Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

December 2014

Nobles Parents' Newsletter December 2014

To Stretch Without Breaking by Assistant Head of School and Head of Middle School John Gifford

I had two Class IV students in my office last week. “How’s the Upper School?” I asked. “Great," they responded, “It is so much easier than Class V.” I smiled inwardly, remembering the week before when another Class IV student had reported that their HHC class assigned more work than all of her middle school classes combined. 

I have been thinking a great deal about workload. In part as response to a thoughtful parent’s concern, but in truth I think about it every year. Each fall I engage the middle school faculty in a focused conversation about schoolwork. We discuss the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how’ and I’m inevitably deeply impressed by how thoughtful they are about what they ask of their students.

Students corroborate my sense of our assignments. At admission events, panels of students are always asked to describe their homework and, to a student, they describe work that is unlike what they’d received before: “No ‘busy’ work. Hardly a worksheet to be found.”

When the group of students go on to describe not the quality of the work but the quantity, an age old conundrum rears its ugly head: their responses vary a great deal.

The faculty survey their students on the topic often – especially at the start of the school year when students are finding their academic “sea legs." During the first week of my own class, I ask students to report how long an assignment took and the responses ranged from 15 minutes to an hour and a half. The mean and median were both about 30 minutes. When I did the same more recently, the expanse of responses was tighter with the “high” at 45 minutes and the “low” remaining at 15 minutes.

For teachers, one of the challenging aspects of assigning work is that the reasons for the variety of responses are so varied themselves. One student spends 15 minutes (even though she should spend twice that time) because she can’t sit still. Another student spends far too long (even though he should spend half the time) because he is a concrete thinker (think: “type-A”) who is unwilling to risk any stone remaining unturned. Add the students who spend a short time because they can, they are exceedingly efficient. Then there are students who spend more time because they really need to, as they are learning the ropes…it is one of the greatest challenges for educators.

Our goal is to challenge without overwhelming, to stretch without breaking. True challenge not only prepares our students for the trials that will come at Nobles and beyond, challenge is also the greenhouse for self-esteem. (I believe that self-esteem is developed through victories that are hard-won rather than handed over. That, however, is another Parents’ Newsletter piece all together.) Like farmers tending to seedlings, teachers and parents should not eliminate all discomfort but they can work to control the environment for the young to support them as they gain in strength.

Teachers set a baseline that they feel is fair for the majority and then they work with individual needs. They attempt to challenge the student who is breezing through while supporting the student who is struggling. They work to communicate clearly and encourage students to “say uncle” when they are stressed. Teachers can only uncover the areas that are in need of support when students (and the adults in their lives) communicate with them.

In the meantime, we will continue to study the issue of workload. We will evaluate, learn and tweak accordingly. For example, from December 1 through 4, we are asking all middle school students to meticulously chart their time. We hope to get a better and more complete look at the broad spectrum of Nobles Middle School students.

What can parents and guardians do?

If your child is struggling to get his or her work done there are a number of things you can consider.

1. Make sure to share what you are seeing. You might start by gathering some of your own impressions. Take a week’s worth of notes on how long your child is working on homework. Try to ascertain which subjects seem to be taking the longest. Notice the types of tasks that take the longest. Try to evaluate how efficient your child’s process is.  After a week, talk to your child about it. See if they can report out what is taking a long time and why. Work to get them to bring up the topic with their advisor (remember, we are working to build self-advocacy!) Once your child has tried a conversation with the advisor, you can follow up to see if all that should have been discussed was discussed.

2. Evaluate the space. Some students are better suited in the quiet of their room. Others will use it as a hideaway so that they can play video games. You should love and forgive your child, but I suggest you should not completely trust them. (Those games…or the chance to “chat” with friends is simply too compelling!) Technology is a huge part of the sleep deprivation that young people suffer from. I applaud the parents who have their kids charge their phones/iPads etc. in their parents’ bedroom. Save them from themselves! With distractions in mind, perhaps they are better off working in the kitchen with your “passive supervision.” Maybe you work out a deal that they can earn their way out of the kitchen once certain assignments are complete. Be creative.

