fri., Feb. 24 and Sat., Feb. 25.—Winter Mainstage Play, Vinik Theater
  • Fri., Feb. 24—Winter Dance Show, Vinik Theater
  • Fri., Feb. 24 and Sat., Feb. 25—Nobles/Milton Games

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


Anna Abate,
Marca Katz,

From the PA Co-Chairs

Although our children are lamenting that there hasn’t yet been a snow day, many of us are quite happy that January was relatively snow free. Perhaps February will follow suit, but one never knows!

During February, we begin to look for volunteers who might like to help out with the Parents' Association next year. All you have to do is click on the link and indicate what you would like to do. There is a description of each position to peruse. We welcome everyone to think about how he or she might like to participate in our very active, fun and engaging parent organization.

Have you ever wondered what the ombudsman and provost do at Nobles? Bill Bussey holds these titles and he will be speaking at our PA meeting on Feb. 15. If you haven’t been able to attend a Parents’ Association meeting yet this year, especially families who are new to Nobles, you won't want to miss this one; Bill will speak about tone and culture at Nobles. Our meeting will be held in the MAC lower lobby at 8 a.m. Please join us!

Cindy Jaczko and Helen Goins are working hard planning an outing in early March for all parents to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Please read the weekly e-mail notes for the date and more details.

Also happening this month, for its winter mainstage play, the Nobles Theatre Collective presents Museum by Tina Howe. The show runs Feb. 22-25. Mark your calendars even if you are not a theatre parent. We have some incredibly talented actors in our community!

Something New:

In an effort to create more awareness around Nobles’ green initiatives, we are sharing some “green” facts in the monthly newsletters. We thank Nobles science teacher Deb Harrison and Head of Buildings and Grounds Mike McHugh for providing this interesting information:

  • Nobles has a geothermal system (ground source heat pump type, GSHP) to heat and cool the middle school. It relies on three 1,500-foot vertical wells at the bottom of the hill below the Baker building. For more information about how a GSHP works, click here.
  • All school thermostats are set at 69 degrees during the heating season to save energy, which is a drop of one to two degrees. Each degree a thermostat is lowered can save approximately three percent in heating energy costs. Lowering your thermostat just two degrees during winter saves six percent of heating-related CO2 emissions, which is a reduction of 420 pounds of CO2 per year for a typical home. For more information on this and other energy saving tips, go to and
  • FLIK, Nobles' dining service, utilizes many local food sources in Massachusetts and New England. In addition, this past fall, Nobles hosted its annual locavore lunch for the community that featured foods from a radius of 20-150 miles away, from Massachusetts and nearby New England states. For more information about being a locavore, go to

Have a great month and we hope to see you on Feb. 15, to hear Bill Bussey speak at our PA meeting.

Pam Notman and Carolyn Harthun
PA Co-Chairs

Class II Dean's Report

The second semester is off to a good start as the students have settled nicely after a well-deserved winter break. With this semester comes the advent of the formal initiation of the college process, obviously an integral part of each student's Nobles’ experience. Each student has been assigned a college advisor with whom he will work over the course of the next year and with whom he will build an amazing relationship.

At the previous school at which I worked, one of the many responsibilities that I held was serving as a college counselor. From this perspective, I'd like to share some of the experiences that I've seen over the years.

First of all, my hope is that all parents will understand that their sons and daughters will have the opportunity to attend an incredible university/college once they have graduated from Nobles. And, by incredible, I mean a school that is right for your son or daughter. As everyone navigates his way through the college process, my hope is that everyone will listen closely to our experts in the college process. No one knows more about this than they do and we’re very lucky to have such talented people working on behalf of our students.

Over the years, I've seen too many students tie too much of their self worth into where they will apply and, subsequently, are admitted to college. I have encountered students who do this or students who are told that they are probably not going to be accepted at College X. They are the ones who have a tough time moving on to secondary choices primarily because they feel that they've let their parents down. I bring this up with the hope that this will not be the case for any Nobles students and with the hope that you have conveyed to your sons and daughters that you will be happy and proud of them wherever they may continue their education.