3. Is it time to give up an outside of school activity? I know that Nobles asks a great deal of your children. I know that many outside of school activities are wonderfully enriching. All that said, your child’s overall stability and growth rests on an academic foundation at Nobles. If a student is struggling to get his work done it becomes hard to find success in other areas as well. While a hard decision (and I understand that this is easy for me to say from my perspective!), it might be the right decision to pare back on or eliminate outside commitments.

Workload, balance, efficiency…these are thorny problems for adults and young people alike. They are issues that are never more obvious and highlighted than in the first semester of the school year when new strategies are learned and adjustments seem constant. Students will probably never achieve the Nirvana of perfectly managed workload, but it does get better. It gets better through trial by fire as students, with the help of the adults in their lives, learn how to manage the complicated challenges that they face.

Nobles Day Camp


The Early Bird discount ends on December 30. Take advantage while you still can.

New this year, the Nobles Day Camp will be offering: expanded lunch options, additional transportation options, and a 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. program for campers entering grades 1 through 6.

Learn more.

Happy Holidays from the Putnam Library!

If your child is looking for something to read or watch over break, encourage them to stop by the library! We have many fun collections, including:
-foreign language fiction
-graphic novels
-travel books
-popular movies on DVD
-audiobooks on CD or MP3
-young adult and middle school fiction

The Skinny Envelope by Director of College Counseling Kate Ramsdell

I remember the moment so clearly, and not because of what it was – but because of what it wasn’t. The school librarian waved me over to the circulation desk, whispering in only the way that librarians do, “The front desk called and your mom is here to see you…. She’ll meet you outside.”

This was, as my husband is so fond of saying, before there were cell phones, and so to my mind, parental contact during the school day could only mean one thing: someone had died. While I’ve always tended towards ‘worse case scenario brain,' at that moment, a death was the only reason I could ever imagine my mom showing up at school in the middle of the day.

I’ll spare the suspense: no one had died.

On a mid-December afternoon, my mother had chased down the mailman to ask him whether or not there was an envelope in his truck addressed to Kate Boyle. Indeed, there was. She procured it and brought it to school. She had left her job during lunch hour to find it, and now she was here with me in front of the library. From her purse she produced a slender, business-sized envelope with a college seal stamped in the left hand corner. “Mrs. Cullen said that the college sends skinny envelopes, even if it’s an acceptance,” she reassured me. Why my mother felt that Mrs. Cullen was suddenly the expert on such matters (other than the fact that she was nosy and her daughter was a freshman at the college that had sent me the letter) annoyed me even more at that moment than my mother’s presence. This, and the tension, squelched any display of my real emotions.

I’ll spare the suspense: Mrs. Cullen was right.

The funny thing is, I know I must have been thrilled, but I can’t remember much that happened after that, other than the fact that my mom then fessed up. She had held the envelope up to the light before driving it to school. She knew that the ‘skinny envelope’ held a ‘fat envelope’ message. We celebrated by going to Bertucci’s for dinner after swim practice with a friend who had also gotten into college that day. My mom liked to tell people that the first words out of my mouth were, “Of course I’m excited, but I won’t be totally happy until my friends get good news.” Whether I was quite so selfless, I’m not entirely sure, but it was freeing to put the college process behind me, and I did want my friends to get good news. I also skipped gym that day, because my teacher told me I could cut class if I got into college.

My father was a first-generation American who didn't go to college until he was working and well into his twenties; he went to night school at CUNY. My mom had the opportunity to attend a four-year liberal arts college, and it wasn’t until we were packing up the attic after she died that I found the telegram that alerted her to the fact that she’d been taken off the waiting list. For my mom, the fact that her oldest child would be leaving home was, in many ways, more momentous than the fact that I’d been accepted early decision to a college. And while what I’d consider to be a temporary lapse in her sanity led her to track down the mailman, I know she only did it because she loved me and she wanted the college I applied to see in me all that she did (at least the good stuff). I am also certain that if the envelope had borne bad news, we probably would have gone to Bertucci’s anyway.

This was over two decades ago, and in that time the ‘game’ of college admission has changed tremendously. The stakes seem higher for many of the kids with whom I work at Nobles, and the competition is certainly stiffer. It is quite likely that today my ‘skinny envelope’ would arrive with a ‘skinny’ outcome.

Over the course of the next few weeks, many members of Class I will receive the proverbial ‘fat envelope’ and others will not. Most of you won’t have the chance to track down the mailman, even if you wanted to, as so many of those messages are now relayed over email or posted in portals, accessed only by a complex tangle of usernames and passwords.

What has not changed in two decades is the fact that your children will graduate from high school and leave home in less than a year – some of them to a college or university that accepts them this month, others to a college or university that accepts them sometime in the next twelve to sixteen weeks, and yet others to a gap experience that might allow them to flourish outside of a traditional college and classroom setting before they make their next move. During this time, they will rely on you for your steadfast love and support, your patience and guidance as they navigate both joy and disappointment. Whether the envelope is fat or skinny, it is my hope that what your kids remember twenty years from now is your unrelenting and unequivocal belief in the notion that wherever they land, they can be successful and that you were proud of them.

High School Doesn’t End at Graduation by Provost Bill Bussey

Last June, I attended my 40th high school reunion with some hopes that I might be able to duplicate the cathartic joy that I experienced when I last showed up a decade ago. It wasn’t meant to be this time around. Unlike most of my peers, I was briefly captivated by the unbridled confidence of the Elvis impersonator, a current boyfriend of a classmate, whom at the request of no one, took over the evening. To be fair, there were some pleasant surprises, some conversations that were heartfelt and others that were uncomfortable. Yet, by nine o’clock conversations were drowned out by a D.J. who refused to turn down the volume, leaving most folks staring into space and grouped safely with the same people that they would have sat with 40 years ago. A classmate sitting next to me surveyed the room and sized up the situation: “For some, high school doesn’t end at graduation.”

No, it doesn’t.

Let’s face it. None of us over 40 looks at our yearbook portrait and gushes, “Gosh, I was so adorable.” It’s not just the bad hair that makes us cringe but also the onslaught of adolescent memories that accompany it. Mixed with those memories are other memories that provide mixed emotions. While many might refuse to admit it, those years, those parties, those good times that all-too-often came at the expense of others were some of the best times of their lives. Few gained a criminal record for partying back then, few partiers had their college acceptance placed in jeopardy let alone revoked, and few had to answer for their actions in the days and weeks that followed.  The college process has changed, as has the willingness of law enforcement to act, and now many, including parents who hold parties, are answering for their actions in a courtroom. The overwhelming majority of Nobles parents, I’m happy to say, wisely respect not only the law but also the Nobles community principle of “respecting self and others.”

Over the years our shifting culture and approach to parenting have allowed us to gain some worldly-wise perspective regarding our own lives, but when it comes to our own children, we sometimes lean too hard on them and other times not hard enough. Finding that balance is a parent’s greatest challenge; maintaining it yields the greatest rewards.

By the time our children have been accepted into college, many parents, like their children, understandably feel like their child has earned the right in their final three months or so at Nobles to celebrate. But here is what even the kindest, most supportive, and most well-intentioned parents don’t fully understand: When Nobles parents decide that the celebration means creating a setting at which parents can consume alcohol with their children and their children’s friends, often with other students whose parents are not present, whether it be in a foreign country or at someone’s home following the prom, they are in effect suggesting that what the school stands for in this regard does not really apply to them anymore. That’s certainly how most of the kids take it. 

So here are only two observations as how this plays out for us on our end.

• The faculty work morning, noon and night seven days a week in one capacity or another to ensure that above all else your children are safe. Recently we brought in Katie Koestner, one of the nation’s leading experts on student safety and teen relationship culture. Koestner and her colleague led Class I students through a series of interactive exercises related to drugs and alcohol, sexual misconduct, harassment and college disciplinary systems. Every single student bought in to what she had to say.  When parents choose to serve alcohol or hold parties where alcohol is served, they undermine the important messages that we work overtime to give to Class I students, and all students for that matter, before they leave Nobles for good.