The junior year is arguably the most stressful of all the high school years as the college process becomes very real in each student’s life. As a result, students tend to be more diligent as they feel that this has to be their most accomplished year both in the classroom and in the areas in which they have demonstrated their passions and extracurricular pursuits. My point is that with this realization, each student has already placed a lot of pressure on himself, and that at this specific time, your reassurance can only help to ensure that your son or daughter will keep things in perspective so that he is able to maximize his enjoyment of the Class II experience.

I hope that the winter is going well for you. As always, if there is anything that I can do for you or your son or daughter, please do not hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Brian Day
Class II Dean

Class III Reps: Hillary von Schroeter (left) and Lyndsay Charron

February is another busy month for our Class III students.

History papers are on the minds or our students; hopefully, they are off to a great start.

We would like to invite everyone to the next PA meeting on Feb. 15. These meetings are a great time to share a cup of coffee and conversation with parents of your children’s classmates. We hope you can join us.

We’d like to thank everyone involved with making the surprise lunch and Casino Night such great successes. We appreciate all your effort!

The next big event for our class is the upcoming Head of School Dinner and Dance on Sat., March 31. This dinner/dance is for members of Class III only.  Please come to our volunteer meeting in the Mac Parent Lobby on Feb. 16, at 8:15 a.m., if you are interested in helping with this fun evening. The Head of School Dinner and Dance is a tradition at Nobles to bring together our Class III students and unite them into a more tightly knit team going forward into high school. It’s a fun social evening and will hopefully be a very memorable one for them.

A few dates to remember:

  • PA meeting—Feb. 15
  • Head of School Dance volunteer meeting—Feb. 16
  • School Closed: President’s Day and Faculty Retreat—Feb. 20 and 21
  • Head of School Dinner Dance—March31
  • College Prep Meeting—April 26

Happy February!

Hillary von Schroeter
Lyndsay Charron

Class I Reps: (from left) Amy Reiner, Jane Rigoli and Lynda Macdonald

Dear Class I Families,

We just ended the first month of our final semester and hope to continue with fun surprises for our students in the months ahead. In addition we have a lot planned for parents and hope to see many of you at the various events. A letter will be forthcoming that will outline the "nuts and bolts" of senior spring. Please mark your calendars with the dates!

Coming up this month on Tues., Feb. 14: We will surprise your Class I student with a Valentine’s dessert and candy bar in the Castle. If you would like to make a contribution or volunteer, please email Lynda at

Looking ahead to March, after spring break we have a surprise lunch for the class on Thurs., March 29. Details to follow shortly. In addition, due to popular demand, we will have an additional Parent Coffee on Fri., April 6. Look for an invitation before spring break. Hope to see you there!

We continue to appreciate all of the time and contributions you make to allow our seniors to have a memorable and fun last year at Nobles. All of you make our jobs as Parent Reps truly enjoyable. Thanks for all that you do!

Amy, Jane and Lynda

p.s. Click here for a shot of the “T-shirt” class meeting this past month.


Thoughts about Dr. Trozzi's Talk by John Gifford, Head of Middle School

Nobles conventional wisdom is that it is difficult to get parents and guardians to come to any evening event unless it has “college” in the title. Just as members of Congress might attach a more controversial law to larger legislation in an attempt to get it passed, I wonder about creating events like: “Talking to your children about organizational skills…and the college counseling process!”

I don’t blame parents; we are busy (we are tired) and down-time is precious. Dr. Maria Trozzi’s presentation on Jan. 18, bucked the trend as we had close to 60 in attendance to hear her present on a range of parenting topics. She was excellent and touched on a lot of the concerns that I hear voiced from parents. I wanted to use this Parents' E-Newsletter piece to summarize a few of her thoughts.

On your children's activities:

  • Look for a “goodness of fit” for the activities and interests of your children. You know them best; it is good to challenge them and set high expectations, but also understand their interests versus what might be yours.
  • Pay attention to protest. When your child pushes back, work to discover, understand and value what is behind the resistance.

On existing in a culture of achievement and specialization:

  • Unconsciously, we drive our children towards achievement; we want them to be unblemished. However, when we are doing the driving, we withhold from them the opportunity to find their own route to success.
  • Practice the mantra: I will not be swept up into a frenzy by other parents.
  • Studies show high achievement and wealth are not correlated with happiness.
  • Think: I want my child to grow up to be healthy, content, compassionate, empathetic and confident. My priorities are not to have a child that is driven, rich and competitive.