• Partying with your child’s friends might create a short-term bond with those kids, but it also creates a wedge between all of us at Nobles who have built a meaningful relationship with your children over the past four to six years. Many students who have something to hide usually lay low or avoid conversations with those adults who would be disappointed in their actions. Others just feel resentment that we would involve ourselves in what goes down off campus, knowing full well that we don’t stop caring about them at the end of Friday. Some students struggle with the idea of leaving Nobles and seize on any issue that will allow them to circumvent their true sadness. Anything that hinders the school from connecting with students at this crucial juncture simply robs all involved. Parents need to understand what’s at stake here and take full responsibility. It’s time for all of us to ensure that our children can safely enjoy not only the rest of their time here but the rest of their lives as well.

Grandparents Day 2014 Portrait Information

Portraits taken at Grandparents Day will be available online until February 6, 2015 to view and purchase at  Enter Username: noblesgp14 and Password: 22507-92914, then enter your email address, then under “GUESTS”, click: “VIEW PHOTOS”.

Please note that photos will be sorted online by the location where the portrait was taken and by the time it was taken.  Contact Allie Trainor in the Nobles Development Office with any questions at (781) 320-7005 or

Defining the Nobles Community by Dean of Faculty Maura Sullivan

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a community as a group of people with a common characteristic or interest, living together within a larger society. By this definition, Nobles is definitely a community. I have no doubt that the reason why many of you chose Nobles for your child is because of some aspect of this community, be it academic, extracurricular, athletic or the arts. Perhaps you have been associated with Nobles long enough to have a sense of the “common characteristics” that define us.

It doesn’t take long for someone new to the Nobles community to recognize the care and concern that the adults on the faculty and staff show for students. The people who work  here love what they do and enjoy working with middle and high school age children. They put in long hours not only as teachers but also as coaches, directors, mentors, counselors, advisors, organizers, trip leaders and tutors. When they get home at night there are emails to answer, lessons to prep, papers to grade, recommendation letters to write and meetings to schedule. These are all in a day’s work for a Nobles faculty member.

As the dean of faculty, and someone who has been at Nobles for close to three decades, I realized long ago that what makes this school tick is far more than the work ethic and high standards of the employees. What I have come to understand is that the supportive environment we brag about in our admission brochures is not reserved exclusively for our students.

I am constantly impressed by how willing my colleagues are to lend a hand to each other at the drop of a hat. On a fairly regular basis, a faculty member will send out an email early in the morning to ask for help because of illness or a family emergency. Within minutes, colleagues will respond and offer to cover. A recent email reminded me of how important it is to acknowledge that these gestures are not taken for granted. Earlier in the semester, a colleague needed to lean on others for help when a situation necessitated that he miss school for a period of time.  In his email to say thank you, he recognized that what makes Nobles a model community is the way we “step up and take care of others without blinking an eye.”  

Over and over again I have been amazed and humbled by the generosity of the people with whom I work. They give their time, they share their talents, they are genuinely concerned for each other when things aren’t going well, and they never hesitate to do what they can to help. 

The “common characteristic” of this community is that people are giving…they are noble. This characteristic transcends the experience for everyone at Nobles, both adult and student. And at a time of year when we all can get caught up in our busy lives and stressed about how much we have to do in our own little universes, there are plenty of reminders within our stone walls of how much we have to be grateful for and what a wonderful place this is to spend your days.

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Class III Parent Reps

Dear Class III Parents and Guardians,

Happy December! We hope you had a bountiful Thanksgiving and a restful break. Winter sports have now begun and just a few weeks remain until the end of the semester and winter vacation.

December will be a busy month for our students, and we’ve highlighted some important dates:
Dec. 15 to 17—Assessments
Dec. 18—Comment Writing Day, no classes
Dec. 19—Last day of classes for fall semester
Dec. 21—Winter Break begins
Jan. 5—School reopens

As we prepare to turn the calendars to 2015, we would like to remind you of a few dates coming up in the second semester for Class III.

We are beginning to plan for the Head of School Dinner Dance on Saturday, March 7th, which is an annual tradition for Class III students only. We need many volunteers both to plan the event and to help with set up and clean up on the day of the festivities!  We will hold our first planning meeting shortly after winter break.  Stay tuned for details.

Looking further ahead, we hope parents and guardians will get involved with the the Class III Surprise Lunch on Monday, April 13. We’re looking for several people to help create a theme, and to assist on the actual day however they are able. A brief planning meeting will be scheduled as we get a bit closer, and we invite and encourage parents and guardians to come.

On Friday, April 17, we will hold our Spring Class III Coffee after drop-off in the Castle.

And, finally, May Day, Friday, May 1, is the date set for our Class III Spring Parent Social.

As always, please get in touch with either one of us if you have any questions or suggestions for how we can help our students.

Happy Holidays!

Anne Umphrey,
Heidi McNeill,

Class I Parent Reps

Welcome back from what was hopefully an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving holiday. November was an eventful month for Class I, as our seniors enjoyed the conclusion of a successful fall sports season as well as many exceptional music, theatre and arts productions.

December marks the countdown to the end of the first semester, and for our Class I students this means both the final push for first semester assessments and the final touches on any remaining college applications We recognize that this can be a stressful time and we encourage everyone to stay focused and upbeat!!  Before we know it we will be planning the end of year events...

Looking ahead, Monday December 15th - all school exam snacks provided by the PA.  Also, please mark your calendar for Tuesday, January 27th for our Class I Winter Parent Coffee. Please save the date if your schedule allows as we turn the page to the second semester and begin planning the many unique Class I events. 

This has been a wonderful year to date for our Class.  We thank you all for your generosity and support and look forward to an equally fun and rewarding New Year.   We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season.


Lynda Ceremsak (

Carolyn Harthun (

Anne Kelley (


Class IV Parent Reps

Dear Class IV Parents and Guardians,

We hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebrations and that December has gotten off to a great start!

We have few dates to add to your calendar, as well as some important events that we want to highlight.

Thursday, December 4, 7 p.m., Lawrence Auditorium – Jazz/blues/guitar/drum concert.

Tuesday, December 9, A representative from "Where There Be Dragons" will be in the castle during lunch periods to talk to students about travel opportunities available through their program.For more information, visit

Thursday, December 11, 8:15 a.m., Surprise Lunch Planning Meeting. Every year, each class has a special treat lunch, usually with a fun theme, which is hosted by the parents/
guardians in the Castle Library. This lunch is always appreciated by the students,
who enjoy a break in the middle of the semester to do something a little different
and fun. Class IV will have their surprise lunch on January 29. We encourage you to
volunteer, either in the planning stages or the day of, or both! We would love to
have your help.

Thursday, December 11, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., pre-concert parents social in the Arts Center lobby, 7 p.m. Choral Concert in the Laurence Auditorium.

Monday, December 15, Tuesday December 16 and Wednesday, December 17 –
December Assessments. Please note that the exam schedule(s) and location(s) will
vary depending on your child’s classes.

Thursday, December 18 – No classes for Comment Writing Day

Friday, December 20 – Final day of the semester.

Monday, January 5 – School resumes for the first day of second semester.

Finally, we want to wish all of the Class IV families and the entire Nobles community a wonderful winter break! See you all in 2015!

Class IV Dean's Report

Dear Parents and Guardians of Class IV,

I just returned from a marvelously restorative visit to Saratoga Springs, NY with my family during the Thanksgiving break. This year, we had decided to try something new and meet in the middle. Margaret and I brought the boys from Dedham; my parents ventured from Buffalo, where the city was still recovering from the heaviest one-day snowfall on record. 