How to “guide” your children but not “do” for your children:

  • Be the scaffolding: surround your child with support—without touching. Don’t be the rash (all over your child).
  • Give children the chance to be good problem solvers. (And that will mean resisting the temptation to solve their problems for them.)
  • Find "alone time" with kids to talk about whatever is on their minds. (The car can be a wonderful rolling therapy session.)
  • No cell phones or electronics at the dinner table—ever. Have them “turn in” their electronics before bed so that they are not texting until the wee hours.
  • When your teen is struggling, offer: “Could I give you some coaching?” Talk it through, but resist the temptation to problem solve for him/her.
  • Set firm rules and enforce them. Decide which battles are worth waging.

Building resiliency in children:

  • Young people need to exercise their “resilience muscle.” Allow them to feel sadness and disappointment.
  • When children expresses sadness say, “I’m sorry,” and then remain quiet. Allow them to sit with their feelings while you are there with them. Allow them to learn to tolerate the bad feeling; don’t take away the sadness or try to fix it.
  • Make sure that your child knows that no matter what the problem is, you will love him/her, you will be there and you can tackle it together.

I left the meeting reflecting on all the advice that Dr. Trozzi gave. That said, I also left feeling that the advice was far more easily said than done.

I understand the parent who tells me, “I just want to make sure that I have done all in my power to support my child.” I hear you. As I watch my 9-year-old nervously trip down the basketball court while other youngsters scoot by with great agility, it is hard not to feel the pressure. It isn’t just that the other players seem more comfortable, I also want her to feel good about her play. Why shouldn’t I work to fix it?

What Dr. Trozzi seems to be suggesting, however, is that our children are not always the better for it. She is saying that because of our attention, we could actually be stunting vital development in our children. By not allowing them to feel disappointment, we may be wresting from them the ability to work through pain on their own. By problem solving too many weaknesses, we may be sending the message that they can’t (and shouldn’t) try to find solutions themselves. We might, at times, be doing more harm than good.

As a parent, I want desperately to support my child. It can be excruciating to watch as she makes mistakes that are so obvious to the adult observer. But we know from our own schooling, that the power of "learning by doing" far outweighs the impact of being told what to do. I can’t always do it; my emotions often win over any logic. But perhaps by thinking about it and paying attention to the conflict in my own mind, I will allow my kids a few more autonomous opportunities to build their own strategies for resilience.

Middle School Reps: (from left) Leslie Del Col, Sarah Paglione, Brooke Sandford, Carol Taiclet

We hope many of you had a chance to enjoy at least some of the January concerts and choral performances, and to benefit from the insights of our January speaker, Maria Trozzi. February continues to bring parents more wonderful opportunities to socialize and enjoy the arts and athletics at Nobles, including some special performances by many Middle School actors and dancers. Please be sure to mark your calendars for these upcoming highlights.

First up in February are the student-directed plays with performances on Thurs., Feb. 2 (5 p.m.) and Fri., Feb. 3 (6:30 p.m.). There are three separate plays, each cast and directed by a member of the Class I, and featuring a variety of Nobles actors.

Also on Fri., Feb. 3, at 8 a.m., the Parents’ Association is hosting a coffee in the Foster Gallery and invites all parents to enjoy the current exhibit of “A Girl and Her Room” by current parent and photographer Rania Matar. We would love to see you there!

Please come support our very own thespians in this year’s Middle School play, Drop Dead Juliet, with performances in Lawrence Auditorium on Feb. 15 and 16. A tremendous amount of hard work and rehearsals go into these productions and you will be delighted by the end result.

The morning of Feb. 15, please join the PA for an informative discussion by Bill Bussey as he shares his observations and humor about tone and culture at Nobles.

After the long Presidents’ Day weekend, the Nobles Theatre Collective’s winter production of Museum is also not to be missed, especially if you have not yet had the opportunity to attend an NTC mainstage event. The high quality of all aspects of the show —behind the scenes and on the stage—is truly remarkable. Tickets must be purchased and there are shows Wed., Feb. 22, through Sat., Feb. 25.