Weather reports were a bit shaky on the morning of our departure, but the sky looked clear during my morning run. A mist kicked in as we were loading the car, but nothing too alarming. As we got fifty miles out on the Pike, the temperature dropped and the drizzle began to fall as light snow. The snow got heavier and thicker, as did the traffic.

We found ourselves at a complete standstill in a whiteout in the middle of the Berkshires. Most people dislike driving in the snow; I find it rather enjoyable. All of the hassle and rush and grime of the expressway vanish under a sprinkling of snow. To be certain, there are still reckless drivers and perils to be found, but one is forced to slow down, to focus more intently on fellow travelers in the car, and to approach the road ahead with greater attention.

We finally arrived to snow-covered Saratoga, a charming town that looked in these conditions like a village specifically crafted for a model railroad set. Bustling shops, streetlamp decorations, striking façades of old banks and grand hotels–all coated with a beautiful covering of snow. The streets seemed frozen in time.

We sat by the fire the first night, and my parents told how my hometown had reacted to such a massive accumulation of snow of more than 72 inches in 24 hours. The city hardly needed any more bad press; dismal sports records, unemployment, and harsh winters always seem to accompany mention of Buffalo in the national news. 

Yet, this time the media covered something deeper than the snow. Story after story revealed the phenomena of Buffalonians braving the conditions to help their neighbors in a time of need. In the midst of a paralyzing storm, the chaos of day-to-day lives of individuals yielded to a concerted concern for the community.

As the weather gets colder and the days darker, I hope that we can all appreciate the slower pace that is occasionally forced upon us by nature. We will have plenty of opportunities to speed ahead with our studies, our extracurricular activities and our family obligations. Every so often, though, it is helpful to just step back and let it snow.

Best wishes for the successful completion of the first semester, and for happy holidays ahead!

Dave Ulrich

Class IV Dean

Class II Parent Reps

Dear Class II Parents and Friends,

We had a wonderful gathering of Class II parents in the Castle on Friday, November 21. The Castle dining room had an autumnal ambiance and we had a lively crowd with delicious appetizers and drinks. Thanks to all for coming - it certainly helps us connect as parents when we are able to share a few stories as our children navigate high school.

In the next few weeks, the students will be busy finishing up the semester and getting ready for assessments, which will be held December 15, 16 and 17. We are planning to provide Class II students with a fun “ pick me up” during this time. December 18 will be a “no class” comment writing day for teachers and the final day of the semester is December 19. Classes will resume on Monday, January 5.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We hope to see you at some upcoming school events. 

Wishing you all a restful and happy holidays.


Class II Parent Reps

Betsy Dawson,

Lauren Doherty,

From the Co-Chairs: AE Rueppel and Brooke Sandford

Happy Holidays!

Hard to believe we are already in the month of December and before we know it —January and the year 2015 will be upon us. We wish you some “incomparable joys” with your children, families, and friends during the upcoming, much-needed and well-deserved winter break!

But, first, please join us in thanking the many folks on the PA who have continued to work hard to bring our community together and to support our students.  This month we give a shout out to Audra Barranco and Heather Woodworth for hosting the Fall Employee Appreciation Lunch, Cindy Trull and Kristin Welo for organizing our recent trip to Cradles To Crayons, and to Helen Goins and Cindy Jazcko for teaching us to make beautiful Thanksgiving cornucopia arrangements. A huge thank you goes also to Middle School parents and especially Leigh Poole and Holly Bonomo for a successful Pie Drive.  And, finally, Class II Reps Betsy Dawson and Lauren Doherty and Class I Reps Lynda Ceremsak, Carolyn Harthun and Anne Kelley who outdid themselves in hosting wonderful Fall Parent Socials — thank you all!

December is indeed a busy month for all, but here are some events and dates to put on your calendar—and a peek at what’s coming in January 2015!

December 2014

Dec 4 - Jazz, Blues, Guitar & Drum concert in the Lawrence Auditorium at 7 p.m.
Dec 11 - Middle School Visual Arts opening in the Morrison Forum at 5:30 p.m.
Dec 11 - Winter Choral Concert in Lawrence Auditorium at 7 p.m.
December 15 to 17 - Assessments

The Arts Wing...