Also on the afternoon of Fri., Feb. 24, it will be a treat to see our Middle School and Upper School dancers perform routines they have choreographed and rehearsed under the direction of Jillian Grunnah in a wide range of dance styles during the winter afternoon dance program.

On Feb. 24 and 25, come watch the much-anticipated Nobles vs. Milton games to cap off the winter season. Look up individual game/match times on the Nobles calendar and come cheer on your athletes and their friends!

Finally, be on the lookout for an announcement in the weekly messages for a planning coffee at the end of February or early March. We are looking forward to the annual 'Round the World (RTW) surprise lunch for middle schoolers and welcome anyone who would like to help in any way!

Important Dates for February:

Thurs., Feb. 2 and Fri., Feb. 3: Student-Directed Plays, Towles Auditorium, 5 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., respectively
Fri., Feb. 3: PA Coffee, Foster Gallery 8 a.m.
Wed., Feb. 15 and Thurs., Feb 16: Drop Dead Juliet, Middle School play presented in Lawrence Auditorium, 6:30 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 15: Parents' Association meeting at 8 a.m. in the MAC Lower Lobby
Mon., Feb. 20Tues., Feb 21: School Closed, Presidents’ Day and Faculty Retreat
Wed., Feb. 22Sat., Feb. 25: Nobles Theatre Collective presents Museum, 6:30 p.m. on Wed. and Thurs.; 7 p.m. on Fri.; and 2 p.m. on Sat.
Fri., Feb. 24: Winter Dance Showing, Vinik Theatre
Fri., Feb. 24Sat., Feb. 25: Nobles vs. Milton Games

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Class V Reps: Carol Taiclet, and Brooke Sandford,
Class VI Reps: Sarah Paglione, and Leslie Del Col,

Honoring MLK

On Mon., Jan. 16, 2011, thousands of people nationwide honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy through community service. The Nobles community hosted an MLK Day of Service as more than 250 faculty members, students, and their family and friends volunteered at local organizations in the Greater Boston area, including the Allston-Brighton food pantry, a homeless shelter in Quincy and a senior center in Newton.

Click here for full story and photos.

"Brother Juniper’s Bread Book" and the Theory of "Slow Rise" by Erika Guy, Dean of Students

During a recent forum for Class III parents, entitled “Navigating the Long Road to College,” I found myself answering a parent's question about the college process by once again, using a food metaphor. I just can’t seem to help myself! I was trying to make a point about the adolescent years being crucial moments for the requisite psychological tasks of identity development and independence and that the outcome-based expectation of college admittance sometimes creates tension, struggle and bad results. Without giving it much thought, I likened the crucible of high school to the process of making bread: there are no short cuts and the dough needs the time, space and the appropriate environment to rise. If you shove that dough into the oven prematurely, the results will be ugly. In retrospect, the reference I made most likely resulted from my recent reading of Brother Juniper’s Bread Book.

In the first chapter, author Peter Reinhart writes: “I learned about slow rise by reading Julia Child, who learned it from chefs, who learned it from bakers, who learned it from others before them. It is a principle, like a great cosmic law, that yields marvelous fruits when applied in conformity with other laws of baking and it is a principle that can, like all true principles, be transposed into the moral and ethical realms of politics, religion, work and life in general. Slow rise is like saying ‘the Way’, Tao, or insha’ a Allah.”

“Slow rise” as applied to the emerging adolescent/adult is no different. Like puberty, you cannot hurry it. It needs time and patience and trust in the fact that nature will work. Those of you who know the process of bread baking know what I am talking about. It takes a strong will NOT to interfere and want to rush the process, but we know that the longer the rise, the greater the character of the crust and the bread. In the same chapter of Reinhart's book, he mentions a world famous chili chef who advises not to stir a pot too often while it is cooking (“bothering the pot”) as this retards the character development of the chili. It requires faith in the process. Chili and bread have far more in common with adolescents than I ever could have imagined before.

So, if you are willing to follow along with my metaphor, I urge you to apply this thinking to your child’s Nobles experience. It shouldn’t be all about the oven…it should be about the “rise.”

Write to Us!

The E-Newsletter is a monthly resource for parents. If you have comments, submissions or suggestions, please contact E-Newsletter Editor Julie Guptill at

You can find the current issue, along with back issues in the archive at

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