The Arts wing will be very busy in December! Don't miss the Thursday, Dec. 4, evening jazz/blues/drum/guitar concert.

And, on Thursday, Dec. 11, we invite all parents to a light reception in the main entrance lobby of Shattuck between 5:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. The PA Arts Liaisons are joining forces with the Middle School as it hosts its annual Visual Arts Showcase/"Who I Am" evening and the Music Department as it hosts its annual Winter Choral Concert to encourage ALL parents to make it an art-filled evening at Nobles!  Upper School parents, come enjoy the display of Middle School art, and plan to stay for the Choral Concert which begins at 7:00 p.m. Middle School parents, stop by the Shattuck reception as your Middle School agenda permits, and be sure to stay for the Choral Concert. 

Sweet Treats…

The PA Board will once again host a holiday candy/treat bar for all students on Wednesday, December 17, immediately following the afternoon assessment. Our treat…and happy holidays! 

January 2015

Upcoming dates…

Mon., Jan 5 - School Reopens

Fri., Jan 9 - Cotting School vs. Nobles Girls Basketball**

Tues., Jan 13 – PA Castle Dinner & Book Discussion Group** (10% Happier, How I Tamed the Voice in My Head… by Dan Harris)

Wed., Jan 14 - PA Meeting** (Please note, there is no meeting in December)

Tues., Jan 27 - Class I Winter Coffee** (Castle Library)

Tues., Jan 27 - Middle School Winter Coffee ** (New Castle Dining Hall)

Thurs., Jan 22 - Wind/String/Orchestra Concert 

Fri., Jan 29 - Class IV Surprise Lunch**

Fri., Jan 29 - Student Directed Production

Sat., Jan 30- College Counseling School for Class II Parents/Guardians

**PA Event (or PA-assisted Event)

We look forward to the year ahead, and wish you all a wonderful holiday season.


AE and Brooke

Middle School Parent Reps

November has been a busy month!  The Middle School pie drive was once again a huge success! Students assembled hundreds of pies in one afternoon with pies donated to the Single Parent Family Outreach Center in Boston as well as to the Dedham Food Pantry. This year, the proceeds will support Starfish and Long Way Home.   Many thanks to Holly Bonomo, Leigh Poole, Carla Higgins, and Emily Denning for co-chairing this event. Thank you as well to all of the volunteers and everyone who participated, donated items and purchased pies.

November also brought us Nobles-Milton weekend, which was a great demonstration of our athletes’ ability and sportsmanship as well as Nobles Night which is always an elegant and festive gathering of the Nobles' community.

December will bring more activity with the Middle School Visual Arts Presentation in the Morrison Forum where Class VI will present their "Who Am I?" videos. This cross-disciplinary project asks our 7th graders to explore their identity through narrative writing, poetry, imagery and audio. This has been a mainstay of the middle school curriculum for the past ten years. The Visual Arts opening will feature work made by ALL middle school students who took visual arts this fall. Drawing, sculptures, animations, prints and more! Families and friends are welcome to celebrate the artists. Light refreshments will be served. Following this event, the Winter Choral Concert will begin at 7 p.m. in Lawrence Auditorium.

Also in December, are assessments, preparation by Class VI for the annual Holiday assembly, and the start of winter break. 

The assessment schedule is as follows:

Mon, Dec 15: 

9 to 10 a.m. - English & English via Latin 

1 to 2 p.m. – Science

Tues, Dec 16: 

9 to 10 a.m. - Math 

1 to 2 p.m. - Modern Languages

Wed, Dec 17: please note changes to this day

9 to 10 a.m. – Geography & Class V Latin **please note the change in schedule**

1 to 2 p.m. – Civics **please note the change in schedule**

If you are looking for new opportunities to volunteer at Nobles, there will be plenty of chances in 2015, including MLK day of service (Jan. 19) and the Round The World (RTW) Surprise lunch that will take place in the spring.

Important Dates for December:

Dec. 4 – Jazz, Blues, Guitar & Drum concert n the Lawrence Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Dec. 11 – Middle School Visual Arts opening in the Morrison Forum at  5:30 p.m.

Dec. 11 – Winter Choral Concert in Lawrence Auditorium at 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 to 17 – Assessments

Dec. 18 – No School, Comment Writing Day

Dec. 19 – Holiday Assembly, 8 a.m.; mini-classes, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.; individual Advisor Meetings, 12 to 3 p.m. (students are dismissed after their advisor meetings)

Dec. 20 – Winter break begins

Jan. 5 – School re-opens

Hold the Date: Mon., Jan. 19—MLK Day of Service

We wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful 2015!

From the Community Service Office: Gearing Up

A group of dedicated parents and faculty have been working every day on the logistical details of our future all school service day, "Common Fire", planned for April 14.  Some of the most interesting work has been walking the sites we are collecting to see what might be good experiences for our young people, or at the very least, extremely helpful for the agency itself.

Parent Lisa Pisano has found some outdoor and building work at the Dimock Center, which "provides the residents of Boston with convenient access to high quality, low-cost healthcare and human services that might not otherwise be available" to the people they serve. Parent Holly Bonomo has secured a place for us at the Walker School, where we will help to beautify and clean areas of the grounds of this wonderful school for kids who are struggling with emotional issues.

At Reach Out and Read, former Nobles parent Allison Corning-Clarke took us to a waiting area at the Harvard Street Health Center where Nobles groups will paint murals and build bookshelves. Faculty member Liz Benjamin and I walked a site called "Gaining Ground" which educates youngsters about the importance of the Farm to Table organic food movement, which we think will be enlightening.

Parents Cindy Trull and Kristen Welo have found many sites which promise to be productive and teachable moments for our students that day, including the Joslin Diabetes Center where we will be working with some of the children as they wait for treatment, and Steppingstone/ McKay School of East Boston, where we will be helping with painting and landscaping. The Lemuel Shattuck Hospital was procured by parent Alison Graham, which "delivers compassionate medical and psychiatric care to patients requiring multi-disciplinary treatment and support which promotes their health, well-being, rehabilitation and recovery."

At a recent Halloween party, I met a woman named Ann Miranda who had started a not- for-profit organization called "Fruitful Offerings" through the Dedham Food Pantry. This group provides fresh fruits and vegetables along with the staples that are standard fare at food pantries. Her hope is that we will be able to build platforms around donated terra cotta cisterns to hold mini gardens that clients can have for their own.

Linda Hurley is planning a "Dedham Elder Lunch" for the senior residents of our town, held at the local American Legion Hall. In all, we will be hosted by a wealth of agencies, over 90 in all, who have opened their doors and let us know what they need. Thanks to the hard work of many great adults who have been calling and making arrangements, a great day of service and effort will be ready and waiting for the over 900 Nobles people who will be heading out the morning of "Common Fire." Now Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek and Amy McBrien will be assigning advisor groups and staff to pertinent sites as leaders and participants.

One last site must be noted, since it will take both planning and collecting to make it work. Parent Betsy Edie has connected with an agency called "Heading Home." Over the winter, (with your help!) we will collect donated items from your homes to set up a house for a currently shelter-housed family. We need everything that a family is going to need to set up a house: tables, chairs, a couch, pots and pans--the works. A Nobles family, John and Natalie Wright, have donated their garage to keep all the items safe over the winter months. By the time "Common Fire" day arrives, we will have collected an entire household of family items. That day, we move the family in!

I know you will want to help--simply email Betsy. Just let her know what you have to donate, and we will arrange to come and get it. Help us help other people by staying tuned over the next months to the parent emails each week, and this part of the parent newsletter. Your support will help your child to look forward to the day and the part they will play in contributing to their community. Thank you for making your family a part of "Common Fire." This year long endeavor is one of those events that truly "takes a village."

Sandi MacQuinn 

10 Campus Drive,
Dedham, Massachusetts
tel: 781.326.3700
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